Gimel Psalm 119:17-22
Review: 17 Deal ___________ with ____ ________, That I may ____ and ____ Your _____. 18 _____ my ______, that I may ________ ________ things from Your ____. 19 I am a _________ in the earth; Do not _____ Your ____________ from me.
Today: 20 My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times. 21 You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from your commandments. 22 Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe your testimonies.
We spoke in the last post about the psalmist’s honesty before God in admitting his own weakness and utter end of his own ability to do life without God’s help. Estranged from life in this world, mostly because of his faith, he asks God to open up his understanding so he can know God and worship him. What a prayer.
He continues, however, in a vein that not many of us can follow. As much as I cry out to God for help for my own life, I cannot truly say that I am literally crushed with longing for God. Not if I’m honest.
Oh, there are times when this has been true. And then prayers are answered and stress is lifted and the crush fades away into the busyness of the day’s concerns. I am the arrogant one who wanders from His commandments, though for the grace of God I am not cursed. I do know the rebuke of God in calling me back to Himself through His Word.
But I cannot say that I “observe your testimonies.” Not perfectly. Has any man?
The True Psalmist
The only one I know who can stand purely as the speaker here is Jesus Christ. Only Jesus was crushed with longing for God’s Word. Early he devoted himself to “eat” the scriptures so that he not only knew them by memory, he could debate their intent with the greatest of scholars.
He lived the truth of them in his personal life. He woke sacrificially early in the morning and went out by hmself to take counsel of God, His Father from Whom He had come. Filled with the Spirit of God, He needed God daily.
Jesus’ words were saturated in the whole counsel of scripture from Genesis 1 to his own moment in time. And yet he was crushed with longing for God’s Word.
Jesus Himself had rebuked the proud and self-satisfied who had wandered from God’s Word. These were men who had not “left” the Word in the sense that they had nothing to do with it; but these were men who daily taught the Word of God and had it memorized. They brow-beat the people with self-centered interpretations of it. They had wandered from the God Who gave the Word! They talked about God’s Word but had no heart for the doing of it, or the understanding of the heart of it. It is not a hard hole to dig for one’s self.
And here, Jesus our Redeemer, is radiating through this psalm in a prayer for God to take away the reproach and contempt He bore. This is not personal sin, but adversity; for “I have kept thy statutes” He claims.
I cannot make this claim for myself. Any reproach and contempt I bear is most always founded upon even the smallest kernel of my own moral fault.
There are others of His who “know” this prayer
And yet I think of the persecuted Christians right now who may actually be able to sympathize with this prayer for the Righteous One; those who languish in prison cells, abused by even their fellow inmates as well as the guards, simply for loving and being faithful to God’s Word.
Or those young girls who have been kidnapped and taken to be wives of hate-filled warlords, and who bear under horrendous abuse and even death because they will not give up their Lord. They have staked their very lives on the Word of God.
Or again, those women who pray together with their hands over their necks for they know that to be found worshipping Jesus, and singing the truths of God’s Word, means that their necks may be slit for their traitorous conversion to the hope of God in Jesus our Savior.
Or to those who go to hidden bodies of water to be baptized secretly but before other believers, knowing that it is baptism which “seals” them for Christ in the minds of their government; this seals their infidelity to the prevailing creed around them, placing their lives and loved ones’ lives at risk.
Or to the one who makes his way out of the dark pit of addiction; the screeching and crushing come from the very demons of hell inside and all around trying ruthlessly to drag him or her back to the hopelessness of degrading, deadly habit. But still they come to the light with life-or-death intention. They’ve tasted and seen the light and they are drawn forward and will not go back; though their bodies fall and fail, they rise yet again because hope has dawned and will not keep quiet within.
Quietly faithful. In scenes that loom large on the scale of life-or-death, or in scenes that are as quiet and common as the waiting room of the hospice care center, or the living room at break of dawn–a mother waiting on bended knee for the prodigal child’s return.
I look at my Bible, or the many versions and languages of them, sitting on the shelves. Various shelves, for I do read my Bible. But do I HUNGER for it? Am I crushed with longing for God? Am I too busy to need Him? Is my mouth running more than my heart is hungering? Do I eat the Word of God like it is the last piece of living bread I may get for days, as those do who are forbidden to have the scriptures in their possession?
What will it take for me to enter in to the compassion of my God?
Lord, this is a need I have of which I am not often aware. I am too busy, too distracted, and even too needy to know that You are what I need for life. Moment-by-moment, my prayers rise up to You for help. I just do not fully comprehend how very much I need You for the things I cannot see. I truly am weak and ignorant, rebellious and proud. I confess not only my weakness, but my mislaid strength as well. Come to me and open my eyes yet again so that I can take in and digest not only your Promises, which are like cascading waterfalls of life-giving refreshment to my soul, but your reproofs as well. Correct me, Lord, and keep me from wandering from Your Way. Bring me safely through today to the glory of Your Holy Name and for the hope of salvation for those around me. Amen.
RESOURCES: Helping the Persecuted Church; Giving the Word of God to the needy.
Open Doors USA. Learn about the persecuted Christians around the world in order to help them in their suffering.
Voice of the Martyrs Learn about this organization that ministers to the martyrs for Christ and their families around the world.
Barnabas Fund Less overhead, more funds go directly to the persecuted Church.
Samaritan’s Purse Headed by Franklin Graham, serves in many capacities including counseling and practical re-building (constructing) help for those who have suffered trauma and loss, as well as the persecuted Church.
Gideons International Business men and women giving the scriptures freely throughout the world.
World Missionary Press, Inc. Bibles and (scripture only) tracts given freely throughout the world