From Your Pastor, August 17

From Your Pastor, August 17

From Your Pastor, August 17Tsadhe (Part 17)

Ps 119.137   Righteous are you, O LORD,
and right are your rules.
138  You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139  My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
140  Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
141  I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
142  Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
143  Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
144  Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.

This portion of Psalm 119 is a prayer that comes from faith and that is seeking understanding. The psalmist feels his weakness (v. 141); he knows his limitations (v. 143); but, he chooses to believe God’s promise (v. 140). 

That’s a far cry from what Christians sometimes get accused of. Sometimes faith gets mocked as being stupid, silly, or contrary to reason. It is sometimes suggested that Christians are people who stick their fingers in their ears to ignore common sense. No thinking person could be a Christian, they say. But, is that what “faith” is? Sure, we’ve all known religious people who choose not to think or try to learn. That type of “believer” is out there. But, that isn’t what the Bible teaches about faith; it isn’t mature Christianity; and it’s not what God wants of us.  We’re not called to stick our heads in the sand. We’re called to believe God, but seek understanding. After all, it is the truth that sets us free. We don’t run away from truth or reason. Instead, we recognize our limits and trust that God is wise, kind, and powerful, beyond what we know


 That’s what we see the psalmist doing here. He believes, he trusts, he loves the Lord, and he wants to know more of his ways and his truth (v. 144). He starts this prayer with a confession of faith:

137   Righteous are you, O LORD,
and right are your rules.
138  You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.

He affirms God. He believes him. He confesses that God’s word, ways, and Law are good. He has faith, but it’s supported by his own experience:

140  Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.

God has always kept his word! The psalmist has walked with the Lord, served him, and believed him for a long time. As he looks back over his life, he sees God as a promise-keeping God. He’s gone through the trials and hardships of life. But, as he looks back, he’s able to see that God’s promises have always been true. We see that clearly in v. 143:

143  Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.

His faith in God hasn’t prevented him from going through trials, but it has given him joy despite those circumstances. He’s been able to live out James 1:2, which calls us to count our trials a joy because they led to steadfastness. In other words, troubles can be a reason that faith is strengthened or they can be the thing that proves faith wasn’t faith at all.


 There are two kinds of reaction to trials. When trouble and anguish come, people will either resent God or they will rest in God. I vividly remember a godly Christian friend whose husband passed away. But, instead of blaming God and resenting his providence, my friend went to God for comfort. She prayed and read and prayed and memorized. And then she prayed some more because the only place she found comfort was in God’s promises. She lived out v. 143.


 The reason God calls us to live by faith is because there’s no other way. He’s the infinite God; we aren’t. For that reason, we’ll never reach the end of things to learn about him or to wonder at. But for that same reason, we can’t possibly understand or confirm everything we’d like to confirm. We have to trust.  This prayer, Psalm 119:37–144, is the prayer of a believer who believes God. But, as v. 144 shows, he never wants to stop learning about him:

144  Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.

Real faith seeks understanding. It’s not stupid, silly, or ignoring what’s really out there. To the contrary, faith knows that God’s testimonies are true and the only thing that lead to life.

 —–Pastor Barry