I haven’t mentioned my history with depression and anxiety before, but they’re as chronic as my fatigue and illness, just less prominent. Today is one of those days that I just wake up with anxiety – ugh!
This is exactly what makes the Psalms so fitting for our daily lives – our emotions aren’t steady and sure, and neither are any of the Psalmists’! That said, let’s continue our closer look at Psalm 119.
He (vv. 33-40)
As a whole, this stanza seems to hone in on the meaning of life. In a way, the Psalmist appears to be evaluating what matters in an attempt to answer the all-important question of where to find happiness. In pursuing this question, the Psalmist identifies the mark of a Christian life – living for the Lord rather than for ourselves.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes to several early churches about living a Christian life. Often, Paul contrasts our “old selves” with our “new selves.” The author of Psalm 119 is also looking for how to live righteously, according to God’s way. Recognizing that the Lord’s Way is different from our “shameful ways (v. 39),” he finds that true and lasting happiness comes from walking the “path of [the Lord’s] commands (v. 35).” But, in order to delight in the laws of the Lord, we must first be taught them, which begins with sincere prayer. Only when we have eager hearts, like the Psalmist, can the Lord “turn [our] eyes from worthless things, and give [us] life through [His] word (v. 37).”
I can testify that its hardest to avoid fleshly desires when my chronic fatigue and illness leave my body screaming for attention. When I’m not functioning well physically, I try to fix it, as I should. However, as I mentioned in the previous post, this is a slippery slope to self-centeredness and selfish thinking. The Lord often convicts me of such motives and I find myself on my knees seeking His ways over my own:
Rest assured friend, the Lord hears when we call.
Waw (vv. 41-48)
Throughout these two stanzas the Psalmist keys on obedience. In this second stanza though, he shifts from longing to obey to finding strength in obedience. Now, if you’re fiercely independent like me, obedience is a scary word. But let me testify to this: when God is at the center of my life, I am infinitely safer than when He’s not. Remember, God is Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth; He reigns supreme over all. Moreover, He is a compassionate, loving God, caring for each of us as a Father. When we receive Jesus as our personal Savior, we receive the salvation promised us and God’s unfailing love (v. 41).”
Knowing where we get our strength empowers us to overcome all obstacles, including answering those who taunt our faith (v.42) and speaking Truth to those in authority over us (v. 46).* Perhaps most importantly, though, is that we speak this Truth over ourselves.
“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” -Psalm 119:45 (NLT)
I love that the Psalmist ends this stanza with such gusto and conviction. He has clearly experienced the peace and strength that come with obedience to the Lord. What is more, he not only seeks to know the Lord’s commands, he literally finds delight in them. The answer to our questions about happiness and finding meaning in life, then, is this: delighting in obedience to our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).”
“I will delight in your commands! How I love them! I honor and love your commands. I meditate on your decrees.” – Psalm 119:47-48 (NLT)
Let this be evidenced in our lives!
*Only after prayerful consideration, always in truth, spoken in love, and with full understanding that God is sovereign over each person’s salvation; it isn’t up to us. For example, see Ephesians 4:25-32, Colossians 3:8-15, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, and 1 Peter 2:13-23, among others.