WEEK: I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX
August 17: Verses all--An important theme throughout Psalm 119 is the relationship of emotions and faith. The psalmist is clear about his emotions and he expresses them freely. He connects his emotions to his faith and interprets them in light of God and God's word.
August 16: Verse 75--"I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me." During the past month or so, a number of people in my life have suffered tragedy of one sort or another. The truth expressed in this verse has been an important one for them: our experiences of suffering must be interpreted in the context of God's goodness and righteousness. We may never receive an explanation for our suffering. God may only say that he is God, we are not, and that we must trust him (see Job 38-42). This may be the most important reason to know the stories of the people of God (in the bible and beyond)--to learn God's character. We need to know this when life sucks. We need to know this when we suck.
August 15: Verses 76, 77, 78--"Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts." There is an important trilogy in these three verses: steadfast love, mercy, and justice. At different times we focus on one more than the others, assuming that God is more about love or mercy or justice--of course depending on our circumstances. In reality God is all three--and more--100%. Not in balance, but completely. Imbalance gives us an inaccurate picture of God and skews our beliefs. What we believe about God determines how we behave in response to God. Everytime my beliefs get out of whack, something goes haywire.
August 14: Verse 79--"Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies." At first glance, this seems a rather arrogant statement, much like Paul's "follow me as I follow Christ." But truth is truth. The psalmist can declare himself a speaker of God's testimonies because it is true. Paul could say what he said because it was true and justified. This is the essence of teaching. Curriculum does not teach; teachers teach. In fact, teachers teach only what they truly know. By God's grace, students may learn more than what teacher's know, but the teachers cannot teach more than they know. This is why teachers--Sunday school, small group, children's ministry, youth group, whatever--CANNOT be novices. Too often our churches fill slots because a slot is there. This disrespects the students, the potential "teacher", and the act of teaching. How dare we.
August 13: All verses--There seems to be a clear weaving of relationship of Word, Yahweh, earthly enemies, and the self. The psalmist make no separation between his spiritual and secular. This is not news, of course, but it is something that I too often forget. I do participate in this particular false dichotomy much less often than I used to, but a lifetime in USA culture is a tough thing to overcome. We really are whole persons. Our life with God and fellow believers is the same as our life at work and with "regular" people. It's all connected.
August 12: Verse 77--"Let your mercy come to me, that I may live..."--total dependence recognized. There is a statement I have often spoken to those who do not believe something that is true: Truth is truth whether or not it is believed. The truth is that we are completely dependent on God for our very existence. Declarations of independence are silly rantings of spoiled children who refuse to recognize reality. It is true, humanity is glorious--being made in God's image and all--but that does not make us independent. Here the psalmist recognizes the fact: life depends on God's mercy. In the second half of the verse--" for your law is my delight"--he again connects his relationship with God to his relationship with the Word. This raises questions about our being--or not being--text-centered in ministry. If relationship with God is intimatly intertwined with our relationship to his word, what does text-centered ministry look like?
August 11: Verse all--As the psalm moves along, the connection between the psalmist's relationship with God and with the word becomes more complete. Could it be that this either was written over a span of time or records the psalmist's growth over a span of time?
All verses are quoted from the ESV.