Do me a favor and please read Psalm 119:121-128
What do you do when you’ve done everything you can? What do you do when no matter what you do or say people still oppress you, kick you down, and speak ill of you? When your words and actions have been “godly” and on par with Him and yet darkness continues to overwhelm you – what do you do? That is the question the psalmist is struggling with – and it’s to the point where they are not only fed up but they are trying to motivate God to respond.
What’s interesting about this psalm is that the psalmist feels it necessary to lay out place before God – as if he wasn’t aware of where they were, what they’ve done, and the oppression that is before them. There is a declaration that they have done what is “righteous and just” (121); that they have upheld the law of God (126); that they love the commands of God more than any earthly riches (127); and because they consider the very Law of God to be pure, right, and good and that anything that is against this Law is evil and wrong. So is it right for the psalmist to demand God to respond? Is it right for them, and us, to be so bold as to speak to God in this way? Absolutely.
As we read through this text what we see is that nowhere do they say anything of the sort like, “God if you don’t do ________ then I’m done with you!” In contrast what they’re doing is they’re saying that they can’t do anything on their own. What they’re saying is that they need God to step into their lives and relieve them of the oppression that surrounds them. What they’re saying is that they need God, because of his Word, his Law, and his love, they need him to act. They need Him to stand between them and all those who harm them.
Countless times I have waited and waited, only to then take things into my own hands. Countless times I have needed something from God and when it didn’t come I took things into my own measures. Are there times when God wants us to act? Absolutely. He gave us a brain to use and wise people to surround ourselves with and we have the power of prayer to discern things and seek him out with – and so we are to use them. Often times our prayers seem “unanswered” when we’re looking for a direct “yes” or “no” but it’s also in those moments when we’ll get “yes” and “yes” when we’re looking for direction. The whole point was simply for us to turn to him first and an answer of “yes” to our dilemma is just the affirmation that no matter which step we take God will bless us. But dealing with “oppression” (as the psalmist is) and sin that is impacting them we must remember that we cannot deal, or respond to, sin in any way but turning to God. We can love our oppressors but that’s only going to go so far. We can pray for our oppressors but that’s only going to do so much. In the end it’s up to God and his Hand to deliver us, save us, and restore us.
My “take home” from this psalm, and the reflection on the response we have to oppression, is that I’m challenged by the psalmist last words where they declare that they love God’s precepts and commands more so than gold. What they are proclaiming is that they love God’s law much more than the worldly things. That they love God’s precepts and seek it more than anything in this world. WHICH MEANS that they will respond, to oppression, by seeking out HIM and not a “worldly” response. THAT is our challenge and reminder. To remember that God’s ways are right and true and that He has put things in place to deal with sin and oppression, anger and hatred, and that we must allow HIM to deal with it and not me or you.
3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:
- What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
- People have tried to “deal with oppression” since the beginning of time. How does Scripture remind us of the failure of humans to deal with oppression? How has God ultimately dealt with it?
- How do you feel about making “demands” of God? Is there anything you could ever experience where you think you’d feel “OK” making demands of God?