PSALM 119: 113-128
I hate the double-minded,
You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
Depart from me, you evildoers,
Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
Hold me up, that I may be safe
You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
My flesh trembles for fear of you,
I have done what is just and right;
Give your servant a pledge of good;
My eyes long for your salvation
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
I am your servant; give me understanding,
It is time for the Lord to act,
I hate every false way.
I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.
The psalmist communicates his hatred and his love. He hates divided affections–duplicity, double-mindedness, deceit, dishonesty–because they communicate the lie that we require sources other than God to find true joy and ultimate satisfaction. He painstakingly calls out to God to see his cause and defend his case, because he (the psalmist) is standing up for what is right in the midst of a people whose affections are massively divided.
As we survey the story of Israel–the people of God that were called to bless the nations and show the character of God to others–we see a sad story of a people who continually missed the mark of faithfulness. At the start of Israel’s history, God had established a covenant with this people to show that he loved them and was strategically remaking all that sin had corrupted and broken.
This psalm was written in the midst of Israel’s story. You can see that the portion of this song is again, a very painful reflection on the devastating effects of sin and wickedness. Israel was perpetually given to other gods. Their affections were so divided that at one point in their journey, they had made political concessions and had altars erected all over their land to other gods. Their loyalty and faith was not in the one true God. Their actions showed their disloyalty. Their affections displayed their faithlessness.
We see in Israel’s story that we are required to give full allegiance to God, not half-hearted devotion. We must obey God with the entirety of our lives. Our hearts are made to find their rest in God alone and they must not be divided. Love for God’s law ought to consume us and full obedience will provide true freedom for us. We must obey perfectly.
My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.
This would be a relatively simple message if it weren’t for another reality: We cannot obey perfectly. You may think very highly of your abilities and you may have incredible tenacity to follow through on commitments you make, but this perfect obedience that is required of you is insurmountable.
We are tempted to read the psalmists words and quickly condemn the divided loyalties of his enemies, until we look at ourselves. We pose a great problem to our goal to perfectly obey and love God’s law continually. Some of the most determined, most sincere, most committed of us will set out to obey God’s law as perfectly as we can...this still isn’t enough. God doesn’t require that we do our best, but he requires perfect allegiance.
Some may be too discouraged at this point to continue, but some of you may still press on towards obeying. You’ve been taught to self-regulate, to manage yourself, to control your emotions, to do what is right, to make good choices, and somewhere deep down you still believe that you can do this. If you could just organize your life so that you insure that you abide by God’s rules you could (in theory) keep these rules, checking off each box as you proceed. The real problem occurs as we reach the last box to check and realize that we failed at the most crucial point–our hard work simply cultivated a large weed in our garden called Pride.
At this point, you declare “Well, nobody is perfect!” That’s where you (and I) are wrong.
It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken.
The psalmist gives us tremendous insight into our posture as broken people, whose full allegiance and obedience is required by a holy God. We plead with God to act, because his covenant has been broken. We are the covenant-breakers. We are the faithless ones. We are the double-minded. We are the rebels. As we see ourselves in this light, we recognize our desperate need for movement from God toward us.
Our limited ability, our failure, our weakness is contrasted with God’s infinite ability, his faithfulness and power. One of the most liberating things we can say to ourselves is that “we can’t.” This goes against our “you can” culture and mindset, but it is profoundly true.
The beauty is that in the fullness of time, God has acted. He is the one who created all things, who holds all things together, and in Jesus, God entered the story personally. God came to the covenant-breakers–rebels, double-minded, oppressors of good–and did what we could not (and would not) do. He is the perfect one, who flawlessly obeyed God and walked faithfully putting on display what it is to be truly human. Jesus is the one (the only one) who obeyed God perfectly and loved his law fully.
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.
Jesus didn’t just show us something with his life however, he actually provided something that we require. Through Jesus, God has dealt a decisive blow to our failure, our rebellion, our inability, our faithlessness–he has dealt with us with his steadfast love. It is only out of this love that obedience to God becomes possible. Only through the work of Jesus can we start to work rightly. Until we learn to accept the love of the Law-giver, we won’t be able to love his law.
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Psalm 119:113-128
When you think of double-minded people, what type of person comes to mind?
Do you struggle to obey? (
Why is this thinking (God moves away from me when I’m bad) opposite of the movement that we encounter in the Gospel?
NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE: PSALM 119:129-144