73 Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.
78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
80 May my heart be blameless toward your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.
Hello! This is Jim Harris, a friend and colleague of Dave Roberts. Dave has asked me to provide some thoughts in the series he’s running on Psalm 119. My brief is to talk about the tenth stanza, or set of verses, each line of which starts with the Hebrew letter ‘Yodh’. That’s verses 73-80
When writing this psalm in honour of God’s word and its effect upon the life of a believer, the author majored in 8 Hebrew words to describe ways in which the Lord communicates with his people. All 8 are to be found in this section. Now what does that say to us? Here’s a quote that really sets us thinking, ‘The author had a theme that filled his soul – that ranged the length and breadth, the height and depth of a person’s walk with God.’ John Stek makes a great point with these words. This section is about the powerful effect the word of God has in shaping us, developing us, maturing us and equipping us to represent Him in this world. Four big ideas came out of it for me.
Verses 73 and 80 remind us that God made us. ‘Your hands made me and formed me.’ That’s the starting point for everyone who has a living relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not here by accident, nor by the will and activity of our parents alone. God was in the process of bringing us into the world. He is our Creator, so who knows better than Him how we work and what we need to know, so that we can live in His way? Every piece of equipment in our homes was designed and built for a specific purpose. To know how to use it properly you read the manufacturer’s instructions. If it needs servicing or repair you find information in that maker’s manual. It’s ordinary common sense. And it’s spiritual common sense to know that the best way to live in line with the Lord’s purpose in making us, is to read his word and respond to its directions. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul wrote, ‘All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.’ It’s the Maker’s Manual.
Verses 74 and 79 imply that the life of a true believer, especially someone active in the Lord’s work, is bound to influence other people. You can’t escape it! People around us will be affected, for better or worse, by the way we live (or don’t live) in accordance with Scripture. Younger and less mature Christians look to those of us who are more experienced, for guidance and example. Others will be taking note of our words and actions and won’t hesitate to charge us with any inconsistency they see in our behaviour. This is true within the fellowship of a church, as well as in the home and at work. Our actions speak louder than our words, so we must let the Holy Spirit teach us through Scripture and keep in step with him in our lives. The New Testament has a lot to say about the importance being a good witness before other people. ‘Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ Matthew 5:16.
Verses 75 and 78 show that the writer had to suffer for his faith. The life and work he was called to were no easy ride. He speaks of ‘the arrogant’ and the fact that he’d been wronged by these very people. Under the surface of the text, there is a suggestion that they’d misrepresented him; twisted his words and actions to suit their own ends. That’s not easy to bear. Paul wrote, again in 2 Timothy, ‘Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.’ It’s not optional. But our psalmist recognises that God is at work in all this, using it to knock him into shape. He bravely goes so far as to state ‘In faithfulness you have afflicted me.’ No-one volunteers for suffering but we must endure when it comes. ‘The testing of your faith develops perseverance.’ James 1:3.
Finally, we notice 5 ‘wish prayers’; short prayers beginning with the word ‘May . . .’ Pick them out and think about them. These are not weak prayers. They are valid and honest, reaching from the heart into other people’s lives and needs. They may be expressed at any time, in any place, for anyone. Simple, but real. The apostle Paul used ‘wish prayers’. Look up Romans chapter 15:5-6 and then in verse 13, for two examples. Sometimes, when we find normal prayer difficult, these short prayers can prove valuable in helping us dispense some degree of blessing on other people in our lives. Also, why not try to find ways of using this kind of prayer as an add-on to your usual methods of praying?
‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.’