Long Song Study, part G


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Let’s dig in to Psalm 119:49-56.

Verse 49
Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
“Remember” is one of those words in Hebrew that goes above and beyond our meaning, which is “recalling to memory something forgotten”. That definition doesn’t work here, because God isn’t forgetful. He is infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign, incomparable. The Lord is not our Grandpa in the Sky who needs our reminders on how to run the world.
Instead, David was calling on God to take action on all that He promised in His word. To remember meant “to stretch out the arm to act.” In other words, David was waiting for a move of God and although delay was painful, he knew it did not nullify the promise. “It is the plan of God that the believer hold on in hope. God calls us to patient waiting.” (Christopher Ash) “Have no fear of failure, for the Lord has never forgotten a single promise to a single believer.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Verse 50
This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
Where do you go for comfort? I’ve thought about that a lot during these past weeks of quarantine. Times of difficulty often unmask our idols. Is it favorite foods, mind-numbing TV, shopping online, sleep, reruns of sporting events? Or do I go to the life giving power of the Word? As believers, we can find comfort even in the midst of trouble, for Jesus has promised, “I will not leave you comfortless.” (John 14:18)

Verse 51
The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
There they are again, those pesky critics. To deride means, “to laugh at in scorn or contempt; scoff or jeer at.” That’s hard to take day after day. Yet, they did not get the upper hand with David because he did not turn aside from God’s way. That takes fortitude, but be assured, it still hurts to be laughed at, to be made fun of, to get the eye-roll, or to be belittled with disrespect. Even when you’re a king.

Verse 52
When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.
Once again, we see how David directed his thoughts to bring himself comfort. Just as he asked God to remember His word, David also remembered the times God moved on his behalf. He rehearsed in his mind the many past rescues God provided for him and for the Israelites. This bolstered David’s confidence in his God as a Covenant Keeper. What experiences can you draw from as evidence of God’s care for you in the past?
I have dates written down next to certain verses in my Bible. For instance, “Dec. 1991, Marshfield Hospital” is written on the margin of Psalm 34; “Mar. 22, 1988 – Appointment to Jim Falls” is noted by Isaiah 58:11-12; “Mar. 2001 — waiting for Blake’s bypass surgery” is next to Psalm 27:13-14; “4-24-18, Ember Blake born” is beside Psalm 46:5. These are markers for me, helping me remember God’s faithfulness in the past, reminding me of His sure provision in the future.

Verse 53
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
Although he dealt with his own group of naysayers, the thing that really got David hot under the collar was the way they dishonored God. According to Christopher Ash, “We too need to learn this indignation.” We tend to overlook others’ disregard for God’s Word, especially if they are really nice, decent, good people. We forget how serious rebellion against God is, and that “turning away from the written instruction God has given is a personal insult and an outrage against the Creator of the universe.”

Verse 54
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
How did David cool down his hot indignation? By singing. He played music that lifted up the holy word of God. He sang songs that reminded him he was not at home in this world, but a pilgrim passing through it. Singing the very words of God is a form of worship that is full of power. Believing people have always been singing people. I have a playlist titled “Psalms” and every time I hear a song based on a psalm, I add it to the list. These are my songs “through the years of my earthly pilgrimage” (TLB). It’s a great soundtrack for life!

Verse 55
I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.
One advantage of learning scripture songs is that they can pop into my head even in the middle of the night. That seems to be when I need them the most. During the night, my mind can be inundated with “what if” and “if only” and “why am I still awake?” David reminds us to remember (it’s a theme in this passage).
Remember Paul and Silas in jail in Acts 16? They sang hymns at midnight so loud that all the other prisoners heard them. Evidently, so did God. An earthquake shook the place, the doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. That’s the power of songs in the night.

Verse 56
This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.
This verse must have been hard to translate, because it is expressed very differently across various versions. The ESV is printed here, but the NIV says, “This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.” I like that. This way of life takes some practice. We don’t learn it in a day. However, obedience becomes easier as we practice. And that results in blessing.

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Next: Zayin

8 thoughts on “Long Song Study, part G

  1. A strong reminder message today. Thanks Dinah as it cause me to contemplate on this contemplation from a bible Study

    “Waiting.  Is there anything harder than being patient?  Joyce Meyer said once that “Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” 

    This meditation from the fifth chapter of first Peter will help you stop minding the time and cast your cares on Him who created time.  

