121 I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the proud oppress me.
123 My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation
And Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy,
And teach me Your statutes.
125 I am Your servant;
Give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
126 It is time for You to act, O LORD,
For they have regarded Your law as void.
127 Therefore I love Your commandments
More than gold, yes, than fine gold!
128 Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right;
I hate every false way.
In common thought, the relationship between servant and master, between slave and owner, is characterized by submissiveness and one-way communication. “Neither seen nor heard” is a description you might hear concerning house servants. The servant’s livelihood depends upon serving the master, but the master doesn’t want to be bothered with the words and beliefs of “common folk.” Hence, the servant spends virtually all of his or her life in quiet submission.
The other aspect of servitude that is mentioned less often is that the slave is doing jobs that the master cannot do or does not want to do. Either the tasks are too onerous for them to bother with, or else they just are physically (and perhaps mentally) incapable of doing them.
But the servant relationship that we have with God is entirely different. God does not NEED us to do anything, nor does our work for His kingdom relieve Him of any burden He could not bear alone. We have nothing to offer God that He isn’t capable of having with a mere word, and nothing we say or do could match His own limitless capabilities. The one thing that God actually desires in our relationship is our obedience, and God wants our obedience without coercion or force.
Thus, the Christian life a strange sort of servitude that is characterized by freedom to do and to speak as we like, and yet to submit to God in all things. There are no chains per se, and yet we still feel bound to Christ. There are no whips nor rods, and yet we still are disciplined to help guide us into right behavior. And what servant have you ever heard of who is encouraged to call his or her master “Father”?
In Psalms 119:121-128, we see the psalmist speaking up to his Master, and asking God to stand up for His own law and statutes. It’s terribly presumptuous to speak up like that, and yet it is a good thing for us to do. Why? First of all, it’s good because God wants us to speak to Him, to seek Him, and to exalt Him far above all other things in our lives. Secondly, when we do speak to God about people ignoring or hating His Word, then it shows our awareness of His law and His statutes. It shows God we are paying attention to His Word.
In the verses above, look at what the psalmist says about how he has done justice, how he has sought God’s salvation, how he wants to be taught God’s statutes, how he seeks God’s wisdom, how he loves God’s commandments, and how he thinks God’s precepts are right in every way. Those are the words of someone who is, as we say, “in the Word.” The psalmist reads and seeks God’s Word all the time, always wanting more, regarding the Bible as something finer than all the riches he might possess. And that is why the psalmist gets a bit angry at those who break God’s law, those who regard God’s law as “void” – i.e. worthless, useless, not applying to them. As a servant, the psalmist seeks to be obedient, but he is disturbed when others refuse to obey. He is jealous for his God!
Last week, I was studying Psalms 10 with some friends, and we keyed in on one verse that almost literally shouted at us from the middle of that psalm:
Arise, O LORD!
O God, lift up Your hand!
Do not forget the humble.
After listing the ways in which the wicked operate, and how evil-doers hate and revile God – or even deny His existence – then David says, “Arise, O LORD!” He calls upon God to not only save the oppressed, but also for God to stand up for His own glory, to defend His own honor, to end all oppression. David wants God’s salvation so much that he shouts for it, he stands up in the midst of his oppression and pain to say to God, “O God, lift up Your hand!”
Like David and like the person who wrote Psalms 119, we need to be ready to stand up and shout to God, “Arise, O LORD!” We need to be obedient to God and yet rebellious against the world. We need to love God’s Word so much we are willing to defend it. We need to be God’s servants and yet be leaders in this world. We need to be meek and gracious, loving our enemies and sharing the gospel with all creatures, and yet we must also be bold and forthright in speaking up for God and the Christ we love.
Stand up today and say with me, “Arise, O LORD!” Speak for God and His holy Word, and do not be ashamed or afraid of your faith. Do not bow down to the bondage of “social graces” or political correctness. Do not allow yourself to be oppressed by those who hate God and His precepts. Be a true servant of God by standing up for His honor and His glory. Raise your hands in praise and prayer, and say to the Almighty God, “I am Your servant. It is time for You to act, O LORD!”
Arise, O Lord! As You spoke through the prophet Isaiah, You will break the chains of the oppressors, lift up the humble and the broken, and free the prisoners of sin. Save us, Father, from Satan and the corruption of the world. Your blessed Son obediently lifted up His hands to be nailed to the Cross to free us from sin. I am Your servant, dear Lord, so, please, show me Your way and teach me Your Word. Arise, Almighty God, and be glorified in my life – a life saved through Your own mercy and grace. Amen.