Monday, July 28. 2008 – Tom Quinlan
25 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to Your Word.
26 I recounted my ways and You answered me; teach me Your decrees.
27 Let me understand the teaching of Your precepts;
then I will meditate on Your wonders.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through Your law.
30 I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws.
31 I hold fast to Your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.
“I am laid low in the dust…” could be the statement of rebellious man reaping the consequences of the tragic decision to doubt the character and integrity of God. However, here we have one who boldly asks God to preserve His life. On top of that, the reason he gives God to consider the request is so that God might be faithful to His own Word. That is remarkable considering that it is God’s Word that declares:
Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this Law by carrying them out. Deuteronomy 27:26
These words actually explain why the unrighteous AND the righteous must suffer. It was for the sins of Israel that the lives of innocent lambs were required in sacrifice day after day, year after year. Those holy prophets of God, whose purity allowed them to see into the purposes and character of God, suffered great persecution from the very people they were sent to warn.
New Testament Scripture says that Jesus was “the Lamb slain, before the foundations of the world.” Before He said, “Let there be light!” God had counted the cost of creating a universe in which the crowning glory of His work — mankind — would have the ability to say “Yes” or “No” to any Word that came from His own mouth. In His foreknowledge, He knew that men would yield to the temptation and that He Himself would be the only hope for redeeming us from the deadly consequences of the “NO” that was to come.
HE was wounded for OUR transgressions,
HE was bruised for OUR iniquities,
Surely HE bore OUR sorrows,
And by HIS stripes WE were healed. Isaiah 53
So our Psalmist appears to be one who is on the path of righteousness. He is measuring his life according to the standard of God’s Word – “I recounted all my ways…” and he is aware that mere knowledge of the Word is not sufficient, as he is pleading for the Lord to teach him and cause him to understand.
That God given revelation initially brings distress – “My soul is weary with sorrow…” – Remember Isaiah (Is. 6) when he had a vision of the Lord high and lifted up and was moved to cry out “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips amidst a people of unclean lips.” Or the yet-to-be-fulfilled vision of Zechariah:
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great… Zech 12:10-11
“My soul is weary with sorrow… strengthen me according to Your Word.” The marvelous and wonderful thing about coming to God on His terms is that after we recognize our pitiful condition we can freely receive that Everlasting Life that is actually the life of the LORD.
“Be gracious to me through Your Law.” – We don’t often think of the Law of God as a source of unmerited favor, but it is hidden there, in the sacrifice of the innocent for the guilty. “Come let us reason together – though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Is 1
This favor is meant not simply to cover our sin, but to energize us for life, and you can see that in the conclusion of this section of Psalm 119.
“I have chosen…
I have set…
I hold fast…
I run in the path…”
The Psalmist is full of resolution and strength to do the commands of God, and the reason he gives for it is entirely to God’s credit:
“For YOU have set my heart free.”
This is all about the altar where God’s Anointed One laid down His life. It is here and here alone that the wondrous exchange takes place: His life for our death; His righteousness for our sin; His clean garments for our filthy rags; His strength for our weakness.
This is an offer that is almost too good to be true, and it explains the harsh sounding statement:
“if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24