Reflections on Psalm 119 (ר Resh)

deliverancePsalm 119: 153-160

153 See my pain and rescue me!
For I do not forget your law.
154 Fight for me and defend me!
Revive me with your word!
155 The wicked have no chance for deliverance,
for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Your compassion is great, O Lord.
Revive me, as you typically do!
157 The enemies who chase me are numerous.
Yet I do not turn aside from your rules.
158 I take note of the treacherous and despise them,
because they do not keep your instructions.
159 See how I love your precepts!
O Lord, revive me with your loyal love!
160 Your instructions are totally reliable;
all your just regulations endure.

“See my pain and rescue me! For I do not forget your law. Fight for me and defend me!” (v. 153, 154a) I often feel like I am clawing through life on my own ― that I must shoulder the burden of bringing about a good outcome, both in my earthly and spiritual endeavors. On days when I falter in some of my commitments to God, I picture Him standing above me with a slightly irritated expression because of my bunglings.

None of this makes any sense, mind you. The Book of Psalms (which I’ve read through more times than I can count) is full of soaring proclamations that speak of God’s lovingkindness, His faithfulness, His constant readiness to protect those who love and reverence Him. How have I not more completely internalized these truths? This is the God who defended Israel against three huge armies after King Jehoshaphat called for a nationwide fast and cried out to God. (2 Chron. 20:1-25) God did this sort of thing many times, but this is a particularly compelling story. After Jehoshaphat prayed, a prophet named Jachaziel declared, “…the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (v. 15) Jehoshaphat appointed musicians to stand on the front lines praising God but ordered no military maneuvers. (v. 21) The three armies attacked and destroyed each other. There were no survivors among Israel’s enemies, and not a single casualty was inflicted on them. (v. 24) It took them three days to carry off the plunder! (v. 25)

God’s attitude toward His children hasn’t changed. His declarations are quite current and applicable. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10) Help me more fully believe it, Lord.

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About Douglas Abbott

I am a freelance writer by trade, philosopher and comedian by accident of birth. I am an assiduous observer of humanity and endlessly fascinated with people, the common elements that make us human, what motivates people and the fingerprint of God in all of us. I enjoy exploring the universe in my search for meaning, beauty and friendship. My writing is an extension of all these things and something I did for fun long before I ever got paid. My hope is that the reader will find in this portfolio a pleasing and inspiring literary hodgepodge. Good reading!
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