Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 119:57-80

On the SEA of life!

We turn now to the beginning of the second group of seven, the manward aspect, in which we will consider the way of the blessed man with respect to his physical life on earth, and his relations with others.

Group 2 – The Manward Aspect – The Earthly Man

Today we are considering three sections from v57-80 (Cheth, Teth & Yod). We will find that the blessed man of God can sail the SEA of life with ease because he is Satisfied, Experienced and Assured.

Cheth – The Satisfied Man

‘Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.’

v57

The psalmist begins this section with a wonderful statement of true satisfaction: ‘thou art my portion’. The word ‘portion’ could be translated ‘possession’, and in our materialistic world, this perspective is crucial if we are seeking the satisfaction of the blessed life.

It is easy for our thinking regarding what we live for to be moulded by the world around us, especially in this day of social media. We must determine therefore to be like the psalmist, who made the Word of God his guide: ‘I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments’ (v59,60).

Note the word ‘testimonies’ is again used here, witnessing to the character of God, in this case His graciousness. He is a God of provision, and all we need can be found in Him, when we align ourselves with Him.

Indeed, ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’(1 Timothy 6:6), if we seek after riches in this world, we are in danger of being ‘robbed’ (v61) and losing much. But, with the Lord as our prized possession, no-one can ever take that away from us, and so even if we lose earthly possession, we are able to still ‘give thanks’ (v62).

Teth – The Experienced Man

Having spoken about being robbed, the psalmist goes on, in this section, to speak more generally about the afflictions of life, and our perspective of them. The key word in this section is good, and the psalmist is reminding us that God is good.

‘Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD … thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes … It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’.

v65,68,71

He tells us that it is because of the afflictions, that he has sought after God: ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word’ (v67).Many of us can no doubt relate to this in our own testimonies, and if true in regard to our salvation, why should it not also be a way by which the Lord sanctifies us. Does not the Apostle Paul express the same truth?

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).

When we are able to see the goodness of God in our afflictions, then we are able to travel through life with a calm stability whatever the circumstance, singing the heartfelt words: 

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well; It is well with my soul’ (Spafford). 

But this only comes with experience.

Yod – The Assured Man

Though the blessed man of God continues to face opposition from ‘the proud’ (v69,78) who would belittle him and his faith; and ‘forge’ lies about him, yet he is a prayerful man. Rather than worrying about the situation, he brings it to the Lord in prayer, concluding his five-fold request with a plea for assurance.

Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.

v80

Position & Prospect

This assurance will come from the Word of God, and as he reads, his heart is filled with truth. As these roots go down deep – teaching him of his position before God, and his prospect of the future – he finds that the lies of his accusers lose their edge and have little effect on him anymore.

Many young people particularly struggle with cutting remarks made by so-called ‘friends’ on social media. If only they would read the Bible, they would learn that in God’s sight they have value and dignity. Created in His image (v73), we hold a unique position in creation, as those upon whom God has set His love.

‘But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.’

Romans 5:8,9

And having not only been created, but redeemed, justified, saved, we hold an even more valuable position and have a certain prospect: the hope (v74) of eternal glory with our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We have God’s Word on the matter.

Righteousness and Faithfulness

Having thought about our starting position, and our ending prospect, the psalmist now considers the life in between, re-assuring his heart that the sovereign LORD only acts in ways that are righteous. And though affliction may come, we can count on the faithfulness of God to bring us through. (v75)

A Prayer for Comfort and Life

However, the psalmist is not a determinist who silently endures the affliction knowing it to be the will of God. Rather, he supplicates his God on the basis of God’s merciful character.

He desires comfort and consolation in his affliction, but you will note the reverence with which the psalmist prays: ‘Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. (v76)

Secondly, he prays for deliverance from his affliction, ‘that I may live’, and again his supplication is grounded in the character of God: ‘thy tender mercies’ (v77).

‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’

Hebrews 4:16

A Prayer for Enemies and Friends

He continues his prayer requesting that the Lord would work in the hearts of both his enemies and his friends. Instead of a vengeful spirit, he commits the problem to the Lord: ‘let the proud be ashamed’, and will himself maintain a calmness and assurance by meditating ‘in thy precepts’ (v78).

He then prays for ‘those that fear thee’, who seem to have forsaken the psalmist in his affliction, that they would ‘turn unto me’ (v79). Often this is more difficult to deal with than the opposition of enemies, yet the psalmist will not become bitter towards his fellow believers for their indifference, but again commits the problem to the Lord.

A Prayer for Assurance

As we said at the beginning, the psalmist concludes with a prayer for assurance, recognising that it comes from the effectual working of the Word of God in the hearts of men.

We think of how Paul had that same assurance, and could say: ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth’ (Roms 1:16).

Do we have that assurance? If not, ask the Lord to fill your heart with His Word.

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