Psalms 119:141 I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
David is no stranger to persecution. He is small which conjures an image of weakness. He needs the Lord to fight his battles for him. He is despised. Do not be surprised that the world hates you, we are told (1 John 3:13), for a servant will not be treated better than his master. But not being surprised and being hurt are not exclusive. You may expect to be hated but it still stings! Dear saint, know that those who have gone before you are equally familiar with the despisement you feel in your own life. You are not alone, even when it seems that way.
But doesn’t verse 141 remind you of our Lord Jesus? (Isaiah 53:2 ESV) 2 “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” What more comfort do you need in your weakness than to know he also was made weak in order to save you and make you his bride?
But he did not forget God’s precepts and neither ought we! (Isaiah 53:9, 11 ESV) 9 “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Follow the example of Christ who suffered as a righteous person but didn’t succumb to temptation himself (1 Peter 2:21-22).
Psalms 119:142 Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.
Christ’s excellencies are of such a perfect and infinite nature that it is often hard to speak of them. How can the creature, (especially a sinful one), ever use language to adequately describe the infinite? So we come up with a phrase that seems obvious like “Your righteousness is righteous.” But let’s dig dipper into this mine and see what gems we can find here!
First, we note the extent and duration of God’s righteousness. It is righteous forever. There is no other being of whom that can be said. God is eternal and unchanging. Thus, His righteousness is forever righteous. What a comfort to know that our God will not change and will forever be righteous. Secondly, we note the quality of God’s righteousness. His righteousness is righteous. While this seems obvious, it bears remarking that God describes our righteousness in very different terms. Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” God’s righteousness is contrasted with ours in that His righteousness is eternal and unblemished righteousness. There is no stain on God’s righteousness and it isn’t pushed about by winds of change. Praise Him!
Finally, because God is righteous and eternal, his law is true. We often make an unfortunate distinction in our lives which is unsupported by scripture or sound reason. That distinction is that we say that we believe God is righteous and good, but then we question His law or commands toward us. We subtly ask ourselves in the idol of our heart “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1) in reference to what has been clearly written down for us. For many, it is not so subtle, but we presume upon the grace of God (1 Samuel 15:23) when we know we are in violation of His Truth. May God be merciful to us that our walk would match our calling (Ephesians 4:1).
Delight in God’s Commandments
Psalms 119:143 Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.
Again we see in the experience of Dave a foretaste of our own Christian experience. Following Christ is costly for everyone (Matthew 19:27). And for some, it comes with mountains of anguish. How many of you are the first and still only of your family to have been adopted as a child of God? How many are vexed like Lot over the state of your culture (2 Peter 2:7)? Has your profession caused discord in your life where there was previously peace (Matthew 10:36)? May a Christian’s newly sensitive conscience to God’s commandments is like sandpaper to his friends and family.
But again, we see here a picture of the suffering of the Lord Jesus. He is the one who “out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11).” It is the trouble that Jesus endured for our sake that delivers us from the domain of darkness into His marvelous light. Are you willing to endure anguish for His sake for a time that will not even be comparable to the glory that is stored up for you one day? When the trouble comes, is your temptation to abandon God’s commandments?
Our experience is this: most people will leave us alone about our religion as long as we keep it to ourselves. It is when we want to impose the will of God onto others through preaching or godly legislation that the pagan usually replies “believe what you want but don’t push it onto me.” But who hides a light under a basket? Yes, we can get along with people in this world more easily if we ignore their sin. We can have some temporary peace with people if we use the words they want us to us, laugh at the jokes they tell, and keep any talk of God’s commandments away from their hearing, but why would we? It is God’s commandments that are David’s delight, not false peace with men. Thus it is fitting that we should do that which brings us delight and adhere to, proclaim, and celebrate God’s commandments.
Assurance of Perseverance
Psalms 119:144 Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.
We finish this octave with praise to God for his testimonies. When we testify we provide an account of what we have witnessed. The omniscient God’s testimonies are thus perfect and eternal. Men require two or three witnesses to establish an account (Deuteronomy 19:15; 2 Corinthians 13:1), but God is One and he needs no other authority to confirm what He testifies to (Galatians 3:20). Thus, when we look at the witness of God we peer into that which is righteous and eternally unchanging.
This is why we trust God’s account of creation rather than the corrupt imaginations of men. God is a witness to the events of creation, thus, we believe in them. We believe the testimony of historical events in the Bible even if there is no external corroboration because God is trustworthy and a witness. God is righteous. That is His nature, therefore, when he recounts events or predicts them we can know with certainty that He is to be trusted. Since God is the source of all that we can know, we beseech him for understanding. We cannot know anything if God doesn’t reveal it to us, so with humility, we come to God in prayer and ask him to give us understanding that we may not only know how to live but that we may have life itself in Jesus.
Dear Christian, do you see how God’s righteous and eternal testimonies are your greatest assurance of your election? It is precisely because we can trust God that we have hope that we’ll persevere. Consider:
1 John 3:18-20 ESV Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
John wanted the church to know that the hearts of true believers will still try to condemn them. Our heart is regenerated but maintains some stain of our Adamic nature. So it has a tendency to deceive us…or at least try to. But when our heart condemns us, we turn to the manifold witness of our Triune God and cry “Abba, Father,” by the power of the Spirit of Christ. God’s testimonies are righteous forever. Believe Him, dear Christian, when He says there is therefore now no condemnation (Romans 8:1).
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