Remember what you said to me, your servant—I hang on to these words for dear life! These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me.
(Psalm 119:49-50 The Message)
Bumper stickers abound in our society today. An individual is able to post almost any viewpoint for public display simply by attaching one of these "emblems" of opinion on their vehicle. There have been times I have tried to pull just a little closer in order to read the small print! Something caught my eye and I wanted to know what it said! On occasion, they make me laugh. Sometimes I have to turn away because the words are less than uplifting. At others, they give me a moment to pause and think. Each has its impact, does it not?
In the times David penned these words, bumper stickers were not invented. The use of mass publication was not even possible. The scriptures were handwritten, kept by only a few in religious service, and read only by those with access to them. David had to rely upon memory to recall God's counsel. There was no internet search, nor thumbing through a Bible promise book for a special verse. Yet, he tells us that he "hangs on these words" for dear life! They were the words of life and he used them to "live life".
In his daily walk with God, he asks God to not forget what he has told David - through the prophets, the religious leaders of the day, and his times of meditation on God's Word. He is not asking for the ability to remember what God says - he is asking God not to forget! He is really asking God to hold him up in the bad times - with the promises of his deliverance, assurance of peace, and mighty displays of power.
We all "hang on to" something in life. Our "holding point" is often best revealed in the bad times. Where we run to in the midst of trial is often the most telling truth about what we base our hope upon. For David, it was God's promises. I don't think David got there all in one day, though. He learned to trust God with the course of his life little by little - until he relied upon him totally. We all start out like this - not sure that God will do what he says he will - then learn to trust a little more as we see his faithfulness each and every time.
Look at what David tells us next - the tough times are made better by God's involvement! Oh, you don't see that in this passage? Read it again! He says the promises of God hold him up and they rejuvenate him. It doesn't say anything about God always delivering us FROM those bad times! In fact, David emphasizes that he is upheld - able to walk through - refreshed within those bad times.
Did you know that one of the meanings of the word "rejuvenate" is actually a process of "erosion" that uncovers what was previously hidden? It is a geological term that is often used to describe the effects of water cutting a new course, or some natural force like an avalanche uncovering and disturbing what lay in its course.
In the bad times of life, David calls out for God to "uncover" what is hidden in what others only see as the "bad stuff". God sees what lays just beneath the surface and stands ready to reveal it! The "erosive" forces of life are what reveal the good stuff just beneath the surface! In fact, without the erosive force, the "rejuvenation" cannot occur!
Maybe we need to change our opinion of the "bad times". If we take a little different view, we might just see what God is "revealing" just beneath the surface. These times are clearly meant for our benefit - not for our undoing! When we hold close to God in the seasons of despair he brings us through with new revelation, revitalized hope, and an ability to display his grace in some new way. In a way, God is writing "bumper stickers" of his grace that he puts on "display" in our lives. Write on, God!