In going through Psalm 119, we have had an opportunity to get to know the psalmist in a very personal way. We’ve seen that he wants to be a man who seeks the Lord with his whole heart, to follow God’s word, meditate on it and delight in it. He wants to understand God’s ways, lean upon His word and be strengthened by it. He has come to realize that in comparison to God’s word, other things are “worthless things” (119:37). His hope is in God’s mercy through His word, which comforts him in times of trouble.
The psalmist has written of his times of trouble when he was afflicted, people laughed at him, treated him wrongfully and told lies about him. Here in the 11th stanza, we find the him in a time of desperation, waiting for God to help him.
81 I desperately long for your deliverance.
I find hope in your word.
82 My eyes grow tired as I wait for your promise to be fulfilled.
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 For I am like a wineskin dried up in smoke.
I do not forget your statutes.
84 How long must your servant endure this?
When will you judge those who pursue me?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
which violates your law.
86 All your commands are reliable.
I am pursued without reason. Help me!
87 They have almost destroyed me here on the earth,
but I do not reject your precepts.
88 Revive me with your lovingkindness,
that I might keep the law you have revealed.
In this section of the psalm we read about the psalmist’s desperation, the persecutors’ evil intent, and God’s faithfulness.
Perhaps you empathize with the psalmist. Do you find yourself in a desperate situation today, longing for deliverance, and crying out to God asking, “When will you comfort me?” (119:82). Do you feel like a wineskin dried up in smoke (119:83)? In the psalmist’s day, this phrase was a word-picture that would have been clear to all. A wineskin was a container made of animal skin, and a new one was soft and pliable. But the Bedouins and desert dwellers lived in tents and hung the wineskins inside where a fire was kept burning day and night. It didn’t take long for the smoke to render it shriveled, dry, and useless. Then it was thrown out....destroyed. Do you ever feel like that? Old, shriveled, dried up, useless, almost destroyed? When you do, here is a very important thing to remember -- God is the answer! This passage of Psalm 119 proclaims that God is the answer to the things of life! When things are the worst, we need to be like the psalmist and hope in God’s Word (119:81), never forget His statutes (119:83), never reject His precepts (119:87), and faithfully keep His law (119:88). Even when we’re crying out to God, “How long must your servant endure this” (119:84), we need to know and remember the promise of God. We need to know His answer is coming. After all, we are Christians, we have God’s Word, we have hope! And even if we feel “almost destroyed” (119:87) we need to remember that God’s promise is sure and we will never be shaken (Hebrews 12:27).
One more thing. The apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you (4:12). Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). We shouldn’t be surprised or think it unusual when we suffer as believers. The writer to the Hebrews told us that Jesus, although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Even more, He understands and sympathizes with us (Hebrews 4:15). And beyond that, He has overcome the world (John 16:33)! The letter of James calls us to count it all joy when we encounter various trials (James 1:2) and we can do that because we know, along with the psalmist, the Lord will revive us with His lovingkindness (119:88). After all, in Christ He gave us the ultimate expression of His love….He sent His Son to die for us.
So hang on when times are tough. God will answer. He is the answer. And His lovingkindness endures forever (Psalm 136:1). If you didn't need this reminder today, who do you know who does? Who can you share it with?
Love in Him,
No matter who you are, everyone experiences what the psalmist calls “affliction” in this life. We may call it pain, trouble, adversity, hardship, or suffering. It is never welcome and always difficult to face. Humanly, we tend to see some troubles as bigger and harder to bear than others. Everyone dreads the word cancer and loss of a loved one is worse than loss of a job which may be worse than losing your home or a cut in your paycheck. Then there are everyday afflictions such as friends that turn their backs on you, the dog getting sick, the car breaking down, your child breaking an arm, the flu, the electricity going off, and on and on.
In my lifetime, I have found that it is sometimes easier to bear the big troubles than the minor ones, and as I look back, I believe that is because in the big things, like cancer and the death of my husband, I have fallen on my face before the Lord, immersed myself in His Word, and given myself up to Him totally. But when the air conditioning fails on a 100 degree day, my dog needs a surgery, the car won’t start and I’m already late for an appointment, or my best friend tells me to “get over it”, I often am overcome by the pressure, become anxious, and work myself into a tizzy.
Why is that? It’s because in the more common everyday problems, I step up and try to carry the burden myself. I forget to humble myself before the Lord and cast all my cares upon Him. Are you ever like that? The psalmist reveals in this passage of Psalm 119, the Christian response to affliction.
73 Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
74 May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
76 O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.
77 May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.
78 May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.
79 May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.
Learning what the psalmist teaches here, and his example, has been a huge help for me and it can be for you too. So lets see what he teaches us.
When trouble comes your way:
119:73 - Remember the One who not only made you, but gave you His Word (His commandments) to live by. He will give you understanding as well.
119:74 - When you live by God’s Word in the face of trials, you will be an encouragement to other believers.
119:75 - God is always faithful, even when your friends and family are not. He has a just and right purpose in the troubles you are going through.
119:76 - God’s Word is a comfort to His people. In it you will find His mercy and His kindness. So don’t neglect His Word when you are troubled or anxious. His Word is the first place to go!
119:77 - Delight in God’s Word (His law) for in it you find His life-giving tender mercies.
119:78 - When others treat you wrongly, let God take care of them. Stop thinking about how they have hurt you and meditate on God’s Word. He will bring them to shame.
119:79 - Be confident that living by God’s Word will attract other believers to follow the example you have set.
119:80 - Pray that God, through His Holy Spirit, will imprint His Word and His ways upon your heart so you may stand as a holy example to all.
So, before tackling problems on your own or giving in to stress and anxiety, go to God’s Word and remember the psalmist and his testimony here in Psalm 119. Your mind will be diverted from yourself and directed to the One who created all things (including you) and who holds the world (and you) together by His power (Colossians 1:17).
Yes, we all have troubles - sometimes tragedies and sometimes just bad days. But we are all in this together under the loving and merciful care of God who sent His Son to live as one of us, and who empathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). He does not call us to get through these days just “somehow” but triumphantly (2 Corinthians 2:14)! Faith triumphs in trouble. Read Romans 5:1-5.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.