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.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Psalm 119:81-88 - Keeping Going

Here, the author responds to intense opposition. He longs to be delivered by God (v. 81). Divine salvation does not always refer to soul salvation – sometimes it can refer to rescue from physical problems. The psalmist knows that God has given promises of divine help and wants him to give personal consolation (v. 82).

Delays in such deliverance can have adverse effects on one’s physical state (in verse 83, the psalmist likens himself to a wineskin that has become wrinkled by smoke). In such circumstances, there will be a temptation to give up or to run and hide. To give in to such a temptation would be sinful and silly because the world despises runaway Christians even more than it does dedicated Christians. The psalmist was aware of the necessity of keeping going in God’s ways (v. 83).

In verses 84-87, the psalmist tells God about the activities of his opponents. He does not do so because he imagines God is ignorant about what is taking place. Instead the content of his prayer reveals that the psalmist has grasped that speaking to God should be practised in all circumstances, and that our words in prayer should describe our perspective of what is going on. In other words, our prayers should be thoughtful and honest.

His prayer is not cold and clinical. Instead it is full of feeling and earnest desire. Prayers without feelings are a contradiction because prayer is always an expression of longing for God to do something about a situation. The psalmist wants his enemies removed because they are fighting against God and his laws and have almost managed to bring about the demise of the psalmist, despite his commitment to God’s ways. Therefore his prayer is both devout and desperate.

The last verse of the section (v. 88) shows the psalmist’s priorities. He wants his faithful and loving God to give life (spiritual energy) in order that his laws may be obeyed by his servant, no matter the circumstances. That, of course, is how to live the Christian life.

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