Psalm 119 is the longest psalm and reads as a litany of prayers and reflections. Today’s passage has righteousness as its central theme. The psalmist acknowledges not his own righteousness but that of God and then acknowledges God’s presence as reflected in the law.
In a world where so much injustice is ratified by corrupt business and legal practices, it is hard for me to think about law and righteousness as concentric concepts. I know that sometimes people hide behind the law into order to perpetrate injustice. However, the psalmist reminds us that God’s law and teaching and instruction is about faithfulness not destruction.
The psalmist is distraught because of those who have forgotten God’s word. Shouldn’t we all be disturbed by this? God’s word is not confined to the Bible, and it is not a word that should be used for our convenience. God’s word is righteousness and love. That is the persistent message of God that is “everlasting.” We cannot get bogged down in reducing God’s word to a series of laws that exclude people with whom we are not comfortable. We are not called to be litigious; we are called to be loving.
God’s law becomes a tool that the psalmist can use to alleviate some of the anxiety caused by oppression and taunting. He proclaims that the commandments are his delight. The most popular of God’s commandments are found in Exodus 20 and they are a set of laws that call together a community of people to honor God, rest, practice fidelity, honor family, and love justice. Living into that commandment should give us all peace and rest and fortify us for the journey ahead.
Gracious God, may we lean on your word not as a text of exclusion but one that calls us to live righteously and compassionately. Enliven us to hear your words and delight in you even as we mourn an often-broken world. Amen.
This week includes All Saints Day, when we remember those who have come before and handed down the faith to us, especially through trials. Habakkuk reminds us that our predecessors sometimes suffered discouragement, but the righteous have always lived by faith. The psalmist also has experienced hard times, but he knows that God’s commandments are true and lead to life. The Thessalonians have experienced persecution as well; yet through their strength their faith and love continue to grow to the glory of Christ. May the same be said of us and our church communities! The famous story of Zacchaeus illustrates that the crowd of faithful witnesses that we celebrate on All Saints Day includes those who have been lost—outsiders—for Jesus comes to seek and save the lost.
Read Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4. How can you wait actively for God’s response to your prayers and complaints? How will you enact God’s response when it comes?
Read Psalm 119:137-144. How do you persist in following God’s commandments in the face of injustice and corruption?
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12. The work of the church has never been easy. How does your faith community work to exude God’s love in a time when many reject or feel rejected by church institutions?
Read Luke 19:1-10. When have you run to Jesus? How can you share your experience so others pursue Jesus as well?
Respond by posting a prayer.