You Are All I Want
“Thy beautiful sweet will, my God holds fast in its sublime embrace; my captive will, a gladsome bird prison’d in such a realm of grace” (Gerhard Tersteegen, 1697–1769).
Read Psalm 119:49–72
49 Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.
57 You are my portion, Lord;
I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
65 Do good to your servant
according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
God proudly depicts his Word as multi-faceted, something that can accomplish many things.
I consider three themes from today’s reading. First, “You are good and what you do is good” (68; cf. 65,66,71,72). Is this the ground-zero of my life? If the summer sun is shining on me and my family at present, this affirmation may not be difficult. I continue to sing, recite and remember it so that when winter comes, tragedy strikes, or I should suffer some appalling misfortune, it may then also spring to mind (cf., Job 2:10). When God’s laws oppose my felt needs or my deep desires, I will remember then that these laws are the expression of his goodness to me.
Second, trials (51,61,69,70). I reinforce my courage to continue my journey, unswervingly, delighting in God’s decrees. A verse that may surprise me is verse 53. Do I have a weapon named “zeal” in my armory for the fight against evil? This is a kind of zeal ordered to the love of God and the rule of truth—not blind, bitter or vengeful, but calibrated towards the achievement of an arduous good, the “power of resistance in the soul” (Josef Pieper, Fortitude and Temperance). Have I ever been angry enough, for long
enough, to overturn a great evil?
Third, remembering: a word beginning with Zayin. The word means more than just “to call to mind.” It means to cherish, to care for, to commit to. It is something God does (Exod. 2:23–25), to which I respond. The psalmist sings on his way, he rises at midnight to thank God. If someone died and left me a fortune, how would my remembrance of God, his law and his love kick in to help me deal with this (72)?
The psalmist claims that he once strayed but then was visited with divine chastisement and got his act right ( 67). Can you personally relate to this?
“Thy wonderful grand will, my God, with triumph now I make it mine; and faith shall cry a joyous “Yes!” to every dear command of thine”
(Gerhard Tersteegen, 1697–1769).