PSALM 119: 145-160
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep your statutes.
I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.
They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have founded them forever.
Look on my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me;
give me life according to your promise!
Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your mercy, O Lord;
give me life according to your rules.
Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.
Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.
The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
“I’m always in a situation where there are moments that are bigger than me – bigger than my wisdom, bigger than my strength. I am always being confronted with how little I control and how little I understand.” - Paul Tripp
This is true of all of us. All of us experience the feeling of being overwhelmed – because all of us face situations that are bigger than us – bigger than our strength, bigger than our wisdom, bigger than anything that we can possibly handle. This is day-to-day life for most of us.
We live in an overwhelming context. Some days we are less aware of it and some days we are acutely aware of it. This psalm was born out of feeling overwhelmed. This is the context – overwhelming circumstances – living in moments that were bigger than his wisdom and strength. He is in a leadership position and they want him removed.
God, through the psalmist gives us a model of how we are to respond in a godly way when we feel overwhelmed.
Plead With God
In half of the verses in this stanza, the psalmist pleads with God (verses 145-147; 149). He is petitioning God and praying. He pleads often and very honestly. He is pleading for God’s gospel grace; He wants God to be gracious with him.
You cannot handle the life that you live. Your life is beyond your capacity to handle it. At times we feel this – other times we think we have it all handled. We think to ourselves, “I can handle most of life – there are just a few things that I cannot”. This isn’t true. Every aspect of our lives is bigger than us and our ability to deal with it on our own.
The psalmist was quick to acknowledge that he was in over his head. It is not a sin that you cannot handle everything that is on your plate. How you respond to feeling overwhelmed may or may not honor God. We are overwhelmed because we are not God. Our lives are designed by God to be enjoyed and to point to God. Feeling overwhelmed is a good reminder that we are not God. If you live holding the responsibility of your life in its totality, your life will crush you. You will be overwhelmed.
Prayer shouldn’t be reserved just for the terrible and serious things in life. Prayer and pleading is not a last resort. The psalmist starts pleading with God and keeps pleading – “Help me! Save me! Show me hope! “ When you are overwhelmed, don’t just say a short prayer to let God know. Instead, live a life of pleading with God. We ask that He would be at work, care for us, love us, and will sustain it. It is a continuous cycle of pleading (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Ephesians 6:17-18; Philippians 4:6).
We will never outgrow our need to plead with God because we will never be in a context where we can handle it all by ourselves. We need to plead honestly. Every context in which we live has a natural propensity to get more overwhelming. We often aren’t honest about how difficult it really is. We think that it should look differently.
In verses 145 and 147, the psalmist cries with his whole heart for help. Everything in me and about me needs help. This should cause us to have humility and plead for God’s grace (verse 146). The psalmist is pleading for God’s grace. When we are overwhelmed we are often tempted. How will you respond to the feelings of being overwhelmed? If we respond with fear, anger, bitterness, or resentment it means that we have been convinced of lies about God. Being overwhelmed can lead us to believe things that are not true about God.
The psalmist’s pleading does not ask God to prove Himself – instead he asks for God to save him, give him hope and show His love
Meditate On God’s Word
The pleading of the psalmist leads him to meditate on God’s Word (verse 148). We plead with God but then we should go into His Word when we are overwhelmed.
We need Scripture to speak to the lie that we believe about God. Through God’s Word, God will speak the truth the truth about Himself to us. If you are living a life disconnected from personal reading and meditation on God’s Word, you will believe a lot of lies about God, faith, the world, you, and the Church. You will have some faith crisis because of it.
Meditation is the nurturing of our souls that prepares us for whatever is coming. It makes us ready. Like water brings life to plants, meditation on God’s Word brings life to our souls. Non-Christian meditation is often emptying your mind – Biblical meditation is filling your mind with God’s Word.
Meditation will help us to respond in godly, Christ-centered, and gospel-driven ways when we feel overwhelmed. We must know the gospel so that we have the real story shaping our thinking and views. When you learn God’s Word by meditating on it, you will know how God loves you in the midst of your overwhelming circumstances.
Preach God’s Word to Yourself
We must not just learn God’s truth and keep them in our heads. We must preach them. This is what the psalmist does in our text (verses 150-152). People are pursuing him, but he reminds himself of the fact that the Lord is near and all of His commandments are true.
I have heard it said, “no one talks to you as much as you do”. We already preach to ourselves – telling ourselves how to think and respond. What have you been telling yourself when you are overwhelmed by life?
Every Christ follower is called to preach the gospel to himself or herself. What we need to hear is the gospel. A psalmist in Psalm 42:5 did this very well. If the bulk of the preaching that you ever get is here from Via Church – something is wrong. We are not the primary preachers in your life – you are the primary preacher!
Allow The Gospel To Permeate Every Part Of Your Life!
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 119:145-160
Describe a time when you were very aware of how overwhelmed you were.
What lies have you believed about God?
Does meditating on Scripture come naturally for you? Why or why not?
What does preaching the gospel to yourself sometimes sound like?
NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE: PSALM 119:161-176