Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.
The proud have me in great derision,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
I remembered Your judgments of old,
And have comforted myself.
Indignation has taken hold of me
Because of the wicked,
who forsake Your law.
Your statutes have been my songs,
In the house of my pilgrimage.
I remember Your name in the night,
And I keep Your law.
This has become mine,
Because I kept Your precepts.
The believer as a pilgrim on earth is a popular theme in Scripture, and one to which I can often relate. Followers of God are variously called aliens, sojourners, exiles, foreigners, strangers, nomads, and temporary residents of the earth. Jesus taught that open hostility from the world would be the expectation of all genuine disciples, and the Psalmist certainly found it to be the case. But even as he faced opposition from the enemies of God, he found God’s word to be a source of comfort and hope in every circumstance of life. Like him, we may find renewed strength by meditating on the Scriptures.
God’s word is the foundation for our hope, because He never forgets what He has said or fails to keep His promises (v.49). It is the source of our comfort in times of distress, because His words are the words of life (v.50). Though arrogant men mock those who trust in God’s word, it gives us confidence and strength to continue in the path of obedience and faith (v.51).
But how do we respond when it seems like the entire world conspires against us? Do we search for comfort and strength in worldly pursuits or vain entertainments? The Psalmist directed his thoughts to the timeless truths of God’s word and comforted himself in them (v.52). In fact, the more focused he became on the Scriptures, the more his soul burned with righteous anger toward those who rebelled against God and His word (v.53). As we wander the paths of this world, looking with expectation for our eternal home, we ought to cling to God’s word more and more with each passing day, filling our thoughts with His precepts and faithfully striving to keep His law. Then we may say with the Psalmist that God’s word has become our song (v.54), our strength in the night (v.55). Truly hope and confidence can be ours if we would trust and obey God’s law, even in the face of persecution and criticism (v.56).
Can we sing of God’s goodness and love while living in the midst of a world that hates the very thought of God as He is revealed in Scripture? If we are daily being transformed by the renewing power of His word, then the answer is yes. We need not turn aside from following His instruction, because we do not belong to this world. Instead, let us walk as pilgrims and strangers here on earth, like Abraham, looking for “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10).”