“Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes” (Psalm 119:41-48).
The whole Bible deals with the salvation of man, so here the psalmist turns his thoughts to this subject. In these verses he speaks of the need of assurance in God. For in knowing that He is his Saviour, he can stand strong when conflicts and offences arise.
We generally talk about God’s mercy with regards to salvation, but notice how in :41 the word “mercies” is used. This is significant since its meaning tells of God’s covenant love, which the writer states is the same as salvation. He wholeheartedly believes that the Lord is a covenant-keeping God, that is, He always keeps His promises. If the psalmist is the priest Ezra, as some commentators suggest, then it is possible that he had in mind the prayer of Solomon when he dedicated the first Temple, “And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart” (1 Kings 8:23). This in turn reminds us of the faithfulness of God. All of his mercies are available to us, for He has promised to answer the prayers of those who come to Him in faith. “Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies’ sake” (Psalm 31:16) … “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22).
The words “”reproacheth me” reveal that the psalmist was encountering persecution from those who did not trust in God. He prays for deliverance from his oppressors, not so much to remove them from his life, but that he might be strong in standing his ground when they fire their reproaches at him. He believed in the word of God and knew it had the power to cut through the barrage of ridicule his enemies often sent his way. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) … “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:16-17). We do not use the same weapons as those who resist God, His word and His people. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
How important are the Scriptures to a believer’s life? The fact is God would not have given them to us if they were not of vital importance, and it is certain that His word was not given to be ignored or neglected. The psalmist understood this, so he prays that the word of the Lord would ever be on his tongue. What he believes to be true, is that which he lives and speaks. “I believed, therefore have I spoken” (Psalm 116:10). No doubt he would consider believers who did not obey God’s truth to be hypocrites rather than faithful followers. He is determined to “keep” (obey) God’s word. Notice the amplification of this affirmation: “continually for ever and ever”.
How often have we heard some Christians speak of liberty, and believe it to include freedom to do as they please? Any talk of personal holiness is rejected and labelled as legalism. The psalmist found liberty in obeying God’s word. The person who knows the truth and practices it is truly free. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). It is impossible for a disobedient believer to have the assurance of salvation. This will quickly become evident in their everyday lives and personal testimony, for because they have no conviction, they will have no courage to tell others about the Saviour they claim to trust in. The psalmist’s faith gave him the confidence to speak unashamedly about the Lord before the highest officials of the land. This was the testimony of the martyrs too, for they did not fear to tell kings, popes and priests the truth of God’s word. Such a person is truly free!
This kind of boldness is largely lost on today’s church. Why? So few have the joy and assurance of God’s word, for they do not “delight” in it enough to obey it. They claim to love the Lord, but there is no real evidence to back it up. The psalmist “loved” the “commands” of the Lord enough to do them. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed that the evidence of a true believer’s love for Him is found in obedience to His commandments. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Did you note that the psalmist speaks of love twice in the closing verses of this section? He is not someone who merely says he believes but actually puts it into action in his daily life. God’s word was in his talk and in his walk.
How can the believer maintain such an intense commitment to the Lord as the psalmist evidently did? With the struggles, problems and difficulties of life, it does not seem possible. How can God expect us to stay strong in Him when there is a constant onslaught against us from the enemy? Once again the psalmist offers the reason why he had the power to overcome. His strength came from meditating upon God’s word. What a wonderful revival would take place in the church if Christians realised that the Bible is not just a book they pick up during a Sunday service, but instead it’s message is practiced and preached in their everyday lives!