As we explore the remainder of Psalm 119, I am going to jump around a little to focus on some of the central themes of what David brings together in this last half of the Psalm. As we read the verses from 129-176, we can see that David recounts the benefits of being in service to the King of Kings – Jesus Christ.
Every word you give me is a miracle word— how could I help but obey? (vs. 129)
You are right and you do right, GOD; your decisions are right on target. (vs. 137)
I call out at the top of my lungs, "GOD! Answer! I'll do whatever you say." (vs. 145)
Take a good look at my trouble, and help me— I haven't forgotten your revelation. (vs. 153)
I've been slandered unmercifully by the politicians, but my awe at your words keeps me stable. (vs. 161)
Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. (vs. 169)
David has focused intently in this Psalm on the importance of the Word of God in his life. It has been a steadying and reliable force for him in times of great political conflict, emotionally charged relationship problems, and spiritually draining seasons of personal challenges as it relates to his integrity of character. Repeatedly, he focuses on hearing from God as he explores the Word – allowing God to direct his course of response when he is in a quandary or so emotionally distraught that everything seems to be closing in on him. His response to the Word is one of continual obedience. The manner in which he approaches the truths contained in the Word is awe – a sense of wonder and reverence. The hope he has in studying and applying the Word is repeated insight.
I cry rivers of tears because nobody's living by your book! (vs. 136)
The way you tell me to live is always right; help me understand it so I can live to the fullest. (vs. 144)
I've known all along from the evidence of your words that you meant them to last forever. (vs. 152)
Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth. Your righteous decisions are eternal. (vs. 160)
I follow your directions, abide by your counsel; my life's an open book before you. (vs. 168)
And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me! I'll recognize the sound of your voice. (vs. 176)
David is anguished by the spiritual “drift” of those in his community – they have drifted away from living by the standard God had established for them, choosing instead to follow their own devices. In time, the tiny nation of Israel would come to a place of great division, splitting into two kingdoms – the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. David could not know that when he penned these words, but he recognized that choosing one’s own way opened the nation to great calamity if they continued that way.
His trust in God was established firmly upon the revelation he had of God from the Scriptures. He had read the Words contained there, stood on them, and observed their keeping and restorative power. More importantly, he had learned a great deal about the “boundaries” established in the Word – those things put there to keep us safe – and was distraught when he saw people choosing willfully to live outside of those boundaries. He had seen first-hand what “living outside the boundaries” had done in his own life. He was able to recall the deep darkness of depression that overcame his soul when he chose the path of adultery and the tremendous exaltation of spirit that arose within him when he confessed his sin before God, finding there mercy and grace to be restored.
The accounting of David’s own willful disobediences and his trek back to living within God’s boundaries is recorded for us in Scripture. David had come to recognize the sound of his God’s voice – he had come to trust that God would seek him out – even when he wandered outside those boundaries. He didn’t deliberately purpose to go outside those boundaries knowing that it would all be okay in the end because God would seek him - but when he did wander, he was blessed repeatedly by the mercies of God in bringing him back.
David lived with his life as an open book before God. There were times when he probably wanted to keep a few “chapters” hidden – not too proud of what God would find contained there. There are times when we want to keep some of the “chapters” of our life closed to God – like a diary with a little lock on it, hidden from view. We have become so secure in our insecurities – choosing to “deal with those issues” on our own. Tucking them away into the recesses of our minds and hearts, we mark them “off-limits” to God’s tender, healing touch. We struggle with the anguish they cause in our inner soul, but cannot find the courage of heart to let God into those “chapters”. If we would just recognize that it is only when we give God access to those hidden “chapters” that he has the authority and ability to “re-write” the ending of those issues in our lives. When we give them to him, he takes what we have labeled as hurtful and turns it into something hopeful. When he touches those areas, he brings beauty out of what we (and maybe others) call ashes. He brings truth where untruth has been embraced.
God’s desire for us is to open up to him – have lives that are open books. His promise to us is that he will re-write what needs to be re-written. He doesn’t take away those hurtful chapters of our lives, but he does change their affect on us. In the end, the “book” of our lives becomes a thing of glory – pointing others to find the same hope and freedom in Christ that we have come to enjoy.