A broad view of history is better than a narrow one. We can often get such a narrow, focused view of our current situation, that we fail to see the bigger picture. As the psalmist looks back over time he sees how God has dealt with the wicked men of the past, and it instructs his opinion about his current difficulties. May it do the same for us.
Section 15 (SAMECH)
Psalms 119:113-120 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
The psalmist begins this section by contrasting the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of God and His Word. He sums up all the worlds wisdom by calling them “vain thoughts.” The term vain simply means empty; meaningless. Ultimately all the wisdom of the world is empty when compared with the wisdom of God. This does not stop wicked men from exalting their own wisdom. Consider the following verses which illustrate this:
- 2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against theknowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Psalms 2:2-4 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Sinful man will always imagine that he is smarter than God. It is offensive to him to even consider any other possibility.
The psalmist rejects this, and calls it vain. He affirms that all the truth and wisdom worth having is found in the word of God.
Paul warns Timothy about this kind of knowledge:
1Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
Term science is translated from the word gnosis or knowledge. There is a system of thought and education that exalts itself as the only true knowledge, but is false. We see this all around us today, and a Christian would do well to recognize it and reject it.
In the next few verses of the passage, the psalmist again affirms his commitment to walking in the way of God and His word. He rejects those who walk the opposite path. He pleads with God to keep him safe from those who would do him harm. We can assume they wish to do him harm because his walk is different from their own. This is always the reason the world hates God’s people.
A righteous walk casts light on a wicked walk. We don’t even need to say anything for the world to hate us. They hated Christ the Word, and they will hate us. However, our hope and safety is in the Lord.
As the psalmist comes to the end of this particular passage he reflects over history and see how God has dealt with the wicked in the past. Those who have rejected God’s Word, or tried to destroy it and His people have been wiped from the face of the earth. What is not so clear in the present can be seen clearly through the lens of history. When we see wickedness all around us, and the opposition of knowledge, which is falsely so-called, we may be tempted to despair. Don’t. God’s Word will triumph. Let them mock. Let them laugh. Let them rage. God’s Word has stood, and will continue to stand.
That being true, the psalmist takes a moment for self-examination and shudders a little at the thought of getting out of way of righteousness. His fear of God is one of the things which motivates him to righteous living.
Now, I know that fear of God is not something that is popular teaching these days. It is true that God does not want us living in dread of Him every moment. He loves us. Still, as a child may fear the consequences of disobeying his father, so we to should have a healthy fear and dread of disobeying God. We have seen how he deals with disobedience. Let us allow that holy fear to keep us in check, even when perhaps our love wanes a bit.
Heavenly Father, there is so much knowledge in the world which exalts itself against You. On every hand we are assaulted with the wisdom of wicked men, who are so sure that they are right, and that You are wrong. Remind us that this is vanity. Your Word is truth. Help us then to hate every false way, and cling always to the way of truth. We can see how you have dealt with disobedience in the past. Help us then, as we walk before you in love today, to remember also that You will chasten disobedient children because You love them. May this motivate us to a faithful adherence to Your Word. In Jesus name, amen.