A Face Like Flint

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.
20 My ____ is _______ with _______
         After Your _________ at ___ times.
21 You ______ the ________, the ______, 
         Who ______ from your ____________.
22 Take away ________ and ________ from me, 
         For I _______ your ___________.
Today: 
23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, 
         Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
24 Your testimonies also are my delight; 
         They are my counselors.

Ridicule

Where do we put our minds, as believers, when we are ridiculed for our faith? I don’t mean when we are ridiculed for being “Christians”. I mean when we are ridiculed for FAITH, for believing without having to verify by the tangible senses first.

Jesus said to Thomas, “You believe because you have seen with your eyes, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:24-29). He includes you and I.

The condition of our psalmist is one of dire need for God’s Word, a hunger and a thirst for very life as given by God’s Word, crushed with longing for the Word, concerned that the presses of the day would dissuade or in the least distract him from following hard after God’s Word (v17-22). This is the context for these two final verses.

So determined was the psalmist, that he “sets his face like flint” toward God’s direction (Isaiah 50:6-8; Luke 9:51). And in so doing, he finds God’s directions to be a balm and a healing to his soul (Psalm 107:20; John 6:63; Matthew 8:16).

God’s direction, His commands, are not burdensome and heartless. They do not prohibit and snatch away at our life with rules and “oughts”. God’s commands are the psalmist’s counselors. They tell him the truth about reality; therefore, they help him heal. They are “the rod and staff” of God that leads him in the right way where blessings flow like rain upon the rivers. They nourish his deep longings and satisfy his soul (Psalm 23).

Christ is our psalmist.

We wonder where did Christ get His extraordinary impulse to perfectly obey, and we think, “Well, he is God. Of course, it was easy for him!” But we must remember that “he learned obedience unto death” (Hebrews 5:10; Philippians 2:5-11). He was in every way human as we are. Christ expended effort to follow God. He expended his very life.

What he did perfectly, we can do if even imperfectly. This is what Christ came to enable us to do! Christ’s death paid the price for our failure before God, and Christ’s Resurrection gives us, too, the power to set our faces like flint in the din and confusion of a doubting world. We will suffer, but through suffering we will rise with all joy and healing.

This psalm is not about apologetics. That has its place, for sure. There are good solid reasons for our faith and we must mine them to have an answer for the hope that is in us. But we, as Christians, are not out to convince a doubting world of what they are not setting their hearts to know. We testify not of words on a page, but Christ as a Person, alive and speaking in the hearts of men and women today.

It is only when our hearts yearn for the living God Himself and we expend our energy in finding Him and trying Him out in what He has said, that we will know the delight in His Word, in Christ and the Holy Spirit, as our counselors. The scriptures are our dearest helps, because they are the kind and faithful Words of a Friend.

The Duty of Love

I love the scriptures when I am in need and they comfort me. I do not love the scriptures when I need to discipline myself to read them out of the duty of obedience. The one fills a need of mine, the other is a sacrificial act of worship to God. I am more likely to love something when it’s serving ME, than when I am having to serve others.

Still, never overlook the joy that comes from duty. Duty teaches us what is good.

A mother feeds her child mushy peas and mashed potatoes not because her child likes them, but because by them her child will grow healthy and strong. The child would sicken and die on what it naturally preferred.

Likewise, our Father feeds us with the truth about ourselves and about our situation, so that we may live, abundantly healthy, and not die forever. Without this truth, as found in Christ and the scriptures and in the quiet urgings of the Holy Spirit within, we too would sicken and die forever. Duty is the rails upon which He will bring us safely to our good destination.

As we grow healthy, our delight will indeed be in the Word of God. Until then, let us meditate steadfastly on the dying and now risen Savior and heed His words by faith, even as the world taunts and derides your resolve. Our hearts and minds open to our fellowman, we focus rather on the One who truly and only matters. Resolutely, our faces like flint. Delight will come.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8 NIV).

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” — C.S. Lewis

Father, thank you for your grace and mercy when my obedience is dry as dust, and my faith as weak as common duty. But thank you that in that duty you are faithful to show Yourself to me and pour out the riches of Your kingdom on me in blessings too rich to describe. I have tasted and I have experienced again and again that Your Word is true. How frail my human memory to remember the great landmarks of Your love throughout my life according to Your Word. How great your mercy to keep giving and giving and giving despite my petulance and sloth. Revive me, O Lord, and let me delight again in your scriptures. Give me that steadiness of character that I may honor Your name when pressed by the winds of doubt that whistle and beat about me. You are my God and I am yours. Blessed be the name of Jesus Christ my Savior! In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

© Aug 2019 by ReadPsalm119.com

RESOURCE:

For C.S. Lewis’s discussion of the Scriptures, please do read “C.S. Lewis on the Bible: God’s Word in (very) human terms, Pt. 1” and “…., Pt 2” by David M. Williams, minister for grad students at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and faculty at North Carolina State University and Meredith College.

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