It can be so discouraging to be drained every day. Chronic fatigue and chronic illness certainly test my will. I’m so thankful, then, that God’s word gives me life, renewing me regularly. I appreciate that the author of Psalm 119 felt the same way about God and His word. The stanzas we’re studying today reflect this and have a tangible joy in them. Let’s look at them closer.
Pe & Tsadhe (Psalm 119:129-144)
What’s interesting about the Psalmist’s joy is that it isn’t because his life is happy or easy. On the contrary, he seems to be pushed into searching for something that holds true despite the events around him. Verse 136 is telling in that the author is clearly heartbroken over the culture of his day. Believers faced oppression (v. 134) and there was a blatant disregard for God’s word and His ways (v. 139). The Psalmist’s river of tears (v. 136) leaves him panting for the Lord’s stability (v. 131).
This image of heartbreak and longing reminds me so much of my experience with chronic fatigue/illness. In the face of all the adversity it has presented me with, I, too, crave solid ground. Like the Psalmist, I have found the Lord and His word to be my refuge. I like the description in this verse:
“I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.” – Psalm 119:131
We can’t pant with expectation if we haven’t first tasted the sweet comfort of God’s word. The Psalmist is well aware of the Lord’s deliverance and clearly longs to bask in His care once again. As the Psalmist so frequently turns to God’s word for strength, so should we.
We started today’s study with an eye toward joy. So far we’ve seen just the opposite. But, that’s why these verses are so prudent for those of us who suffer chronic ailments – the Psalmist never lets himself stay in the trap of despair. From the beginning of the Psalm, and throughout these two stanzas, the author stakes claims of truth into his soul:
- “Your laws are wonderful (v. 129).”
- “The teaching of your word gives light (v. 130).”
- “Your regulations are fair (v. 137).”
- “Your laws are always right (v. 144).”
- “Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy (v. 138).”
- “Your justice is eternal, and your instructions are perfectly true (v. 142).”
We must anchor our thoughts with these truths if we are to walk uprightly in the face of our adversity. What is more, though, is that God does not leave us heartbroken and longing. I find myself praying these verses over myself and others regularly:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” -Matthew 7:7-8
This is why it is so important to dive into prayer or the reading/studying of God’s word when we’re hurting – He promises to meet us there.
In verse 134, the Psalmist asks to be ransomed (NLT). Whether we’re seeking ransom from evil people or from the oppression of chronic affliction, we must remember that this redemption has already occurred. Jesus was the ransom paid to secure our freedom from the bonds of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We no longer have to live wondering if the Lord will rescue us because He already has! Our eyes should not be focused on the pain and heartache of chronic affliction. Rather, our focus should be on our forever home (Hebrews 11:13-16) and watching the Lord deliver us by, through, or from our ailments.*
Let’s focus on accepting the Lord’s outpouring of love (v. 132), looking expectantly for the little ways He delivers us each day.
*The phrase “by, through, or from” is one I first heard in Beth Moore’s study of the book of Daniel; Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy.