Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Devotional: Psalm 119.17-24 (Stanza ג)

   Pray and talk to God about how your day went. Tell what was hard. Ask for what you need, but also spend some time thanking God for Who He is and what He does for you. And make sure to ask for wisdom and insight to understand and apply this passage. 
   Abba, it's hard to be focused with all that's going on today and tomorrow, but Abba I love you and thank you for what you've already helped me to accomplish today. Be glorified in me and teach me Your Word! In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

17   Treat your slave graciously, so I will live, 
        and I will obey Your Word!
18   Unblind my eyes, 
       so I will see mind-blowing things from Your instruction!
19   I'm a stranger in the land!
       Don't hide Your commands from me!
20   My life is crushed by longing
       for Your judgments all the time!
21   You reprimand arrogant people as cursed, 
       those who stray from Your commands!
22   Take shame and disrespect away from Me, 
       because I obey Your statements!
23   Moreover, powerful leaders sit--they talk with each other against me
       Your slave is studying Your laws!
24   Moreover, Your statements are my delights--
       They're my advisers! 

   The author of this psalm continues to struggle through talking with God about His problems. These 8 verses all start with the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet, gimel (ג). However, in this section we see that not only does the psalmist have this passionate desire to know God and obey His Word, but he has problems with other people in his life. He is struggling with people who are giving him a hard time, maybe in part because the author is so committed to studying and enjoying the Word of God and so intent on having a thriving relationship with God. Maybe they hate the author because he won't compromise on obeying God, or maybe they just think that following God so passionately is dumb. Either way, the author is dealing with slander and feeling socially devalued and isolated. And all this is just on top of the fact, that he is still wanting to know God, and in some case is confused why there would be so much opposition in his life to following God and living for Him, especially since that is what God wants. 
   The section basically breaks down into two themes: 1) [vv.17-20] the psalmist's longing for a stronger relationship with God through understanding and obeying the Bible; 2) [vv.21-24] the psalmist's longing for relief from the shame and disrespect he is experience from people who don't follow God. 

   I think what sticks out to me is how desperate the author is to really enjoy and understand God's Word, but also how dependent the author is on God to make that all possible. 

   I am also impressed with just how honest this author is with God. He tells him what he is going through. He tells God about the struggle to understand and see the amazing things in His Word. He is honest about how much the attacks of other people are getting to him. He may even praying that God would curse arrogant people. there is this strong contrast between people being rebellious against God, and the author who is, generally speaking, rather faithful and passionate toward God. He even asks God to get rid of the shame and disrespect, because he obeys God's instructions. But I think that is not so much the author's way of saying that he deserves God to give him relief, although perhaps that is sort of there, but that he is someone who clearly has a relationship with God. So, he is actually saying something more like, "save me from my misery, because You're my God, and I'm one of Your people!" instead of "save me from my misery, because You owe me for all the times I obeyed!"

   I'm also struck by how little has changed in the 2500 years or so since this was written. We still have problems with people. We still face people making us miserable, even for being faithful to God. And we even still struggle to understand and obey and even enjoy God's Word, but we like the psalmist want that to be different. And yet, wonderfully we still have the God Who cares and listens and answers, just like the psalmist has. And God is still someone that we can go to for hope and strength and relief from the people causing us trouble and for wisdom and understanding to know what to do and how to understand His Word.

   Be honest with God about what you're going through, no matter what it is. 
   Rely on God for understanding and enjoying His Word. 
   Obey God's Word. 

   Spend some more time praying about what you learned and felt from this passage, maybe confess some sins or tell God about what you really want and what you're really facing in life and ask for Him to intervene. 
   Abba, I love You! You're so awesome and good and righteous and just! There is NO one like You! God, I'm stress out from school and tired. I want to long passionately for Your Word, I don't just want to understand it, I want to enjoy it and I want to actually do it! Have mercy on me and make it all happen! Give me grace and protect me and uphold me as I deal with people who are making my life more difficult than I would like and with even people treating me badly. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and make me cling even tighter to Jesus' blood as I live for Your glory, Abba! In Jesus' Name, Amen!

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