It might sound strange to some but if I’m struggling to understand a passage it helps me to think through it and sometimes figure it out by writing.
While in seminary, if I were struggling with a paper I would talk through the confusion with my fellow students who worked in the physical plant with me. I would often answer my own question(s) while I was explaining my paper.
I have a similar problem this morning. I see a possible connection in Psalm 119 but I can’t grasp it. It’s right there before me. I see the words indicating there’s truth right here if you will think and trust the Lord for understanding!!! I promise you, as I write this blog post I do not see it. I may not see it today. Writing this may not unearth the treasure. But let’s see. I think seeing the process is worth it.
So, Psalm 119:4 says, “You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently.” The word diligently is the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:5 as “might”, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” I’ve already written about that connection but let it suffice to say that we follow and love the Lord by knowing and obeying His word gladly.
This morning I was digging around in 119:8 and discovered some of the same words being used. The verse says, “I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly!” The two words that connect are “keep” and “utterly.” Utterly is not easily connected in the English but it is the same word as might and diligently.
In verse 8, the writer seems to make a promise to keep God’s statutes but he doesn’t say diligently. The previous verse describes the learning process. In other words, he’s learning and growing. He knows and loves the Lord but also knows he’s still lacking.
The words “keep” and “forsake” are in opposition to one another. Is the thought that if he doesn’t keep God’s statutes that he will be forsaken? Can YHWH accept imperfection? Does He grade on a curve? Is it enough that he tries to do what is right? Maybe he can keep some of it and trust God for the rest. Do you think that is sufficient?
Maybe we should also consider Psalm 22. There the psalmist cries out in verse 1, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.” Yet, by the end of that Psalm, deliverance had come.
Jesus pled the words of Psalm 22:1 from the cross when the Father abandoned him THOUGH HE HAD KEPT GOD’S STATUTES DILIGENTLY…PERFECTLY! Let’s keep this in mind as we work through this.
I also cross referenced the Hebrew word for “might, diligently, and utterly” with the Greek word used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) and I found that word in Matthew 27:54 where it says, “Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very *frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!””
We could conclude that Jesus was forsaken utterly (thusly in Mark 15) even without this reference but it is a bonus to see it here.
So, let’s circle back around to Psalm 119:8. I think I can conclude that the psalmist is incapable of keeping God’s word with all his might. That means God must forsake him mightily or utterly. However, since Jesus kept the law perfectly and fulfilled all that was promised yet was utterly forsaken that means something amazing is available!
Indeed, we understand that we who are unrighteous and fall short of God’s glory can be forgiven and counted righteous by faith in Jesus! You and I have the same problem the psalmist had. But our hope is in the One who met all of God’s demands and drank down the cup of wrath that we deserve. The Righteous died for the unrighteous so that he could bring many sons to glory.
So, let’s hear the psalmist say this again: “Do not forsake me utterly.” God says, trust in My Son who was forsaken utterly for you and I will not forsake you utterly. Is Jesus enough?
Hallelujah…hallelujah…hallelujah! All I have is Christ!!!