My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word. My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, “When will You comfort me?” For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, yet I do not forget Your statutes. How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me? The proud have dug pits for me, which is not according to Your law. All Your commandments are faithful; they persecute me wrongfully; help me! They almost made an end of me on earth, but I did not forsake Your precepts. Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth. (Psalm 119:81-88)
The psalmist is in a lot of trouble. He is being bombarded by affliction from his foes that seek to destroy him. It almost overwhelms him as he tries to combat those who seek to destroy him. What they are doing against him is wrong and their attacks are so constant he almost gives up succumbing to their ploys. He is in desperate straits. His soul is fainting from the persecution. Long nights have been spent searching for answers and reasons why he is being hounded by his enemies. These trials are almost too much for him to bear and he struggles to maintain his faith. Like a wineskin hung in a smoke filled room the spirit of the man is shriveled and almost dried up. He is at a state of exhaustion in his body, mind and spirit by the affliction and mental distress. As a man of God he knows where to turn and his salvation is found where he knows he will receive comfort, peace and truth. The word of God is the island of refuge that helps the psalmist endure the slights and injuries of those who stand against him. He knows that in the word of the Lord there will be comfort and peace because he learns he is not alone and that his Father cares for him. Hoping in the word of God comes from learning the lessons of all men as they struggle with the afflictions of life. The Lord has promised He will care for the weary and fainthearted and numerous stories abound in the word to show His care for His people. Noah was not forgotten nor Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Lord cared for Moses and the people as they left Egypt and walked to the land of promise. Reading the word of God the psalmist learns that he will not be forsaken by his heavenly Father.
Obeying the statues of the Lord is not just about keeping commandments. It is a lesson in trust that comes from seeing the power of the word alive in the hearts of the people of God. Many saints of the Lord have lived through perilous times and by God’s grace and mercy endured to receive a blessing. The psalmist would have been familiar with the story of Job who lost so much but gained so much more by trusting in the Lord. There can be little doubt reading the riveting story of Job that faith would not be restored in the heart of the one being persecuted seeing the necessity of keeping the will of the Lord in the face of trial. Those who bring affliction against him are not keepers of the law because their actions go against the law of the Lord. These are his own people that are persecuting him. Why should his own brethren bring such harm against him? Sometimes the hardest criticisms leveled against others are brought by the people of God against their own brethren. The psalmist declares his trust in the commandments of God as faithful and the actions of the misguided as false. He measures his relationship with God more important than what men do to him and trusts in the will of the Lord to guide him. The only hope he seeks is what is found in the word of God.
There is a mournful cry in the midst of this conflict: Help me. Facing the affliction from others is never pleasant and can destroy the soul with ease. Faith can be challenged to a point of failing and every child of God must be warned of how easy some persecutions can challenge the spirit in a very severe manner. Men fail sometimes in their faith. Abraham lied about Sarah; David committed adultery and murder; Peter denied the Lord as did Judas. Saints of God struggle with faith and the psalmist admits he nearly lost his footing as they almost made an end of him. What kept his life in check was the word of God. He has declared throughout this lengthy psalm a reliance on the word of God and that without the knowledge of divine wisdom he would have been destroyed long ago. What is sad is when the child of God faces adversity and succumbs to the turmoil by forsaking the word of God. Truth comes from the word and through the study of the word man finds the answers to face the foes that set themselves against him. Only from the word can truth be found. When troubles come do not forsake the precepts of God but embrace them. Dive deeply into His word and learn about the lovingkindness of God and His mercy, grace, love and compassion. The soul will be refreshed from the time spent in the word. Revival comes from drinking deeply from the well of God’s commandments, laws, statutes, precepts and testimonies to know how to face adversity. The Bible is the voice of God. Listen to His word.