No Matter What
Psalm 119:161-168 – Sin/Shin
161Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.
163I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.
164Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
165Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
166I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your commandments.
167My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly.
168I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.
The words of this stanza of Psalm 119 make me ponder our often conditional love for God and adherence to His Word. We’re generally willing to love God when times are good. But if life become difficult, we might look at Him and question His love and faithfulness to us.
I’m reading a book by Anthony Ray Hinton called The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row about his time on death row for a crime he did not commit. He spent 30 years waiting to be executed only to be finally released when the court system (and a wildly prejudice system of justice) realized they had condemned an innocent man. Hinton went into prison a believer in Christ, but the circumstances in prison were so dark that he quickly determined that God did not exist and threw his Bible under his pitiful excuse for a bed. Three years later, he experienced a renewal of his faith when he realized that man’s attempts to destroy him did not determine his ability to still be a descent human being and express love to his fellow inmates. He still had the power to reach out to others and impact the world with hope.
As I read Anthony’s story and then read these words from the psalmist, I am struck by the fact that we can be a fickle people. But the psalmist reminds us that this is not the way of the believer. Even when “princes persecute me” I can still stand in awe of God and His Word. I can still find reason to rejoice. As Hinton’s story progresses, we learn that people on the outside of the prison are moving in his behalf even though he had absolutely no knowledge of their actions or the money with which to pay them. God was moving even when he believed that hope was lost.
This psalmist expresses certain confidence that nothing can make him stumble despite what is happening around him. He will carry on with his faith no matter what. My life has never been the dark place that Anthony found his – through no fault of his own. But that doesn’t mean I am immune to difficult times or struggles. The temptation to give up on God stands in the corner of every heart. In those moments, may we all be prepared to state these words:
- my heart stands in awe of your words
- I rejoice at your word
- I love your law
- I praise you for your righteous rules.
- Great peace have those who love your law
- nothing can make them stumble.
- I hope for your salvation
- all my ways are before you