We have come to the second to the last segment of this amazing chapter. Here again, there is a verse which is incredibly well-known, but I fear, not well understood. We are going to take a look at it together, and see if we can understand what God has for us. Persecution, difficulty, distress, affliction; they all come to our lives at one time or another. What makes the difference between surviving and not? The psalmist provides the key.
Section 21 (SCHIN)
Psalms 119:161-168 Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
I hope you have started to get the picture, by this time, of just how much the psalmist loves and respects the Word of God. I hope, through these devotions each day, that each of you have grown in your love for the Bible as well.
This passage opens with the declaration that those in authority have wrongly persecuted the psalmist. Being treated wrongly is bad enough. Being mistreated by those in authority is even worse! No one likes to be punished for something they did not do.
Instead of becoming bitter, the psalmist merely acknowledges this fact, and then turns his attention back to the Word of God. This is the great focus of this passage. No matter what is going on around him, he brings his attention back to the Bible. Each day as he searches the pages of God’s Word (or the scrolls…) he gets excited over the truths he finds there. He likens this to someone who finds a buried treasure. Wow…when is the last time I got that excited about something I read in the Bible?
His love for the truth of God’s Word produce in him a hatred for lying. He does not want anything in his life that is contrary to the truth that he loves so much.
This focus is manifested by his statement regarding praise. He says that seven times a day he praises God for His Word. There is no other way to explain this, unless he actually is meditating on the Scriptures throughout the day as he claimed in other passages. This pricked my heart when I read it. How many times do we read our Bibles, close the cover, and walk away until the next time without another thought throughout the day.
Meditation on God’s Word is a great missing ingredient in our lives. Meditating on God’s Word keeps our focus right throughout the day, and in whatever circumstances we may encounter. This is the secret of the psalmist.
With this truth in mind, we come to a familiar verse. Verse 165 is far too often used as a whipping post by those who are being offensive to others. “Remember,” they may say, “great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them!” If you are offended right now it means you don’t love the Bible!”
While there may be some grain of truth to that statement, it is not what the psalmist is referring to. He is not merely talking about some state of imperviousness. He is referring to not being overcome by the obstacles in our way. Princes had persecuted him without a cause…but he kept on going because of his love for God’s Word. Affliction and difficulty had come his way…but we find him praising God seven times in a day. He was not overcome by his circumstances, though he was often weighted down. He was never drowned by the difficulties, though the water may have been up to his neck.
The verse is not intended to be used by those being offensive as an excuse for their behavior. It is intended as an encouragement to us to love God’s Word, because it is that which will keep our feet on solid ground. Keep your focus on God’s Word. Learn to love it. It will keep you on the path, and with a song on your lips, because we know God, and we are confident that He will deliver us in the end.
Heavenly Father, when difficulties come, as they must, please keep my heart fixed on your Word. Let me learn to rejoice when I read my Bible. Let me learn to meditate on your Word. I confess that I do not often praise you throughout the day. Give me a heart of praise. When circumstances come my way that I would not choose, let my confidence and love for your Word keep me on the right way. In Jesus name, amen.