Beginning and End

27 Jan

Hello Friends, at the beginning of this new week, we will be ending Psalm 119. If you have read parts 1-3, this section will be more of the same. The psalmist praises God for God’s wonderful instructions, pleads with God for release from his enemies and plans to continue to travel God’s path.

The first line of this section talks about “the word” God gives. Joan Chittister did a video series on the ancient practice of God’s Words of wisdom and grace given to the desert mothers and fathers and passed on to the seekers on the journey. This type of word is something that is conveyed with a deep humility and gentleness; it truly becomes a “miracle word”.

129-136
Every word you give me is a miracle word—
how could I help but obey?
Break open your words, let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
Mouth open and panting,
I wanted your commands more than anything.
Turn my way, look kindly on me,
as you always do to those who personally love you.
Steady my steps with your Word of promise
so nothing malign gets the better of me.
Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
so I can live life your way.
Smile on me, your servant;
teach me the right way to live.
I cry rivers of tears
because nobody’s living by your book!

It is a frustration that so few seem to be seeking God’s way. If you had the opportunity to tell some how to live by God’s book, what would you say. When asked what was most important, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might and love your neighbor as yourself.” I think that covers it.

137-144
You are right and you do right, God;
your decisions are right on target.
You rightly instruct us in how to live
ever faithful to you.
My rivals nearly did me in,
they persistently ignored your commandments.
Your promise has been tested through and through,
and I, your servant, love it dearly.
I’m too young to be important,
but I don’t forget what you tell me.
Your righteousness is eternally right,
your revelation is the only truth.
Even though troubles came down on me hard,
your commands always gave me delight.
The way you tell me to live is always right;
help me understand it so I can live to the fullest.

God’s way are always right. This is of course true, because if God created us, knows us, then it makes complete sense that God’s ways are right for us. Remember, this means forgiveness for everyone, even those [particularly those] who do not deserve it.

145-152
I call out at the top of my lungs,
“God! Answer! I’ll do whatever you say.”
I called to you, “Save me
so I can carry out all your instructions.”
I was up before sunrise,
crying for help, hoping for a word from you.
I stayed awake all night,
prayerfully pondering your promise.
In your love, listen to me;
in your justice, God, keep me alive.
As those out to get me come closer and closer,
they go farther and farther from the truth you reveal;
But you’re the closest of all to me, God,
and all your judgments true.
I’ve known all along from the evidence of your words
that you meant them to last forever.

153-160
Take a good look at my trouble, and help me—
I haven’t forgotten your revelation.
Take my side and get me out of this;
give me back my life, just as you promised.
“Salvation” is only gibberish to the wicked
because they’ve never looked it up in your dictionary.
Your mercies, God, run into the billions;
following your guidelines, revive me.
My antagonists are too many to count,
but I don’t swerve from the directions you gave.
I took one look at the quitters and was filled with loathing;
they walked away from your promises so casually!
Take note of how I love what you tell me;
out of your life of love, prolong my life.
Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.
Your righteous decisions are eternal.

In this next stanza the psalmist says that seven times each day I stop and shot praises. The Benedictine monks and nuns take this seriously and meet 7 times a day to recite the psalms and worship together. I have been on retreat in a Benedictine community several times and this tradition creates a wonderfully blessed rhythm of the day.

161-168
I’ve been slandered unmercifully by the politicians,
but my awe at your words keeps me stable.
I’m ecstatic over what you say,
like one who strikes it rich.
I hate lies—can’t stand them!—
but I love what you have revealed.
Seven times each day I stop and shout praises
for the way you keep everything running right.
For those who love what you reveal, everything fits—
no stumbling around in the dark for them.
I wait expectantly for your salvation;
God, I do what you tell me.
My soul guards and keeps all your instructions—
oh, how much I love them!
I follow your directions, abide by your counsel;
my life’s an open book before you.

169-176
Let my cry come right into your presence, God;
provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.
Give my request your personal attention,
rescue me on the terms of your promise.
Let praise cascade off my lips;
after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life!
And let your promises ring from my tongue;
every order you’ve given is right.
Put your hand out and steady me
since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel.
I’m homesick, God, for your salvation;
I love it when you show yourself!
Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well,
use your decrees to put iron in my soul.
And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me!
I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.

I pray you can recognize God’s voice as you travel the path of God.

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