Saturday, November 26, 2011

Psalm 119 - Verses Dealing with the Heart

The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will observe Your precepts. 
- Psalms 119:69.  

Both Jesus and Paul had to endure hatred and evil plans from those who they had prayed for and had come to minister to.  Jesus healed the sick and taught repentance and the kingdom of God.  Because he was not what the Jews had expected, they in their pride put him to death (although that was in agreement with God's plan all along).  Paul could say, even though having already endured many years of attempts on his life by the Jews that, "my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation." Rom. 10:1.

The literal translation of the phrase "forged a lie against me" is, "they besmear me with lies".  Have you ever seen a piece of metal before it has been forged into a sword?  Normally it starts off as a harmless block of steel.  But after being pounded, folded and heated with great skill it becomes a sword with which you can do great damage.  This is like the plans of the evil doers.  He is saying that they have fashioned lies designed to ruin his reputation  but that he would keep on doing what God has appointed to be done anyway.  He says that he will do it with all that is within him.  He would employ all of his strength, will and mind in staying obedient to what God had appointed to be done.

That flies in the face of our fickle resolve nowadays.  When someone says something harsh to us, we just want to quit.  We think someone is lying about us or "besmearing us with lies" and we mentally shut down and may even drop out of life altogether.  But David says that he keeps pressing on doing, not his will, but God's will that he has appointed that we should do.  Here we see this personal prayer to God in what that he doesn't just hold it all in.  He shares his complaint with God, leaves it in his hands and presses on.  That is our part in the midst of adversity and backbiting when we are doing what is right.  Tell it to God and press on in spite of it.

Another application to this verse is that our eyes need adjustment.  If we could illustrate it in this way, we look at people through warped understanding.  Certain people become huge and God is very small and insignificant in relation to them. God really never had a place in our lives.  We have never seen him for the magnificence that he deserves.

When we make someone else big it is because we also esteem ourselves too highly.  We think that anything WE value is valuable.  The problem is that no matter how big we make ourselves in our eyes, there are going to be some people we make even bigger.  If you can picture a 10ft. tall person walking around your house demanding to be served and catered to, with a bad disposition and an enormous appetite, you can start to see what I am saying.  They are so big and terrible that you fear what may happen if they become displeased.  Maybe it is a son or daughter, coworker or boss, friend, relative or whatever.  All these people that become big in our eyes make God seem small and powerless.  To compare the two we could say that if they become angry, we care a lot but if God becomes angry we care not.  When they need something we are ready to serve, but when God needs something we are too busy.  Just a couple of examples here.  But that is how we do though.  Now what does that mean in the grand scheme of things?

What we do is skew our view of God in favor of someone else.  This is driven by an ignorance of God and a high view of ourselves.  When we are brought low, through humbling circumstances, it is not enough to make us break the image that we have of ourselves. (Ezekiel 20:43).  We were never truly broken (Isaiah 66:2).  That is the reason why a person like Ted Haggard or Jimmy Swaggart will appear broken and repentant but will return again to the same evil that he was doing before he fell.  Their will says, "Do what you wan't God!  You won't break me!" They all the while continue to profess allegiance to God outwardly and may be completely deceived as to their true spiritual state (Matthew 7:21-23, 25:41-46).  These are the arrogant that exalt themselves and despise those who are truly humble.

We need to break the high opinion that we have of ourselves and then we will break the high opinion of others.  This can only be accomplished by a right view of God.  We must fill our minds with a proper understanding of the character of God.  I suggest reading A.W. Pink's "The Attributes of God" to help put your mind in perspective.

Their heart is covered with fat, But I delight in Your law.
- Psalms 119:70.  

Now we have a good perspective for going into the next verse.  These very same people have not one ounce of compassion for others.  This is due to their high opinion of self.  They refuse to grind the image of their idol to dust or to see God for who he is and magnify him instead of other people.  People in their lives have become so big and terrible that all God's slaves have become small and wretched in their eyes.

A heart that is covered with fat is dull to the law of God.  It is interesting that the most pagan people can feel conviction of sin when presented with the gospel.  But contrast someone who has heard the word of God many times and has not repented.  His heart is now dull and insensitive to the strongest preaching of the word.  I remember Hebrews 6:8, "but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned."

David's joy is God's law.  Here law means instruction.  What David is saying that hearing God's instruction gives him joy.  This is the opposite of the hard-hearted people who are persecuting him.  They refuse to hear God's instruction.

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