141 I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts*.
142 Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
Of the many attributes of the psalms in the Bible, one that I greatly appreciate is the honesty we find there. The sharing of private thoughts and fears, of the struggles and frustrations of life. There are few emotions that are not explored. And some of them are uncomfortably raw.
But life is like this. So many of our private thoughts never find expression. As a result, they are buried and can have a negative effect on our minds and hearts. The regular reading of the Psalms is a practice we should all take up.
One of the oddities of life is how little we are able to express, without judgment, some of the darker thoughts we have. We need to cultivate a habit of this with a trusted friend. The idea is not to burden another person with our struggles, but to share our burdens with one another. In the process, we learn to live together in the hills and valleys.
It can be scary to be this honest. But God is neither afraid nor ashamed of hearing about the deep hurts and worries we have.
Verse 141: As the days and years of life accrue, the opportunities to be reminded of our condition apart from God increase. We are lost without God. We have no real reason for eternal hope if we do not fellowship with God. However, when we have been reconciled to God; when we have experienced the grace of God in the cross of Christ; when we have been filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, our frailty is no longer an obstacle. Our reception of God’s precepts gives us the ballast we need so we do not succumb to the tempests of life.
Verse 142: The writer calls us to ponder: How long will God’s goodness last? While the question may appear non-sensical, how we answer it matters. God will be good for as long as God is God. This is axiomatically true. So, what does that say about God’s law? It says that as long as God is God, his law shall be true. God’s character is the guarantee of his law’s veracity.
Verse 143: In the midst of the toils of life, it is good to have a safe harbor in which to rest. God’s commandments have not always been seen in this light. However, the implication of the Psalmist’s joy in spite of the trials of life should give us pause. To delight in God’s commandments does not require a trouble free life. It does require a us to put our focus on the gift of God’s word.
Verse 144: The testimonies of God shall be good and for our good as long as God lives. What a glorious truth. Our confidence in living according to what God commands is not in our ability to execute what God says, but in trusting God to lead us into greater understanding and deeper commitment.