Psalms 119:85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law.
There is a principle which plays out in the life of every true Christian. And that is the world will hate you because they hated your master, Jesus. The Father in Heaven will forgive all manner of sin, yes, but God expresses a particular disdain for the proud, or insolent. And is not pride the first step of every sin? A truly humble person wouldn’t endeavor to sin, but the insolent man trusts in his own goodness and cannot obey God’s laws. So God opposes him (1 Peter 5:5).
Now the insolent cannot actually do anything to God, so he harms God’s visible Body. The Body of Christ, made up of individual Christians (1 Corinthians 12:27), is the insolent man’s target. It usually starts with derision (Psalm 119:42,51), moves onto slander or various persecutions (Psalm 119:69-70,78), and finds its ultimate end in so much hatred that even murder becomes an option. The insolent have dug pitfalls implies a cunning and sneaky attempt to cause the Christian to fall while he walks with the Lord. There is no face to face confrontation, cowards cannot endure the infallible reasoning of the man who relies on God’s Word. No, once the Christian shows that he will endure the scorn and derision, the slander and minor offenses, the only retaliation for the God-hater is to try to trap him.
How many times have you found yourself maligned because you refuse to join in the debauchery (1 Peter 4:4)? They will try to trap you in some sin so that they may feel better about their own. But take heart! Jesus told us that when the blind lead the blind they both fall into a pit. We can trust that the very trap evildoers set for the child of God will ultimately be used for his own judgment (1 Peter 4:5). And if you should find yourself caught in a trap made by the insolent, do not excuse yourself or proclaim your own goodness. It is a humble opportunity to remind yourself and your adversary that you are saved by grace because you yourself cannot perfectly live according to God’s law either.
The Surety of God’s Commandments
Psalms 119:86 All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
David begins the next verse by continuing the previous thought. They do not live according to your law, but all of God’s commandments are sure. God’s commands are faithful to us, in that they exhibit God’s righteousness to us when we meditate upon them. We do not have to fear those who do not believe in God’s commandments. Instead, we should trust that God’s commandments, although they are rejected by His enemies, are the very tools we should use to confront the insolent. The Christian who attempts to change the culture any other way is de facto rejecting the value of God’s sure commands!
As a parent, do you teach your child God’s commands even before he or she has been born-again? Do you hold your child to that standard? God’s commands are sure and faithful—therefore, they are the proper tools even for training your unregenerate child. And they are the correct tools for correcting your wayward son or daughter, as well as the means by which God convicts sinners so that He may lead them to Christ as Savior. We must make no apology for the strictness of God’s commands when we consider obeying them nor the broadness of their scope in application (they affect every area of life). Rather, we trust that God knows what is best for every man.
And what a blessing it is to have God’s sure Word when our enemies are willing to lie and deceive to attack us. David cries for help because he was persecuted with falsehood. How hard it is to be derided when people hate us for truth! But it is just as difficult to deal with false accusations, especially public ones. But herein we see, once again, how David (and others like Naboth – 1 Kings 21:13) gives us a picture of the Christ who was also persecuted with falsehood (Matthew 26:60). So take heart. You do not have to defend yourself against every false accusation (Acts 8:32). And you can trust that even if some believe the falsehood about you, God knows the truth.
Though Forsaken, We Forsake Not
Psalms 119:87 They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.
As the persecution advances, our psalmist can see that he is near to death. The wicked will never be satisfied (Proverbs 13:25) with just a little injustice. The depraved heart of God’s enemies, if turned over by God to the evil it lusts for, will always want more. There is no satisfying our evil lusts. We can only feed them and see them grow, or starve them and watch them die. Therefore, the child of God may experience a taste of death at the hands of the proud. Our family history is flooded with the blood of martyrs—with Christ as the centerpiece (Matthew 5:12; Acts 12:1-2). The number of saints who have been near unto death is probably many times greater than those who were killed, (Philippians 2:27,30) as God so frequently allows His children to suffer.
But we know that our suffering is for a purpose because our God is sovereign and has decreed all that will come to pass. There is no fear that your affliction is somehow outside of God’s control, and thus, we can even count it all joy when we face various trials (James 1:2-3). It is precisely because these trials test our faith and produce steadfastness in us that we rejoice. When we are tested, we shall come out like gold (1 Peter 1:7) and be provided with gracious assurance that our calling and election are sure (2 Peter 1:10)! It is our commitment to righteous living that is evidence that our faith in Christ is legitimate.
One of the primary ways we experience this assurance is by noticing that when confronted by persecution, we do not forsake God’s precepts. The man or woman of God is tempted in all ways but succumbs not. We are persecuted on all sides, and we, like Jesus, do not turn aside from God’s precepts, but rather, we trust them to be our provision. Drink from Paul and consider his responses to each affliction faced and heed the admonishment.
1 Corinthians 4:11-14 ESV 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. 14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
Give Us Life, O Lord!
Psalms 119:88 In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.
The psalmist completes this section with a plea to God for life by virtue of God’s love in order that he might keep God’s testimonies. Firstly, notice that the psalmist relies wholly upon God for life. There is no room for a man to rely on himself for life. You did not bring yourself into this world. You cannot even heal the smallest ill in your own body by your will. So it is a full reliance upon God that is necessary for our daily bread. But there is also a greater spiritual truth being pointed to by this physical talk. Life also refers to eternal life. And we only receive eternal life as a gift from God. It is not the result of works, or else we would be like the insolent and boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Secondly, the gift of life is that which is the result of God’s steadfast love. God’s steadfast love is always used in reference to His people, the church. It is God’s steadfast love that is the basis for His salvation (Romans 5:8) and we should not shy away from appealing to it. If you are elect, then you may lay claim to God’s abiding, eternal, steadfast love. Because God’s love is steadfast, it can never change. This is why election must be from eternity past—because God has loved us since then (Jeremiah 31:3). We may come to God beggar-poor and unworthy of His love, but the fact that He has set His love upon us and torn the veil demands that we appeal to His gracious love when making our requests. And we can trust His perfect will whether He grants our supplication or not. But if you have been granted life in Christ, know that God loves you and will never leave you.
Finally, we see the heart of the true child of God when we observe what that child intends to do with God’s blessing of life toward him. We ought not ask God for physical life, eternal life, or anything at all, except that our request be made with an eye to how we will use it for His glory. It is a righteous thing to desire new life so that you may keep the testimonies that spring forth from God’s mouth. An unselfish prayer like that is sure to be answered by the God who enables men by His Holy Spirit to love and keep His law (Psalm 119:34). Those who have been given grace unto life ought to be the most humble, and most observant of God’s precepts, because they are motivated by God’s love toward them. We would do well to employ the same motivation to others, (bestowing love upon them), when we are in a position to demand obedience.
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