Today please consider the next three stanzas of Psalm 119; in Hebrew Zayin, Het and Tet.
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.
I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.
This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.
It’s ok to remind God of His promises to you. Not that He’s forgotten, breaks His promises or is getting senile. Reminding God of His promises really is a testament to your steadfast belief in that He has His eye on you. Max Lucado once said, “I remember sitting in high school Algebra class staring at my textbook as if it were written in Mandarin Chinese. Fortunately I had a patient teacher. He issued the invitation and stuck to it: “If you cannot solve a problem, come to me and I will help you.” I wore a trail between his desk and mine. I would remind him, “Remember how you promised you would help?” I still had the problem, mind you, but I entrusted the problem to one who knew how to solve it. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, “Put the Lord in remembrance of His promises, keep not silence” (Isaiah 62:6). God invites us—yes, commands us—to remind Him of his promises. Find a promise that fits your problem, and build your prayer around it! These prayers of faith touch the heart of God and miracles are set in motion!”
We all suffer—every one of us from the moment we’re born till we take our last breath. But my hope, and the Psalmist, is to know that the suffering is not in vain, it has a purpose, and God is watching over us—even till the end our lives.
The Psalmist contrasts God’s promises and protection from the arrogant ones we all come across in life—those that are unkind, deceitful and unmerciful. When attacked or mocked, we can take comfort, in the promises He makes and the vows He makes on the behalf of those that love Him! I can relate to my own sons, in this matter. When they are bullied or, as happened this past week three or four gang up on one of them, my anger rises. I want to be sure that they are innocent of instigating trouble first, but if they are, I am there for them to do whatever it takes to protect them. How much more is God able to come to our rescue if we’ve been faithful and righteous, and are yet attacked. God does, in Him time, make things right. Paul said, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Why are we told again and again to meditate upon what He has told us in the Bible? Have you ever received a letter from someone you loved very much and you kept it? Perhaps years have passed and they moved away or even died. But every now and then you take out that old letter and re-read it. It’s yellowed and cracked, perhaps, but it’s quite precious to you. I have the last letter my mom ever wrote to me still—every time I read it I have a hard time breathing. That’s one of the great things about writing something on paper as opposed to sending a text that’s lost in a few years. Reading that old letter of love and friendship and support brings tears to your eyes, joy to your heart and inspiration for the day…. The Psalmist knew the inspiration and confidence in heart that comes from reading God’s love letters every day and then marveling how all the truth in God’s letters had come to pass.
He concludes this section by saying that it is his practice to be obey God’s teachings. We practice volleyball, baseball, piano, a new language—why? To be able to tell others, “there, I practiced, I can quit now.” No! We practice so that we will excel in that discipline! We want to be the best in that sport, or most proficient in French, or an accomplished pianist!
Why is He telling God this? Because he’s been a “good boy” and reminds God of it! Every day Tyler or Tommy asks me, “aren’t you proud of me?”, when they do well at something. And I am! But are we close enough to God….obedient enough as sons and daughters….so in touch with the Son….and so delighted in reading His word that—- we would ask God the same question?! Lord, are you proud of me today? Is what I am doing a delight to your eyes? Do we have that courage and clarity of conscience to ask Him? And if not, are we ready to look into the mirror and make the proper changes?
You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.
No one is going to stop this man from worshipping His God or obeying His commands! Oh to have leaders in Raleigh, Washington, DC and the U.N. that felt the same. But when you know the right thing to do, do you wait to see what the other person is going to do before you’re man (or woman) enough to do the right thing? Not this guy, he wasn’t checking out the crowd response—he was for God—100%.
Consider Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when the King demanded that they break a few commandments and worship an idol. They said, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. ” (Daniel 3:17-21, NIV).
These men lived out the verse… “Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.” They would not do what they knew was wrong to do! I fear that too often we wait and make sure that others are joining us in doing the right thing, or speaking the word of truth, or confronting evil before we take a stand. Either we’re cowards, or we lack conviction! Either represents a disgusting way to thank God for His blessings and our salvation.
But hear this today:Obedience can be costly. “In this story, Meshach, Shadrach & Abednego demonstrated obedience in the face of incredible danger. They were literally thrown into the fiery furnace for choosing to be obedient to God instead of obedient to King Nebuchadnezzar. This is a danger that we do face today.” Obeying God is going to cost you something. Have you counted the cost of following Jesus?
“Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
Affliction, attack, pain, disease are not always bad things. Sometime it takes those things to get the clutter out of our minds and our attention back on what is eternal and primary. That’s not to say that affliction is always punishment or discipline—-sometimes God allows it, as with Job to illustrate to others how a true man of God humbles himself, even when He is abased and waits for God to lift him out of the miry pit. At other times, God has allowed the righteous to be afflicted for the sins of others—as with His on Son on the cross!
But it’s a fact that when most of us are suffering, we want relief as soon as possible, with whatever repentance, miracle emergency surgery or drug required! When afflicted we often think of how good things used to be before heart attack, or surgery or treatment. And most of the time we’re ready to make changes so that we’re not afflicted again!
I was in Kyiv several years ago and had a calamari dish with squid ink. I got sick and never knew why—thought I was going to die in Ukraine and my body would never be recovered. Later, in Bogota, I had a similar dish, with squid ink and the same thing happened. I panicked and nearly passed out I was so sick. Now, I have chosen to not be afflicted by squid ink a third time.
Do you really believe that what He offers you, in counsel, limitations, lines in the sand, et al, is more precious than thousands of pieces of silver and gold? Most folks spend their entire lives trying to make a fortune, chasing after fame, or finding a way to get as much as you can as quick you can. It’s called a rat race for a good reason.
But think about the wisdom of this woman in the New Testament: “ A Canaanite woman cries to our Lord for help on behalf of her daughter. “Have mercy on me,” she says, “O Lord, thou Son of David.” (See Matthew 15:21-28.)
This Canaanite mother no doubt had been severely tried. She had seen her darling child vexed with a devil, and been unable to relieve her. But yet that trouble brought her to Christ, and taught her to pray. Without it she might have lived and died in careless ignorance, and never seen Jesus at all. Surely it was good for her that she was afflicted (Psa. 119:71).
Hear this: Nothing shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every cross is a message from God, and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing, but sickness is far better if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy, but adversity is a greater one if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness and dying in sin. Better a thousand times be afflicted, like the Canaanite mother, and like her flee to Christ, than live at ease like the rich “fool,” and die at last without Christ and without hope (Luke 12:20).”