G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” Here is our eighteenth podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the sixteenth of its twenty-two letters, Ayin, and its verses 121 to 128.
121 I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Ensure your servant’s well-being;
let not 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, O 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.
Hi there! This is Jim Harris sharing some ideas with you from the 16th section of Psalm 119, in which all the verses begin with the Hebrew letter ‘AYIN’. Three times in these 8 verses you’ll find the words ‘your servant’. They are in verses 122, 124 and 125. That gives a flavour to this section of the psalm. He knows that he has been called in his personal life and, probably, in a public role to serve the Lord. He feels the cost of doing that and appeals to the Lord for help in various ways. All true believers in Jesus today are called to serve the Lord. It begins with simply the way we live. That means that our lifestyle, our priorities and our values about what is right and wrong, will often bring us into conflict with people living and working around us. Should the Lord call us into a specific role in serving Him, in our local church perhaps, or in the wider world through a Christian mission or agency, the pressure will come in a different way, from those who object to the work we are doing in the name of Christ. Like the psalmist we, too, must turn to the Lord for his comfort and strengthening in the situation.
In the first two verses here, he is concerned for his own well-being. ‘I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors. Ensure your servant’s well-being; let not the arrogant oppress me.’ He is suffering from ‘people-pressure’ and he’s not too keen on it. But we take note of the fact that he’s not engaging with them in a war of words but, rather, he’s turned to the Lord with an urgent plea for His help. He’s resorted to prayer, rather than to disputation, as the best way of dealing with the problem. That’s a good example to follow. Our arguments will tend to harden people in their opposition. Sometimes it will even give them some satisfaction to know that they’ve got to us. Like Jesus before his enemies, we will find that being silent before them but verbal towards God is usually the best way of handling the matter. After all, the Spirit of God can reach those parts in people that none of us can get to!
As we move on, it’s clear that he is being called to endure, to keep going, while the Lord is actually handling the situation for him. God’s timing and the servant’s wishes do not coincide. The Lord seems to be hanging about – why doesn’t He get on with it? ‘My eyes fail, looking for your salvation.’ And, in verse 126, a wake-up call to the Lord, ‘It is time for you to act, O Lord!’ His impatience, on the one hand, is due to his humanity. He’s sharing with us the stress we all feel when our prayers are not being answered with the degree of urgency we feel the case merits. On the other hand, he has a genuine concern, that those who profess to be God’s people are actually flouting – breaking – His Law. Now, whatever happens, or doesn’t happen to him personally, surely that situation needs to be addressed! So, in verses 127-128 we read, ‘Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.’ That kind of love for the Lord and his word runs through the whole of this challenging psalm. In fact, it will be found everywhere in Scripture. Devotion to the Lord is expressed by a desire to live His way and to please Him. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Christians at Colosse that they might, ‘live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.’ You’ll find that in Colossians 1:10.
Before we leave this servant of the Lord, let’s have a look at verse 124. ‘Deal with your servant according to your love.’ That’s a confident request, rooted in his experience of what God is like. To use a New Testament expression, he knows that ‘God is love’, therefore all His dealings with us spring from that love, are informed and shaped by that love, and are working towards the best possible end for us. At present, it seems He is working along a strange route and to a different timetable, but in the end, all will be well. Remember,
‘Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Read Romans 5:1-8 when you can, and let the Holy Spirit bring home to your heart the tremendous truth of God’s love at work for you, even in the most difficult of circumstances.