#796. GIMEL. PSALM 119:17-24 (19/4/23)
Today, we continue with our weekly input from Lucy Oyelade looking at the third section of Psalm 119.
‘Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed, those who stray from your commands. Remove from me their scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes. Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.’ (Psalm 119:17-24)
As a teenager during the great push towards reality TV in the early 2000s, I was utterly entranced by Supernanny when it began to air. It was astounding to see a total stranger waltz into a seemingly impossible situation, pull a few hand-written resources out of her bag, and go again, leaving what looked like a sea of familial bliss behind her. The thing that stuck out the most, across most of the episodes, was how much children can respond positively to structure when that structure is a response to their needs.
In this section of Psalm 119, the writer specifically asks God to help him see the good in keeping God’s laws. We often forget that we are children as well. And children don’t always like doing things that are good for them, even though there is rich reward at the end! I remember someone sharing at the end of a service about how frustrated we can be when our kids don’t want to eat something that we know is absolutely delicious, and we know that it would be so good for them! They complain and declare that they don’t like it. We cajole, we bargain, we beg, we bribe... and every so often they deign to try the new item. Their eyes widen in surprise. “It’s yummy!” (Yes it is, it’s made of good things!) “Why have you never given me this before?” (Insert facepalm, eye-roll and heavy sigh here.) How much more heavy sighing is God doing right this very moment because his children don’t listen to him?
Deep down, we crave structure. The Psalm says “my soul is consumed with longing for your laws” – this can be hard to see sometimes, but I would suggest that this can manifest simply as discontentment, low energy, general malaise, and feeling “off” when we have parts of our lives that need turning back to how God wants us to live. We’ve heard recently in our series on praying together about serving an eviction notice on the enemy, and this is surely part of it too. Have we let situations slide until they are no longer God-centred, but God-second? The Psalm continues by speaking of the importance of holding fast to God’s word, rather than allowing ourselves to be swayed by rulers and, by extension, we could add politicians, culture, and other constructs.
None of this is easy. We have to put in the work. The psalm mentions obeying and meditating, and allowing ourselves to delight in living a God-centred life. During the other sections we’ve already looked at, there has been a common theme of the psalmist asking God to help him delight in the way God wants us to live. It might seem obvious, but we can all pray, and we can pray the same prayer to help us through – God, help us to delight in your teachings and in your will for our lives, because we know it is good, even though it can be hard.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
During this series, we will be using the 'Prayers of Many' course by Mike Betts.
I encourage you to buy a copy of the book from: https://prayersofmany.org/book#buybook
If you need assistance in buying a book please send an email to the church office and we will happily purchase you a copy.
Please download the course handbook from: