We are well into ‘Sheltering’ during this COVID-19 pandemic. How are you doing? As for me, I'm a little tired of hearing that question, but then again, don’t I want people to ask about my well-being? Probably I do. We may each be facing new subtle challenges, perhaps we could even call them enemies. These foes are threatening us mentally, emotionally and perhaps even physically. Sometimes the listening ear and godly counsel of a dear friend is helpful, but this passage reminds us that our greatest and best confidant is God. He knows all about these new enemies and He knows how we should best deal with them. He won’t tell anyone else our secret struggles. I am thankful when God prompts someone to give me a call to cheer my day, but God won’t tell them why He has prompted them to call me.
Today let's look at the third stanza of Psalm 119:
17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against
me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counsellors.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:17-24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
You may notice that the writer continues to express his passion for God’s Word. He begins by asking God to take care of him so that he is able to live his life and live it in obedience to God's commands. He then asks God to "open his eyes" so he is able see the wonderful truths in God's Law.
Sometimes we find ourselves beginning our prayers to God with requests. Many times these requests are for ourselves, and often they are for others. During this pandemic many of us are asking God to protect us and our loved ones. We ask him to keep us safe from the coronavirus and to spare our lives. But what is our motive behind these prayers? Is it because we are afraid to die? Is it because we love this life and don't want to leave it? It could be because we don't want to leave our family to face certain responsibilities that our leaving would require of them. Or, is your primary motive like the Psalmist’s? Do you want to discover and learn all that God has to teach you in His Word -- ".....that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
I must admit, I've asked the Lord to keep me healthy these past months, but not until I read these verses did I examine the motive for my prayer. My Bible Study and prayer life is growing deeper as a result.
Later, the writer refers to himself as a "sojourner", someone foreign to the country. He requests guidance and help in learning the rules. His deep desire is to comprehend how God’s Word will help him navigate this unfamiliar land. He needs to understand the instructions and follow God’s directions through life so he won’t get lost.
We, like the Psalmist, are on a journey through unfamiliar territory. We are trying to learn new ways of doing life, and it is not easy. It would be much easier if there were a roadmap, or a GPS that would guide us to right decisions. I'm sure our government leaders wish it were possible to give definitive answers to the hundreds of questions they face each day. They are going to make mistakes, but let's show God's grace. They have not travelled this road before.
We, however, have God's Word to guide us. Letting God's word penetrate our mind, heart and soul will change our attitude, behaviour and character. Several years ago I was challenged to listen to a recording of Scripture as I read it. Because it was so long ago, the recordings were on cassette tape. You may be old enough to remember how cumbersome that would have been. Today, there are several apps that allow us to listen to Scripture in almost any version we prefer. I have begun to read and listen again. The truths of God’s Word penetrate my heart and soul even deeper when I read through the eye gate, and listen through the ear gate.
Stanza three also talks about enemies making fun of the writer for following God. Being made fun of hurts just as much as an adult as it did when you were a child. Hopefully, we have learned to manage it better, but it still bothers us. We need to remember that it is all too easy to make fun of, or criticize those who see things differently than we do. Let's be faithful followers of Christ, and not ‘make fun of’, nor criticize unduly, the decisions made regarding the handling of the pandemic. Constructive criticism given to the right people is helpful. Stirring up more worry and discontent is not helpful to anyone.
The writer finishes this stanza by promising to follow God no matter who makes life hard for him, and he reiterates the fact that his highest joy comes from God's Word.
"Lord, help me to find my highest joy in Your Words. Help me to look to You and Your Word
for each day's directions, strength, and the right attitude to meet
any enemy, and all opposition with Your grace."
Debi Snider... more