G’day and welcome to Partake! Welcome back to Scriptural Delights, our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Here is our sixth podcast. Today we look at the fourth of its twenty-two letters, Daleth:
25 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
26 I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
27 Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.
30 I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
Thank you Tori! From verse 25, the Psalmist describes himself and the condition he is in. He is laid low, weary and tired. He is in desperate straights, heavily burdened and clinging onto life, both spiritually and physically. He is at the bottom of a pit and the only way out is up! So what does he do? He cries out a series of short prayers to God! Revive me! Preserve me! Make me live again! O God, my Lord, you promised that you would restore me again to yourself! He may be low, but he knows that God will answer him.
The Psalmist knows that God’s testimonies about Himself are true! The Psalmist knows that God’s decrees, precepts, commands and statutes are glorious, and that through them, he can be set free! The Psalmist piles up the metaphors about God’s Law and his own response to them! He is never negative about any aspect of God’s Law because he knows that through the Law is his only hope of knowing God and allowing God to rescue him from both physical and spiritual death. He knows that to life a life of obedience to God, he needs to read about God’s commands, precepts and interactions with those in the past! Remember, the Psalmist would have had at least the first 5 books at his disposal: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy!
The Psalmist has a choice to make. He could just wallow in self-pity and curl up and die. But he doesn’t. In verse 30, he makes a conscious decision to follow God, hold fast to God and run with God! That is not the actions of somebody who is wearied and burdened! God has answered his prayers and restored him, just as He promised to do! God is faithful! What was the catalyst for this? Verse 29 says that God’s graciousness is seen in the Law! The only time the Law and God’s commandments are a bad thing is when it is used as a means to salvation! God’s Law was never meant to be as a means to salvation, only to show how foolish it was to seek salvation that way and that salvation is only due to God’s mercy and God’s grace. Through God’s gracious Law, the Psalmist has renewed energy and is able to fly once more with God! God’s revealing of Himself and His rescue/restoration go together! As Isaiah, would write some years later:
“but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.(Isaiah 40v31)
Jesus in Matthew 11v28-30 also echoes this when He proclaims “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Why is Jesus saying this? Firstly to those undergoing the burden of religion as many of the Jewish people did at the time, under the regime of the Pharisees and the Jewish leaders – people were spiritually oppressed by the use of Laws as a means to salvation! The opposite of its purpose according to the Psalmist! This Jesus would offer them salvation via grace and not through keeping rules! Secondly to those who are searching for God, that if they do so wholeheartedly and expectantly, then they will find Him! The Greeks had long held an exhausted search for truth! Whether it was the search for divine truth or the unnecessary burden of religion, Jesus came to set people free – free from their burdens! In some ways living the life of a Christian is difficult, but not as a means to salvation! Following Jesus can be hard work if we try to do it in our own strength. But if we do it in the strength of the Holy Spirit who lives inside you, if you are a Christian, then the burden is light and the yoke is easy!
So if you are struggling under some burden of man-made religion or seeking truth, then look no further than Jesus, who claimed to be God and was God. Are you struggling to live the Christian life in your own strength and not the strength of God the Holy Spirit who lives inside you? How, this very day, can this God ease your burdens, lighten your load and restore you to Himself? Ask Jesus to take the burden you or others have placed upon yourself and restore you once more so that like the Psalmist you can follow, hold and run!