173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts*.
174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
and let your rules help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.
* 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.
As we conclude our study through Psalm 119, I wanted to take a little time and look at what we have learned. The author of this psalm wanted to look at and extol the wonders, beauty, and majesty of God’s word. The synonyms and images used to describe God’s revelation have been many. And the implications are just as varied.
First, God’s word is not just for religious exercise. Engaging and consuming of God’s word has very practical ramifications for how we live in the world and with others. To know how to live well, we need the best information and insights we can get. There is no greater wisdom than that given by God. Therefore, we should seek it, meditate on it, and employ it in our daily living.
Second, God’s word is a source of comfort. The constant reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness are found throughout God’s word. We are given encouragement to remember the grace and mercy of God; to be called to deep trust and truer affection of God as we read and consider the history recorded.
Third, God’s word is a library of instruction. God desires for his people to know how to live in a way that reflects his character. In order to achieve this, we have to learn what is in line with God’s character what is not. As we study God’s word, we can see what he commands. As we grow in our obedience, we are transformed. As we are transformed, we become more like Jesus, who is our example of a God-filled life.
Finally, God’s word is a promissory note. What God has promised he will fulfill. To do anything less is to be accused of being a liar. God will comply with every promise he makes, and he makes no promise he cannot fulfill. This is the beauty of God’s love. He can do what he says. Just because we would have done things differently doesn’t mean God has failed. It should help us realize there are still things we don’t know.
God’s word is anchor for our faith. When we go to it we can find the God who gave us those words. But we have to be looking for him there to find him.
Verse 173: The phrasing of the verse leaves the impression that the Psalmist, by choosing God’s precepts, is “reminding” God of what God has promised. Now, God does not need reminders. And that is not really the intent. The author is not putting a demand upon God. Rather, the author is acknowledging the reality of what God has promised to do when a believer lives in obedience to what God commands.
Verse 174: When we have come to know what God has said, our desire for salvation intensifies. What this would suggest is not that the gift of salvation has been rescinded and then reapplied. It would make more sense to see how delighting in God’s law is a steady reminder of the gift of which all who believe in Jesus are the beneficiaries of.
Verse 175: The write describes the posture of life they are taking. They want to live in such a way that it is obvious to all who see, that they are committed to God with the totality of their being. For the soul to “live and praise” God means that in daily living there will be an element of worship. That in all things God will be glorified.
Verse 176: The final verse of the psalm is a bit odd. The oddity is that after all the various ways that the Psalmist describes and rejoices in God’s faithfulness to keep them, they end on a note of deep humility. This acknowledgment of a tendency for failure serves two purposes. First, it is a humble admonition to wandering away from God is not only possible, but far more likely than we would like to admit. However, the petition is made for God to seek our the wandering sheep. Second, through this humble declaration we can see that we can trust in God’s faithfulness to seek us when we wander and to never abandon us when we feel like we have disappointed God. Even when we drift (or even run) off course, we know what we have learned about God. And it is this knowledge that will help us find our way back home.