In our last post, we learned that God didn’t punish David for being brutally honest about his despair. Let’s continue examining how David dealt with his despair.
“How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?” – Psalms 119:84 NASB
The wording here can lead to a few different ways to interpret David’s question:
- David could literally be asking, “how long do I have to live and when will you judge these wrong doers?”
- “How many are my days and when is justice coming?” (meaning, “will I get to see justice unfold or will I see my own vindication?”)
- “How long will this sanctification process last before I get a break?”
Charles Spurgeon suggested that David was saying,
“I cannot hope to live long in such a condition. You must come quickly to my rescue or I will die. Will my short life be consumed in such crushing sorrows? The brevity of life is a good argument against the length of an affliction. Lord, since I am to live so short a time, be pleased to shorten my sorrow also.”
I like Spurgeon’s take because it seems to incorporate all three points. In Spurgeon’s view David’s despair was marked by honesty and by running to God for help. This sounds similar to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NASB
Next let’s look at verses 85-87:
“The arrogant have dug pits for me, men who are not in accord with Your law. All Your commandments are faithful; they have persecuted me with a lie; help me! They almost destroyed me on earth, but as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts.” – Psalms 119:85-87 NASB
These verses sound a lot like the passages we have read over the past few weeks. As a matter of fact, this seems to be common phrasing for David. We can look at Psalms 35:7 for one of many examples.
“For without cause they hid their net for me; Without cause they dug a pit for my soul.” – Psalms 35:7
Apart from the basic reality of David’s circumstances, these types of verses are also colored with a prophetic tone. This persecution was the very thing done to our King and Savior—both in His life and on the cross. David’s trust in times like this was displayed by his faithful turning to God’s word. Jesus, the Word made flesh, displayed His trust in the Father by being that Word—obedient even unto death.
We can also see how this is prophetic for us as well.
“Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:32-33 NASB
David’s solace was found in God’s precepts and laws. Jesus’s comfort was in the Father. Our peace is found in all of the above—the word of God, the Word made flesh, and God our Father.David’s solace was found in God’s precepts and laws. Jesus’s comfort was in the Father. Our peace is found in all of the above—the word of God, the Word made flesh, and God our Father. Click To Tweet
To me it is a greater peace to know that God (although forewarning us of trial and persecution) is showing us that in Christ we have and will overcome. But this overcoming comes through obedience and submission to him. We see this even in the Hebrew letter under which we find this section of Psalm 119.
The ancient form of Kaph is the open palm of a hand. The meanings of this letter are “bend” and “curve” from the shape of the palm, as well as to “tame” or “subdue” as one who has been bent to another’s will. Our Lord bears in his hands the proof of his submission to God’s will. And we should say, along with Paul, that we will rejoice in our sufferings as we do our share in the body of Christ, filling up what is lacking in his afflictions.
“Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.” – Psalms 119:88 NASB
At every turn within this series, we’ve seen a high view of God’s word, His precepts, statutes, laws, commands, promises, and testimonies. We’ve seen that they bring joy and peace, truth and conviction, chastisement and comfort, revival and endurance. Psalm 119 is a “go to” Psalm for hard times because it turns our focus to God’s Word instead of ourselves or our circumstances.
I want to end this series with a few words from Charles Spurgeon. This comes from an excerpt on Psalm 119:88 but it applies to the whole Psalm.
“This is a most-wise, most-blessed prayer! If we are revived in our own personal piety, we will be out of reach of our assailants. Our best protection from tempters and persecutors is more life. Lovingkindness itself cannot do any greater service for us than to cause us to have life more abundantly. When we are quickened, we are able to bear affliction, to confound those of the world who think they are wise, and to conquer sin. We look to the lovingkindness of God as the source of spiritual revival, and we entreat the Lord to quicken us, not according to what we deserve, but out of the boundless energy of His grace. What a blessed word is this mercy!”