“Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out Your decrees.” -Psalm 119:155
Salvation is far from those who reject God as Truth. Their hearts are hard, their spiritual eyes are blind. Oh that they might draw near to God, to “taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8). We all like sheep have gone astray, each determining what is right in our own eyes, forming ourselves and other things into little gods. But God, in His rich mercy, saved His elected saints, bringing His children into the Shepherd’s fold, adopted forever as His sons and daughters. We are the ones who are being made truly alive each day, to reflect our Eternal King. Christian, take joy in the gift of your salvation. This is the closest to Hell you will ever be.
Those who have no appetite for God will be given over to their lusts. Sin, deceit and confusion will rule the rebellious heart (Romans 1:18-32). It should break the heart of every believer to see someone revel in lies. It was never meant to be this way. Yet because we live under a Curse, Jesus came to set us free. For those who belong to Christ Jesus, you are now no longer under condemnation, but grace. His set love is on you, His mercy is unending.
But how will anyone know they are lost if they do not first hear about God? How will they ever know to seek Someone they have not heard? This is why evangelism is needed. Christians are to proclaim the Good News to others so they too might hear and repent. We cannot save, for this is the Lord’s work. We are simply called to be faithful with what we know to be true. Go and tell. Live out the Gospel truth that through Jesus’ sacrifice of His own body, redeemed sinners are forgiven, because of God’s mercy. Jesus Christ is the only way to have eternal peace and fellowship with God (John 14:6). Jesus “has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). If you have never trusted in the saving and finished work of Christ I implore you to go to Jesus today. He is waiting for you to come Home.
“I hate double-minded men, but I love Your law.” -Psalm 119:113
There is a familiar tone from the octave Mem (vv. 97-104), where the psalmist proclaims his love for what God loves (v. 97) and hatred of what God hates (v. 104). Here the psalmist declares his hatred of wavering faith. The double-minded person is divided in their loyalties, not deeply rooted in faith (James 1:5-8; Matthew 13:5-7; 20-22). Self-sufficiency over trust in the Lord. They lack confidence in Who God is. Reading Christian biographies is a good remedy for seeing God’s power on display. Gladys Aylward, William Wilberforce, Elisabeth Elliot, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon and Amy Carmichael are a few I can recommend. Their lives show us that we do not compartmentalize our faith. Genuine fellowship with the Lord does not operate this way.
Elisabeth Elliot comments on a Christian’s confidence in God. She says confidence in the Lord leads to a prayerful life, which leads to a fruitful life, which leads to a joyful life. Elisabeth suggests another faith-building exercise (to fight double-mindedness) is to write down in a specific notebook your prayer requests. Over time look back through them and write down how the Lord has answered that prayer. Is anything more helpful than to see how God works personally toward you?
Even as the psalmist cries his hatred of double-minded men, we must remember that he speaks of their lack of faith toward the God he loves. It is an extreme use of language describing what he rejects and what he commends. We do not hate any person created in the image of God, but hate the effects of sin born in every soul except Christ. This calls for discernment and maturity which comes from reading God’s Word on a regular basis. What pleases God and what grieves Him? Spiritually nourishing our souls is how we cultivate wisdom as we make a thousand choices each day. Holy living is made practical, which is why the psalmist then exclaims his love for God’s law. Obedience to God’s commands keeps us from becoming double-minded people. God is gracious to show us the best path for us to follow. It is written in His Word.
“Preserve my life according to Your love, and I will obey the statutes of Your mouth.” -Psalm 119:88
The cry of the psalmist for preservation is not unique to him. Many frightened and weary souls have pleaded for the Lord to protect their physical beings as well as preserve their souls. The psalmist’s prayer is for God to keep him “according to Your love.” He petitions God to remember how much He loves this poor pitiful creature. Then the psalmist declares to pursue holiness as God refreshes his spirit.
There are times to be brought low and times to be lifted up. We cannot thrive in the valley indefinitely. The Lord knows our weak frame would wear out and wither. He may not remove the affliction, but He does promise to refresh you with His grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God will give us exactly what we need for optimum spiritual growth. Whatever He decides for us to personally endure He will be faithful to keep you close to Him to the very end. Our Father will not forsake His own. He cannot and will not be faithless. And what will your response be? Will you forget His mercies on you and go about your business? Or will you stop and consider His grace in preserving your spirit for all eternity? The latter response leads to worship and obedience to the Preserver of our souls. No matter our external circumstances, God has promised soul rest through His Son Jesus for all who trust in His sufficient work on the cross. Praise God for our Great Shepherd and High Priest, for now we can approach His Throne of Grace in our time of need and God not only listens to our pleas, but He cares and responds accordingly in His Sovereign Wisdom.
