129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
132 Look upon me and be merciful to me,
As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
133 Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
136 Rivers of water run down from my eyes,
Because men do not keep Your law.
Yesterday would have been my second wedding anniversary. This is always a bittersweet time of year as I reflect upon all that might have been if my beloved wife had not died just a month after our wedding. However, I also have to smile as I reflect upon the joy of that day and the short time we had leading up to it. Getting married in the depths of a Midwest winter is quite a challenge! Yet God is good, and He saw us through the challenges to bring us to the truly joyful celebration of our covenant with Him. We didn’t get married in Cana, but the Lord was surely there that day! And so although I now celebrate anniversaries alone, I am thankful and I praise the name of our holy God, who gives His grace has so freely to me and my family.
In reflecting on the verses above from Psalms 119:129-136, I am struck by how familiar those sentiments are to my own in those days both before and after my wife’s sudden home-going. The psalmist pants after God’s Word, and he loves God’s name. The psalmist wants God to direct his steps and save him from men’s oppression. And in the most striking image, in verse 136, the psalmist openly laments when others depart from God’s law.
The psalmist here reminds us that the Word of God can do so much for us, and I can testify to that. When my wife departed this world to be with our Lord, one of the few things that sustained me was constant exposure to God’s Word, the Holy Bible. When I felt lost, God directed me. When I felt worthless, God promised me glory. When I felt guilty, God reminded me of His mercy. In the depths of my darkest days, the light of God’s face shone upon me – and still does!
In today’s verses, when the psalmist seeks God’s mercy, he reminds God that it is His custom – literally His “sentence” or “verdict” – to show His mercy to those who love Him. Isn’t that a blessed thought: God is merciful towards those who love Him!
At our church we celebrate New Year’s Eve with praise and worship, and at the end of the service, our pastor has prepared short promises from the Bible on little slips of paper. We finish the evening by randomly drawing those slips from a bowl. On that evening after our wedding, as my new wife rested from the sheer exhaustion of that blessed day, I attended the New Year’s service and drew forth two promises for our new life together:
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy…
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
My beloved went home with her Lord soon after, and yet I know the truth of those verses in my life. I know that if we seek God, we will find Him. I long for God’s Word, and I am in awe at the wonder and wisdom of His law and testimonies. Like the psalmist, I find that the more I direct my steps toward His Word, the more that God’s Holy Spirit keeps iniquity from having dominion over me. And I know for a fact that if we fear and love the Lord our God, then His mercy shall surely be ours, as is His custom toward those who love His holy name.
Blessed Father, Almighty God, I thank you for Your great grace and mercy. I am amazed at Your love toward us, and I am in wonder at the promises set forth in Your Word: the gifts of joy and fellowship and eternal life. I do love You, Lord God, and I seek only to be more like Christ Jesus, Your Son, Your beloved Lamb. Direct my steps on Your way, O Lord, and reign in me. Then I know that only goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in Your house forever and ever. Amen.