Psalm 119:153-160

Resh
153 Look on my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
give me life according to your promise!
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Great is your mercy, O Lord;
give me life according to your rules.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

There are eight imperatives the psalmist makes in this stanza (only the He stanza (vv 33-40 has more with nine). The psalmist opens this stanza calling on the Lord to look on his affliction and deliver him (v 153a). The psalmist is becoming desperate and needs the Lord’s help. He makes these petitions on the basis that he does not forget God’s torah (v 153b), “even though obeying the Lord did not give him a pass on pain and problems. He wants the Lord not to forget him, just as he has not forgotten what the Lord has taught him” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 435).

In verse 154 the psalmist uses legal language for God to plead his case and redeem him. “[T]he appeal to God to plead his cause is a call for vindication; the language used is that of a lawsuit, for God will champion his cause…This word for “redeem” is well-known for its use in kinsman-redeemer passages; but it essentially refers to setting someone free from bondage and adversity, here caused by the wicked” (A. Ross, Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, pp. 581-582).

The psalmist joins these previous petitions with a petition for God to give him life according to His Promises (v 154b). This can also be translated restore my life or preserve my life. The psalmist is stating “he wants deliverance from the oppression of the wicked so that he can live his life fully in the service of the LORD. This appeal is not based on his faithfulness to the Law, but on the LORD’s fulfilling the promises in his oracles. The law declared that the LORD would protect and defend his covenant people if they lived faithfully—and since he is a faithful covenant member, his prayer appeals to the promises of God to be carried out” (Ross, p. 582).

The psalmist knows that for the wicked who reject God and His Word salvation is far from them (v 155). The psalmist makes a stark contrast: in verse 151 the psalmist stated that the Lord is near to Him; yet for those who do wicked, they are far from His delivery and redemption. “The wicked have no interest in seeking out what the Lord has said. They do not want God’s word in their lives, so the Lord is not there for them in their time of need. They are willfully ignorant of God’s statutes, and they suffer because of their neglect” (Estes, p. 435).

Because the Lord is great in mercy, the psalmist petitions the Lord again to give him life (v 156). Mercy would be better translated compassion in this verse. The psalmist knows that God has compassion on His people. Instead of asking God to give him life according to his promise (v 154) he is asking according to his rules. “As the compassions of the Lord are many (v. 156), so the psalmist’s persecutors and foes are many” (Estes, p. 436). The psalmist does not swerve from the Lord’s Word even though he is being targeted by many persecutors and adversaries (v 157). “In the face of intense pressure, he perseveres in his commitment to God’s word, listening to the direction of the Lord rather than to the threats of his enemies” (Estes, p. 436). The people of God be would be wise to live in such a manner today.

As David hated those who hated God (Ps 139:21-22) the psalmist here looks at the faithless with disgust because they do not keep the Lord’s Commands (v 158). The psalmist again contrasts himself as being the antithesis of the wicked because he loves the Lord’s precepts (v 159). For the third time the psalmist petitions the Lord to give him life; however, here it is according to His Covenant Faithfulness (hesed v 159). God’s people can call upon His Covenant Faithfulness to give them life, to redeem and revive them. Why? Because the sum of the Lord’s Word is truth and each one of His Righteous Rules endures forever (v 160). “The word translated “sum” is literally “head”; here it means the chief characteristic of God’s word is truth. Everything God has said is reliable, because he himself is the truth (see John 14:6). This is not simply a reality for the writer’s current predicament—the word of God is eternal, and therefore eternally true” (Ross, p. 584).

Lord God, thank You that You and Your Word are True forever and ever. Thank You Lord that You do not look away from Your People in their affliction. Lord God, thank You that for those of us who are in Christ we have been redeemed and given life. Thank You that we can have confidence in our salvation according to Your Word.

Lord God, universalism is a lie. There are many people claiming to be “Christians” who think that in the end You will save all people. Lord this is fake news. This is a lie from the pit of hell that keeps people from hearing and receiving the Gospel. For those who reject Christ, salvation is far from them. Lord, lead unbelievers to read Your Word for themselves to see what You have to say about the eternal state of the wicked rather than listening to the world and its feel good message. Lord God, You have wired all of us for eternity; may today be the day for salvation for the reader that is far from Christ.

Lord God, Your compassion and mercies are many. Thank You Lord that Your mercies are new each morning. Lord God, You are Great in mercy and Greatly to be Praised! Lord, give us life according to Your Rules! Lord, Your people are surrounded by persecutors and adversaries, help us to remain faithful to You and Your Word. Lord, may we hate those who hate You with a righteous hatred; yet, sharing Jesus in authenticity and transparency. Lord, convict us where we care more about ourselves than Your Glory. Lord God, You will more than consider how we love Your precepts. You will judge believers when You are ready for their obedience and service to You. Lord God, thank You for giving us life according to Your covenant faithfulness.

Thank You Jesus that You have come to give us life and life abundantly. Thank You Holy Trinity that Truth is a Person and His Name is Jesus. Thank You Jesus that You are Faithful and True. Thank You Lord that Your Word is True and is absolutely sufficient and without error for us today! Lord God, thank You that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it. As such, teach us what that means and how to live in the light of Your Truth. Thank You Lord God for this reader! Lord God, give this reader life so they may love You and love others. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:145-152

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Qoph
145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep your statutes.
146 I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have founded them forever.

There is a deep crying out to the Lord for His help in this stanza. Based on the Lord’s righteousness of the last stanza (vv 137-144) and as he did in verse 10, the psalmist cries to the Lord with his whole heart (mind, will and emotions) to answer him (qal, imperative, 2ms with 1 cs suffix) so that he can keep His statutes (v 145).

