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.

Psalm 119:97-104

Mem
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way
(ESV).

The opening line of this stanza exclaims, “oh how I love Your Law!” (v 97a). What is really amazing me about this psalm is how personal, heartfelt and worshipful it is. Because the psalmist loves the Law, he mediates on it all the day (v 97b).

This psalm and especially the above verse humbles me with how much he loves the Lord’s Law. “In Psalm 119 the psalmist does not just learn God’s word, but he loves it. His love for God’s instruction causes him to meditate on it continually (cf. Ps 1:2); and as he contemplates God’s truth, it is assimilated into his life so that he learns it, loves it, and lives it” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 423).

Dr. Michael Heiser makes an excellent point when he says, “We tend to think of the law as though every one of its 613 commandments [this includes the 10 commandments given in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21] were an oppressive lynchpin in a relationship to Yahweh. We tend to view the law negatively, as though it were given to produce feelings of guilt or to frustrate Israelites with the impossibility of pleasing God. This is misguided…An Israelite would have known that believing was at the heart of right relationship with Yahweh, not mere mechanical observance of a list of do’s and don’ts. For sure some Israelites would have lapsed into this mistaken thinking, particularly after the shock of the exile, but that wasn’t what the law was about” (The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, 2015, p. 163).

The commitment that the psalmist has to the Lord’s commandments makes him wiser than his enemies (v 98a). “Obviously, people attacking the psalmist without reason and/or with deceit ignore both the content of Yhwh’s commands and the promises attached to them. They are stupid. They are ultimately bound to fail” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 418).

Because the Lord’s Word is always with him (v 98b) he has more wisdom (understanding) than all his teachers (v 99a). The psalmist here has caused himself more wisdom because the Lord’s testimonies are his meditation (v 99b). The Word of God NEVER fails to make wise a person who is open, receptive and willing to obey what He says!

In verse 100a the psalmist compares himself to the aged. While it is widely assumed that older individuals have more discernment (understanding) than the young, the psalmist here flips this, stating that he has more discernment than the aged because he keeps the Lord’s precepts (v 100b).

The psalmist holds back his feet from every evil way so that he may keep the Lord’s Word (v 101). He also does not turn to the right or to the left from the rules that the Lord has taught him (v 102). “[The psalmist] always keeps in mind that he is a student in the Lord’s school, and his chief purpose is to stay true to what the Lord has taught him” (Estes, p. 424).

The Lord’s Words are a sweet taste to his mouth, sweeter than honey (v 103). “In biblical times honey was a highly valued delicacy and a rare sweetener, so it is a fitting image for how delectable God’s word is to him. As frequently throughout Psalm 119, God’s word is viewed in terms of delight and enjoyment because to the psalmist it is a sweet delight, not a bitter duty” (Estes, p. 424). Believers today also know how sweet His Words taste in their mouths, which is why they can say along with David, “o taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps 34:8).

The psalmist concludes this stanza restating that it is through the Lord’s precepts that he gets discernment; as such, he hates every false way (v 104). The psalmist is able to discern false ways because he knows what the Lord his God requires both from the Law and because of having a personal relationship with Him. “In the light of God’s word, he can see through sin for what it is and where it leads, and this understanding enables him to reject every false way (cf. v. 163). God’s word guards him against making wrong turns that lead to bad consequences” (Estes, p. 424).

Lord God, thank You and praise You for Your Law! Lord God, may we love Your Law like the psalmist. Lord God, may we seek to read and practice Your Word so that we will be wise people! Lord God, wise people seek wise people. May we seek to do life with the wise and not the popular. Lord God, Your Word will cause us to grow if we are actively reading and putting it into practice. Help us to desire Your Word so that we will know how to discern truth from error. Lord God, there is so much error in our world today, help us to be grounded and guarded in Your Truth!

