Do me a favor and please read Psalm 119:33-40
Faithfulness is an interesting and important word. It’s the backbone and glue to marriage. It’s what friendships cling to, employers ask for, and all of life’s relationships desire. You remain faithful to me and I remain faithful to you. But what about in our relationship with God? What about his relationship to us? Is there faithfulness there? Absolutely. But THAT faithfulness really only goes one way (spoiler alert: it’s a top-down faithfulness as we are NOT faithful to God by any stretch of the means. Sorry if that’s new to you).
Faithfulness is a nice running theme throughout these 8 verses of Psalm 119 and what we see is that there are two faithfulness’s going on: God’s complete faithfulness to his word and then the lack-there-of of the psalmist.
Here are the “lack-of-faithfulness’s” by the psalmists in the text (or maybe their lack of faithfulness is actually faithfulness but just being faithful to not being faithful?). And just to be clear, I’m switching from “the psalmist….” to “us” as WE ARE the psalmist!
- Vs 33: that I may follow. We simply aren’t going to follow very closely so this “may” is a hope and request of God to work on our behalf.
- Vs 34: that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Here we see yet another failure coming up that we must acknowledge.
- Vs 35: direct me in the path. We need God’s guidance and direction because we aren’t going to walk the right path on our own.
- Vs 36: Turn my heart towards your statues. Left on our own we’ll turn towards our own selfish gains. Every…single…time.
- Vs 37: Turn my eyes away from worthless things. See above.
- Vs 37: preserve my life…according to your word. We cannot do life on our own and it is God and his faithfulness (that’s his word) that will preserve life for us.
- Vs 39: take away the disgrace I dread. What would disgrace a believer? Disobeying God and his word – which means there is no faithfulness in our future (it’s as if the psalmist is already stating that unfaithfulness will take place and disgrace will befall them so just take it away now!)
So that’s a lot of faithfully-unfaithfulness on our part. But what about God? What about God’s loyalty to his children and his faithfulness? Well, we could go line by line like we did above and show the opposite of what God’s unfaithful children do and how God is faithful – but we don’t need to because the simple fact is that God is faithful DESPITE our unfaithfulness! HOW MUCH MORE FAITHFUL DOES GOD NEED TO BE?! COULD God be any more faithful than that? Nope.
God is faithful despite the fact that we turn away from his decrees. God is faithful despite the fact that we know the Law of God and yet we choose…WE CHOOSE to avoid it, ignore it, work against it, and look away from it. God is faithful to his wayward children who, instead of walking along the path of holiness and righteousness, still decide to veer off into la-la land and head towards destruction when goodness, hope, love, grace, and mercy are all along the path that he has clearly given to us. And it would be a different story and conversation if God’s Laws, decrees, and precepts, were horrible and harmful – but they aren’t. He asks us to follow them because they are life giving, joyful, holy, and good. And that “promise” we read about in verse 38 that God gives? That’s a promise of love, of devotion, of faithfulness, of preservation, of hope, and of a future FOR US. It’s a promise rooted and founded in what we call “covenant.”
Our psalmist does a beautiful job of declaring the faithfulness of God while unpacking not only their (and our) unfaithfulness but our NEED for God’s faithfulness. It’s a beautiful reminder that we are nothing without God’s faithfulness. And for the Christian is there anything more beautiful and more faithful than Jesus Christ, God’s covenant and faithfulness in the flesh? (the answer is “no” – there isn’t anything more beautiful than Christ).
3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:
- What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
- Re-read through these verses through a “Jesus lens.” Where do you see a response from God, by way of Jesus, in these verses? Here’s an example: How are we taught God’s decrees? Jesus does. By his words, by his actions, and by his love.
- A non-believer (or a “seeker” of God) might look at the last verse, and its request for a “preserved life”, and wonder what that means. How would you respond? Do we believe that when you come to Jesus you will never grow old and die?