The psalmist urgently and earnestly cries to the Lord to save him (hiphil, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) so that he can observe the Lord’s testimonies (v 146). The psalmist is crying out to God to cause his salvation “from the unbelievers who were following after him with an evil intent (v. 150). The answer to this prayer will mean that he will be able to continue keeping the statutes and testimonies. It may be that the oppression he was facing hindered him from fully and freely keeping the law, having to spend more time concerned with dealing with the wicked” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 577).

Estes states, “It is possible that v. 146b implies that he needs to be delivered so that he can keep the Lord’s decrees, perhaps indicating that his adversity has hindered him from getting to the temple for worship; but that specific setting cannot be proven definitively from the language of Psalm 119” (Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 434). Regardless he is still committed to obeying the Lord’s statutes and testimonies.

Verses 147-148 are a merism (rhetorical device/figure of speech that combines two contrasting words to refer to an entity) covering all of the day and the night. The psalmist prays before dawn for help and through the watches of the night. “Throughout the night he loves to “meditate” (cf. vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 99) on God’s “promises.” Having put his “hope” in God’s word, he waits for the Lord to come through” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 885).

It is wise to remember the psalmist is not “attempting to resolve the problem himself, he places his plight into the Lord’s hands. His crisis does not control him, but he stays committed to the Lord, and he waits for his word to reassure him…As he meditates on the word of God during the quiet of the night, what he knows is transformed into how he lives as he assimilates God’s truth into his life” (Estes, p. 434).

The psalmist continues his lament petitioning God to hear his voice according to His covenant faithfulness (hesed) and to give him life based on His justice (v 149). “Because the Lord is the one who created life, he can revive life when it is flagging (Estes, p. 434). The psalmist in verse 150 makes clear the occasion that prompted the psalmist’s petition in verses 145-149. His foes with their wicked, evil agenda are drawing near to him. Evil purposes (zimmâ) here “refers to sinful schemes…Even though he senses that he is nearly in their grasp, he views his problem through a theological lens rather than just as personal crisis. In following after wickedness, his enemies have departed far from God’s instruction, so the psalmist’s foes are fundamentally the Lord’s foes as well” (Estes, p. 434).

The psalmist preaches to himself that while his foes are drawing near, the Lord Himself is near to him and that all His commandments are true (v 151). The Lord being near to him means more to him than whatever his foes are seeking to do to him. “Subjectively, one can cope with schemers being near if Yhwh is near; and objectively, their being near will not mean their schemes succeed if Yhwh is near. Likewise, the fact that they are far from Yhwh’s teaching counts for less (subjectively and objectively) in light of Yhwh’s commands being true and trustworthy, reliable guides to conduct that matches the way the world really is and to conduct Yhwh will honor” (J. Goldingay, Psalms 90-150 BCOT, 2006, p. 436).

The psalmist concludes this stanza with a statement that he has known for a long time the Lord’s testimonies are the firm foundation forever (v 151). “The psalmist’s life from way back has been based on studying Yhwh’s declarations, becoming convinced by their wisdom and their promises, and thus acknowledging from them that they indeed came from Yhwh and that therefore they will stand forever (cf. vv. 142, 144); they will share in Yhwh’s eternity (cf. v. 89). “Of old” and “forever” thus embrace the entire time of the psalmist’s human life” (Goldingay, p. 436).

Father God, may You be the One that we cry out to in the morning and in the night. May we mediate on Your Word all the day long. Lord God, cultivate in us to be like the psalmist where You Word is our Light, Life and Shield. Thank You God that we live on the other side of the Cross knowing that Jesus is the One who saves. Lord God, remind us that You have not saved Your people to live for themselves but to live for You! Lord God, persecution is coming and in many places it is indeed here, help us all to meditate on Your Word hiding it in our hearts. Lord God, may we never forget that You are near to us in our sufferings and afflictions. May we never forget that You are nearer to us than our oppressors because Your Spirit indwells us. May we never forget in our times of trials and hardships that Your Word is True.

Lord for the reader who has been a believer for a long time or a new believer thank You and praise You that Your Word is our firm foundation. Thank You Lord that there will be a day when the evil doers who harm You and Your people will be held accountable. Lord God, may today be the day of salvation for the reader who does not know Christ. Lord God, thank You for today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:137-144

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Tsadhe
137 Righteous are you, O Lord,
and right are your rules.
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
140 Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.

The psalmist knows that the Lord is Righteous and that His rules are right (v 137). The Lord is the One who has appointed His testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness (v 138). The Lord is Righteous in His Character and Right in His Conduct. “Trust in the reliability of God’s word is directly proportionate to one’s trust in the Lord himself. The conviction that the Lord is righteous and faithful, as is his word, evokes a response of great devotion” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 884).

The zeal that the psalmist has for the Lord’s Word is an all consuming zeal because his foes forget God’s Words (v 139). This zeal is a deep anger that almost destroys the psalmist. Ultimately, “he could not however stand by while the word of the LORD was being nullified, for it is truth. The reliability of the word of the LORD is not something he had heard, or had been taught—it has been proved by him. He had been in situations where he was forced to rely on the promises of the LORD, to discover that the LORD keeps his word” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, pp. 572-573).

