Psalm 119 – Resh (Suffering For The Cause Of Salvation)
Psalm 119:153-160 NIV
Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.
Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.
Your compassion is great, O Lord; preserve my life according to your laws.
Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.
I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word.
See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, O Lord, according to your love.
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.
The Psalmist looked to God to deliver him from his suffering; but what suffering was he referring to? He asked God to deliver him because he had not forgotten His law, so he was referring to the issue of salvation. It doesn’t mean the Psalmist was perfect in obeying God’s words as he had confessed that he had swayed away from God before.
When he said, “I have not forgotten your law”, it meant that he had God’s words in his heart because of his relationship with God. Remembering God’s words does not mean we must memorise the scriptures (though there are many benefits to doing that); it is remembering God and His words in a general sense through a continuing relationship with God. So forgetting God's word means the loss of relationship with God, and not the literal meaning of being unable to quote scriptures by memory.
We may know God’s word and quote verses but we can still forget about God’s words. The Psalmist further asked God to “defend my (his) cause”, like a lawyer defending him in court. “Cause” is the principle that one commits to and which one is prepared to defend. Note the intentional association of his “suffering” and his “cause”. It indicates that the Psalmist’s suffering was a result of the principle that he had been holding – to ask God for his salvation.
We can identify this with Jesus, who suffered for the cause, to bring salvation to mankind. It is further supported by the Psalmist’s next verse, “salvation is far from the wicked”. What is our cause? Is it to bring our loved ones, our family and friends to God?
“Your compassion is great”. When we want to help the wicked, we need to do so with compassion because we were saved through Christ’s compassion. And if we do not feel compassion for the wicked, we need to ask God to help us develop compassion.
The Psalmist faced persecutions from his foes, but he had “not turned from your (God’s) statutes.” We should expect the same, as we are involved in Christ’s plan to bring His salvation to others. The first foes as I sought salvation in God were my parents, 29 years ago. They persecuted me and wanted me to turn away from God. But God protected them and turned them to Him instead. We must persevere, and never give up even when we are under severe stress to turn away from God.
I’ve been stressed by my struggles in my faith and wondered if I could last the tough circumstances surrounding me. The assurance that God is faithful resonates in my head, and that helps me to persevere. I guess that’s the power of the Holy Spirit, lifting me by His hands and sustaining me to accomplish His cause, my cause.
When looking at the faithless, the Psalmist loathed it (extreme disgust). The opposite of faithlessness is faithfulness, which we should embrace and be excited about. How we feel towards the faithless reflect our own perspective on faithfulness. The feelings towards those who are faithless and faithful should be extremely different. I can associate with his struggle as I can only keep the disgust in my heart and not make that known, and quietly push for the transformation with the people around me.
God’s love is amazing, He allows me to see the power of His love and the power of the Holy Spirit. God lifted my spirit as I see others’ faith grow from faithlessness to faithfulness. On 10 November 2019, my eldest girl, Adelle decided to call Jesus her Lord and was baptised. God’s works are amazing and His Spirit reminds me to persevere in His calling for us to keep up with our faith.
Do we ask God to see how we love His words? It’s like how we love our spouses’ and want them to see how we love them. Our love is not just shown by words but by deeds over a long period of time, isn’t it? To be able to do that, we must first love to read His words, secondly to practice them, and lastly, to persevere with God’s words and not turn from them. It is a journey for us. I am enjoying my journey but I know it will be a long one and no one knows how things will turn out in our own life. God’s salvation and deliverance will come because His righteous law is eternal (ever lasting).
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.