As Seen On Sunday: Delight Despite the Odds
Verse of the Week
Father, we confess that all too often we place things that are not of You in place of You.
We don’t make You our highest priority. We don’t take time to develop a friendship and a relationship with You; we’d rather fleeting pleasures than to know You on a personal level.
And so we ask for forgiveness for this, because You have done so much for us and still we continue to ignore You and continue to seek Your creation rather than the Creator. Amen
Watch the ASOS recap
Psalm 119 is one giant acrostic. There is 1 group of 8 verses for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the first word of each verse starting with that letter. Psalm 119:145-152 is the division for the letter ק Qoph. Ernest C. Lucas categorizes the whole of 119 as a Torah Psalm along with 1 and 19 since they all focus on the importance of the Torah for righteousness and knowing God. I’ve always liked reading this Psalm because it reminds me that reading, studying, and understanding the Bible does not have to be a chore (even if reading this whole Psalm in one sitting might feel like one sometimes). The portion of Psalm 119 that we read today is very reminiscent of a lament as the Psalmist cries and calls out to God due to those who are far from the law coming near.
145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep your statutes.
146 I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
I am glad that there is a sense of urgency for and slight disconnection from God in the beginning of this passage. He says that He will keep God’s statutes and observe God’s testimonies, yet he’s asking God to answer and save him. It makes me realize that “doing the right things” are not a magic pill that suddenly makes me “feel” God. One of the greatest disservices a pastor can do when trying to convey the importance of spiritual habits is to make it sound like if you just did something 15 min longer God would have shown up or loved you more. If we all became monks, we still could not fulfill the great commission.
I also like that we can tell God how we are feeling.
“Hear me God I’ll do what you ask of me”
“Save me God so that I can do what you ask of me.”
There is desperation.
If this was me, there is some bargaining here, “God, I’ll be good, just make the problem go away.” But I don't think that this is where the author is coming from. I think it comes from knowing that God is trustworthy and the author is waiting to hear from God about his petition.
What does the Psalmist ask? He asks God to answer and save him. What is the question? What does he need to be saved from? Before we ever find out what is going on, we see what he is doing in response.
He wakes up early to ask for help and stays up late to meditate on God’s Promises.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
I’m not saying everyone has to have a quiet time at 5 am or that the morning is a magical time where God hears you better, It’s the fact that he prioritized talking to God and finding hope in the Word of God. This prioritization might be cutting out something we do too much off (Netflix, food, sleep), the things that we do instead of turning to God. I personally will watch Netflix all night and then sleep all day. What I should be doing instead is focusing on God: Having conversations with Him, delighting in reading His words. We find hope in being close to God.
Now we get to the circumstances for this passage.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
Originally I had separated the two verses from each other since one is about God’s love and justice and the other about lawless people coming after him, but the two are connected. He is asking for God to listen since God loves us. Then he asks for life according to God’s sense of justice. Why? Because those who are far from God’s law are coming to persecute him for following God.
Despite this the Psalmist takes hope in the fact that God is near, is trustworthy, loving, and just.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have founded them forever.
Although the Psalmist is genuinely worried about those who are coming after him, he also knows the God that he serves. He tells God what is going on and holds onto the things he knows to be true about God.
His response to hardship could be to hide/ lay low, or give up, but his response is to dig in. He cries out to God. He spends all his time in the Torah. He knows what God has done for the Israelites and he knows God’s law. He does not let his circumstances stop him. He trusts in God that justice will come out in the end.
Our response to hardship could be to hide/ lay low or give up. We can put our faith in material things to distract ourselves from reality, but reality is we cannot go on without God. Even during times they everything seems to be okay, we must continue to delight in His word. If we do not, that is when we are taken out into the desert and tested, but since we did not delight in the Word of God and having a relationship with God, we are quickly lead astray. How can we be reminded of scripture if we never read it? How will we know God’s voice in the chaos when we never took the time to hear it in the quiet?
Take delight today in the Word of God. See that in adversity God is ever present. Know God’s track record, know God’s laws, and seek a relationship with Him. Know His Voice.
This week read the Bible. I don't care how much or how often. Just read it. When Josh challenged us to read through all of Lamentations every day for a month it was stretching but so far it has been amazing. Not because of how much I am reading and now I am super awesome, but because I AM reading and God speaks through his word. We are in a time without a series or anything like that, how do people come up with what to talk about if they aren't reading the book they are supposed to talk about?