81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,
that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” (v. 81) This pining may be a desire for several different things at once: 1) Face-to-face communion with God. This will take place after sin and death have been put away for good and the entire Church has been resurrected and brought into God’s presence. This event will automatically usher in the second desired end: 2) Complete deliverance from the flesh and all sinful desires. Jesus said famously in His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matt. 5:6) Every follower of Christ has to fight against the sinful nature, which, for reasons we don’t fully understand, continues to plague us for the rest of our lives. This may mean decades of carrying what Paul referred to as “this body of death” (Rom. 7:24). I once read that in ancient times, one of the punishments for murder was strapping the victim’s corpse to the body of the offender, who had to smell the putrescent carcass and suffer the burden of carrying it around everywhere he went. This is actually a good picture of what the Christian must go through after conversion, when the newfound longing for holiness is constantly beset by the intrusion of unwanted passions that still fester. 3) Removal from the world system. Living in this broken, violent world becomes a source of sorrow for the believer, who is forced to watch God’s commands ignored, His creation trashed and the created order corrupted and perverted. Add to this the pain of seeing loved ones grope along on benighted paths, often after having prayed for them fervently.
Being a Christian isn’t a picnic. These things ought to move the believer to fight and pray with increasing vigor ― and to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:1-2)