Lord God, help us to keep our feet from moving toward evil. May we stay focused on You and what You have taught us rather than looking to our right and to our left. Lord God, Your Words have the sweetness of life. May we never forget to taste and see that You are good, even in the midst of pain, hardship and suffering. Thank You Lord that You cause Your people who are earnestly seeking You to have wisdom and discernment. Lord God, may we practice common sense; helping us to hate every false way! Lord God, thank You for this reader! May this reader grow in their desire for You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:89-96

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Lamedh

89  Forever, O Lord, your word 

is firmly fixed in the heavens. 

90  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; 

you have established the earth, and it stands fast. 

91  By your appointment they stand this day, 

for all things are your servants. 

92  If your law had not been my delight, 

I would have perished in my affliction. 

93  I will never forget your precepts, 

for by them you have given me life. 

94  I am yours; save me, 

for I have sought your precepts. 

95  The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, 

but I consider your testimonies. 

96  I have seen a limit to all perfection, 

but your commandment is exceedingly broad (ESV).

The psalmist knows the Lord’s Word is fixed forever in the heavens (v 89). As tumultuous as life here on earth can be, the psalmist knows that the Lord’s Word is secure. “There will never be a time or a place when the Lord’s authoritative word is silenced or thwarted, and this truth is the strong and enduring grounds for the psalmist’s confidence” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 421).

The psalmist is confident that the Lord’s faithfulness will endure to all generations. And that He has securely established the earth so that it stands fast (v 90). This harkens to God’s people to pray earnestly for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt 6:10).

Verse 91 is the most difficult Hebrew verse thus far to translate. “The general sense is that everything in the Lord’s domain is upheld by his authoritative word. In the Lord’s ordered world, everything ultimately serves his purposes, even though the intentions of the actors (such as the wicked who have afflicted the psalmist) may be evil” (Estes, p. 422). Nothing on this earth exists that is not under the Sovereign Hand of God. “All of creation exists because of obedience to God’s word; all of creation, therefore, exists to do his will” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 541).

The psalmist delighted in the Lord’s law, had he not, he would have perished in his affliction (v 92). “The psalmist confesses that he, too, wants to be included among those who serve the Lord by keeping his “law.” He has found “delight” (see vv. 16, 24, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174) in the “law” (tôrâ “instruction) of the Lord, and this has given him a desire to align his life with the revealed will of the Lord. If he had not found meaning in his experience of “affliction,” he feels that he would have perished. He would have been like a falling star” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 876).

The psalmist declares that he will never forget the Lord’s precepts because they are what give him life (v 93). The Lord’s people are always at risk of forgetting His precepts. The psalmist knows “God’s word does him little good if he fails to remember it” (Estes, p. 422). Remember (or not forgetting) God’s Word is a biblical principle that runs from Genesis to Revelation. May the people of God continue to feast on the Word of God so that in times of famine they will know how the Lord instructs them to live.

Since the psalmist is the Lord’s he petitions Him to save him (hiphil, imperative 2ms with 1cs suffix). “‘I am yours’ (lĕkā-ʾănî) indicates that the psalmist accepted a servant’s responsibility and Yhwh accepted a master’s responsibility. Verse 94 appeals for that to continue to be true. One who belongs to Yhwh can appeal to Yhwh to deliver. The line again emphasizes Yhwh’s direct involvement in our lives. Yhwh is not just the deist clockmaker. But part of the basis for expecting Yhwh to behave as if we belong to Yhwh is that we have so behaved” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament; Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 416).

In verse 94b the psalmist has sought God’s Word. In verse 95a the wicked lie in wait to destroy the psalmist. Estes notes this form of the verb for wait “often speaks of the righteous waiting for the Lord to intervene in their lives, but here the verb refers to the wicked waiting to do an intentional act of evil (p. 422). God’s people are not immune from the intentional evil acts of the world, the flesh and the devil. As such God’s people need to consider His testimonies (95b).