“They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken Your precepts.” -Psalm 119:87
This is a heavy topic. Evil men plotted not only to smear David’s reputation, but sought to kill him. The Bible is full of gritty, messy, real life stories. Perhaps you aren’t fearing for your life, but this type of behavior to “wipe someone from the face of the earth” still happens today in our cancel culture. It is an attempt to silence a voice, discredit their opinion and make them irrelevant. Wickedness seeks to bury truth, but truth-tellers will be justified. If not in this life then in final victory when God will make all things right. They do not forget God’s Word but cling faithfully to clarity in a world of confusion.
The true believer will echo the psalmist in perseverance of God. The harder we are assaulted for our faith, the tighter we hold on to what we know is true. Like the old hymn says, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” Ask the Lord to daily renew a fresh fire in your heart to pursue Him. He promises to draw near to those who still seek Him (James 4:8).
“All Your commands are trustworthy; help me, for men persecute me without cause.” -Psalm 119:86
The first part of this verse is an acknowledgment that our Lord, Maker and Law-Giver can be trusted. He will never deceive, never lead us astray from what is good, what is best for us eternally. God’s Word is absolute Truth. External circumstances do not change the object of our Hope or salvation status for the one who follows Christ the Lord no matter the cost. Their souls are secure so the inner man can rest despite the trials of life.
The latter part of the verse is a cry for help. Even if the writer knows God can be trusted, he still prays for his suffering to end. Affliction is not without purpose, but unless our spirits are refreshed even with one cool drink, we will wither. Man cannot stand alone against our adversary the devil apart from God’s divine help. The thorn may never be removed, but our perspective can change. The psalmist also does not take matters into his own hands but instead trusts in the One who loves him best, the Perfect Judge. He will avenge His elect, His Bride, one day with complete finality when every tear will be wiped away and pain will no longer exist (Revelation 21:3-5). The reason you and I can have such outrageous hope is because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. The God of the Universe came down to us because we could not go to Him on our own (John 1:14). He endured not only the hatred of men through persecution and murder, but experienced God the Father’s wrath, so those who place their faith in His sufficient blood never have to eternally bear God’s punishment for their sins. Our sins have been pardoned, wiped away, because of the matchless grace of King Jesus. He is worthy of our trust at all times, He is worthy of worship in all of life, even in persecution.
“How long must Your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors?” -Psalm 119:84
Once again the question of “when?” is submitted before God’s Throne. Although believers trust in the Lord’s Sovereignty and Wisdom, we can inquire of God’s plans. Even if He does not answer how we expect, it is good to remember His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher (better) than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). This verse is a prayer formed as questions, transparent in emotion, meaning David feels God is trustworthy to bring his suffering to the One who not only listens to his cries, but is able to deliver him.
Along with bringing our own questions before God, our prayers need to circle back to pleas for His help. The Christian resolves to worship and trust in the One True God who loves him best, even when he doesn’t get all the answers. Your view of God in the midst of suffering reveals what the heart truly trusts and loves. Is God still good? Does He care for you? Does He love you? The answer is yes- infinitely yes for the soul covered in Christ Jesus. More than this, our God is not only willing to meet us in our pain, but He is able to comfort, deliver, and encourage our weary spirit as He sees fit. We are only called to submit to His wisdom and persevere in faith. May the Lord help us stay faithful as we learn to wait on Him.
Grace upon grace,
Growing deeper: Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Peter 5:7-11; Psalm 42-43
“Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your decrees.” -Psalm 119:83
It was custom to place wine in leather bottles for preservation. If the bottle was hung around smoke it would char and shrivel up, becoming useless as a container for new wine. David uses this imagery to communicate how he feels in his affliction: like a thrown away broken vessel, no longer of any use once the smoke has wrinkled the wineskin. King David is wasted with age, sickness and sorrow. Yet still he clings to the Lord by declaring he will not forget God’s Word. This supernatural perseverance reminds me of Paul’s resolve in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
This is where the believer lands. We remember and hope in our Deliverer, trusting our trials will conform us to Christ. His life is at work in the believer and He will not finish until this transformation is complete (Philippians 1:6). We are to die daily to self so Jesus becomes more real and lovely to us. How we respond in our trials also serves as a witness before a spiritually dead world. Dead to our old nature, alive in Christ through the agony of affliction.
