Today we end Ps. 119. In this last section, the psalmist continues to cry out to God for strength in keeping God's laws, for protection from those who would harm him, and for a divine response to his needs. Many of the words are repetitive of former sections, but the key take-away, I think, is the psalmist's dedication to God. He may struggle, face hardship, see others seemingly benefit from being evil or self-centered, and yet his faith does not waver. God is righteous, God's love is steadfast, and God will be faithful.
You are righteous, O Lord, and your judgments are right .. My zeal consumes me because my foes forget your words .. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth. Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your commandments are my delight. Your decrees are forever; give me understanding that I may live. With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord, I will keep your statutes .. I put my hope in your words. In your steadfast love hear my voice .. Look on my misery and rescue me .. plead my cause and redeem me. Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your justice .. The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever .. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances. Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble .. Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word .. Let your hand be ready to help me .. I long for your salvation, O Lord; and your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you .. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments. (Ps. 119:137-176)
At the very end of this long psalm, after repeatedly assuring God he has kept all his laws, ordinances, precepts, etc., the psalmist finally acknowledges there are times he has "gone astray like a lost sheep." It is clear from this psalm that the writer does not intend on straying - it just happens. Life today is still like that: we have the best intentions when it comes to church, reading the Bible, and loving God and others before ourselves. But we, too, go astray. But even as it happens, this psalmist knows that before he has committed his life to God, God will seek him in such times. I wonder if sometimes we are too busy, too distracted by the world, to listen for God. I wonder whether someday we will see our lives played out in front of us and will see times when God was trying to tell us something and we missed it. What do you think?
Prayer: God, help us to always keep your commandments. Forgive us when we don't love you first and foremost and when we fail to love others. When we fail you, seek us out, find us, and bring us back to what you would have us do. Our faith, trust, and hope are in you. Amen.