In the last post, we saw that God is ready and willing to open the eyes of the humble to the wonders of his word. One of those wonders is the counsel it brings.
In Psalm 13, we saw David’s desire for God’s peace (bounty). If we return our attention to the second verse of Psalm 13, we discover a significant contrast in the type of council David was talking about.
In verse 2, David in despair said, “How long shall I take counsel in my soul. Having sorrow in my heart all the day?” Then later in verse 5, he talked about trusting in God’s lovingkindness, which he knew about because of God’s word. This contrast shows that despair can’t be eliminated if we are only seeking our own counsel. But not only will despair be eliminated, it will be replaced with joy if we seek counsel in God’s word.
How many of you have found yourself in constant or growing despair the more you focus on your problems? Could the reason be that you are looking for counsel from your own soul? This won’t get you anywhere. One more reason why we must abide in God’s word is that only in its counsel can we find rest. This ties in nicely with the next verse of Psalm 119.How many of you have found yourself in constant or growing despair the more you focus on your problems? Could the reason be that you are looking for counsel from your own soul? Click To Tweet
“I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me.” – Psalms 119:19 NASB
No doubt, we’ve all heard songs declaring that “we are not home yet” or that “this place is not our home.” Although romantic, these lyrics have a rather questionable aim and are at best ill-informed. First, they are deeply polluted by the stains of Gnosticism. And second, they’re rooted in the non-biblical idea of “going to heaven when we die.”
Now, before I lose you over the heaven comment, let’s deal with these issues in turn. The Gnostic views all flesh or physical realities as a sort of cancer that needs to be eradicated. This is accomplished by abandoning the flesh and focusing entirely on the spiritual.
But David revealed that being a stranger in this world had less to do with a passing physical body and more to do with his position as a steward of God’s creation. And as a steward, he lived solely by the sufficient and saving grace of YHWH.
With that in mind, let’s delve into the story I mentioned at the beginning. I think it will help us understand this verse and the remaining verses. What did David mean when he called himself a stranger?
[1 Chronicles 29:9-19 NASB] “Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the LORD with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly. So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, [and there is no hope]. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours.
Sojourners, tenants, strangers; all of these rightly understood are servants of God and a people without inherent rights to claim. Rather, the abundance we have comes by the grace of God and is entirely dependent upon him. Consider the next verse:
Hebrews 11:13 refers to God’s servant as “strangers and exiles on the earth.” Peter, in his first Epistle, urges those he calls “aliens and strangers” to abstain from fleshly lusts. In all of this, what the entire context reveals is that the writers were talking to a people who lived by grace, were servants of God, considered themselves strangers on the earth, but were not merely a people waiting to go to the “great by-and-by.”
So when David said, “I am a stranger… do not hide your commandments from me.” He was not saying anything about his physical location. Nor was he believing God to be stingy or closed-fisted. Instead, he was admitting that as a steward, as a stranger, he was an object of grace and that all he wanted was for God to show him more of the same. David knew that in God, he lived and moved and had his being.
And Solomon felt the same. In 2 Chronicles 1, Solomon portrayed the perfect picture of a man who was not of this world. A man who desired wisdom and knowledge so that he could steward God’s people well. Notice, this wording in verse 10, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?”
So how are we strangers in this life? The whole of Scripture confirms that this identity has nothing to do with ridding ourselves of physical bodies and trading them in for purely spiritual ones. It also has nothing to do with our physical location.
The book of Revelation is clear on this point. God is going to make a new heaven and new earth (or restore this one as the language can suggest). But we also see that we are to undergo a physical resurrection (just as our Lord did).
Thus, being a stranger in this life simply means that we are tenants of the grace that’s been freely given us. We are servants, and everything we have is from God’s hand. In this position, we must humbly remember that even what we give to God was first given to us by God. This was the heart of David’s prayer and praise in 1 Chronicles.How are we strangers in this life? This identity has nothing to do with ridding ourselves of physical bodies & trading them in for purely spiritual ones. It also has nothing to do with physical location. Click To Tweet
In the final post, we will finish this section of Psalm 119 and see why being a stranger in this life should and does lead to a longing for God’s word. Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what God has given to you and how you are honoring that stewardship. Comment below or email me at email@example.com.