    Resting in imaginative contemplation for a moment, remain with your eyes closed…imagine holding a baby.  Perhaps just a few months old.  Very aware of being lifted.  Very unfamiliar with time.  A baby loves being lifted, tossed in the air, and cradled in caring arms.  They laugh.   They giggle.  When you place them back on the floor they look at you with longing eyes.  They want to experience that again but don’t know how to ask.  They don’t know when.  But out of care and joy in your heart, you pick up the child again.  You can do this all day can’t you.  The joy you feel of caring for them.  If only they knew.  Stay there lifting and twirling this baby in your arms.  Give them your time. 

    Today you have the opportunity to be lifted up by God as he is mindful of time. He knows your needs, far better than you.  He is aware of time, much more than you.  He created you.  He created time.  And he created time to be with you.

    Let me pray too that you remember too to humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you. “

  2. Hey! When you were talking about songs you referred to as “soundtrack for life” what was (TLB)..a list of the songs? I’m interested in the songs you’re referring to!

  3. I’m discovering I don’t like v. 53. Hot indignation and hot under the collar don’t fit in with my picture of patience and understanding. Obviously this does not say to treat the ones who have forsaken the law with hot indignation and yet I’m left wondering. This man after God’s own heart certainly was allowed emotions I’ve worked to overcome! (Yes, I’ve fallen behind in reading these amazing posts; I apologize for commenting ‘late’.)

    • David didn’t seem to have a problem expressing his righteous indignation to God. Another good example is Psalm 109 — some very tough words in there. More thoughts on this by Christopher Ash: “It is important to note that his (David’s) indignation is not because they are hurting him, painful though that is. He is indignant because they turn away from God’s instruction. He loves the Lord and longs to see Him honored. It fills him with fury to see God dishonored and His world spoiled with sin.” Indignant: strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base. Should we express strong displeasure when God is insulted? Maybe there’s a difference between carnal indignation and righteous indignation? Thoughts? ☺️

      • Hmmm, I dunno. “It fills him with fury to see God dishonored and His world spoiled with sin.” ALL sin spoils His world; ALL sin dishonors God. I can be filled with fury over all sin? Or maybe certain sins?
        Like maybe over child abuse or child pornography? Or abortion? Can I be filled with fury over those? Or how about over the killing of George Floyd?

        Is the key to being filled with indignation and fury at blatant disregard for God’s perfection to aim it at the situation, or at Satan, rather than the sinner? Psalm 109 certainly seems to negate that thought! I can’t imagine praying: ‘Shorten his life, make him lose his job, let the bank foreclose on him and let total strangers steal all he has’ over anybody, no matter how they’ve treated another person (sinned/shown blatant disregard for God’s law) or maybe over someone who has targeted our church.

        Did these thoughts and prayers change with the coming of Christ? An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth became turn the other cheek and love (others) like I have loved you?

        Thoughts?

  4. I’m not faulting King David; I admire him. I think part of the reason he is such a wonderful example for me is his honesty. He’s not afraid to go to God with whatever was on his heart. My tiny life is nothing like his was; I can’t imagine the enemies he must’ve had. Maybe in his shoes I could understand his fury. (Maybe I should understand it even now!) A strong woman of God I greatly appreciate (😉 you!) taught me a wonderful help, to pray the Psalms (by inserting my name), and this happens to be one I can’t do that with.

  5. I’m amazed that God never reprimands David for his harsh words. It doesn’t seem to bother God at all. The thing is, David goes to God with his strong emotions and deals with them there — he doesn’t publish them on Facebook. And David doesn’t act on his feelings, but is airing them out in a safe place, which seems to be acceptable. David also doesn’t get stuck in the emotion, but always goes on to refocus on God. But I agree, it does make me a little uncomfortable and I don’t plan to make a practice of unleashing my fury during my prayer times! But then, passion for God’s justice and righteousness may be preferred over complacency and apathy. I like your point that the coming of Jesus and His teaching should change our response. Thanks for your thoughts! You always make me think!!

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