How often do you hear of authors needing to go away to a quiet place to enable them to concentrate so they can write their best sellers (or not!). Well, although, one would think this would have been required by our psalmist who wrote this most remarkable poem, I do not get the sense that this was the case. Firstly, let me remind you of Brueggemann’s words concerning Psalm 119. He describes it as “the most extensive of the torah songs … [and] a massive intellectual achievement. It is an astonishingly crafted acrostic psalm.” (# 2)
I certainly would have needed a very long time and a very quiet place (maybe a library) to accomplish this, but this psalm portrays a setting that is anything but tranquil and the psalmist’s confidence in God is found during tough times. Listen to his words:
73 Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word.
75 I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
80 May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame.
Justified or not (you be the judge), a certain ex-staff member of the British royalty is not happy with a certain young Prince’s latest book and called him an ‘angry, petulant, privileged prince… constantly blaming others’ https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11619199/Paul-Burrell-hits-angry-privileged-Prince-Harry.html
When I read this, I thought of the contrast of our “prince” writing Psalm 119, who was obviously not lacking in opportunity and intellect. Certainly, none of these words above come near to describing our psalmist’s heart – so deeply devotional – so wholehearted in his desire to know God and be taught from His Word – so confident in God, the One whose hands made [him] and formed him] – so trusting in the Lord’s faithfulness [even though still able to say] you have afflicted me – so grateful for the Lord’s unfailing love [which for him brought] comfort [in his troubles] – and confident when he prayed, Let your compassion come to me that I may live, that His good God would hear him and come to his aid, so that he would not be put to shame.
What a privilege is ours to be able to read and respond to these truths so many thousands of years later!
May God teach us to shy away from being ‘angry, petulant, privileged … [and] constantly blaming others’ and allow the love of God as revealed in Jesus to change us. Paul puts it this way:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:1-8) Amen!