The psalmist knows the Lord’s promises firsthand, and as His servant he loves it (v 140). Even though the psalmist is small and continually despised (niphal, participle, 2ms, absolute) he does not forget the Lord’s precepts (v 141). “Being the little son, the youngest, or being small of stature, means being insignificant and not counting. That is the suppliant’s status in the community; it likely reflects the troubles the psalm has referred to. Trouble leads to being discounted and disregarded” (J. Goldingay, Psalms 90-150 BCOT, 2008, p. 433).

Unlike his foes who forget the Lord’s Words, the psalmist does not. Even though the psalmist is being afflicted and continually despised by his foes, he still loves the Lord’s promises. “The psalmist acknowledges candidly that he is totally unimpressive, with no importance or prestige or honor. Nevertheless, he does not let his low status deter him from staying true to the Lord. What distinguishes him is his commitment to God’s word, nothing inherent in himself that would cause others to be impressed with him” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 432).

Returning to the theme of righteousness (vv 137-138) the psalmist states the Lord’s righteousness is righteous forever and His Torah (law) is true (v 142). What the Lord says is true and can be trusted because of Who He Is. The Lord NEVER speaks nor acts in a manner that violates or contradicts His Character!

Although trouble and anguish have found the psalmist, the Lord’s commandments are his delight (v 143). “From the context of this stanza as well as the previous stanzas the difficulty most likely has been caused by his enemies in high places who are oppressing and demeaning him (Ross, p. 573). Zeal and obedience to God’s law (v 139) are what drive his foes to oppress him. “The psalmist might have wished not to feel so strongly about people’s ignoring Yhwh’s word, but passion does not give options. No doubt declaring this passion again signals that the psalmist is definitely not someone who fails to be mindful of Yhwh’s words” (Goldingay, p. 432). The psalmist delights in the Lord’s commands even when it hurts.

The psalmist ends this stanza again stating the Lord’s testimonies are righteous forever; and because of this, he petitions the Lord to give him understanding so that he may live (v 144). Understanding here is a hiphil, imperative 2ms with 1cs suffix. As the psalmist has done in other verses, he is commanding God to cause him to have understanding. God here is as He was in verse 27 is the Agent: “the person or thing that instigates an action or causes change in another person or thing” (J. Thompson, The Lexham Glossary of Semantic Roles, 2014, n.p.). The Lord has never ceased being in the heart changing business! The Lord is the One who causes effectual and lasting change and understanding in His people. The psalmist knows that the Lord and His Word are righteous; as such, he delights in it with his whole being. Because the Lord is always calling people to grow in their love and devotion to Him, the psalmist knows that God will hear his petition for understanding so that he may live for him. “As the Lord is perpetually righteous (v. 142), so his decrees are righteous forever. There will never come a time when God’s word will fail, so obeying God’s word is always the right thing to do. The psalmist, therefore, calls on the Lord to give him understanding (cf. v. 130) so that he can choose the path of life” (Estes, p. 433).

Lord God, thank You and praise You that You are Righteous forever! Thank You Lord that Your Word is Righteous and True. Thank You Lord that You are not like finite humans who change their mind 500 times a day, oh Lord God how my family and friends can attest to how guilty I am of that! Lord, thank You that in Your Sovereignty and Timing You appointed Your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness. Lord God, thank You that in Your Sovereignty and Timing You sent Jesus into this world to be born of a Virgin, taking on flesh, dwelling among sinful people who was crucified, dead, buried and resurrected on the third day. Thank Father that Jesus is now seated at Your Right Hand and when the appointed time comes, Jesus will return. Thank You Father that at the appointed time through Jesus’s Work on the Cross, You sent Your Holy Spirit into the world to convict sinners of their need for Jesus. Holy Spirit, thank You for indwelling and sealing Your people. Holy Trinity, for the reader who is not in Christ may today be their appointed time for salvation.

Lord God, may our zeal and passion for You and Your Word be productive and not a hindrance. Lord God, I love You and I love Your Word more than life itself. Lord, I hate how Your Word is being mocked and twisted by apostate believers. Lord, each day when I hear what these apostates are saying I come to a greater understanding of Paul’s zeal and passion for wanting the Judaizers to castrate themselves! Lord God, help me to have righteous anger and not sinful, vengeful anger. Lord God, may we never make excuses for unbelievers behavior but may we not be surprised when unbelieving people act like unbelivers. Lord God, how well Your people know Your promises and intervening in their lives. May we always be Your servants who love Your precious promises.

Thank You Lord that Your Good News was first revealed to the humble. Lord may we remain a humble people even if that means we are deemed small and provincial, despised by the world. May we never forget Your Word because we know in both times of trial and times of joy You are Righteous and Your Word is true. May we never cease delighting in Your Word. May we never cease in asking You to cause us to have more understanding so that we may live more for You. Lord God, may we never forget that You never teach us anything to keep it to ourselves! Lord God, stir Your peoples hearts to want to have understanding and to obey the understanding that You give us! Lord God, thank You for this reader! Holy Trinity, cause this reader’s understanding to grow by the Spirt, through the Son, for Your Glory Father. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:129-136

Photo by Kelly L on Pexels.com

Pe
129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.

The psalmist knows how wonderful the Lord’s testimonies are and that is why he keeps them with his life source or entire being (v 129). This language is similar to the language used in telling the wondrous and mighty deeds the Lord performed in the exodus (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 430). The Hebrew word for soul in this verse is nefesh which originally meant neck or throat. The psalmist was literally keeping the Lord’s testimonies with his very life. As Estes states, “The only reasonable response to the Lord’s wonderful word is to obey it” (p. 430).

