My Bible study this summer has included a responsive reading of each stanza of Psalm 119. Now, you might approach this psalm like I typically have: in horror of having to read all 150 verses during one quiet time. And the content! This is a love letter to the Law. It’s hard for me to get excited about rules.
My perspective changed when a friend brought up a great reason that the psalmist would love the Law – it spells out how to please God. The Israelites were surrounded by people who worshiped gods that they didn’t quite know how to please. They just guessed and hoped for the best. In contrast, God lets us know the actions that please Him. And in that, we see a reflection of Who He is. We get to know Him and His Truth.
As I’ve been systematically reading and reflecting, I have understood the love I can have for God’s Truth. This has been especially helpful while I’ve been dealing with intrusive, untrue thoughts about myself. Perhaps I am connecting more with this psalm because I identify with being persecuted, not by an external source, but by the thoughts swirling around my afflicted mind. And I’ve clung to God’s Truth in powerful ways.
Let me give you an example. Verses 81-88 have struck me especially, so I want to share those with you. Below is each of the stanzas, followed by how I have prayed in response to it, with my prayer response in italics:
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.”
I really, really want You to save me from this, but I hope in what You say.
“My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, ‘When will you comfort me?”
I’m exhausted from looking for the fulfillment of Your promise that Your plans are to prosper me. When will Your comfort come?
“Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.”
I know my life is fleeting in Your plan, but Your promises I need to still remember.
“How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors?”
My heart longs to know when this agony will be over- when You’ll kick these attacking thoughts out of my mind for good.
The arrogant dig pitfalls for me, contrary to your law.”
My mind lays traps for me to get stuck believing things that are contrary to Your Word.
“All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for men persecute me without cause.”
The Truth You’ve revealed are what I need to rely on; help me, because my mind attacks me randomly.
“They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.”
These thoughts almost destroyed me, but I’m holding tight to Your promise.
“Preserve my life according to your love, and I will obey the statutes of your mouth.”
Save me, save my life, in Your great love and I’ll follow Your Truth.
When I struggle with my emotional health, I really do feel like my thoughts are attacking me. And I must remember that they are lies, originating from the father of lies as he attempts to render me ineffective. I remind myself of the Truth: that I am who He says I am, not what my accusing thoughts say I am. Doing so has helped me in such glorious ways! I love and appreciate how sweet His Word really is, sweeter than honey. The poignant examples of how He welcomes me to come honestly to Him with my pain and struggle sure are sustaining to me!
This deeper love and appreciation helps me understand how the Psalmist could write such a long, formalized love-letter to God’s Law. It challenges me to live a life that demonstrates the goodness of obeying God and walking with Him daily. Especially in the midst of pain and struggle.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the truth of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Closing Prayer: Oh Lord, thank You for Your holy Word, which speaks Truth into my heart and mind. Thank You for covering me with Your perfect Love, through all circumstances of my life. Though my mind wanders and the enemy accuses, I trust in You! Though I get caught in lies and my resolve grows weak, I trust in You! Give me the grace to be still in Your Presence and trust in Your timing and sovereignty over my life. I praise You Lord for Your hand is mighty to save me! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!