PSALM 119 MEDITATION: WEEK TWENTY-ONE Princes persecute me without cause

Verses 161-168

WEEK: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

November 2: Verse 168--"I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you." There are two sides of the fear of God; I think both are included in the psalmist's comment here in verse 168 ("all my ways are before you"). The first side is communicated by the word 'fear'. We all know what fear is. God is almighty. He is quite able--in his might--to wipe us out of existence. Our ways are before him. We should shake in our boots. The second side is derived from the whole of Scripture. As we have seen in Psalm 119, God's hesed--his steadfast love--touches everything he does. God's might is ALWAYS accompanied by his hesed. Therefore we need not shake in our boots--BUT we must be grateful and fall on our faces in worship. Hesed is not a reason to slack off.

November 1:Verses 166-167--"I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments. My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly." We obey because we must. Now, God is the all-powerful Creator of the universe and can zap anything and everything into oblivion if he so chooses, but that's not the 'must' to which the psalmist is pointing. He points to love. He adores God and he's crazy about God's testimonies. Maybe...just maybe...worship really is the glue that sticks us to God.

October 31: Verse 165--"Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble." How is peace the opposite of stumbling?

October 30: Verse 164--"Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules." Whether the 'seven times' is literal or figurative (meaning 'many times'), it certainly helps explain how he is able to keep his focus in the middle of his distress. The psalmist's focus was on God--he constantly praised God for his word. A bit ago I started preparing for a series on worship. A friend recommended a book by Kathleen Chapman (Teaching Kids Authentic Worship). A key notion from this book is that God is absolutely worthy and we have a responsibility to adore him. She emphasizes that worship is all about God and not at all about us.

October 29: Verse 163--"I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law." Here the psalmist declares his boundaries: he knows what he hates and he knows what he loves. I'm sure that between the two there is a bunch of grey, but ya gotta know the black and white.

October 28: Verses 161-162--"Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil." The juxtaposition of these two comparisons caught my eye. First, a negative comparison: they persecute, but I stand in awe. Second, a positive comparison: I rejoice like one who finds great spoil. I was just sharing with someone the other day about how we as God-followers must interpret our experiences in light of the Word, rather than the other way around. God’s Word presents itself as the interpreter of the meaning of events and experiences. It is only from that perspective that we can understand the truth of what happens to us. This is what the psalmist catches here. Because his heart—the very core of his being—stands in awe of God’s words, he is able to cope with the unwarranted persecution. In fact, he considers his finding of God’s words to be a great treasure.

October 27: The dance of persecution and awe.

All verses are quoted from the ESV.

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