by Melissa Main
Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding so that I can learn Your commands.
Those who fear You will see me and rejoice, for I put my hope in Your word.
I know, LORD, that Your judgments are just and that You have afflicted me fairly.
May Your faithful love comfort me, as You promised Your servant.
May Your compassion come to me so that I may live, for Your instruction is my delight.
Let the arrogant be put to shame for slandering me with their lies; I will meditate on Your precepts.
Let those who fear You; those who know Your decrees turn to me.
May my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes so that I will not be put to shame.
When I read this psalm, I see a man who has made mistakes. He has fallen. I don’t know what his sin was, but it is something that has caused him to feel the punishment of God. Verse 75 tells us that God afflicted him, and the interesting note to me is that the writer recognized God’s right to discipline him. He didn’t whine or complain about the unfairness of the situation. He simply admitted that he had to face the consequences of his sin.
It is often said that admitting to your own problems is the first step in recovery. Although I have never been to an alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I have heard that one of the biggest problems some people face is actually standing up and admitting that they are an alcoholic. One of the main reasons that the writer of this psalm is progressing in his spiritual life is that he recognized his problems and agreed with God that what he did was wrong. He made some mistakes, but he wanted to overcome his current situation and have a close walk with God.
Despite the fact that I have never been a drug addict or alcoholic, I still face sin in my own life, just as every other breathing individual on this planet. There comes a time when I will pay for my impatience, my bitterness, my complaining, or even something as simple as procrastination. As God continues to reveal the imperfections in my life and discipline me, I must be willing to work on the issues that God brings to my attention. I must continue to get up each time that I fall. “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up” (Proverbs 24:16).
Besides the desire to get back on the right track, the psalmist is also desiring to have God’s faithful love comfort him (Psalm 119: 75). So often when we fall down, we need someone to love us and help us get back on our feet. We don’t need to be slandered with lies and have people exaggerate our flaws. I suspect this is what the psalmist is referring to in Psalm 119:78. Our struggles are hard enough to overcome, but the mighty mouths of gossip tend to magnify problems and make them appear much worse than they really are. What we really need is compassion, and this is what the writer prays for in verse 77. This truth is so eloquently expressed in the song “Mighty to Save“.
When the reality that he had stumbled and fallen really hit the writer of this psalm, he made a commitment to God’s word. He asked the Lord to give him understanding (Psalm 119:73). He wanted to find out how to live a blameless life and to grow closer to God. However, he needed divine help to understand difficult passages in the Bible. I can understand that plea. I have often prayed the same prayer myself. “God, please help me to understand this passage. How can I write about it and explain it, if you don’t make it clear to me?” As I begin reading the passage again and comparing it to other passages in the Bible, I gain new understanding.
In living a life of purity and gaining ground once we’ve messed up, the following points made the psalmist are helpful to consider:
- It’s important to ask God for help in understanding the Bible. God can help us to understand His word (Psalm 119:73). Instructions on the proper way to live can help us avoid mistakes in the future.
- Meditating on God’s word and laws is necessary when coping with stressful situations (Psalm 119:78). When the psalmist was being slandered by others, his response was to meditate on God’s word.
- Not getting angry when being punished or disciplined by God is key to building godly character. The psalmist realized that God’s affliction was fair (Psalm 119:75).
- The psalmist realizes that keeping God’s word is vital to living a life of integrity (Psalm 119: 80).
When I think about this passage and the process of falling and getting back up to bring glory to God, I am reminded of my good friend, Angela Wolf. She was raised in a godly home, but she turned away from God. Three devastating events or circumstances in her life made her turn to God and cry out for salvation. God’s hand of discipline produced a change in her life. She turned from a life of partying and pleasure and dedicated her life to serving God. She now sings for prison ministries and helps those who are hurting and in need of a Savior.
Although I never fell into that type of behavior, I am daily confronted with the need to change and conform more into the image of Christ. I am constantly in the process of becoming the woman God wants me to be.
- Preserve My Life According to Your Word (mainwriters.com)
- Turn My Heart Towards You, God (mainwriters.com)
- Benefits of God’s Discipline (mainwriters.com)
- Psalm 119: In a Hurry to Obey God’s Word (mainwriters.com)
- Psalm 119: Loving and Obeying God’s Word (mainwriters.com)