In verse 130 the unfolding (pētaḥ) of the Lord’s Words gives light; it imparts understanding (mebin, hiphil, participle, ms, absolute) to the simple. This unfolding refers to “a mystery needing explanation; so it is the expounding of Yhwh’s words that brings illumination. Or the expression may picture Yhwh’s words as contained on a scroll, rolled up until one unrolls it; the words’ mere presence on the scroll brings no light until someone opens the scroll” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 429).

Light is used as a figure of speech for understanding. Simple (petî) has the connotation of being inexperienced (literally teachable youth) not dull or unintelligent. What the psalmist is saying is “when the Lord makes the meaning of his word clear, those who are inexperienced are able to understand it” (Estes, p. 430). The imagery of light reminds this author of a previous verse where the Lord’s Word was a lamp to the psalmist’s feet and a light to his path (105). It is important to remember that God’s Word lightens our path by giving us understanding, wisdom and discernment in areas where we are lacking.

In verse 131 to describe his desire for God’s word “the psalmist depicts himself as a young bird with its mouth open to receive food. This image implies that he is eating necessary nutrition, not an optional snack or dessert” (Estes, p. 430). Goldingay continues this thought stating, “Longing for Yhwh’s commands is like a hungry person’s longing for food, or a laborer’s longing for the end of the day, or the ground’s desire for rain, or Sheol’s desire for people to die” (Goldingay, p. 430). Christians today would be wise to assess what it is they are opening their mouths, panting and longing for because Satan longs to deceive, distract and ultimately destroy God’s people.

In verses 132-135 the psalmist makes six petitions (commands) to the Lord. The fact that the psalmist wants the Lord to turn to him signifies “he feels as though the Lord is not inclined to him and he needs the Lord to intervene” (Estes, p. 430) by being gracious to him (v 132a). The psalmist knows the Lord gives grace and deals favorably for those who love His Name. He then petitions the Lord to keep steady his steps (v 133a), indicating his “situation seems precarious, need[ing] firm footing in the face of his foes. He asks the Lord to thwart the destabilizing effect of sin on his life, both his own sins within and also the sins by his opponents who threaten to dominate him (cf. John 8:34; Gal 3:22). He realizes that sin is destructive and destabilizing, but God’s word can provide him with stability and protection against it (Estes, p. 431).

The psalmist’s fourth petition is for the Lord to redeem (pādâ) him from man’s oppression (v 134a). The term redeem strictly speaking “implies spending money, but usually it has a more general sense of procuring someone’s freedom or release from oppression…[T]he object of liberation is not to be able to do as one wishes but to keep God’s orders” (Goldingay, p. 431). The psalmist is asking the Lord to be redeemed so that he may keep His precepts (134b). Believers would be wise to do the same based on Jesus’s Work on the Cross. Because Jesus has redeemed His people from the penalty of sin, believers are also obliged to live for Him, keeping God’s orders!

The petition in verse 135 make Your face shine upon Your servant harkens back to the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). Referring to himself again as the Lord’s servant, he petitions the Lord to teach him His statutes. The psalmist “aspires to live with divine blessing and under divine authority” (Estes, p. 431). It is absolutely impossible to have the Lord’s blessing while rejecting His authority! It is also impossible to have Jesus as your Savior without accepting Him by grace through faith as your Lord (Master/Authority) who paid your sin debt with His finished Work on the Cross!

To this point of rejection, the psalmist ends this stanza shedding streams of tears, because people do not keep the Lord’s torah (v 136). The psalmist knows the grace and favor of the Lord and while he “has been deeply afflicted by his wicked oppressors, he does not return evil for their evil. Instead of laughing about their inevitable judgment by God for their disobedience, he weeps profusely for those who reject God’s instruction” (Estes, p. 431). Goldingay makes a profound point, “someone who cries like that in witnessing disobedience to Yhwh’s teaching surely cannot blatantly ignore that teaching” (p. 431). Believers today, while we wait in eager anticipation and expectation of Jesus’s Second Coming, we need to shed streams of tears for those who reject God’s Son and God’s Word. When the Lord is ready He will return for His Redeemed and in the meantime believers are to share the Gospel and keep His Commandments, loving Him and loving others.

Lord God, what a stanza this is! Lord Your Word is Wonderful; help us to apply it to our lives. Thank You and praise You Lord for the Holy Spirit who helps believers understand Your Word. Lord God, help us to take inventory and reflect on what it is we are opening our mouths, panting and longing after. Lord God, help us to be a people who grow in our hunger and thirst for You and Your Righteousness. May we long for You more than the things of this world! Lord God, for my brothers and sisters who are hurting I ask Lord that You will turn to them, deal graciously with them because they love Your Name. Thank You Lord that You do not abandon us. Lord God, keep our feet steady and ready in Your Word. Lord God, may Your people put on Your Armor so that sin and iniquity will have no dominion over us.

Lord God, thank You that You have redeemed Your people from their sin. Lord God, I ask boldly that for our unsaved loved ones that You will stir their hearts toward You. Lord God, for those of us who are in Christ may we NEVER forget that our redemption was costly and in response to Your salvation and redemption may we obey Your commandments. Lord God, may Your Face shine on this reader, may Your Face shine on all Your people as You teach us Your statutes.

Lord God, my heart breaks for those who do not keep Your Law. Lord, my heart breaks for those who have traded Your salvation and the Truth of Jesus Christ for a lie. Lord God, I pray for all those who are following apostates and prosperity teachers and preachers to be redirected and pointed to the true Christ and to the true Gospel. Lord God, Your Word is being violated every moment of everyday, help us to not become so hard hearted that we are unwilling to share the Good News with the lost. Help us to weep now, knowing that when You are ready our weeping and mourning will be turned to joy, dancing and singing. Thank You Lord God for this reader. Thank You Lord God for the opportunity to share and study Your Word online. Fill this reader with the Peace of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Psalm 119:121-128

Ayin
121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Give your servant a pledge of good;
let not the insolent oppress me.
123 My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies!
126 It is time for the Lord to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.

