157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from your testimonies*.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
* 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.
On the Sunday before Jesus’s arrest, trial, and ultimate crucifixion he entered the City of David for the final time. In a few short days, the earthly sojourn of the Son of God would achieve its purpose.
The redemption of humanity was a task that only God could accomplish. In the span of three years, Jesus of Nazareth went from obscurity to notoriety. Those who loved him, saw the hope of the world. Those who despised him, saw an interloper in their plans. Those who misunderstood him, betrayed him. Those who hated him, sought to kill him.
How could Jesus do it? How could he enter the city knowing what was to come? The question confounds us because if we knew what Jesus knew, we would do everything in our power to escape.
But Jesus was not a prophet like Jonah, who ran in the other direction.
Jesus was not a king like David, who stayed home when he should go to fight.
Jesus was not a man like me, weak and timid in the face of great challenges.
We know the struggle of the Mount of Olives would come. We know that the request for reprieve would be made.
But we also know the surrender of obedience was perfectly fulfilled.
We have the benefit of looking back. Of seeing across the pages of Scripture the events unfolding like a perfect drama.
However, few knew then what we know now. In truth, only Jesus knew what awaited him. Only Jesus.
This is the challenge of Palm Sunday. And it is the beauty of it as well.
Verse 157: The challenges of life would rob us of of the will to hold fast to God’s testimonies. We must not surrender to them. In the midst of struggle and strife, of challenges and challengers, we must continue resolved to what we have seen and come to know about God.
Verse 158: In one of the more raw expressions in the Psalm, we see the rancor of the Psalmist toward those who have rejected God’s commands. Why does he feel this disdain? We cannot be sure. However, we can make a comparison. Based on the writers love for and trust in God’s word, we can catch a glimpse of the value he places on it. So, to see others not valuing what they perceive as being of infinite worth causes feelings of disgust to rise in the writer.
Verse 159: As a continuation of the previous verses sentiments, we see a clear declaration of love for the precepts of God. We again see an admonition for God to give the Psalmist life according to God’s steadfast love. This is the basis of the writers confidence. There is no other reason for either making the request or expecting an answer. If God’s love is not present, life will not flow toward us.
Verse 160: Every word of God is truth. What is interesting of the phrasing here is that “truth” is in the singular. The totality of God’s revelation can be seen as one unified whole. This is an important perspective as it forces us to reevaluate how we interact with the Scriptures. In one sense they are a library of texts. But, in another, more profound way, they are one text. The interplay between these ideas is vital to a healthy understanding of God’s revelation.