Thursday, June 13, 2013

At Your Most Beautiful (Psalm 119:49-56)

Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me without restraint,
but I do not turn from your law.
I remember your ancient laws, O Lord,
and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
In the night I remember your name, O Lord,
and I will keep your law.
This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.

Psalm 119:49-56

There are two themes that stand out to me in this stanza: one is comfort and hope for God's servant, and the other is the wicked and arrogant who have forsaken God's law and who mock those who are still faithful to Him. Both seem so relevant today.

The amazing thing about this psalm is that it provides comfort and hope to God's people regardless of their life circumstances. Does life seem to be going well for you right now? Run in the freedom of God's law. Are you suffering at the hands of others? Find your identity and comfort in God and his promises rather than in what people around you are doing or saying. Are you suffering as a natural consequence of your own sin? Return to God, obey him and claim his life-giving promises as your own. Are you suffering simply as the result of living in a fallen world? Press on, with obedience and faith; wickedness will not ultimately be rewarded, but God promises to preserve and protect us and, in fact, right now, "Your promise preserves my life" and "You have given me hope."

I did a talk a few years ago that actually used a phrase from this stanza as its title: "the theme of my song." I was borrowing the phrase from a song that I love, the opening lines of which proclaim, "Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song, the joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue. Thy free grace alone from the first to the last has been my protection and bound my soul fast." The point of my talk was that we all have a "theme of our song," a way in which God seems to speak to our hearts throughout our lives in themes, much the way a music composer uses a handful of notes repeated in different ways throughout a piece to tie it together (think about the "da da da DA" at the opening of Beethoven's Fifth -- this is sort of the most classic example).

Here, the psalmist calls God's decrees the theme of his song. The fact is, proclaiming his mercies are just one facet of his decrees -- hold the diamond of God's decrees in your mind's hand and rotate it to let each facet catch the light and shine forth its own little piece of beauty, remembering that it's really all of these little facets together that make the diamond show forth the fulness of its beauty.

"In the night I remember your name, O Lord, and I will keep your law." You -- and your presentation of yourself through your Word -- are more beautiful than the best cut diamond. As I remember this all day and all night, I am polishing that diamond in my mind's eye.

PS - The title for this post is a nod to a great REM song, from my REM-loving college days.

No comments: