The Antidote to Sorrows
Psalms 119:109 I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law.
David was no stranger to danger. He was constantly threatened, yet refused to forget God’s law. He wrote, “I hold my life in my hand continually…” and this is a reference to the ever-present danger his enemies presented to his very life. The king of Israel could hardly have laid down his head to sleep without knowing that at any time an attack could come. It would have even been difficult to trust his own servants to protect him. It is part of our Adamic nature to be traitorous. But David gives us the necessary picture of our Lord. Yes, the King of Israel had no place to lay his head. Jesus himself was threatened with death far more often than we sometimes think (John 10:31,39).
The Apostle Paul was familiar with hardship, too (2 Corinthians 4:11). Yet it was he who wrote Romans 13:9. There is peril for the child of God in this world. It is not our home. We should expect to be bombarded on every side by effects of the curse, the wickedness of our enemies, the failures of our friends, and even our own flesh. We cling to life with all our remaining strength (Psalm 119:25) and entrust our souls to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19). Should we expect to be carried to Heaven on flowery beds of ease when our Saviour was a man of sorrows who ultimately paid with His life?
A mature and reasonable expectation of sorrow does not necessarily make it easier to withstand, though—that can only take away the shock. But God gives us the antidote to our vexation and anxiety. Do not forget His law. We are told not to be anxious in Philippians 4:6, then we are instructed “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)” What is excellent, true, and pure? The incarnate Word: Jesus Christ. And He is revealed to us through God’s Word and God’s law. Hide God’s law in your heart and draw upon it for refreshment during times of failed strength. Even when you despair of life itself!
How to Avoid Snares
Psalms 119:110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.
As we make our way through Psalm 119, we see a few themes. One of these themes is the cowardliness of the enemies of God. Cowards are slated to inherit the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8), so it is no wonder that the heathen rage against God’s people, but in a sneaky way. The wicked have laid a snare for me is reminiscent of verse 95 (wicked lie in wait). The implication is clear! The enemies of God’s children hardly have the courage to confront them in a fair manner. Traps are laid in hopes that a saint will simply fall into one of them.
Do you see the traps? You don’t have to go far. Billboards advertising sex line our streets. Entertainment and media vie for attention we should be giving to God and to our families and jobs. Youth sports encompass every night of the week and even Sunday mornings. Men are praised for achievements whether they earned them honestly or not, and our very livelihoods are threatened if we don’t go along with it all. There are ditches to the right and to the left of the narrow road we walk and we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves if we are going to remain on the straight path.
So we trust in Jesus Christ with all our heart and acknowledge Him in all our ways (Proverbs 3:5-6). This means we do not stray from His precepts. When we take every thought captive to obey Christ, we are committing to doing things God’s way. There is no snare nor trap which the wicked can lay which will capture the man who isn’t walking in the path of the wicked. You can’t step in a trap laid by the side of the road if you stay on the road. The wicked may lay all the snares they want, but they are prohibited from the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3). Christian men who fall into sin always have a trail of compromises that led up to that fall.
The sign says “Do not swim,” yet they dip their toes in the water.
Proverbs 4:26-27 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Psalms 119:111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
John told us that to all who believed in Jesus, he gave the right to become children of God. We are all conceived in Adam. Adam, our federal head, failed to maintain his status as God’s son (Luke 3:38). Thus, we all have a heritage (an inheritance) from Adam: original sin. We are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5). This isn’t saying that the act that brought about our conception is sin, but rather, this is a statement of our inherent sinfulness from the moment of that conception. For God saw fit to cause all men to be represented by Adam. It can rightfully be said that Adam was the best of us. But he failed in Eden, and he passes down a heritage of enmity with God which issues from a deceitful heart we cannot even understand (Jeremiah 17:9).
But God also saw fit to elect countless men to be represented by Christ instead of Adam. Through faith, God imputes Christ’s righteousness to his people in the same way Adam’s unrighteous act was imputed to us. And when God calls someone to Himself in this way, He also tells us that He adopts them as sons. We inherit a new nature and a new heritage. We are no longer sons of the Devil but are sons of God. And we then have a rightful claim on God’s testimonies. They are bequeathed to us through the death of Christ and are irrevocable. Yes, His testimonies are our heritage forever! Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ or the comfort of His Word.