Because the psalmist has obeyed the Lord by doing what is just and right, he asks the Lord to not leave him to his oppressors (v 121). In verse 122 the psalmist calls himself the Lord’s servant (also vv 124-125) and petitions Him to give him a pledge of good. “A needy person will beseech someone with resources to pledge some of these to get a creditor off the debtor’s back. “Oppression” often denotes extortion, so here the financial image is not far away. The suppliant is indeed like someone in financial straits at the hands of the willful and needs Yhwh to spend resources on this needy person’s behalf” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90-150, 2016, p. 427).

Verse 123 is similar to verses 81 and 82 where the psalmist longs for the Lord’s salvation based on His promises. The psalmist has “looked so long for God’s promised deliverance that his eyes are failing. He expects the Lord to deliver him, but that time has not yet arrived. He has not stopped looking and trusting, but the protracted effort is wearing him down” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 429).

The psalmist again referring to himself as servant and petitions the Lord to deal with him according to His covenant faithfulness (hesed/steadfast love), teaching him His statutes (v 124). The Lord’s “commitment is expressed not in an act of deliverance but in the educative task of opening the servant’s mind” (Goldingay, p. 427). The Lord will NEVER act in a manner that is contrary to His Name, Character and Covenant. God’s people will never go wrong with asking the Lord to help them learn His statutes so that they may love and obey Him more.

To this point the psalmist commands the Lord to give him understanding so that he may know the Lord’s testimonies (v 125). “Learning God’s word is a central focus for God’s servants, as they love him with their whole lives, including their minds. The psalmist, therefore, asks the Lord to give him understanding as he did to Joseph (Gen 41:1–40) and Solomon (1 Kgs 3:9), implying that apart from the Lord he himself could not attain discernment” (Estes, p. 429).

To the psalmist it is time for the Lord to act because His torah has been violated (v 126). The Lord’s covenant has been violated and it is “the suitable time for the Lord to act in justice against the wicked who have both oppressed him and defied the Lord. Their violation of God’s word has gone on long enough, and the psalmist insists that it is now the right and necessary time for them to be judged” (Estes, p. 429).

“Violating Yhwh’s teaching is scandalous; so the psalmist is dedicated to the commands expressed in the teaching, more than to things of greatest earthly value” (Goldingay, p. 428). The psalmist ends this stanza in verses 127-128 “bring[ing] together the language of love and hate, and true (implied) and false, as the psalmist expresses how he values God’s truthful word. His attitude toward the Lord’s commands is antithetical to the attitude of his oppressors, who violated his instruction (v. 126). He loves God’s word, valuing it even above the purest gold. The psalmist does not pick and choose what he prefers of God’s word, but he carefully follows all of it, and his commitment to God’s right ways causes him to hate every false way proposed by those who disregard the Lord and his word” (Estes, p. 429).

Lord God, help us to do what is just and right. Help us to manifest the Fruit of the Spirit and not manifest oppression, evil, discord and hatred. Lord God, You have promised to be with Your people to the end of the age. Help us to endure and persevere in the midst of oppression and opposition. Lord God, teach us in the West what persecution and oppression mean. Lord God, the word persecution is being used in various ways and circumstances, so for those of us who are in Christ may we be very sensitive and mindful to when and how we use these terms.

Lord God, now more than ever is creation groaning to see Your salvation. Lord, my eyes long with the psalmist’s for Your salvation and to see Your righteous promises fulfilled. Lord God, the Bible is coming to life before my eyes, thank You and praise You for the opportunity to live in this time. Lord God, thank You that You never deal with Your servants in a way that violates Your Name, Character and Covenant. Thank You and praise You Lord that You are our Covenant keeping God. Thank You and praise You Lord that when we truly want to be taught by You, Your Spirit will open our hearts and minds to Your Word.

Lord, cause us to have understanding, wisdom and discernment. Cause us to have understanding and discernment when it comes to applying Your Word. Help us to hold everything that we read, see and hear up to the Light of Scripture. Lord God, You Laws are being violated all day every day. Society is truly on the fast track to hell. Lord, I thank You that when You are ready, when it is time You will Judge the living and the dead. Lord God, thank You that for those of use who are in Christ we are no longer called sinners, but children of God. Lord, for the reader who does not know Christ, I pray that You will convict them of their sin. Lord for those who do not know Christ, convict them of their need for a Savior and turn their hearts to Christ. Lord God, may we love Your Word above all else. May Your Word be the treasure that we store up so in times of real persecution, oppression and hardship we will know how to live and obey You accordingly. Lord God, now more than ever may we hate every false way and the things that trip us up so that we may live more focused and dependent on You. Thank You and praise You Lord for this reader! May You fill this reader with the Peace of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:113-120

Photo by Philip Wels on Pexels.com

Samekh
113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
117 Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
for their cunning is in vain.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
therefore I love your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of you,
and I am afraid of your judgments.

The psalmist swore a whole hearted oath to keep the Lord’s righteous rules (v 106) and in light of this he hates the doubled-minded (v 113). The psalmist loves the Lord’s torah which is a contrast to the double-minded. The double-minded are “fickle, who cannot decide what they believe” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms:90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 556). There is a contrast as well between love and hate. “These two verbs, love and hate, are antithetical, but they are also words that include acts. To “hate” includes the idea of rejecting, and “love” the idea of choosing…The psalmist has little patience with those who are double-minded” (Ross, p. 557).

