“I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors. Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me. Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes. I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies. It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:121-128).
This section of Psalm 119 reveals that God’s word is always true regardless what gainsayers and objectors might say. Over the centuries many people have thought they have found errors in Scripture, but at each instance it has been vindicated. Others try to undermine it by introducing new doctrines or additions to the Bible, yet it has stood the test of time and will remain so throughout eternity.
What a confession the psalmist makes here! If only more of God’s people could say that they live a life of righteousness too. He claims that he has lived according to the word of God and that he has been a faithful servant, despite the fact that his enemies were pressing in on him on all sides. As stated previously, they were using many schemes, in word and action, to cripple his faith in God. These oppressors seemed never to give up, so though he trusted in the Lord, what they were doing troubled him. What he desired more than anything else in this situation was the reassurance of the closeness of God. God promises to be with us, and He certainly does nor neglect His own in times of trial. “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6). The word “surety” is a legal term which means that another person will take responsibility for a debt. This means that God always stands up for us no matter the problem or what “proud” and wicked persons might say against us. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Three times in these verses the psalmist calls himself a “servant” to indicate that he was obediently following God’s will and word. He was not a believer who only picks up a Bible when in church, instead his eyes ached for the Scriptures. It is doubtful if would have bothered with magazines and novels if they were available in his day. He knew that only God’s word was the message of salvation, therefore in trusting in it, he would have the victory over all trials and tribulations. Not only did the Scriptures comfort him, but they were the strength he needed to stand in faith. He asked for “mercy”, not for any wrong he had done, for here the word refers to God’s covenant love; he is simply praying that the Lord would continually pour His love into his life to counteract the evil things people were doing to him. Since he is God’s servant he needs to be taught the right way to live. We all need the “understanding” only the Holy Spirit can give so that we can walk in righteousness and faith. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” ( Ephesians 1:17-18).
The psalmist feels that this is the time for God to take action against those who defy Him. He has in mind the proud oppressors who were persecuting him, but sees beyond that to all who make “void” the word of God through rejecting His commandments and teaching others to do the same. We wonder what he would have thought about the stacks of versions of the Bible on bookstore shelves! Was he wrong to ask that his enemies be punished for their evil? In fact, if we read the text correctly, he believes that people who try to empty God’s word of its power deserve judgement rather than for what evil people had done to him. If he “hates” every deceptive teaching of men, then surely God’s hate must be stronger still. So while we must “Love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]“ (Matthew 5:44), that does not mean God will not punish those who undermine His word. “That they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:32). Nevertheless, God will pour judgement upon our oppressors too if they will not repent. “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
The psalmist opens and closers this part of his psalm by stating that he loved God’s word and was committed to following it. He would not trade the Scriptures in even for the finest gold of the world. God’s word is his greatest treasure and it will guide him along the pathway of righteousness until he reaches his Heavenly reward. While we wait for the Lord either to call us or return to this earth, we must stay strong in Him and His word. Let us pray that He will take action against what is happening in the world and the church today. Is it time for God to intervene to stop the rot in the compromised and impotent church? “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).