49 Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
51 The insolent utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from your law.
52 When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O Lord.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
who forsake your law.
54 Your statutes have been my songs
in the house of my sojourning.
55 I remember your name in the night, O Lord,
and keep your law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me,
that I have kept your precepts.ESV
The psalmist opens this section commanding the Lord to remember His Word to His servant (v 49). “The call to remember is a common plea in the lament psalms (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 413). The Lord’s Word gives the psalmist hope as well as it is his comfort in affliction (v 50). “Through his adversity the psalmist has come to learn that the Lord’s word can be trusted. He has felt pain from his oppressors, but from the Lord he has received protection and preservation that have given him comfort” (p. 413).
The psalmist does not turn away from the Lord’s Word even though the insolent deride and mock him (v 51). When the psalmist remembers (זָכַרְתִּי translated think ESV) the Lord’s Word he takes comfort. “The use of the verb here is instructive: if people want God to “remember” (i.e., fulfill) his word, they must “remember” (i.e., obey) his word. What he remembers are the laws and decisions of God in all matters, which are here described as “ancient” (מֵעוֹלָם, “from antiquity”). They have stood the test of time with all its conflicts and pains; God’s word is eternal—ever reliable and ever binding” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, pp. 511-512).
Only the Lord and His Word can truly comfort in times of oppression, affliction etc. However, “with the comfort there is also a burning indignation (זַלְעָפָה). This is a rare word; it can mean a burning, or the effects of the burning (faintness)” (Ross, p. 512). The psalmist’s burning indication is more directed toward the wicked who “have no regard for the word of God than for his own plight. The truly devout naturally have a moral outrage over the ungodly who forsake God’s laws” (p. 512).
In verse 54 the Lord’s Word has been his song. “Wherever he goes and whatever he faces, God’s word tunes his heart for worship” (Estes, p. 414). The psalmist remembers the Lord’s name in the night, keeping His Law (v 55). Night could be a reference to time or it could be a reference to adversity, either way the psalmist will keep His Law.
The psalmist ends this section literally saying, “this was to/for me” (זֹאת הָיְתָה־לִּי). The question then becomes what is “this?” The ESV supplies the word blessing which has fallen on him. The CSB translates this as “This is my practice.” Commentators agree “this” refers to the psalmist having kept the Lord’s precepts. The psalmist in this verse “sums up his whole life as doing what the Lord directs. He does not just know God’s words, but he practices them because his life is formed and shaped by what the Lord commands. Obedience to the Lord is not just part of his life, but it is central to his life as it controls all that he does” (Estes, p. 414).
Lord God, help us to be a people who delight in remembering and obeying You! May we remember and obey You and Your Word no matter what situation we are going through. Lord God, may we take comfort in Your Word, may we also comfort others because You have comforted us. Lord God, there are many wicked people today who want to harm Your Name and Your people, may we have righteous indignation for the wicked who mock and defame You more than being angry about what the wicked are doing to us. Lord God, thank You that when we choose to praise You that You will fill our hearts and mouths with songs of worship that please You. Lord God, thank You for all the songs You have given us for this journey! Lord God, may Your servants make a joyful noise to You today! Lord God, You call Your people to remember. When Israel did not remember You, disobedience abounded; when we do not remember You we are no better. Lord God, may it be our practice, may it be to us that we have kept Your precepts. May we be like the Apostle Paul who fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7). Lord God, may we remember You and Your Word today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.