Tuesday, January 16
Faith, Patience, and Hope
Psalm 119: 81-88
81 My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word.
82 My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, "When will You comfort me?"
83 For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, Yet I do not forget Your statutes.
84 How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?
85 The proud have dug pits for me, Which is not according to Your law.
86 All Your commandments are faithful; They persecute me wrongfully; Help me!
87 They almost made an end of me on earth, But I did not forsake Your precepts.
88 Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
Psalm 119:81-88 is the eleventh stanza of this psalm, and every line or verse begins with the eleventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet “KAPH”, in the Hebrew Bible. The focus is on the responses of the believer while he waited for the Lord to judge his enemies and deliver him from persecution and danger. His oppressors were also the enemies of the Lord and of Israel, so his concern was more than personal. Satan has been seeking to exterminate the Jews (v. 87) since the time the nation was in Egypt, and he will continue until the end-times (Rev. 12). The Christian life is a battleground, not a playground and we must expect tribulation (John 16:33).
In verses 81-83, the anonymous psalmist is fainting but hoping in God’s Word. His inner person was exhausted from longing for God to work. His eyes were strained from watching for some evidence of His presence (Lam. 2:11). He felt like a dried-up wineskin in smoke that had been thrown aside as useless. The psalmist felt like that wineskin. The smoke was the penetrating, pervasive, polluting influence of the world. He felt contaminated by its atmosphere. Worse, he felt that God could no longer use him. The wine of salvation, the water of the Word—how could it be poured out from him? The bad odor of the world spoiled everything. He needed restoration. However, he never gave up hope, for no matter how dark the hour, the future is our friend because Jesus is our Lord. I like this quote: "It is always too soon to quit".
In verses 84-85, the psalmist was questioning but waiting. In verse 84 he asked, "How long must your servant endure?” (ESV), and in verses 82 and 84 he asked "When". These questions have often been asked by suffering saints, even by the martyrs in heaven (Rev. 6:9-11), because they are the natural response of people who are suffering. (See Jer. 12:3-4; 15:15; and 20:11-12.) It is difficult for most of us to wait for the things we can see, such as a traffic jam to end, a checkout line to speed up, an important letter or e-mail to arrive, and it is even more difficult to wait for our unseen Lord to work out His will. It is through "faith and patience" that we inherit what God has appointed for us (Hebrews 6:12).
A good verse to remember in the dark times is Romans 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” James reminds us that we should count it all joy when we face trials, tribulations and temptations, knowing that they will produce patience if we trust in the Lord (James 1:3-4). The enemy may be digging pits, but the Lord will see to it that they fall into them first (Proverbs 26:27).
Finally, we find the psalmist trusting and being revived by the thought of the LORD’s lovingkindness. (vv. 86-88). Is the enemy spreading lies about you? God's Word is dependable and can be trusted (Psalm 119:128, 142, 151, 160). Do you feel like your defeat is very near? Rest on His promises and rely on His love. Always remember when the Father allows His children to go into the furnace of affliction, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much.
To walk by sight and feelings will bring us unrest and weakness, but to meditate on the Word will bring us peace and power. Once again, the psalmist prayed to be revived and the Lord gave him grace to keep the testimony of His Word (v. 88). And He will do the same for us when we trust Him!