I do not know about you, but for myself, I find that it is not always an easy thing to live my faith out publicly. Especially in these days, when the principles of the God’s Word are under such attack.
I am under no illusion that we are facing the worst persecution that has ever been, but still, I recognize that it is not easy to be a Christian publicly. I speak for myself. Perhaps you find it incredibly easy. Then you can pray for me.
The passage we are going to look at this today has to do with the very idea of public proclamation of our faith and confidence in God, and a recognition of the challenges of such a position. I hope that it will encourage you, as it encourages me.
Section 6 (VAU)
Psalms 119:41-48 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
The psalmist begins with a request of the mercy and salvation of the Lord. He is not speaking of gospel salvation, as in the eternal salvation of his soul, but in the immediate context of mercy and salvation from some present difficulty or distress.
It has often been the case that when God’s people were in distress, the enemies of God would point to their difficulty as a sure and certain proof that their faith in God was in vain. Consider the following examples:
Psalms 22:7-8 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
- Psalms 3:2-4 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
- Psalms 42:3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
- Psalms 42:10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
- Psalms 72:11 Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.
You see, when we publicly proclaim that our God can deliver us from all our distress, you better believe the enemy will be watching when we are in trouble. They expect that if God is real he will respond immediately. If He delays, from their perspective, it is an indication that He either does not exist, or does not care; and you can believe they will through it in our face.
The psalmist was facing just such a situation. So, in verse 42 we find him in prayer to God, requesting that God’s mercy and salvation, which He had promised in His Word, would indeed come to him.
It is not wrong to ask God to keep His Word. Doing so is not an indication that we fear He is being dishonest, but it is rather a demonstration of our confidence and dependence on Him. It demonstrates that we know what He has promised, and we are coming to Him for the fulfillment of it. It is praying in faith. It is praying in hope.
The psalmist evidently was known for proclaiming the truths of God and His Word. Now, in distress, his enemies were casting insults at him. Yet, he pleads with God for the mercy and salvation that He has promised in His word, and that the psalmist has been proclaiming. He says that when God comes through, he would have something to answer those who reproached him. There is no answer to the critics, like and answer to prayer. There is no answer to the scoffers, like the demonstration of Gods power and deliverance.
Acts 4:14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
The passage continues with a request that God would allow the psalmist to continue to proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Difficulty and distress, especially when the relief is long in coming, can cause some to begin to doubt, or be less assertive in their proclamation of God’s deliverance. The psalmist prays that this would not be so with him.
The greatest test of our faith may be when we are called upon to restate our confidence in a God who seems to be silent. It is trusting God while standing before a king threatening to throw you into the fiery furnace, and proclaiming that God can save, or he can choose not to, but we will not bow down to the idols of the world.
So we pray for deliverance. We pray for relief. We pray that God will honor his Word. We continue to proclaim our faith in Him and His word, no matter how things look.
Job 13:15Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…
I think I am going to save the rest of the psalm for tomorrow, because I think it would be good just to meditate on these truths for now. I hope you will.
Heavenly Father, we often find ourselves in difficult circumstances. We find ourselves praying for your mercy and deliverance. Truly, Lord, the enemies of Truth are growing bolder every moment. We ask that You would honor your Word. Send your mercy and salvation to your people who need it today. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Give us faith to proclaim Your Word and your promises, even when we cannot see them. Give us the confidence of faith that You will hear and answer, so that we will have an answer for those who reproach our words, and our God. We acknowledge that You are sovereign. You are Lord. Deliver us. In Jesus name, amen.