“My eyes fail, looking for Your promise; I say, ‘When will You comfort me?’ ” -Psalm 119:82
The psalmist can’t see the outcome. Since God is outside of Time, the Creator of Time, He alone knows the future perfectly. The writer is honest before the Lord asking “when?” As Mediator, Jesus provides us access before the Throne of God to come to Him with our fears, impatience, and all the emotions in between. He will be faithful to wash the earthly grit from our eyes and sharpen our eternal perspective over time. He will do this for the psalmist as well. Why? Because God does not forsake His children. He paid a dear price to rescue us for Himself by permitting His Son Jesus to take our payment of sin. God is our Comfort. He teaches us that this world is not our Home (John 14:1-4). This isn’t all there is to life. Yet even as the world blazes on fire and nations rage, God is a constant companion to those who know and fear Him through Jesus Christ. How is this possible? By taking hold of the promises of God by faith. Faith is a precious jewel in the treasure trove of spiritual riches. For the last two thousand years believers have lived by faith. Before Jesus came in the flesh His people walked by faith too, like the psalmist, believing better things lie ahead when the Messiah would come (Hebrews 11:13-16;32-40). My knowledge may be limited but I can hold fast to the Omniscient Lord. People will disappoint and hurt us in this sin cursed world, but God Eternal never will. He has proved Himself faithful over and over. He is trustworthy. Trust in Him too and take courage while we wait on the Lord.
“My soul faints with longing for Your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your Word.” -Psalm 119:81
The purpose of life is to know, love and serve God. This means our existence matters. Yet it is a fruitless life, chasing the wind, apart from God. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as the Westminster Shorter Catechism states. The psalmist is fully aware of God as substance and sustainer of life, over our physical bodies and nourishment for the soul. This is why his deepest desire is to move closer to the Heavenly King. He is our strength. Also, as David’s (likely the writer of this psalm) enemies surround him relentlessly, his reaction is to cry out to God who delivers. He does not tailspin into fear but deliberately places his trust in the Sovereign Lord. Puritan William Gurnall wrote, “The world will beget a thousand cares and fears, but cannot quiet any of them.” So where do we go when we feel afraid, weary, disappointed or hopeless?
Go to Jesus. Remember the dear price our Lord paid on the cross so that we no longer have to be mastered by sin and fear. Our salvation is only in Christ (Acts 4:12). Even the psalmist looked forward to a day when the Messiah would fulfill the promises of God. We have the advantage of looking back to Calvary to see what Jesus the Messiah has done. The certain hope of every believer lay with Jesus who showed us the full extent of His love through His life, death and resurrection. May God strengthen our faith in Him and kindle an inward fire in us. May the Lord enlarge our longing for Him, continually renew our mind through Scripture, and move mightily in us like this psalmist.
“May my heart be blameless toward Your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.” Psalm 119:80
The psalmist seeks righteousness. He longs for it. To be made clean once and for all is the soul cry of every human. Unbelievers seek worldly solutions, justify their sins, or profess unbelief. By refusing to acknowledge divine authority, the unbeliever reasons they do not have to submit to such authority. But this reasoning is marred based on subjective truth rather than absolute truth, because the God of the Universe does indeed exist and we must all give account to Him for our actions one way or another (1 Peter 4:5).
Christians seek God’s face. God gives every one of His children the desire to pursue Him and live before His Throne. Only Jesus’ blood can cleanse you and me. Only Christ’s righteousness frees us to walk blameless. We are unworthy yes, but we are also recipients of His grace. The beautiful truth is that when God the Father looks at me He sees Jesus’ robe of righteousness. It sufficiently and perfectly covers me. Although I still sin, being tied to my flesh, it is no longer my master, or who God has called me to be. All in Christ are new creations. Like snake skin, we shed our old nature and put on the new. God has promised to renew my desires, thoughts and actions the more I seek Him. He is faithful to complete the work He has started in each and every one of His children (Philippians 1:6).
Like the psalmist, let this be our heart cry, to walk worthy as sons and daughters of the King. Let us not grieve the Holy Spirit with sinful ways and shame the work of Jesus on our behalf. Pray for the Lord’s help to honor Him in loving obedience to His commands. He is certain to grant any request in line with His will (1 John 5:14-15). And what could delight Him more than to see His children asking to follow Him with a blameless heart? May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in His sight, Our LORD, our Rock and Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).