When we face trials of any kind, only the comfort of God can truly satisfy a man’s soul. Where do we find this comfort? Against what type of trials will this comfort suffice? What do we draw upon and from when the world gives us all it’s got? Answers are given in verses 21-24 of Psalm 119. Let’s check them out!
Psalms 119:21 ESV You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.
Verse 21 offers a reminder to every reader that the Lord Jesus Christ has no regard for the proud. God “assures” us that everyone who is arrogant (even in the heart) will not go unpunished (Proverbs 16:5). Even “haughty eyes” are considered detestable to our holy and majestic God and Savior (Proverbs 6:16-17). By grace, only the humble are willing to submit to God’s commandments—for every man exalts himself above God’s law by nature.
It is here that I want to remind you dear brother or sister that Jesus actually received the rebuke of God on your behalf for your haughtiness. Every arrogant thought you’ve ever had brought infinite suffering upon Jesus. Each prideful smirk of yours was wicked enough that only the death of the Son of God could purchase your forgiveness. Only the blood of the perfect Lamb could atone for your insolent rejection of God and all that is good. But drink the cup of God’s rebuke He did! You and I wandered from God’s commandments and Jesus became accursed in our place. Praise His holy name!
Psalm 119:22 Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.
David was the object of scorn and contempt on a constant basis. His own son betrayed him! Saul, who at one point appeared to delight in David, wanted to kill him. As you read through the psalms you see how often he was vexed by the multitude of his enemies. Yet, David was a child of God, adopted by the Father and given a new heart that really did want to keep God’s testimonies. On the basis of this innocence, he prays that God would deliver him from the scorn and contempt he was experiencing. We are not unlike David, my friends.
Oh! How difficult it is to be a child of God in this wicked world! Merely trying to live a righteous life is enough to incite the deepest hatred in insolent sinners. Abel was murdered because his deeds were righteous (1 John 3:12). The prophets were killed (Matthew 5:12), the early church was persecuted (Acts 12:1-2), and we have a well-documented world history of the mistreatment of anyone who even professes the name of Jesus. And we remember the words of our Master who told us no servant is above his Master, thus reminding us that deliverance from scorn and contempt in this life is not promised.
Yet, in a sense, Jesus has provided for us in such a way as to remove God’s scorn and contempt toward us. Because Jesus propitiated God’s wrath when he paid the ultimate price for His bride, we have the hopeful expectation of reward instead of God’s scorn. As the result of faith in Christ, we heed God’s wisdom and keep his testimonies, thus avoiding being laughed at in our calamity (Proverb 1:26). What a blessing and a comfort it is to contemplate that Jesus willingly took on the very scorn and contempt of God in the place of his church!
Psalms 119:23 ESV Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Not many readers of this blog will likely experience direct antagonism from a prince or anyone in a similar position. But David did, and so did many other faithful saints who prefigured the incarnate Christ. Joseph was held in contempt by Potipher (Gen 39:20); Daniel was plotted against by the rest of the king’s court (Daniel 6:4); and David was a man of blood, in constant battle with men in high places. Paul couldn’t get very far without someone opposing him (Acts 25:2). Our Christian history is littered with men and women who have been opposed by folks in really high places!
And what a scary thing that is! For we are no doubt respecters of persons. We realize the power that a judge, a mayor, a prince or another official may have over our earthly lives. Few of us would be anxious if we knew a few worthless men who didn’t like us. Most of us never really encounter people of power who legitimately could take something from us. But if you find yourself in the sights of a higher up at work, or if the very prince himself opposed you, what comfort would you have in this life?
Jesus stood before Herod and Pontius Pilate and didn’t even open his mouth to defend himself. Jesus fought slander by appealing to “him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). And considering his love for and knowledge of the scriptures, I have to believe that even though “princes were plotting against Him, He meditated on God’s statutes.” When the Devil himself (the prince of the power of the air) tempted Jesus thrice in the wilderness, Christ’s response was to quote Scripture to him (in context and with proper application no less) (Matthew 4:4,7,10)! He is our example that we might follow in his steps. Be comforted, dear saint, by Christ’s willingness to entrust Himself to a faithful Creator while doing good—and you yourself now strive to walk in those perfect footprints!
Psalms 119:24 ESV Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.
It is of little comfort to be reminded that suffering is predicted in the Christian life. In a sense, there is not a lot of hope when we remember that Jesus was mistreated and no servant is greater than his master. The health and wealth gospel is a lie—yet God expects His people to “rejoice always” and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, including joy! How in the world are we expected to endure immense suffering, betrayal, sickness, and maybe even persecution yet “count it all joy?” It is because God comforts us through His Word that we can do persevere and even experience joy.[bctt tweet=”Only dead men continue without regular nourishment. ” username=”ThingsAboveBlog”]
When a man is born again of the spirit of God, a lot more happens than just “he believes the gospel and is justified.” Our new heart comes with new affections, including a longing for the pure, spiritual milk of the Word. Just as we would be concerned for a baby that didn’t get hungry and crave milk, the Christian who can go long periods without the nourishment of God’s Word is unknown to scripture. Only dead men continue without regular nourishment. So it is with great delight that a man who has had his sins forgiven searches the Scripture to get to know this Savior.
Most people happily suffer for the sake of a greater long term benefit. It’s a rare person who is only interested in immediate gratification. (And even those people have their sober moments.) For the Christian who is setting their mind on Things Above Us the temporary aches and pains of this world are seen as not to be compared with what will one day be revealed. When our perspective is humble gratitude toward God (Eph 5:20) for saving us and offering us any mercy at all, our gaze naturally transitions from our suffering to the eternal riches in Christ Jesus to which we look forward. We expect there to be a day with no more tears, therefore we can weep now as those who have hope. Because we know that our greatest problem has already been solved, we are comforted when confronted by even the worst situations this world can offer.
And when every experience we have tells us that we are not loved, God’s Word remains established and His love is abiding. When our suffering begins to make the atheistic “everything is meaningless” worldview make sense in our fallible minds, it is only the unchanging Word of God which offers comfort and delight and counsel. When the only response we can think of to the wickedness around us is to do something wicked ourselves in response, it is to our Counselor we must turn. For it is God’s precepts and testimonies that make wise the simple, comfort the afflicted, rejoice the heart, enlighten the eyes, and revive the soul (Psalm 19:7-9; Psalm 119:24).
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