Psalm 119 ל Lamedh

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

We look at the world around us and nothing is permanent. All is churned around by circumstances. Changes in technology give the appearance of substantive change. How then can we say that God’s word, written thousands of years ago, is eternal?

The Lord’s word is not fixed on earth. If it were, it would be transient. The place where it is fixed is in heaven above. This is the place of our Lord, Alpha and Omega, who watches over changes from beginning to end.

90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.

The earth endures because the Lord established it. Its endurance is an indication of His faithfulness. The reason we stand here today is not because a certain Russian submariner refused to obey the order to launch a nuclear strike, it is because the Lord in His faithfulness keeps us.

91 Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.

God’s word stands to this day, not because He has been so clever at writing that he anticipated all that was needed. Rather, it is because the whole universe rests on the frame work of His word. All that has happened since the beginning has worked to serve the Lord’s purposes. Of course this raises all sorts of questions about the nature of evil and free will, yet by looking at Christ’s death on the cross we have at the very least an example of circumstances looking completely out of control and working only for evil, yet from the perspective of eternity we see Jesus’ triumph over sin.

92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

Affliction can bring us to spiritual death – the absence of spiritual life. We can be so angry with God for allowing affliction to touch us that we turn our backs on Him and spiritual death takes hold of us. Affliction therefore is a proving ground showing the degree to which we have really learned to delight in the Lord and His law. That is, when we were in the easy times, we chose to spend time with God in His Word, to delight in Him rather than in other things – such as the fruit of the entertainment industry. In our pain, we look back with assurance at how the Lord was with us in that delight.

93 I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.

Now the Psalmist switches to the opposite angle. In the midst of affliction, when all seemed black and the only question was, Where is God? And life was draining away as each trial hit like a new wave. There it was discovered that God’s Word was the source of life. So it was through God’s word that the writer’s life was preserved. The sad part is that we often patronise God’s word until we have been through such circumstances and experienced His life through His Word in the midst of a crisis.

94 Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts.

Now in the midst of a tragedy that is, if that were possible, stretching the Psalmist even more, the Psalmist calls out for salvation. It is noteworthy that the Psalmist does not link these two phrases with ‘for’. Rather than trying to make a deal, it seems the Psalmist is saying, I have gone done all that I know to do. I have sought out God through His word and I am still failing. The only way salvation can come is from God.

95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.

When the wicked are about we are tempted to fear, but the Psalmist remembers God’s faithfulness from the beginning of the section (v90-91). He knows that the wicked can do nothing without the Lord’s permission, and if He were to give it, it would only be for an eventual good. It is a measure of the Psalmist’s faith that he has sufficient peace to ponder God’s work while most at this point would be struggling with anxiety.

96 To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.

Now he points back to the very beginning of the section (v89). The Psalmist has been tested and in being tested has proven God’s word to be all that He says it is – eternally firm in the heavens. The way in which God’s word comes through is full of surprises. Wickedness rears its head with a new challenge, but those who wait for Him see God, through His boundless word, pull the rug from under the challenge.