Verse 114a explains why he loves the Lord’s torah and it is because the Lord is his hiding place and his shield. “Through his adversity he has come to value the Lord as his shelter and shield, images that could imply protection in a military context” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 427). The concept of the Lord as a hiding place and shield are common throughout the psalms signifying protection. The Lord is the psalmist’s protection, hence he hopes in His Word (114b).

For the first and only time in this psalm, the psalmist speaks directly to the evildoers, commanding them to depart from him (v 115a). He demands that these evildoers depart from him so that he may keep his God’s commandments (115b). The psalmist will not disobey nor give up obeying the Lord even though these evildoers are pressuring him. Ross notes the psalmist “could maintain such a commitment to the word even if they did not depart; but if they left him alone, however, he would be free to do more in his service of God” (Ross, p. 557).

In verses 116 and 117 the psalmist makes two petitions (qal, imperatives) to the Lord to uphold and hold him. The psalmist petitions the Lord to uphold him based on His promises so that he won’t be put to shame in his hope. “Only the Lord can preserve his life and thus prevent his shame. He has placed his hope in the Lord, so if the Lord does not sustain him then both the Lord’s honor and the psalmist’s honor are at stake” (Estes, p. 427). By petitioning the Lord to hold him that he may be safe he is “appeal[ing] to divine help. If the Lord sustains him in his faith, he will eventually be delivered from his enemies. With this appeal he affirms his esteem for God’s statutes” (Ross, p. 558).

Estes states that verse 118 “forms an anthesis to v 117, as the psalmist asserts that the Lord despises those who depart from his decrees. He views their deceit as falsehood, and the fundamental issue is their insistence on the lie of human autonomy instead of yielding to the truth of divine authority over their lives” (Estes, p. 427). The psalmist is confident that “God rejects those who reject him, those who wander away from his statutes (meaning disregard and disobey)” (Ross, p. 558). The word for astray in Hebrew is a participle. This is continual going astray, it does not stop. For people today, those who go astray from the Lord’s statutes will continue to do so until they repent, changing their ways.

In verse 119 “the psalmist pictures divine judgment on the wicked as dross discarded through the process of refining metal. If the wicked are characterized as dross, then the righteous are like pure silver that emerges through the smelting fire. The Lord can be trusted to do what is right in the world he rules, and this confidence causes the psalmist to love what the Lord has decreed” (Estes, pp. 427-428).

The psalmist knows that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31). The psalmist’s flesh trembles in fear of the Lord and he is afraid of His judgements (v 120). The psalmist is in “awe of the Lord, and he shudders when he contemplates God’s retribution of the wicked. In contrast to the fool, he does not take the Lord lightly, but he stands in awe and terror before him” (Estes, p. 428).

Lord God, it is a fearful thing to fall in Your Hands. Lord God, may we never approach You on our terms but on Yours. Thank You Lord that You do allow us to come before Your Throne boldly and in confidence; however, may we NEVER take advantage of Your grace and mercy! Lord God, may we be like this psalmist solely devoted to You rather than being like the double-minded. Lord God, being double-minded is denounced in both the Old and New Testament. Lord, You are our hiding place and our shield. May we rest confidently and securely in You regardless of what is happening around us. Lord, may we never stop hoping in Your Word and clinging to Your promises.

Lord, help us to put on the full armor so that we may be able to withstand the evildoers who do not depart from us. Remind us to put on Your Armor so that we may keep Your commandments! Lord, thank You that You will NEVER act in a way that brings shame to Your Name. Even though this world is full of scoffers and mockers, thank You Lord that You are our Victorious and Soon Returning King who will take vengeance on those who have rejected You. Lord God, obedience is required. Remind us there are NO days off in the Christian life and that when we go astray from Your statues, help us to repent right away and to get back on Your path.

Lord God, for the person who is reading this who is not in Christ, I pray for their salvation. Lord I know that it is taboo to talk about Your Wrath, but there is a day of judgement coming that will be severe and unlike anything humans have ever seen, known or experienced. Lord God, for the person who thinks that hell is not real, soften this person’s heart to read Your Word and to see what You have to say about judgement, hell and eternity for themselves.

Lord God, for those who are in Christ and love Your testimonies may our entire being tremble in fear, awe and reverence of You. Lord God, thank You and praise You that Your perfect love casts out fear! May believers NEVER forget that we will also face Your Judgement. Lord, help us to live in a manner that pleases and glorifies You. Not to merit/earn our salvation but as a way to say we love You and thank You for being our God. Thank You Lord for this reader. Lord God, help this reader run their race well. In Jesus’s Holy and Mighty Name I pray. Amen.

December 2021 Prayer

Sunrise, 1 December 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Thank You Lord for this new month. Lord God, thank You that even when the sunrise and sunset fizzles, You never fade away. Thank You Lord that when we burn out, we know that You do not burn out. Praise You Lord that You never slumber nor sleep.

Lord God, help us to grow this month in understanding that we are stewards and not owners. Help us Lord to give our lives in service to You and to others. Lord God, help us to be a people who worship and serve You with authentic and sincere hearts. May we be a people of whole hearted devotion to You. Lord God, helps us to offer You our sacrifice of obedience willingly. Help us Lord to be a people who seek Your Kingdom first and in doing so, we will grow in rejoicing and worshiping You.

