Have you ever felt so alone, so anxious, so weak, so needy, so fearful of the future, or so down in the dumps that you knew you were absolutely helpless to lift yourself up out of your despair, grief, anxiety, or pain? I’ve been there. And two times I will never forget. There was the morning my husband went out for a run and never came home - the doctors called it sudden cardiac death. Then a few months later, the call from my doctor, “I’m sorry, Suzie, you have breast cancer”.
I think most of us have gone through tough times, and it seems the psalmist was experiencing particularly hard times when he wrote this portion of Psalm 119. He says he is afflicted (the Hebrew word conveys depression or misery), and he asks God to deliver him (119:153). He feels unable to help himself and asks God to plead his cause and redeem him (119:154). He is being persecuted by wicked enemies who shun God’s words (statutes) and (testimonies) (119:155-157), and people he had trusted betrayed him (119:158). Three times in this passage, the psalmist cries out to God, “revive me”. It seems he is at the end of his rope. But along with his troubles, these verses also reveal where the psalmist found hope. And his hope is our hope too.
153 Consider my affliction and deliver me,
For I do not forget Your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.
156 Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord;
Revive me according to Your judgments.
157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies,
Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.
158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted,
Because they do not keep Your word.
159 Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
As you read his words, did you see what gave the psalmist hope? What kept his hope alive in the midst of affliction, persecution, helplessness, treacherous enemies, and betrayal? The first thing that stood out to me was his remembrance of and reliance upon God’s Word: I do not forget your law (119:153), revive me according to Your word (119:154), and revive me according to Your judgments (119:156). He knew that God could lift him up from the depths of despair and revive him. He had found that hope in God’s Word. Help, hope, and revival come as we remember God’s Word, immerse ourselves in it, and believe it.
By filling himself with God’s Word, the psalmist had learned of His lovingkindness (119:159) and His tender mercies (119:156). Do you remember what we learned previously about God’s lovingkindness? His lovingkindness is a gentle, unchanging, loyal love. It is a grace that overlooks sins, imperfections, and unworthiness. So the psalmist knew he could count on God to pass over his own sins and shortcomings as he humbly cried out for mercy. From God’s Word, he had learned that God’s mercies are great (or many) and tender (caring, compassionate, warm, generous, and giving).
Yes, God’s mercies are great and they come to us through His Word and His lovingkindness. When we are in need of blessed assurance and are desperate for relief, rescue, redemption, and revival, we can know from God’s Word that He is there and generously ready to pour forth His lovingkindness and tender mercies. We can turn to Him and we can trust Him. The psalmist assures us that the entirety of (God’s) word is truth. And every one of (His) judgments endures forever (119:160). He has heard God’s word, read it, taken it to heart, trusted it, relied upon it, and has never been disappointed. He knows he can always rely upon God’s word because every single word of it endures forever. So he remembers it (119:153), clings to it (119:157), loves it (119:159), and trusts what it says. He is confident that in His mercy, God will revive Him. Do you have that confidence because you, like the psalmist, have immersed yourself in God’s Word? God’s Word is our hope when we despair (Psalm 119:114), it is our light in the darkness (Psalm 119:105), our strength when we are weak (Psalm 119:28), and in it we find redemption for our souls (Ephesians 1:7, see also Psalm 107). So read your Bible, study it, and store it away in your mind and in your heart. Then you will always have hope -- like the psalmist.
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.