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Monday, November 8, 2010

He is My Refuge and Shield: Psalm 119:113-120

Psalm 119 very much contrasts the wise- those who follow God's law- with the wicked and foolish- those who reject God's law.  Today's passage carries that theme.  I'll look at each verse in turn.

113 I hate double-minded men, but I love your law.  This goes back to verse 53, which was about the righteous indignation a follower of God's law has against someone who disobeys it.  Personally, those who claim to be Christians but don't act like it really make me frustrated, too, because it is a poor reflection on the body of Christ.  I can somewhat relate to the psalmist here.

114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. My favorite verse in the passage, definitely!  I love the mental picture I'm getting of this.  In the midst of the spiritual battle that is going on all around us, God is the place where we can hide from the evil that surrounds us; we can rest in him and not fear the attack of Satan.  When we are out fighting, God is still protecting us as our shield.  He keeps us safe from attack.  We can be confident even when fighting this spiritual battle because our hope is not in how well we can fight, but in God's word, and in his word we learn that he has already won the battle and so we have too!

115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!  Do you ever feel like if it wasn't for sinful people all around you and the evil in this world, it would be a lot easier to obey God?  Yeah. Me too.  And apparently the psalmist felt the same way.

116 Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.  I like taking psalms apart verse by verse like this because it brings out parallels and patterns.  This goes with verse 114-- God's word contains promises that he will take care of us, and we also hope in his word.  Verse 116 is a prayer that verse 114 would happen.  Verse 117 echoes that also:
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.

118 You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is in vain.  I think it's funny in a really sad way when people think they can trick God.  It's like the little kid who steals a quarter off their dad's dresser or disobey their parents in some other way, and think they can get away with it.  Mom and Dad see everything, and God does even more so!  When people wander away from God and think they can get away with it, he sees it, and rejects them.  This is echoed in verse 119:
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.  Dross was the scum removed from molten ore or metal, according to my study notes.  It had to be removed for the metal to become pure.  It was useless and impure, and was therefore thrown away.  This might seem like really harsh language, and it is, because it's law, but there are major consequences for those who disobey God.

120 My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.  This verse on first sight makes God sound like some big, scary, awful being.  He's big, yes, but he's awe-some!  We have every right to be a little bit afraid of God, when we consider the immeasurable power he has.  But go back to verse 114 again: "You are my refuge and my shield."  This big, powerful, amazing God protects and takes care of each one of his children.  Just think how cool it is to have God on your side--because he IS!!

Today, I am going to rest in the knowledge that God is my refuge and place of rest, and he is my shield and protects me from all evil.

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