“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 (ESV)
Perhaps there are times when you feel distant from your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not uncommon for those who believe to go through trials and testing of their faith. Sometimes it seems that what is before us is insurmountable and like a huge tidal wave it is about to wash over us and take us under. That is the time to remember this promise and call on God. If you have repented and believed on Jesus Christ, you have been saved from the wages of sin and are safe in Christ. Being in Christ is why we can believe that the LORD is near when we call on Him. He is not distant and He is not out of reach of our voice. In fact if we are truly in Christ, then He is in us with His Holy Spirit. This is not hocus-pocus as many who reject Jesus would claim. Our Almighty God is a spirit yet a true person who loves and cares for us enough to offer His only begotten Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin. He promised this long ago and what God promises, He fulfills.
“Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.” – Psalm 119:77 (ESV)
The biblical meaning of mercy is exceedingly rich and complicated, in fact several Hebrew and Greek words are needed to understand the depth of this attribute. There are many synonyms used in our various Bible translations to express the dimensions of meaning involved. Our favorites might be “lovingkindness,” and “steadfast love.” Well-known in the concept of mercy is the compassionate nature to forgive an offender or adversary and to help or spare him in his sorry plight. Many other words in the Bible describe the character of our Lord. Perhaps we can say God’s mercy is the foremost attribute revealed. In revealing Himself to Moses, the Lord declared His great mercy (Exod. 34:6–7). The prophets likewise take great pains to remind Israel of this facet of God’s divine love. Micah 7:18 in particular provides a challenging statement: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” The Lord our God is not merely merciful, but delights in the opportunity to grant mercy. God’s very nature is to show continual and everlasting mercy without limit.
“It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” – Psalm 119:71-72 (ESV)
Each verse in Psalm 119 uses one of eight different words to focuses us on the Word of God. Terms are used have different meanings but each is a reference to Holy Scripture. Because the Psalms were written before New Testament times the psalmists had in mind the Scriptures they knew. Even the psalms were written by many guided by the Holy Spirit and then collected into what we have as the Book of Psalms. Today, these citations include the whole Bible as we have it. First we recognize the value of tough times, difficult days⸺even days of affliction (v.71). Even those times when others cause grief and heartache. Nobody really likes to be afflicted but we can recognize that God uses it to teach us to trust him. The next verse tells us how valuable are the words from God’s law, that come from His mouth. Worth more than a large pile of gold and silver. God’s law and testimonies, his precepts and statutes, his commandments and judgments, his word and ordinances are all given to us for our benefit. We have all this blessing so that we may know God in a more intimate way.
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” – Psalm 56:3-4 (NASB)
Fear can paralyze us, freeze our feet to the ground and cause us to lose our balance. The psalmist, David composed this song which is labeled as “A Mikhtam.” We do not positively know what this label means. But we do have clues. For one clue, this is a very important and valuable song. It extolls God’s goodness and faithfulness. It sings of why we can put our trust in God especially when we are afraid. It reaffirms for us that human kind and their devices cannot truly hurt the faith believer in God. David pleads and rejoices in the help and deliverance God gives him. The root of the word means to stamp or grave (as in engrave). It leads us to believe that it labels the song as a composition so precious as to be worthy to be engraved on a durable tablet for preservation. Others might render “a psalm precious as stamped gold,” from the word kethem meaning fine or stamped gold. Perhaps like today’s top-selling songs that are “certified gold” could be considered “michtams” of a sort. We don’t know for sure anything except that God’s Word is all more precious than gold.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ” – Psalm 23:1 (ESV)
A very familiar verse we share on this 20th anniversary of a tragic day. It is good for us to remember such horrific events so that we can remember again that we have a caretaker who watches over us. Of the thousands who lost their lives on this day in 2001 we know many were believers in Jesus Christ. Many others were not and that compounds the tragedy for them. Also, many first responders who were there that day and lived through it have had residual health effects. God, our Shepherd know this. Nothing happened or happens today that our God is not aware of. We do have this promise: strictly speaking, Yahweh roh is the beginning phrase of Psalm 23, “the LORD is my shepherd.” It combines the personal name of God, Yahweh, with the descriptive name of God, rohi or ro‘i, meaning, “my Shepherd.” The root word ra‘ah means to feed and tend domestic animals by pasturing them. This name speaks of God caring for His people in practical ways as well as providing spiritual sustenance. God provides and cares for everything we need, thus we can say today, no matter what happens, “I shall not want.”
