Scripture Text – Psalm 119
The emphasis in this the longest psalm, and the basic theme, is on the vital ministry and practical use of the Word of God in the inner spiritual life of God’s children. It describes how the Word enables us to grow in holiness and handle the persecutions and pressures that always accompany an obedient walk of faith.
The Word of God performs many wonderful ministries in the life of the devoted believer. If we delight in His Word, learn it, treasure it within, and obey what it says, the Lord will work in us and through us to accomplish great things for His glory! Circumstances may change, but God and His Word remain the same.
Samekh (Samek) – Dealing With the Enemy
Please read Psalm 119:113-120 for the background to this section.
If the life of faith consisted only of meditating on the Word and loving God, life would be easy, but people of faith have enemies, and life in this world is not easy. “Through many tribulations we enter the kingdom of God.” – Acts 14:22. Like the ten faithless men who spied out Canaan, if we look only at the enemy and ourselves, we will be discouraged and want to quit. But if like Caleb and Joshua, we look to the Lord, we can conquer the enemy (Numbers 13:27–33). Four assurances in these verses help us face the enemy with courage and win the battle.
God protects His people. The “double-minded” were the people who were undecided and therefore uncommitted to the Lord (1 Kings 18:21; James 1:8; 4:8). Today, we would call them “half-hearted.” There is nothing strange about believers experiencing both love toward God and His Word and hatred toward those who reject the Lord (see also Psalm 101:3; Amos 5:15; Micah 3:2). “You who love the Lord, hate evil!” – Psalm 97:10. If we love the Word, we will hate lies and oppose liars. The psalmist knew that his shelter and shield was the Lord alone, and he trusted in Him. He is not hiding in the Lord from fear of facing the enemy, because he addresses the enemy in verse 115. Only in the Lord could he find the help he needed. The Lord protects us that He might equip us to face the enemy and fight the battle (Psalms 3:3; 27:5; 28:7; 31:20; 32:7; 33:20; 46:1–2; 61:4; 84:11; 91:1). The psalmist had his heart set on the Lord, so there was no need to reconsider the matter. It was settled!
God upholds the obedient. The NASB and NIV each use “sustain” in verse 116 and “uphold” in 117, but the words are almost synonyms. “Sustain” pictures the believer leaning on the Lord for support and rest, while “uphold” means that, plus the idea of giving aid and refreshment. (See Psalms 3:5; 37:17, 24.) When we feel like falling down and just giving up, the Lord comes to our aid in ways we could never fully understand.
God rejects the wicked. God’s people in the Old Testament fought their enemies with swords and slings, but God’s people today use the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). It is a conflict between truth and lies, and God’s truth must prevail. The writer of this psalm described the enemy as sheep that had gone astray and as cheap dross that must be discarded (Proverbs 25:4; 26:23; Isaiah 1:22, 25). God in His judgments purifies the saints but reveals the wickedness of the sinners, the way the refiner’s furnace reveals the dross (Jeremiah 6:28–30; Ezekiel 22:18–19; Malachi 3:2–3). “Their deceit is falsehood” in verse 118 means that the thoughts and plans of the wicked are based on lies, but they are only deceiving themselves because their plans will fail.
God alone should be feared. The fear of the Lord is the fear that conquers every fear. “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6; also Psalm 118:6). The psalmist did not approach God as a criminal about to be slain but as a son showing loving respect to the father. God honors those who fear Him (Psalm 15:4) and blesses them (Psalm 115:13). If we fear the Lord, we depart from evil (see Proverbs 3:7). This takes us back to verse 113: if we are single-minded, we will fear only the Lord and trust Him. “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” – 2 Chronicles 20:15.
To Be Continued