Today we continue our look at Ps. 119, the longest psalm in the Bible. In these verses, the psalmist changes moods - going from reflecting on God as creator to crying out for God's help in a time of suffering when it seems God is absent to meditating on the everlasting nature of God. Just as we experience our ups and downs, so this psalmist gives voice to his/her feelings in the moment.
Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments .. I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have humbled me. Let your steadfast love become my comfort .. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Let the arrogant be put to shame .. may my heart be blameless. My soul languishes for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes fail with watching for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?" How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? .. Help me! They have almost made an end of me .. but I have not forgotten you .. The Lord exists forever .. your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth and it stands fast. I am yours! .. Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path .. Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your ordinances .. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word .. Hold me up, that I may be safe .. I am your servant, give me understanding. It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken .. Keep my steps steady .. Redeem me from human oppression .. Make your face shine upon me .. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth .. give me understanding that I may live. (Ps. 119:65-144)
At times this psalm seems so repetitive that I wonder why the psalmist feels the need to repeat over and over again the words that he obeys God's laws and seeks understanding. And then, I look to my own life and know that if I don't keep a connection with God on a daily basis it becomes easier and easier to move away from God. When Ps. 119 was written, Jesus Christ had not yet been born. I know that's obvious, but it makes a huge difference in how we live. Before Jesus, those who believed in God lived under the law; rules that had to be kept and sacrifices that had to be made. Jesus changed that for us. But we still have commandments to keep: love God and love others, be humble, care for children and those who cannot care for themselves, speak out on behalf of the oppressed, seek justice. We need daily reminders as well of what God calls us to do.
Prayer: God, thank you for your steadfast love for us. Help us to keep in contact with you daily - in prayer, devotional time, reading of your word, listening to a hymn, or meditating on the beauty of your creation. Help us to keep your laws daily as well. To put others before ourselves, to find ways to show your love to those who do not yet know the depth of your love for them. Give us understanding. Amen.