My Bible study this summer has included a responsive reading of each stanza of Psalm 119. Now, you might approach this psalm like I typically have- the horror of having to get all 150 verses read during one quiet time. And the content! This is a love letter to the Law. It’s hard for me to get so excited about rules.
My perspective changed when a friend brought up a great reason that the psalmist would love the Law- it spelled out how to please God. The Israelites were surrounded by people who worshiped gods that they didn’t quite know how to please- they just guessed and hoped for the best. In contrast, God lets us know the actions that please Him. And in that, we get a reflection of Who He is. We get to know Him and His Truth.
As I’ve been systematically reading and reflecting, I have understood the love I can have for God’s Truth. This has been especially helpful while I’ve been dealing with intrusive, untrue thoughts that come along with my mental illness. Perhaps I am connecting more with this psalm because I identify with being persecuted- not by an external source but by the thoughts swirling around my afflicted mind. And I’ve clung to God’s Truth in powerful ways, which has made me love it more.
Let me give you an example, a stanza and how I have prayed in response to it. Verses 81-88 have struck me especially, so I want to share those with you.
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.”
I really, really want You to save me from this, but I hope in what You say.
“My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, ‘When will you comfort me?”
I’m exhausted from looking for the fulfillment of Your promise that Your plans are to prosper me. When will Your comfort come?
“Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.”
I know my life is fleeting in Your plan, but Your promises I need to still remember.
“How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors?”
My heart longs to know when this agony will be over- when You’ll kick these attacking thoughts out of my mind for good.
The arrogant dig pitfalls for me, contrary to your law.”
My mind lays traps for me to get stuck believing things that are contrary to Your Word.
“All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for men persecute me without cause.”
The Truth You’ve revealed are what I need to rely on; help me, because my mind attacks me randomly.
“They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.”
These thoughts almost destroyed me, but I’m holding tight to Your promise.
“Preserve my life according to your love, and I will obey the statutes of your mouth”
Save me, save my life, in Your great love and I’ll follow Your Truth.
When my health gets bad, I really do feel like my thoughts are attacking me. And I must remember that they are lies, things that originate from the father of lies who is trying to make me ineffective. And reminding myself of the Truth- that I am who He says that I am, not what my accusing thoughts say I am- has helped me in such glorious ways that I have a new love for it. An appreciation for how sweet His Word really is, sweeter than honey. The poignant examples of how He welcomes me to come honestly to Him with my pain and struggle sure are sustaining to me! And that has made me love His word even more.
And that love makes me understand how the Psalmist could write such a long, formalized love-letter to God’s Law. And challenges me to live a life that demonstrates the goodness obeying God and walking with Him daily, through everything, brings.