PSALM 119: 161-176

Princes persecute me without cause,
    but my heart stands in awe of your words.
I rejoice at your word
    like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood,
    but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you
    for your righteous rules.
Great peace have those who love your law;
    nothing can make them stumble.
I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
    and I do your commandments.
My soul keeps your testimonies;
    I love them exceedingly.
I keep your precepts and testimonies,
    for all my ways are before you.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
    give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you;
    deliver me according to your word.
My lips will pour forth praise,
    for you teach me your statutes.
My tongue will sing of your word,
    for all your commandments are right.
Let your hand be ready to help me,
    for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O Lord,
    and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise you,
    and let your rules help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
    for I do not forget your commandments.

 


We have been working our way through Psalm 119 the last few months. It has been a great ride. The psalmist writes from personal emotion, frustration and yet certainty of who His God is. He sees how opposite his ways are compared to God’s ways. 

  • A few things we have discovered as we have walked through this psalm.
  • We are sojourners in this broken world, which is permeated by sin.
  • God often leads His people to places of desperation to work His ways into our lives.
  • We are called to share the message with all of His saving and steadfast love.
  • We are to pursue joy where it can truly be found - in Jesus alone.
  • We are called to live in authentic community with others.
  • We are not autonomous and not self-sufficient. God is the owner of everything!
  • Our questions should drive us to God.
  • Until we learn to accept the love of the Law-giver, we won’t be able to love his law.
  • We can be assured, that God is at work and will continue to work.
  • We must allow the Gospel to permeate every part of our life.
  • And many more things.

This has been a very personal journey for both the psalmist and the reader. We will see today in the last stanza, the psalmist closes it with a very personal and authentic prayer. This is what happens when one spends time in God’s Word, when we take time and effort to let God’s Word affect our lives, we gain clarity of who God is and who we really are.  And this clarity will drive us to some specific characteristics that each Christ follower should have abundant in their life.  Today, we look at these specific characteristics.  

Prayer 

The first characteristic we see is a life reliant upon prayer.  The psalmist uses two specific words here to represent his prayers.  He writes, “Let my cry and let my plea” come before you. There is a deep, personal nature of this last stanza that hasn’t necessarily been seen in this psalm so far.  

The psalmist voices his request for understanding, to be delivered, but only according to God’s Word.  Our most basic requests should be asking God to give us an understanding of His Word.  The Scriptures show us who God is, what He would say to us, what His heart is and help us to see his faithful, steadfast love. Spending time in God’s Word is the best way to transform your prayer life and cause your prayers to align with God’s heart.  

Praise 

God’s Word naturally gives rise to praise.  Our praise should be built upon God’s revelation of Himself.  God uses everything around us to remind us, instruct us, grow us, and show us Himself.  However, if your mind isn’t in His Word and meditating on Him, you may be missing it.  How unfortunate that we as people who proclaim we are followers of Christ, don’t have Jesus on our mind enough to hear His voice in everything.  All of our lives should be praise unto Jesus. 

When we take time and effort to let God’s Word affect our lives, we gain clarity of who God is and who we really are.

Longing 

We see in this psalm, one can praise God for who He is and what He has done, and also feel longing at the same time. If you remember back to verse 19, we saw the psalmist call himself a sojourner, someone who isn’t at home on this earth.  Yet, then we see in verse 175, he asks for continued life in order to praise God.  He goes from a place of feeling sick of the problems and brokenness of this world and a homesickness for God’s perfect restoration of this world to an understanding that his place on this earth is to praise God and point His words and actions to Him.  

Expectation 

We have seen that a constant diet and meditation on God’s Word will drive us to converse with God, sing praises of who He is and what He has done, and will help us express our dissatisfaction with this world we currently reside.  And the psalmist doesn’t end there, but instead, in one last moment, he confesses his tendency to go “astray like a lost sheep”.  The effect of study and meditation on God’s Word is greater clarity. We begin to see things more accurately, and see our actions, thoughts, and motivations fall completely short of who God is and what He expects.  We recognize that we tend to stray when we let our heart and emotions drive our decisions and motivations.

The psalmist makes this humble confession, and yet at the same time has this bold request.  “I am a sinner, I have gone astray, seek me.” I pray that we would act the same and be repenting sinners who boldly put our life, our eternity in Christ and what He has done for us.  

Father God, may we hunger for your word.  As we read your word, illuminate it by the power of your Holy Spirit to change and transform our lives.  And as we see you, may we be driven to deeper prayer, Christ centered praise, a longing for the way things should be and a recognition that we as sinners can only be made clean through you.

 

 


IN COMMUNITY

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.

BLESS RHYTHMS

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.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Psalm 119:161-176

How does God’s Word tell you who you are?

In what ways do you cultivate a life of saturating yourself in God’s Word? What would you like your daily habits to look like in one year? Consider how your community can help you in this desire.

Share a time when you called out to God in desperation. What caused you to be in this place? How did God answer you in this moment?

 

 NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE:   I PETER 1:3-5