Psalm 119:41-44 — Answering the Taunter

Promised Love, Salvation

Psalm 119:41 Waw Let your steadfast love come to me, O Yahweh, your salvation according to your promise;

In the last octave, we encountered this word translated “promise” in the ESV. Here at the beginning of the sixth octet, we are confronted by the prayer of every true saint. Saints must lay claim to God’s promised salvation—evidence of His love toward sinners. The Apostle Paul tells us that God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Steve Halama

It is here that we encounter two wonderful and glorious truths which should bring us joy and cause us to praise our Lord. First, it is the testimony of Old Testament saints that they indeed looked forward to God sending a messiah to save them from their sins. A shallow view of our Old Testament would lead one to believe that God’s dealing with people was so altogether different prior to Christ’s incarnation that we ought to unhitch from the Old Testament. But our brother David knew very well that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,” (Psalm 51:17) and that God isn’t pleased with a burnt offering or the blood of bulls and goats. Yes, David looked forward to the promised salvation of his soul and body because He knew Jehovah-Jireh would provide the perfect sacrifice.

Secondly, we are reminded that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as the God of the New Testament and that He is a God of love. But not only is God love, what is striking is that He loves me or you. It is God’s love that is on display at the cross, and David well knew that he has no hope of delighting in the path of God’s commandments (Psalm 119:35) or keeping God’s law (Psalm 119:34) unless God “made the first move.” We love because He first loved us! In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son to be a propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:19,10)!

Answering the Taunter

Psalm 119:42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.

Here is where, as they say, the rubber meets the road. Theology leads to doxology and practice. We say things like “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” But that’s really just a coping mechanism for most people. Because words do hurt us. Words are seriously important. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)! A Christian who has not faced derision and taunts from worldlings may need to get out more and become bolder in his faith!

Adi Goldstein

Jesus even warns us that we will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake and includes verbal assaults in the list of attacks we’ll face.

Matthew 5:11 ESV Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Yet while the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain against our holy God and against the visible representation of Christ on earth, his people the Church, we have the confidence of the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). Yes, we are promised tribulation in this world, but it is clinging to our salvation that helps us bear the affliction. Not only that, it is the certainty that Jesus loves even us that is our motivation and fuel to continue.

For it is in our most difficult moments in this sin-cursed world that we may start to wonder if God really loves us. It is while enduring unjust suffering and all forms of persecution that our weak faith starts to tremble. And it is at those times that we must remember God’s love toward us as promised in His Word so that we might be brave and able to “answer him who taunts me.” Dear Christian, since God is for you, no one can legitimately be against you!

Our Hope

Psalm 119:43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.

In order to answer the taunter, we not only need assurance of God’s love for us, but we need to know what to actually say. May we say together with David and Christ Himself (the Author of all of scripture) “Lord, do not remove the word of truth from my mouth!”

Oh! How often dear Christian have you found yourself responding to evil with evil words yourself! It is such an easy thing to fall into responding in like manner to those who taunt you or goad you. Look to the Christ who always spoke with perfect meekness and boldness, kindness and truth as your example. When confronted by the Devil himself, he set an example for us by repeating, “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4,7,10). Michael would not even pronounce a blasphemous judgment against Satan, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9).

Because it is God’s rules that tell us that God is righteous and just and perfectTherefore, it is right to hope in His rules as the Psalm says. Because we know that God will punish every sin according to His perfect standard of righteousness—either in Christ or on the sinner—we can deal with the one who taunts us, swindles us, mocks us, or even delivers up our body to be burned. Our hope is in God and His rules, and our battle weapon is the Sword of the Lord (Ephesians 6:17).

Thus, Behave

Psalm 119:44 I will keep your law continually, forever and ever,

So far, the psalmist has prayed for God’s steadfast love to be brought to him through God’s salvation. He has announced that God’s salvation will strengthen him to answer the taunter. And then we see a prayer for God’s Word to be kept on his lips.

Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

The final point in this set of just four verses is the psalmist’s commitment to keeping God’s law. John relates the same thought near the end of his epistle, “for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3). For it is our desire to keep God’s law, and our steady progress in this discipline is one of the main pieces of evidence that God truly has planted the seed of faith in our hearts and given us the seal of the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:6). If you look forward, you see how in this same octet we have a concerted focus on keeping God’s commandments, which saints love (Psalm 119:47-48).

But while the forgiven sinner is motivated by God’s redeeming love toward him, let us not forget the Author and Perfecter of our Faith who actually did fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). It is Jesus who fulfilled Psalm 119:44. And it is because Jesus kept and keeps God’s law continually forever and ever, that we can hope to be glorified one day and be conformed to His image, that we might know him as we have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

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