God’s Overcoming Word

Psalm 119:113-120
I hate the double-minded,
But I love Your law.
You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.
Depart from me, you evildoers,
For I will keep the commandments
of my God!
Uphold me according to Your word,
that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed
of my hope.
Hold me up, and I shall be safe,
And I shall observe Your statutes continually.
You reject all those who stray
from Your statutes,
For their deceit is falsehood.
You put away all the wicked
of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies.
My flesh trembles for fear of You,
And I am afraid of Your judgments.

As football season fast approaches, I have opportunity to reflect on the terminology used to describe this competition. We talk about teams “battling it out” on the field of play, “marching down the field” to score, and use many other phrases which suggest a military context. One local football commentator is known for his catchphrase, “There is your dagger!”, describing a play which seals the game for his team. There can be little doubt that we take the game of football very seriously (although I will acknowledge that soccer inspires an even greater frenzy of lathered-up fans in international circles). As we think of two teams coming to the field of play, pitting their forces against one another, it reminds me of the Psalmist’s language in this 15th stanza of the Psalm.

Just as opposing players are clearly distinguished by their uniforms on the football field, the righteous and the wicked are markedly different in their way of life. The righteous are those who love God’s law, hope in His word, keep His commandments, depend on Him for life, and fear His righteous judgments. In stark contrast, the wicked are double-minded, trying to love both God and this world; evildoers, caring not for God or His law; oppressors, threatening the life and safety of the righteous; and deceivers, straying from God’s pure commands and dealing in falsehood.

But more important than the distinction between the righteous and the wicked in this Psalm is the assurance of God’s intervention to ensure the outcome of the contest is right. He offers protection to the righteous, like a soldier’s shield or a place of concealment for one who is pursued by an enemy. He offers life and strength, holding up the one who is weak and giving him confidence, even as he distances himself from the paths of the wicked. The hope of the righteous is made all the more sure by God’s perfect judgment, through which He has promised to purge the earth of the wicked like dross is purged from silver. In the end, the only thing we ought to fear is God, Himself. Knowing that we rightly deserve to be purged along with the wicked, let us humbly and reverently approach God with love for His word, and a renewed commitment to faithfully keep His commands. Though enemies surround us on all sides, let us remember that God offers a sure hope that we will be victorious, and that hope is found in His word. Let us love it, hope in it, and keep it, that we may learn to depend on and fear only Him.

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