Friday, November 4, 2016, 3:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 119:65-72 (ESV).
Knowledge and Good Judgment (vv. 65-66)
You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
No matter what we go through in this life, it is good for us to have the attitude of heart and mind that God has dealt well with us, according to his word. We are so undeserving of his riches of grace, which he has poured out on us whom he loves. It was while we were yet sinners that Christ Jesus died for us on a cross so that we could be set free from slavery to sin. He doesn’t owe us anything, but we owe him everything. We should be eternally grateful for all that he has done for us in saving us from our sins, and for giving us eternal life with God to be lived to his righteousness.
Because of what Jesus Christ did for us, in cleansing us of our sin, and for giving us new lives in Christ Jesus, our desire should be for him, to walk in his truth and in his ways. We should want him to teach us his knowledge and good judgment, that we may walk in them, not just so we can fill our heads with a bunch of Bible knowledge so we can show off how much we know, or so we can win debates (arguments). Head knowledge puffs up, but heart knowledge applies what is learned to our daily lives. And, that application of knowledge should result in good judgment, if we are putting into practice what we have learned.
I Went Astray (vv. 67-68)
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
God allows us to go through trials and tribulations, because they are for our good, to humble us, to teach us perseverance, and so we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves. God disciplines those he loves, so that we may share in his holiness. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See: Heb. 12:3-11).
Some of this discipline is corrective, because we have gone astray in some area(s) of our lives, and we need to be brought back in line with God and with his Word. Other discipline is preventive, to keep us from going astray, and to train us in godliness and holiness. It builds within us godly character, and draws us closer to our Lord, with a deeper desire to follow him wherever he leads.
With My Whole Heart (vv. 69-70)
The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
I think that, when we go through hard times, it also builds within us much determination and steadfastness of spirit so that we are able to withstand persecution and opposition, and still remain strong in our faith and commitment to Christ and to his word. It has certainly done that in my life. I would not be where I am today, doing what I am doing, if God had not broken me, and allowed me to go through much suffering. Through suffering and strong opposition, he helped me to “set my face like flint” (Is. 50:7), i.e. to be resolute and diligent in my walk of faith with my Lord in keeping his word and in not going astray.
When I was much younger, and not so seasoned in life, I didn’t bear up well under unjust suffering. I would, for a time, but then I would break down, and would want to just retreat. Over time, though, I learned that we never gain anything positive by withdrawing, and that we should use these times, instead, to grow in our faith, and to become even more single-minded in our commitments to Christ, steadfast in our walks of faith, and strong-minded in our spiritual warfare against the enemy of our souls. Satan uses our trials as opportunities to try to break us, but God uses these times to make us and to mold us into the image of Christ, if we will but yield to him.
It is Good for Me (vv. 71-72)
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Perspective is everything, isn’t it? What I mean is that, when we go through afflictions, poverty, trials, and tribulations, which test our faith, we gain “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance” (M-W Dictionary). For instance, we just went through a trial with bed bugs, which lasted about a month. Praise Jesus, the bugs have been gone nearly 2 weeks now! It definitely changed my perspective regarding what is important, and what is not. And, it made me even more serious about God’s calling on my life and my time spent with him, and it helped me gain perspective as to what my priorities should be. So, I thank the Lord for the bed bugs, and what I learned through that experience, but I am so thankful they are gone!
In America we live in relative affluence. Not everyone in America is wealthy, mind you, but in relation to people in third world countries, I think even our poorest are rich by comparison. My husband and I live in relative comfort with regard to the things of this world. We have a nice roof over our heads, in an apartment complex, and we have food in our stomachs, clothes on our backs, and sufficient funds to meet our needs. We are not wanting for anything of the necessities of life. And, yet, that doesn’t make us happy. Those things don’t bring us joy and peace and comfort. They are all temporal. And, the bed bugs definitely put that into perspective for me!
Things do not save us. They do not love us. They do not comfort us in sorrow or give us hope of eternal life with God. We can be rich in the things of this life and still be lost for eternity, so what does that gain us? Nothing! So, sometimes we need to be afflicted so we learn what is really important, and what is not, so we gain the right perspective. The church in America could use some affliction for that very reason. Because of our affluence, and so many people having so much stuff, including so much to entertain them, I think it has caused many people in this nation to forget God or to push him aside in favor of “stuff” which will never satisfy. So, I think it would be good for us to be afflicted so that we might learn God’s statues, and so we might desire them far above the treasures of this world.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross / Isaac Watts / Lowell Mason
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.