The psalmist ends this stanza in confidence. All human speech, efforts and achievements have a limit; however, the Lord’s Word has no limit because it is exceedingly broad (v 96). “[T]o live for anything other than what the Lord commands is to invite disappointment and defeat” (Estes, p. 423).

Lord God, thank You and praise You that Your Word is firmly fixed and exceedingly broad! Thank You and praise You Lord that You are perfect! In a world that is turning darker and more evil by the day, thank You that You have put a limit on what Your people will suffer. Thank You and praise You Lord that Your Word has no end and that it will not return void. Lord God, You are faithful to Your people. May we never cease to remember how You have been in our midst in the past, so we can live for You in the present, being bold and fearless when facing the future.

Lord God, You truly hold the whole world in Your Hands. Lord God, You have created all people for eternity. Lord, may today be the day of salvation for the reader who is far from You. Lord, as all things are Your servants, may we be instruments for good and not instruments of evil.

Lord, make our desires Your desires so that we will endure in our afflictions. Lord God, thank You that for those of us who are in Christ we can come boldly before Your Throne seeking Your grace, mercy and help when we need it most. Lord God, may we not be surprised by how unbelievers act. May we not be surprised that the world, the flesh and the devil seek to harm us. May our desire for You increase and the things of this world decrease! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

.

Psalm 119:81-88

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Kaph

81  My soul longs for your salvation; 

I hope in your word. 

82  My eyes long for your promise; 

I ask, “When will you comfort me?” 

83  For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, 

yet I have not forgotten your statutes. 

84  How long must your servant endure?7 

When will you judge those who persecute me? 

85  The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; 

they do not live according to your law. 

86  All your commandments are sure; 

they persecute me with falsehood; help me! 

87  They have almost made an end of me on earth, 

but I have not forsaken your precepts. 

88  In your steadfast love give me life, 

that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth. 

ESV

The psalmist begins this stanza stating that his nefesh (soul) is more than just longing for the Lord’s salvation, he is literally wasting away. “Although the psalmist cannot resolve this situation, he is confident that the Lord can rescue him from his plight” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 420). Even though the psalmist’s strength is failing and he is wasting away he hopes in the Lord’s Word knowing who He is and what He has done before.

While the ESV supplies the word long in verse 82, this would be better translated, my eyes fail. “The eyes reflect his weariness in watching for a sign of God’s answer; so under a prolonged strain of waiting, the psalmist acknowledges that he is worn out” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 535). In his worn and weary state the psalmist asks the question, “when will you comfort me?”

The psalmist clarifies this question stating that he has become like a wineskin in the smoke (v 83a). Meaning that he is “useless, shriveled, and unattractive because of being blackened with soot” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 875). The psalmist here demonstrates that he lives by faith and not by feeling nor sight as he states he hasn’t forgotten His statutes (v 83b). Forgetting the Lord’s statues would only make the psalmist’s situation worse.

In verse 84, “The suffering psalmist asks another question; but his questions are essentially laments (so rhetorical questions). ‘How long must your servant endure?’ means ‘Your servant (I) has been enduring long enough.’ The first half of the verse laments his prolonged endurance. The second is concerned with the cause of his condition ‘When will you execute justice on those who persecute me?'” (Ross, p. 536).

Boice makes a profound observation, “It may be significant in this respect that verse 84 is the first in the psalm to fail to mention the Word of God by one of the [many] synonyms for it. When the psalmist was most down, did he lose sight of God’s Word temporarily?” (J. Boice, Psalms 107-150: An Expositional Commentary, 2005, pp. 1008-1009).

It is the opinion of this author that the psalmist did not lose sight of God’s Word temporarily. In this stanza, as well as in other areas of this psalm he states how when he forgot about the Lord and His Word, life did not go well for him. Rather, this lament (rhetorical questions) is from the depths of his affliction. How can we know this? Because in his next verse the he states how the insolent have dug pitfalls to trip him up and that they do not live according to the Lord’s torah (law, v 85). It is comforting to know “in the Lord’s moral order, [the insolent] will fall into the pits they have dug in their attempt to inflict harm on others” (Estes, p. 421).

