Who speaks to you each week? Think about the people in your daily life: the preacher at church, the salesperson in the shop, the television and the radio. How many different messages do you hear every week?
113 I hate double-minded people,
but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I shall live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I shall be delivered;
I shall always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws.
121 I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Ensure your servant’s well-being;
do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
125 I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.
126 It is time for you to act, Lord;
your law is being broken.
127 Because I love your commands
more than gold, more than pure gold,
128 and because I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path.
In these two sections of Psalm 119, the writer contrasts the words of the world with the Word of God. Ever since the serpent questioned God’s Word in Genesis 3, we have lived in this war of words. The big question remains: who will we listen to, God or the enemy?
The psalmist recognises the problem. The words of the world are set against the Word of God. So he can say he hates double-minded people (v 113) and every wrong path (v 128). However, he loves God’s law (v 113) and God’s commands (v 127). He is clear that God is his refuge (v 114), the one who sustains him (vs 116,117), the one who loves him (v 124), and the one who will vindicate him (v 126).
The writer is clear that there is a contrast between the words of God and the words of the world. And yet, he asks for discernment from God, his teacher (vs 124,125). How many messages do we hear each week without questioning their validity?
Pray: ‘Loving God, my teacher, please grow greater discernment in me so that I can see through the messages coming at me from this world. I want to be more confident in your perfect instruction. Amen.’
Deeper Bible study
‘It is time for you to act, Lord; your law is being broken.’1 May we be willing to let you have your way.
This amazing poem exalts the Word of God in each verse. The psalmist is excited about the Law of the Lord, his promises, statutes, decrees, commands and precepts. They are valued more than gold (v 127). Their impact leads directly to the fear of God (v 120), causing the psalmist to tremble. The fear of the Lord may be misunderstood today, but it is the place where we find wisdom.2 God delights in those who fear him. The New Testament equivalent of fear is ‘reverence’, which helps us to understand the place of the fear of God in assisting us in seeking holiness in our lives.3 In Psalm 119 it leads directly to a deep, trembling awe and wonder at the reality of our God revealed in his Word.
In the second stanza we see that the writer is under attack. He is afraid for his well-being and is being oppressed by arrogant enemies (vs 121,122). You may also be enduring opposition from those who dislike the faith you have been sharing. The writer prays that God will deal with his own heart, though, asking the Lord to furnish him with discernment through his reading of the Scriptures (v 125). Then there comes a point where he holds up his hands, admitting that he is powerless in these circumstances. He concludes that only God can help him and asks the Lord to act on his behalf (v 126). This moment of surrender is vital to coping with oppression. It came to Peter on Galilee when he realised that he was sinking and cried, ‘Lord, save me!’4 Sometimes all we can do is pray, believing that God will act in ways that we could never do. Hearts can never be unlocked from the outside, only from the inside. Only God’s Spirit can go there.5
Hand over your circumstances to God in surrender today. ‘It is time for you to act, Lord’ may become the prayer key to significant change for you too.
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Amos 5,6; Revelation 7
Pray for Scripture Union
SU Scotland give thanks that Lendrick Muir, one of their three outdoor residential centres, received a Quality Badge from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. Pray for those who work at their centres, asking that they will shine for Jesus and see the value in the work they do. Pray that God will add to the team, particularly bringing in more outdoor activity instructors.