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 counselors.
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
It only takes one day of living to know that not all is well in the world. The brokenness of the human experience is manifested in a myriad of ways. They don’t all have to be named, to be known. They hover over our minds like a fog that never lifts. This is the dark side of life.
In the verses that serve as our focus today, we see the the heaviness of the fall. We see it in the struggle of living apart from God’s word. We see the barrage that we must endure even when we have been faithful to what God has instructed. The injustices we may be forced to endure when we have no access to the means of relief. These and so many more could rob us of our ability to rejoice in God. If we would let them.
But the Psalmist calls us to a deeper wisdom. One grounded in the testimonies of God where delight springs with an unquenchable constancy. There is a wisdom that the world offers to us, but it will fail. And the reason it will do so is it cannot replenish itself. It will always be short-sighted because it comes from those whose vision is marred.
The wisdom of God can penetrate the darkness of the world. No shadow can restrain its brilliance. No corner can hide from its influence. There is nothing that can dampen the power of God’s wisdom. That is why we can rest in it. And why our confidence will never be misplaced.
Verse 21: To “wander from [God’s] commandments” is the surest way of incurring the discipline of God. Not because God will actively bring his rebuke. The reality is any move away from what God has given for us to do will invariably result in discipline. In our obedience we receive the blessing of God’s protection. But in our disobedience we say to God we do not need his loving care. This is why our wandering can be so dangerous. God does not desire or enjoy the discipline of his children. But God has already given us the way of escape. We are the ones who must take it.
Verse 22: One of the difficulties most often associated with obedience will be the disdain of those who are not in relationship with God. Our desire to submit to God and live in accord with his testimonies identify us to the world. We must not be surprised by this. In fact, we should expect it. However, we don’t have to enjoy this kind of suffering. We can call upon the Lord to provide a reprieve. We can look to our God and inquire for relief from these burdens. But, even if they are not removed, we should not allow those discomforts and frustrations to keep us from keeping God’s word.
Verse 23: It does not matter who may find reason to come against us, their station in life should not become a distraction to how we live our faith before God. If there is one thing that is certain on our journey of faith it is that we will encounter opposition. It may not be another person necessarily. But whatever it may be, we must do all we can to not be distracted or deterred. When we meditate on God’s statutes, we are striving to focus our attention. This cannot happen when our minds are drawn away from what we are trying to contemplate.
Verse 24: We again encounter the Psalmist speaking of delighting in God’s words. This reminder is vital if we are going to understand how we should feel about God’s commands. They should not feel like burdens to us (1 John 5:3). They are to be for our minds and souls a refreshing ointment and a healing balm. To approach God’s word as an inconvenience is to not fully appreciate their role in our lives. This way of understanding God’s words takes time to understand, and even longer to cultivate. But this should be the charge we take up each and every day.