Lord God, regardless of what this reader thinks about Christmas, thank You and praise You Father for sending Your Son Jesus to be born of a virgin, taking on flesh and dwelling among sinful people. Lord God, may we meditate and reflect on the mystery and wonder of Jesus’s Incarnation more this year. Lord may we look on the manger scene with Your eyes and not our own. May we meditate and reflect that the Baby in the Manger grew to become the Suffering Servant who paid our sin debt on the Cross. Lord may we never separate the Incarnation from the Resurrection.

Lord God, help us to end 2021 well. Lord God, impress on us that this world is not our home. Lord God, prepare our hearts to meet Jesus whether it be through death or rapture, prepare us to see our King in His Beauty. Lord God, may we strive to love You more this month. May we strive to obey You more this month. Lord, may we seek ways to serve You. Lord God, thank You that You do not call us to do life alone. While the Internet has many, many ills, thank You Lord that it does provide us with a means of connecting with others.

Lord God, with all the turmoil, darkness and chaos that is rampant in the world today, help Your people to be wise and discerning. Help us to exercise common sense and to hold everything we read, hear and see up to the Light of Scripture. Lord God, may we not fear new variants, geopolitical issues, societal and economic collapses but rather view them with an end time lens. Lord God, may we not bury our heads in the sand, but to face what is to come in Your strength and with Your mind.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord, thank You for the opportunity to get to know some of my fellow bloggers outside of WordPress. What a gift and joy this community is to my life. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Christ, stir their heart toward You. Lord God, thank You and praise You for the gift of salvation. Thank You Jesus for Your first coming (Advent) and prepare our hearts for Your second coming. Thank You Lord for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:105-112

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Nun

105  Your word is a lamp to my feet 

and a light to my path. 

106  I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, 

to keep your righteous rules. 

107  I am severely afflicted; 

give me life, O Lord, according to your word! 

108  Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord, 

and teach me your rules. 

109  I hold my life in my hand continually, 

but I do not forget your law. 

110  The wicked have laid a snare for me, 

but I do not stray from your precepts. 

111  Your testimonies are my heritage forever, 

for they are the joy of my heart. 

112  I incline my heart to perform your statutes 

forever, to the end.

Psalm 119:105 is a beloved verse for many and in Hebrew it is a verbless clause. “In Old Testament times, lamps were made of clay in the shape of a shallow cup or saucer pinched on one edge to support a wick [see image above]. They were not carried outside for travel lest oil spill out of the open top; rather, they were used indoors or in a cave where neither sunlight nor moonlight illuminated the darkness” (J. Hilber, “Psalms” ZIBBC, 2009, p. 423).

Ross’s commentary on verse 105 states, “The comparison of the word of God to a “light” and a “lamp” (metaphors) indicates that divine revelation brings spiritual guidance for the faithful who live according to it. The figures of “foot” and “step” (implied comparisons) refer to what Scripture elsewhere calls the believer’s walk, the course of actions in life. The image of light in the Bible also has the connotation of joy and happiness in life. On the other side, the world is enveloped in darkness because of the presence of evil and what it produces” (A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 551).

There is danger in darkness. “Without God’s word [the psalmist] would be walking in the dark, unable to see the path before him” (Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 425). Believers today have the entire canon of Scripture to light their path and we would be wise to read and heed it! The only time that believers are said to be “of the world” is when they shining the Light of the World, Jesus Christ (John 8:12). As this world grows darker and darker by the minute, may believers, like this psalmist not deviate from the Lord’s Word and Path.

The psalmist is so commitment to staying on the Lord’s path that in verse 106 he uses legal language to solemnly swear an oath to keep the Lord’s righteous rules. “Rather than insisting on his freedom to choose as he pleases, he firmly holds to what the Lord decrees” (Estes, p. 425). The Lord’s decrees for the obedient brought life and blessings, but for the disobedient the Lord’s decrees brought consequences.

In verse 107a the psalmist again states he is severely afflicted (see also vv 22-23, 25, 39, 51, 61, 69, 71, 78, 81-83, 85-87, 92 and 95). In his affliction the psalmist knows to cry out to the Lord to give him life (piel, imperative, 2ms with 1 cs suffix) rather than running away from God or becoming angry with Him. The psalmist makes his petitions according to the Lord’s Word (v 107b), offering praises (v 108a) and with a teachable spirit (v 108b).

The psalmist “depicts his praise in the language of sacrifice that is not compulsory but freely given. He knows that to be accepted by the Lord his praise must be genuine and not a cover for his insincerity. As he praises the Lord, he also wants to continue to learn from him, so he approaches the Lord as a humble suppliant and not with a spirit of entitlement” (Estes, p. 425). Oh that the people of God would approach the Lord in the same manner today!

The ESV does a poor job translating verse 109a and in Hebrew it literally says, My life is continually in my palm. Goldingay states, “To take your life into your hand is an image for risking your life (1 Sam. 19:5; 28:21). “Palm,” kap, rather than the general word yād, helps to explain the idea: having your life on your open hand makes it easy for your enemies to take it” (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90- 150, 2006, 422). Even thought the psalmist’s life is in his palm he does not forget/ignore the Lord’s torah/law (v 109b).

The Lord’s Word is a lamp to his feet and light to his path (v 105) and even though his life is continually in his own palm (v 109), the psalmist does not stray from the Lord’s precepts even though the wicked have laid a snare for him (v 110). “[E]ven when facing threats, he keeps listening to the Lord. He does not allow dangers to deter him from God’s way, but he fixes his compass on the true north of God’s word and does not deviate from it” (Estes, pp. 425-426).

