“Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy precepts” (Psalm 119:49-56).
Just as even an small lamp can illuminate the darkest room, so the hope (faith in Him who knows the future) that God gives us can brighten the gloomiest of our days. We may be troubled over the evils in this fallen world or we might be undergoing severe illness and pain, but whatever it is that afflicts us, we have the sure and present hope in the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). If we are anchored in His unfailing word, we will know the true meaning of faith in adversity.
Remember God’s Word
The psalmist prays that the Lord would remind Himself of the promises He had made to him. We do not know what these promises were, but he obviously has kept them in is heart. Because of what he writes later, maybe these promises were his comfort in a sin-sick world. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). Though he calls God to remember, we get the impression that confessing his faith in the promises He has made to him, because he states that the Lord caused him to hope in them, it is obvious that the Lord had not forgotten.
We must also note the use of the word “servant” in :49. The psalmist trusted in the God who is the King of Heaven and earth, and the words that He spoke are sure and certain. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). It is this word that has “quickened” (kept him alive and sane) during times of affliction and persecution. We have the whole Bible, so no matter what comes our way throughout life, we can comfort ourselves with the fact that God’s word is true and that we win in the end. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). The world may deride us, but let us hold to the unmovable foundation of the Scriptures. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9). The so-called ‘educated’ atheists in the media might try to convince the masses that the evolutionary theory is a proven fact and that man can cast off any notions about there being a God who created all things, but those proud fools will see it very differently one day (Psalm 14:1). We may be considered to be the fools now, but as long as we do not “decline from” (stray away from) the truth, the real fools will be revealed. “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). There is no harm reminding ourselves of this!
Remember God’s Judgments
Verses 52-54 are almost a repetition of the previous ones in this section, for the all the same hopes and thoughts are there. This time he is calling to mind the history of the people of Israel and how God led them through the ages. The word “judgments” are the ordinances of God, but commentators suggest that they include all His dealings with His people. This may be correct because of the mention of the “Law” (Pentateuch – first five books of the Bible) at this point. The psalmist reminds himself of the wonderful acts of the Lord and how He delivered Israel out of bondage. This knowledge gives him the comforting hope that God will do exactly the same for him in all of his dilemmas. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
We are often guilty of making a pity-party out of our troubles, but here we find a man who turned the promises of God into songs of praise during his “pilgrimage” through the darkness. We ought to put our complete trust in the “God …. who giveth songs in the night” (Job 35:10), and constantly remind ourselves what He has already done for us. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:2-4). It is not a bad idea to do this often!
Remember God’s Name
The psalmist reminds himself of whose name he serves under. No doubt the mention of God’s name reveals his reverence for it, for he would certainly not misuse it as so many do today. The “name” of God here must also include His attributes, character and power, for His is the highest name of all. Here we are under the New Covenant, but how often does our faith fail in times of difficulty! There is absolutely no need for it to do so if we truly believe in the Lord Jesus.
Knowing the power of Jesus’ name should make us as strong and vigilant as the psalmist in his day. He remained strong in his faith, despite the dark “night” he was facing, because he kept (obeyed) God’s word. Even when we have sleepless nights, we can spend the time meditating upon God’s word. “This I had” speaks of what he has gained by trusting in God and His word. The words can be translated, as ‘this became mine’ speak of the unshakable confidence he had in the Lord. The psalmist was an overcomer regardless of the severity of his battles. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). Here is a wonderful promise that each one of us can claim.
The psalmist turned his problems into praise, his afflictions into affirmations and troubles into trust. Whenever difficulties reared their ugly head, he simply reminded himself of what God said. We can do exactly the same, though before we can remind ourselves we must be minded to get God’s word into our hearts in the first place. What is hope? It is the faith that God can be trusted to do again what He has done in the past.