Sin and Shin
161 Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous rules.
165 Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble.
166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
and I do your commandments.
167 My soul keeps your testimonies;
I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep your precepts and testimonies,
for all my ways are before you.
The psalmist begins his penultimate stanza stating princes or civil authorities are persecuting him without cause (v 161a). The Israelite elites cannot keep the psalmist’s heart (mind, will and emotions) from standing in awe of God’s Words (v 161b). The psalmist continually rejoices at His Word like a person who finds great spoil (v 162). The psalmist “values God’s word as others would value the spoils of war, for it is like discovered treasure to one who loves it (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 437). Goldingay is correct when he states, “Finding plunder results from winning a great victory; it is quite something that the psalm can speak of such exulting when threatened with devastating defeat (v. 161)” (Psalms 90-150 BCOT, 2006, p. 439).
The psalmist goes on to contrast how he hates and abhors falsehood but loves His torah (v 163). God’s Word is truthful (see also vv 143, 151, 160) which is the opposite of falsehood. Seven times a day the psalmist praises the Lord for His righteous rules (v 164). “A person of faith gives praise to Yhwh morning and evening, the times of the offerings. A person of great faith might pray a third time, presumably in the middle of the day, like Daniel (Dan. 6; cf. Ps. 55:17), or even in the middle of the night (cf. v. 62). Hyperbolically, the psalmist claims to have given praise seven times a day for Yhwh’s faithful decisions, which again both give direction for life and promise that blessing will issue from following them” (Goldingay, p. 439). The psalmist’s way of living is in worship and verbal praise to the Lord (see v 175). “As he prays during the day and night (vv. 147–148), so his praise for the Lord punctuates his entire day” (Estes, p. 437).
For those who continually love God’s torah they have great and abundant peace, nothing can make them fall (v 165). “Loving God’s instruction yields the reward of great shalom, a rich Hebrew term encompassing well-being, prosperity, and satisfaction in life, for true life comes from loving and living God’s word” (Estes, p. 437). The ESV translates mikšôl as stumble; however, the wording here “does not suggest losing one’s footing in a way that might be momentary, but falling so as not to be able to recover. The psalm again presupposes the image of the way that we walk. For all the hazards of the path, we will be able to walk it” (Goldingay, p. 440). Praise God that Shalom is a Person and His Name is Jesus. Praise God His Word is a lamp to His peoples feet and a light to their path (v 105). Praise God that for those who are in Christ, though they stumble, they do not fall.
The psalmist hopes (looks for) the Lord’s salvation and acts on His commands (v 166). The psalmist is not hoping in vain! He is actively looking and is actively doing the Lord’s commands. “His faith in the Lord prompts his faithfulness to his word, so he practices consistent obedience as he keeps trusting the Lord to rescue him” (Estes, p. 438). The Hebrew literally reads my inner being keeps Your testimonies (v 167a). This is not a shallow commitment and observance, but reaches to the psalmist’s inner most parts of him. Why? Because he loves God’s testimonies and so he obeys and keeps them. “This is what it looks like to love the Lord “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5)” (Estes, p. 438).
The psalmist ends this stanza with keeping/observing the Lord’s precepts and testimonies, for all his ways are before Him (v 168). This verse reminds this author of the children’s song “O be careful little eyes what you see.” How often do the people today, believers and unbelievers meditate upon the fact that all our ways are indeed before Holy God; that what we see, hear, say and do are all before Him? “The psalmist lives under the authority of the Lord and his word (cf. v. 4), as his pattern of life aligns with God’s precepts and decrees. He also lives before God, in constant awareness that the Lord sees and knows all that he does. How the Lord evaluates his life is all-important to him, and it prompts him to a life of obedience to the Lord” (Estes, p. 438).
Lord God, times of persecution are increasing all over the world by those who are hostile to You. Lord God give strength and mercy to those who are experiencing persecution; having done nothing wrong, they are persecuted for identify themselves with You. Lord, help those who are in the midst of fiery trails and those who are not to stand in awe of Your Word. Help us to stand in awe of who Jesus is: our Victorious and Overcoming Savior, Soon Returning King and what He has done for us.
Lord, I rejoice along with my brothers and sisters at Your Word. For those of us who are in Christ we know that when we read and meditate on Your Word it is like finding great treasure. Lord, help us to hold, hide and treasure Your Word in our hearts and souls so that it will strengthen us on the day of persecution. Lord God, thank You that Your Word breaks strongholds; gives victory to those who obey, practice and apply Your Word.
Lord God, I absolutely hate and abhor falsehood. Lord God, convict us where we are fake, false and phony. Lord God, You know the last thing this world needs is another fake believer. Lord God, search us and test us, reveal to us where we are on the stray path, where there is deception in us and where we are following lies rather than Your Truth. Lord, may we love Your Word more than the lies and falsehoods of this world. Lord, help us to cultivate a lifestyle of worship and praise to You. May we praise You personally and publicly. Lord, may we praise You in the morning, afternoon, evening, night. May we praise You because we love Your rules. Lord, may we never forget that Your ways bring life and not death. May we be reminded that Your yoke is easy and burden is light. Your Word is not drudgery unlike the colorful sin and deception that this world heaps on its people.
Praise You Holy Trinity that Peace is a Person and His Name is Jesus! Praise You Jesus that for those who are in Christ they know Peace with You, themselves and others. Lord God, for the reader who is not in Christ, Lord may they understand that no matter how good life may be for them or how good they think they are, they have no peace without Christ. Lord God, “Your Law is Love and Your Gospel is Peace” are beautiful and truthful song lyrics. May You use Christmas Carols to encourage Your people and lead others to You. Thank You that You do not let Your people fall and that when we stumble, You are there to dust us off and set us on the narrow path.
Lord God, help us to actively do and apply Your Word. Looking out in hopeful exception for Your Salvation! Lord God, may our souls, our inner beings love Your Word. May our hearts: mind, will and emotions love and seek Your Word. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that we are under Your authority. You know everything that happens to us before it even occurs. Lord God, may we NEVER think that You will dismiss the sin in our own lives while convicting and judging the sin in others. Lord God, may we never forget there is NOWHERE we can go to escape You. This is true for the believer and the unbeliever. Lord God, help us to live our lives as a pleasing aroma to You. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lead this reader Lord in the way everlasting today and everyday for Your Glory. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.