“The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” – Psalm 119:57” – (NASB)
In the original language, verse 57 may be a broken sentence. The translators mended it by insertions, but even as it is without the fix it makes good sense. It would appear as an exclamation,—“My portion, O Lord!” As one nearly overcome with God’s goodness, the psalmist (likely David) is lost in wonder while he sees that the great and glorious God is all his own! This is understandable, for there is no possession we might have like the LORD himself. The sentence expresses joyous recognition and assumption,—“My portion, O LORD!” The idea of “a portion” springs from the lawful practice of the Levites when they were sacrificing animals brought to the Temple as offerings. They were given a portion of the meat that they might eat. In this way the priests were sustained since their work was fully within the compound of the Temple when they served. For the psalmist and for us, God is a great and permanent portion, our heritage. It includes all, and more than all; it outlasts all; and yet no one chooses it for themselves until God has chosen and renewed their life by being born of God.
“Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope. – Psalm 119:49 (NASB)
I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD, And comfort myself. – Psalm 119:52 (NASB)
O LORD, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law. – Psalm 119:55 (NASB)
Can you consider for a moment what life would be like if you were unable to remember? Memory is critical part of our lives and when we know someone in their later life whose memory is failing them, we understand the critical factor of danger. Perhaps they no longer remember what might hurt them such as a hot pot on the stove. Perhaps they no longer remember their way home. Perhaps even they no longer remember their family or even their own selves. It is tragic. The Psalmist affirms three remembrances in his life and we’ve selected the verses that declare what he remembers. He remembers the word God has given him and from that He has acquired hope. He remembers the ordinances he learned in the past and he is comforted by them. And, perhaps most important and valuable, he remembers God’s name in the night which helps him keep God’s law. Those afflicted with the diseases that rob them of their memory often struggle most at the end of the day as the sun sets. Let us rejoice for it is a blessing when we can remember God’s Word all through each day.
“May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.” – Psalm 119:41-42 (NASB)
There is an increase in the resistance of our world to the Word of God. There is also a significant decrease in the number who hold the Bible to be absolute truth. Within this battle, those who oppose the teachings in the Bible are becoming more active in demonstrating their hostility. The psalmist called on God to deliver him through His love and His Word and He will for us based on the promise God has given to us. He sought and trusted that he would have an answer for his enemy. He prayed and affirmed that the Word would continue to be his pattern of life. That is the way God has prepared for us to enjoy victory over the obstructions they set to the spreading of His Word. When opposition comes we frequently take it very personally but here we can know that it is God that the non-believer is rejecting and fighting against. We can like this passage teaches learn to delight in God’s commandments grow to love them for they are life to our soul. Next time we meet resistance, lets remember, God’s Word has an answer for us to give in return.
“Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways. – Psalm 119:36-37 (ESV)
There is no room for doubt when we reflect on our shortcomings and the ways we fail to live up to the standards set for us in the Bible. We all need help and there is only one source that can actually help us. We first need to learn from God how He commands us to live. Psalm 119:33 tells us how if the LORD teaches us the way of his statutes, we will keep it to the end of days. We need understanding and guidance. The psalmist declared his loyalty to the Word, and he observed it with his whole heart. He prayed that the LORD would turn him away from dishonest gain and vanity. Vanity, the way it is used here means emptiness, nothingness, useless. When we commit ourselves, our resources, and out time to what is worthless we are in pursuit of vain things. This is the most common usage of this word in the Old Testament. We have an option and it is what we should desire. Our search should be for God to confirm His ordinances to us that we may enjoy the way of life God gives to us – His way.
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation. ⸺ Selah ” – Psalm 68:19 (NASB)
We have a word in today’s verse which has never been fully understood. It occurs 74 times in 74 verses in the Psalms. Selah, is thought to be a musical or liturgical term. A common attempted understanding is that it means “Pause a moment.” Maybe an extended rest in music. As in today’s verse it is placed after declaration that manifests God’s power, sovereignty, majesty, and promise to protect against our enemies. In today’s promise we sing out blessings to the Lord because he bears our burden every day. That means no matter what is put upon us today, tomorrow, and every tomorrow after that, God is with us to bear our burden. What is our burden? Well it may be our duties in obeying the precepts and commandments God has given to us. He will not give us instructions on life and then leave us alone without His help. No, in Isaiah 41:10, 13 God promises to help us and to uphold us with His righteous right hand. Let’s PAUSE a moment and let that sink in so that we don’t gloss over this wonderful promise and pay no attention to it. ⸺ Selah.