The Psalmist calls on God at various times to deliver him because he has promised that he will keep His commandments. His enemies who do not know or trust God cannot and will not do as he does. All that they do is what they is displeasing and offensive to the Lord. The one who walks in the ways of the Lord does please and honor God. Such a person can look to the Lord for deliverance because his life is not deceitful or marked by hypocrisy. The godly person always trusts. His faith is going to be rewarded at all times.
The wicked have no such hope for reward because they live lives that show nothing but disdain for God. God will fulfill His promises to them but not in the way He blesses those who do have faith in Him. His promises are of judgment and punishment. This could be avoided only by faith in Christ. But the wicked do not listen to, value or obey God and His Word until they are faced with trouble and suffering. Then they cry out to God and wonder why He does not help. God knows the cry of the heart of one who truly desires His will and His way from the cry of one who just wants to be delivered so he or she can continue to live for him or herself. God will not answer the prayer of any one who is playing games with Him or does not acknowledge His sovereignty with faith, commitment and loyalty.
In this section the Psalmist expresses his feelings about God’s Law with a great deal of imagination and emotion. He views the commands of the Lord as spiritual food that he yearns for with a great hunger as a starving person yearns for food. The Word of God gives life and understanding to all who partake of it. It will never lead them astray and will always enable them to choose the path which is right. So strong is the Psalmist’s feeling about the Word that he weeps for those who ignore it because they are bound up with ignorance and are in great peril.
The Psalmist had a pure devotion and fervent zeal for God’s Word even though his enemies despised him and looked down on him because of his commitment to it. Often we who are Christians feel that same scorn from the world which despises us because of our faith. The world prefers those who question the status quo, who seek to reason out their beliefs and their world view according to psychology, science and philosophy. It has nothing but scorn who believe in the Word of God, who accept as truth that which God says. But those who have such faith can weather all the storms of life that cause others to sink.
Yet our faith is not merely blind belief. It is a reality which worldly people cannot grasp for it is based on the Scriptures which reveal that God always keeps His promises. He is absolutely trustworthy. Those who belittle our faith have no sure foundation for what they believe except theory and opinion.
Throughout this Psalm we have noted the Psalmist’s great respect for the Word of God, for His commands and laws. These all serve as the guide for right living and holiness. So those who value the Word receive a great reward. They discover that it is a source not only of godly wisdom but also of strength and encouragement in times of need, a defensive shield against the evil assaults and temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Those who put their trust in the Word, put their trust in God and they will never be disappointed.
Here we also find a strong warning for people who are outwardly religious, who appear to be godly but are really double minded and arrogant. Such people do not respect the Lord or His Word at all for they see it as something they can twist and use for their own advantage. They follow the letter of the Law but ignore the Spirit by refusing to extend love and compassion to those in need. They are trusting in their outward religious works to make them right with God. They will fail to receive help in their times of distress. In addition they will come under the judgment of God even though they think they will escape it.
The psalmist is boasting but not about himself. He is boasting about the wisdom of God as revealed in God’s law. He rejoices that it is the greatest source of wisdom and has given him more insight and understanding than not only his enemies but also his teachers and even the elders, then even those who claim to be wise. The elders in this case are foolish men who lack godly wisdom because they do not know or follow God’s word. This then is not to be taken as an excuse for younger believers to challenge the authority of the elders unless they are clearly out of the will of God. The wise person knows when to speak but also when to keep his mouth shut lest he be rebuked by the Lord.
The Psalmist found that the word of God enabled him to maintain his personal purity. God’s revelation clearly lit his path. God’s revelation is a light that illuminates the path of life, and for this reason he determined he would follow it. This is wisdom for there is no other clear choice.
In the darkness of this world we do well to choose to follow the path that is well lit so we can see where we are going and avoid traps and snares. If we walk in the darkness, we are going to fall or get lost. So if we want to know how to live we must consult the Scriptures. They proclaim God’s will to us and tell us what we must do to follow it. But not only must we read it and study it we must be willing to obey it and follow it where ever it leads us.
The Psalmist knows that the Scriptures are the expression of God’s heart. They present His promises to His people. Consequently, the word is our never ending source of hope in our trials. The word confirms to us that God never lies and that He is always with us. And so we want to follow it and pledge ourselves to do so. Then we find ourselves in the midst of conflict because it is not easy to obey God’s word when the temptation to sin and to do what the world wants us to do, or what our friends and family want us to do is so intense and attractive.
It is in times of such personal conflicts that we let our anxiety keep us awake at night. Often we toss and turn. The world suggests we use mediation or drink warm milk. But these will not help because we are in turmoil because we do not know what to do in response to the evil we see around us. We do not know how to avoid falling prey to sin, or how to counteract or defeat those who are attacking us. We think of all the things we could say or could have said and all the things we could do or could have done. We think of ways we will get our revenge and vindicate ourselves. That kind of thinking keeps us up. If we just remembered to put our trust in God, that He will take care of it, that He will enable us to act in a godly manner that will exalt Him, then we would sleep peacefully.
The Psalmist asks the Lord to lead him in the right direction. He wants to be righteous in all his actions and thoughts. He does not want to follow the ways of the world or to be caught up with its seductive allure and its deadly lust for material prosperity.
For us, the allure is so strong that it is quite easy to compromise with evil and fall into sin. Daily we are surrounded by bad influences as the media bombards us with temptations and lies. This is why we need God’s word, to help us discern right from wrong, good from evil, love from lust. If we fail to daily look into God’s word then we will always succumb to the influence of the world.
The Psalmist also wants to know God’s wisdom so that he can know how to answer his detractors and rebuke those who attack him with harsh criticism for his dependence on God and His word. Often we do not know what to say to people when we are asked about our beliefs or when we criticize others for their immorality. We cannot adequately explain why we believe what we do and live according to the word of God. We cannot even put into words why people ought to follow Jesus rather than any other religions and religious ideas. To overcome that ignorance in ourselves we, like this Psalmist, must cherish God’s word and study it on a daily basis.
The Psalmist goes on to ask God to enlighten him in His law and His word for it is his delight, his joy, his greatest longing. He needs God’s wisdom so that he may know how to live on the earth. He needs God’s wisdom so that he can stand against the powerful and the wicked. He prays for the removal of contempt and scorn from his own heart so that he may truly reflect the truth and love of God and not operate in the flesh. Those who claim to be the servants of the Lord must avoid the ways of the world and should always be humble for humility is the expression of true wisdom.
The Psalmist then expresses his love for the word of God from the standpoint of a lament. He is feeling depressed and anxious, filled with sorrow and knows that he can go to the Lord to receive encouragement and strength from His word. Many of us can sympathize with the Psalmist’s feelings for we too know all too well the feelings of sorrow and depression that come when we endure the trials of life while we see the wicked getting away with their evil without suffering. Yet the fact is all human beings are subject to pain and corruption. While we who are believers can go to God’s word for our solace, the world will not. The worldly seek in vain for answers and truth that will make sense of their suffering or help them get through it or overcome it.