Verse 86 makes it clear that “in contrast to the arrogant who are unfaithful to God’s instruction (v. 85), the Lord’s commands are true, or reliable. The arrogant speak lies, but the Lord speaks truth. By their lies the wicked do not fight fairly, but the psalmist is confident that the Lord can counter them, so he calls on the Lord to help him” (Estes, p. 421).

The plain meaning of almost made an end of me (v 87) “is that he is almost dead—finished, on this earth. However, to the very end if need be, he affirms his faith: ‘I have not forsaken your precepts'” (Ross, p. 537).

In the first part of verse 88 the psalmist makes an appeal to the Lord to renew his life by His covenant faithfulness (hesed, steadfast love ESV). Why does the psalmist make this appeal? So that he may keep His testimonies. “The purpose of the petition is likewise connected to the covenant: “that I may keep the testimony of your mouth.” The testimony refers to all of God’s instructions, the whole covenant law, which came by direct revelation from God. The psalmist wants to be revived, so that he would be able to keep the covenant fully, without weakness, suffering and distractions due to constant persecution” (Ross, p. 537).

Lord God, as our bodies waste away may we never stop hoping in Your Word. Lord, sometimes our eyes fail us as we wait for Your promise; comfort us by Your Spirit. Lord God, thank You that You have indwelled Your people who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You Lord that You live inside each believer, that You comfort us and that we can come before Your throne boldly receiving Your grace and mercy when we need it most. Lord God, help us to cling to the truth that for the person in Christ, they are not useless. No matter how bleak or grim the situation looks or as helpless as they feel, remind this believer Lord that they have worth and value to You. Use us Lord for Your glory!

Lord, You inspired the psalmist to ask how long he must endure as well as when will You judge those who persecute him. Lord God, give us Your strength to persevere and endure the challenges and trials that we will face. Lord God, prepare us to glorify You when we suffer from the pitfalls of the insolent. Lord, may we never forget Your commandments. May we never forget You desire our obedience. Lord, there are no shortages of lies and attacks from the insolent, help us to not forsake Your precepts. Lord God, may we NEVER forget Your covenant faithfulness. May we never forget that You will never violate Your Name and Covenant. You will never act contrary to who You are.

Lord God, renew our lives so that we may testify about Jesus in this dark, hostile and hurting world. Lord God, renew our minds that we may focus on the things above. Lord God, conform us to You and Your Word. Lord God, may we desire what You desire and not what this world desires. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May this reader be renewed and revived by Your Spirit today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Frost and Light

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn. 3 November 2021.

From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? (Job 38:29 ESV).

Lord God, help us to never stop marveling at Your Creation. Lord God, when the fears and worries of this life creep in, calm our weary souls with the reminder that the sun rises and sets on Your timetable. The seasons last on Your timetable. As the leaders of nations met to discuss climate change, may believers NEVER forget that Your Hand is in the climate. You are in control and sovereign over all. Whether it is in the form of judgement or consequences for sinful man’s disobedience in caring for Your creation, may we never remove Your Hand from working in and through Your Creation.

Lord, as man seeks to steal Your glory and power through cloud seeding, have mercy on us who know that this is wrong!

Lord God, as Your sun melts the frost, thank You for Your Son melting the frost off our hard hearts. Lord God, help us to shine Your Light in this cold, dark and hostile world. Lord God, thank You NO heart is too hard for Your Son’s Light to penetrate. Lord God, help our hearts to be prepared and guarded yet kind and loving as we live for You.

Thank You Lord that as autumn is here in the north that You are bringing new life to my brothers and sisters south of the equator. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May they feel Your Son shining on them today. Lord God, fill this reader with the Light of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn. 3 November 2021.