God’s Hopeful Word


Psalm 119:81-88
My soul faints for Your salvation,
But I hope in Your word.
My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, “When will You comfort me?”
For I have become like
a wineskin in smoke,
Yet I do not forget Your statutes.
How many are the days of Your servant?
When will You execute judgment
on those who persecute me?
The proud have dug pits for me,
Which is not according to Your law.
All Your commandments are faithful;
They persecute me wrongfully; Help me!
They almost made an end of me on earth,
But I did not forsake Your precepts.
Revive me according to
Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony
of Your mouth.

Today, I can relate to these verses. It is my soul that faints and my eyes that fail. I have become like a dried up wineskin, no longer useful and ready to be cast aside. At least that is how I have felt this week. For the Psalmist, it was his enemies who had surrounded him, set snares to trap him, slandered him, and driven him nearly to despair even of his life. In my case, it has been the Enemy, whose accusations, while not inaccurate concerning my own sin, contradict the reality of Christ’s righteousness which has been credited to my account. Though I certainly am guilty of sin, and have recently been reminded quite pointedly of my own sin nature, I, like the Psalmist have only one recourse, and that is the precious word of God. As I wait for my complete deliverance from the presence of sin, I rest my hope in God’s salvation, although, I must admit, sometimes my deliverance seems a long way off. Spurgeon describes this stanza as “the midnight of the psalm…very dark and black,” and yet, “stars…shine out, and the last verse gives promise of the dawn.”

In those times when we are surrounded by false accusers or when the Accuser tempts us to forget the nature of God’s grace, let us follow the example of the Psalmist. With tireless ferocity, his enemies have persecuted him unjustly, digging pits in which to catch him, setting themselves against him and pursuing him until he was sure he could not survive. It was in this time of great distress that he was tempted to lose all hope. Turning to the Scriptures, he sought comfort and solace in the face of this unfair treatment, and yet it seemed to be in vain. Though he waited patiently for God to return his enemies’ evil on their own heads, they continued to arrogantly ignore God’s law with apparent impunity. And even as the reserves of his strength began to be depleted, and no help appeared on the horizon, the Psalmist committed himself to trusting in God’s life-giving mercy.

It is at this point which we so often fall short, for, we can trust God when He responds to our needs with the same sense of urgency we feel, but if He delays, it is easy to give up hope. Instead, we ought to renew our hope in the Lord’s constant love. Not because we have the strength to carry on, but because we have the promise of His grace which is greater than our sin, and the presence of His Spirit who understands our weakness and guarantees that our faith will end in the glory of the image of Jesus Christ perfectly displayed in us.

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