And so our heart sings for joy in response to them! What can be more beautiful than the testimony of a good master who has freed someone from slavery? You were bought with a price, the blood of the Only Son of God—therefore His testimonies should be sweet to your taste (Psalm 119:103). John wrote that he has no greater joy than to see people walking in the truth. It is grace-wrought obedience to God’s precepts which indicates for others that you have been redeemed. And it is finding joy in God’s ways that motivates us to follow those precepts. Even the heathen can perform a task they hate or work for an employer they care little for. What sets a Christian apart is the joy of the Lord which is their strength. It is the desire to obey God’s commands while seeing them not as burdensome (but rather, as a gift, because Christ has taken your yoke upon himself) that distinguishes a believer from the damned.
Incline Your Heart
Psalms 119:112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.
This “Nun” section begins with poetic language about God’s perfect Word and a commitment to keeping his statutes, and it ends with continued steadfastness even after the mention of much affliction. We say “the psalmist” and we also say “David,” but we must remember that our Lord is pictured here as well (John 5:39). Our hearts are deceitful and wicked prior to regeneration, but not the heart of Jesus. When incarnate, His heart was perfectly inclined to perform God’s statutes. He never threw a fit as a child nor disobeyed His earthly mother, Mary. He didn’t cheat in school and never lied. He could not even so much as covet that which wasn’t provided by His Father. His devotion to God was perfect in every sense, and it flowed from a heart inclined toward God.
He is our example, and we must realize that our heart is the source of many troubles. It is not what goes into a man that defiles him but what comes out of a man which defiles him (Mark 7:15). We cannot so much as cure ourselves of the slightest ailment, so we need to wait upon the Holy Spirit for regeneration, but the action that God commands of us is that we are to guard our hearts and incline them toward God. An incline provides direction. It is a simple machine that can move big things long distances, so incline your heart in the right direction. God, in His wisdom, doesn’t sanctify people as rapidly as we would. We are always in a hurry, but God has patience beyond measure, and characteristically moves his people slowly toward glorification. We should trust His wisdom and this should be a lesson in dealing with others!
But the glorious truth we can all profess together is that we will perform his statutes FOREVER. Hallelujah! The great joy of our heart is the ability and willingness to perform God’s statutes. But the confidence that we will persevere literally forever is awe-inspiring beyond comprehension. As long as the reprobate will endure in Hell, we will be glad in Heaven. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable and we should never forget the infinite price Jesus paid to earn this reward for us. Only He could take on the terrible wrath of God toward sinners and drink the cup of justice, but drink it He did, right down to the dregs! Praise Jesus!
See all posts in this series
Psalm 119:1-4 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:5-8 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:9-12 — Purity is the Objective
Psalm 119:13-16 — Declare and Delight!
Psalm 119:17-20 — Open My Eyes!
Psalm 119:21-24 — The Comfort of God
Psalm 119:25-28 — Thirst and Life
Psalm 119:29-32 — Shame Shifting
Psalm 119:33-36 — Seeking The Way
Psalm 119:37-40 — Behold God's Promise
Psalm 119:41-44 — Answering the Taunter
Psalm 119:45-48 — A Wide Place
Psalm 119:49-52 — Comfort Amidst Affliction
Psalm 119:53-56 — Righteous Anger?
Psalm 119:57-60 — What's Your Portion?
Psalm 119:61-64 — Companionship
Psalm 119:65-68 — Afflicted by God
Psalm 119:69-72 — More Affliction?
Psalm 119:73-76 — Sovereign Creator
Psalm 119:77-80 — May God Supply!
Psalm 119:81-84 — Our Whole Being Longs for God
Psalm 119:85-88 — They Have Dug Pitfalls
Psalm 119:89-92 — Established
Psalm 119:93-96 — Limited Perfection
Psalm 119:97-100 — Elevated Wisdom
Psalm 119:101-104 — Sweeter Than Honey
Psalm 119:105-108 — Freewill, Oaths, and More Affliction
Psalm 119:109-112 — Sorrows, Snares, Sons, and a Savior
Psalm 119:113-116 — My Hiding Place and My Shield
Psalm 119:117-120 — God Discards the Dross
Psalm 119:121-124— Deliverance
Psalm 119:125-128— God's Law > Everything on Earth
Psalm 119:129-132 — Into The Light
Psalm 119:133-136 — Does Your Love Bring You To Tears?
Psalm 119:137-140 — Zeal + Ignorance = Worthless Religion
Psalm 119:141-144 — Assurance of Perseverance
Psalm 119:145-148— Meditate on the PROMISE
Psalm 119:149-152 — Be Comforted For God Is Near
Psalm 119:153-156— Christ Alone Delivers
Psalm 119:157-160 — We Are In A Battle
Psalm 119:161-164— Do You Hate Falsehood?
Psalm 119:165-168 — Cause → Effect
Psalm 119:169-172 — Eruption of Praise
Psalm 119:173-176 — Seek Your Servant Like a Lost Sheep