The Lord’s testimonies are the psalmist’s heritage and joy of his heart (v 111). Heart in Hebrew thought encompasses the entire being: mind, will and emotions. The psalmist’s entire being delights in the Lord’s testimonies to the point where he inclines his heart to perform His statutes forever, to the end (v 112). Good theology always moves from the head, to the heart, to the hand; and that is how the psalmist ends this stanza, with active obedience. The psalmist is “intentional about obeying what the Lord has commanded, choosing to live according to the Lord’s way rather than his own way. This commitment to obedience is complete and permanent, extending “to the very end.” As in v. 33, he will obey the Lord all the time throughout all his life” (Estes, p. 426).

Father God, may Your Word be the lamp to our feet and light to our path. Lord God, may we walk in step with You rather than this world. Lord God, at some point for the believer in Christ, they have made a faith declaration, impress on Your people, what that declaration of faith means. May we be reminded that our declaration of faith means that we will no longer live for ourselves but for YOU! Lord God, may we be reminded that faith in Christ is not easy. It is the narrow road. Lord God, for the person who is suffering from affliction I ask that You will give them life according to Your Word. Lord, may we run to You in our affliction and not from You. Lord God, may we offer You authentic and sincere praises with teachable spirits.

Lord God, thank You that for believers in Christ, we know that You hold us in the palm of Your Hand. Lord God, help us even when it seems like we are on our own, in enemy territory, that You are with us. May we never forget Your promises so that when the wicked come and lay traps for us we will not be moved. Lord, may we know Your Word so well Lord that when persecution comes, Your Word will be hidden in our hearts.

Lord God, Your Word is our heritage, our inheritance. You preserve Your Word from generation to generation. It never is far from my mind that Your Word is always one generation away from extinction. Impress on us Lord that You have no grandchildren. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Christ, may today be the day of salvation. Lord God, may Your Word be the joy of our hearts! May we incline our hearts to do Your Will! Lord God, may we obey You forever, not to earn our salvation but out of love and reverence for You. Lord God, for the reader who is on the edge and thinking of giving up, I ask boldly that You revive them according to Your Word. Give them light in their darkness. Thank You Lord for this stanza of Psalm 119. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Never gets any easier

Sunset, Boca Ciega Bay 22 Nov 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

We will be heading to the airport in a few hours to return to PA after spending the week with my mom for Thanksgiving. It never gets any easier to depart from my mom. Even though my mom, God willing, has a flight to come to PA on Dec 10, departing never gets any easier.

Maybe it’s age or life events but this departing impresses on me even more to: A tell people in my sphere of influence how much I love them because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow; B thank God for believers who if I don’t see again in this life, I will see in heaven; C share Jesus with urgency as I may not see them again.

Life is precious. Relationships while messy and painful are a gift. As the Christmas season has descended on us yet again, may we remember Jesus. May we remember who He is and what He has done. May we remember this life never gets any easier; therefore, cling to Jesus, share Him and enjoy time with others while we are still here.

Lord God, thank You and praise You for time with my mom, Nathan and PQ. Thank You Lord for the gift of family. Lord God, as new variants emerge, may we cling to You, may we hold onto You knowing that You NEVER change. You are constant; You are stable. Lord God, thank You for my mom’s salvation, thank You for Nathan’s salvation, thank You for the salvation of other believers. Thank You Lord for my salvation. Lord God, for the reader who does not know Jesus, Lord may today be the day of repentance and salvation for this reader. Remind us Lord this world is NOT our home. Remind us Lord You do not call us to an easy road, but a narrow road. Lord God, while this life isn’t getting any easier, thank You that we are NOT alone! Thank You Holy Trinity for being our Guide, Light, Path and Help. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

For anyone who is interested, Nathan did dabble in the salt life fishing off my mom’s pier!

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

Mid November 2021 Prayer

Lord God, it is heavy on my heart to pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord God, prepare us not only for persecution but to be martyred for our faith in Christ. Lord God, while You are in the heart changing business when I read Your Word, I do not read there will be a great revival or a great spiritual awakening in the end times. Rather, I read there will be persecution and martyrdom.

Lord God, I know persecution and martyrdom are very real realities for my brothers and sisters all over the world. Lord God, help them to hold fast, stand firm and remember that You are Faithful and Just. Lord God, thank You that nothing that we suffer for You is ever in vain. Even if we do not understand why things are happening now, help us to be reminded there will be a day when we will see things more clearly. Lord God, help us to learn from those who have been persecuted and martyred. May we hide their stories in our hearts to encourage us in trying and difficult times.

Lord God, prepare us and guide us. Lord God, may believers never forget that nothing belongs to us. Not our lives, bodies nor resources, they are all Yours and You call us to steward what You have entrusted to us well. Prepare us to serve You faithfully in a world that is becoming more and more morally and ethically bankrupt, corrupt and void. Lord, may we fear You more than people.

Lord God, I pray for this reader. If they do not know Christ I pray that today is the day of salvation. Lord, for the reader who is in Christ I ask that You will calm any anxiety or worry they have about the future.

Lord God, may this reader allow You to prepare them for the future. Thank You and praise You Lord that You are faithful to keep Your promises. Thank You Lord there will be a day when Your people will no longer suffer and we will see You in all Your glory. Lord, help us to be a people who respond well to the challenges that are set before us rather than cowering in fear and trepidation. Holy Trinity, help us to die to self, pick up our cross and follow You. Holy Trinity prepare us for what lies ahead, so that we may glorify You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.