Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Psalm 119:49-56 - Thankfulness for God's Law

The psalmist is in a difficult situation in which he is being derided by his opponents (v. 51). This is a common circumstance in which believers can find themselves. What should we do when this happens? The psalmist shows us in this section.

First, he asked the Lord to ‘remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.’ It is not clear which kind of word the psalmist is referring to? He could mean a passage from the Old Testament or he could mean a message he received from God through another individual, such as a priest at the temple. However it came to him, the message from God gave him hope for the future. We too can have a word from God, mainly through the Bible and sometimes in a sermon, when he provides us with comfort from himself (v. 50). When that happens, we sense spiritual recovery taking place within us.

Second, the psalmist retained his appreciation for God’s law (v. 51). The derision of his opponents was connected to his desire to keep God’s commandments. It would have been easy for him to reduce his commitment. Instead he became angry because God’s law was being ignored (v. 53). Opposition increased his zeal for God’s ways.

Third, the psalmist realised the permanency of God’s law. It had been given long before the psalmist was born (v. 52). The law has survived all attempts to get rid of it, and it will survive all contemporary moves to sideline it. People today in our society may reject it, but people in the future will keep it, and will find comfort from it when they do. Merely because the majority today want to ignore it is no reason for us to imitate them.

Fifth, the psalmist discovered that God’s law made him happy: ‘Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning’ (v. 54). They enabled him to live like a temporary resident in this world, and also enabled him to enjoy samples of the joy of his spiritual homeland. Obedience from the heart to God’s requirements brings great joy into one’s life.

Sixth, the psalmist resolved to keep God’s law, even when others could not see what he was doing (v. 55). The night, because of the darkness, gave opportunity for many to disobey God. In contrast, the psalmist meditated on God’s name, and thinking about God led him to obey God. It is what we do when others don’t see us that will indicate who we really are.

Seventh, the psalmist realised that his desire to keep God’s ways was in itself a great blessing (v. 56). It is a blessing because it reveals a changed life, it is a blessing because it leads to fellowship with God, and it is a blessing because it opens the way to receive further blessings from him. Of course, the fact that his obedience was a blessing to him is a reminder that it is all of grace. The Lord gives blessings to the obedient, but it is only through his grace that they are ever obedient.

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