Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 119:113-128

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We now come to the final group of sections – the Godward aspect. We will notice that the central section of the seven from Samech to Shin deals with the righteous basis of our relationship with the Lord. Before this we have three sections about character, and after, in a chiasmic structure, are three sections of activity.

  • Samech – The Godly Man
    • Ain – The Humble Man
      • Pe – The Wondering Man
        • Tzaddi – The Righteous Man
      • Koph – The Worshipping Man
    • Resh – The Praying Man
  • Shin – The Praising Man

Samech – The Godly Man

In each successive section, the blessed man has turned to the Word of God, and now we see the effect it is having upon his character and life, bringing him into conformity with his Lord. He is becoming a godly man.

We see that the godly man is set apart from the world because he has:

  • different thoughts (v113) – not ‘vain’ like the world, but he ‘loves’ to think on the ‘law’.
    • whatsoever things are true … honest … just … pure … lovely … of good report; if there be any virtue, and … any praise, think on these things.’ (Phil 4:8)
  • different attitude to trouble (v114) – the Lord is his ‘hiding place’. His ‘hope’ is in the ‘Word’.
    • ‘Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me …’ (John 14)
  • different companions (v115) – he no longer wants the company of ‘evildoers’.
    • Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?’ (2 Cor 6:14)
  • different goals (v116) – his goal is to ‘live’ for God, ‘unashamed’ of the ‘hope’ he has.
    • For to me to live is Christ’ (Phil 1:21)
  • different desires (v117) – he desires nothing more than to be ‘sustained’ and ‘safe’, so he may ‘gaze’ upon the Word of God ‘continually’.
    • Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ (Hebs 13:5)
  • a different worldview (v118) – he understands the reality and end of ‘all them’ that hold views in the world not based on Scripture. ‘Their deceit is falsehood’ and they will be ‘trodden down’.
    • ‘For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world, and the world passeth away.’ (1 John 2:16)
  • a different perspective (v119) – he has an eternal perspective, seeing everything in view of a day of judgment or review. All ‘wickedness’, like ‘dross’, will be burnt up, in his life as in the world.
    • Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.’ (1 Cor 3:13)

All of this leads the godly man to have a healthy, godly respect for the Lord his God, and the section concludes:

‘My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.’

(v120)

Ain – The Humble Man

It is fitting that the topic of humility follows godliness, and our thoughts go immediately to the words of Paul:

‘Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh’

(1 Tim 3:16)

There is no greater demonstration of humility than that found in the birth, life, and death of Christ. The verse goes on to refer to His resurrection and exaltation, but as we consider the topic of humility, we think specifically of the downward steps.

We have not considered the devotional aspect through this psalm as yet, but in every section, Jesus Christ can be seen. Truly, He is the perfect example of the blessed man, and there will be much profit to be had in this line of thought.

Throughout the psalm, on twelve occasions, the psalmist refers to himself as ‘thy servant’, but in this section he uses the appellation three times in quick succession.

  • ‘Be surety for thy servant for good’ (v122)
  • ‘Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy’ (v124)
  • ‘I am thy servant’ (v125)

Let us therefore, consider the humility of Christ:

‘Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant’

(Phil 2:6,7)

In our psalm, Jehovah’s humble servant appeals firstly to his LORD for safety, ‘asking for a divine pledge for security against his oppressors.’ (Flanigan)

He says: ‘let not the proud oppress me’ (v122). Yet the next verse intimates that deliverance is delayed in coming: ‘mine eyes fail for thy salvation’ (v123). And we know from that beautiful Servant Song of Isaiah 53, that our Lord Jesus Christ ‘was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth’ (Isa 53:7).

However, prior to that, He would cry out to His God for mercy, ‘if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt’ (Matt 26:39). God’s perfect Servant was able to submit to the will of God, because He knew the Lord would ‘deal’ with Him ‘according to thy mercy’, and asks to be taught (v124).

It is exceedingly moving to think that the Lord did ‘deal’ with His Perfect Servant, and brought Him through suffering, death and resurrection, because of His mercy towards us. With Peter we say: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Pet 1:3).

Further, the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that He did learn ‘obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him’ (Hebs 5:8,9).

How thankful we are that the eternal Son of God would say ‘I am thy servant’, and submit with perfect obedience to the will of His Father God. What humility?

‘And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’

(Phil 2:8)

In view of this, Paul would exhort us to ‘let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 2:5).

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