Psalm 119.49-56 (4)
Pray Psalm 119.53.
Indignation has taken hold of me
Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.
Sing Psalm 119.53, 54.
(Wycliff: All for Jesus)
Indignation grips me, Savior, for those who forsake Your Word.
All Your statutes, all Your favor, I will sing with joy, O Lord!
Read Psalm 119.49-56; meditate on verse 53.
1. What has “taken hold” of the psalmist?
Let’s work back-to-front on this verse. First, there are those who forsake the Law of God. They are wicked. Period. This only makes sense. Since the Law of God is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7.12), to forsake that standard is to follow what is unholy, unrighteous, and evil.
Here let’s not just think about all those “pagans” and “unbelievers” out there. Let’s think about all those pastors and teachers who have taught their people either that the Law doesn’t matter, is no longer binding, or has become, as one theologian put it, “a dead and a useless thing.” Or who by neglecting to teach the Law invite their people to forsake it.
And let’s remember as well those professing Christians who just can’t find the time to meditate on God’s Law day and night (Ps. 1) and who are thus prosecuting their “walk” with the Lord on-the-fly (Prov. 14.12).
Yeah, that’s wicked. That should make us angry. And those folks may well be saved, but we should be indignant to the point of fervent heat that they have such a wicked view of God’s Law. For whatever “rationalizations” or “justifications” they apply to forsaking the Law of God, they will, in due course or as seems best to them, apply to God’s entire Word as well.
The Hebrew verb זַלְעָפָה (zah-luh-AH-phah) means raging heat, as of fever or a burning wind. It can also be translated “zeal”, but here the meaning seems to be burning inward rage. This is a proper exercise of anger because it remains within and does not boil over into action. It’s possible to be angry without sinning, and it’s even proper to do so, as in a situation such as is outlined here. Rather than give in to anger, however, we must turn our thoughts to the beautiful and peaceable Law of God (Ps. 4.4).
And make sure that we don’t become a focus for some believer’s righteous indignation because of our own neglect of the Law of God.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
To neglect the Law of God is tantamount to ignoring God altogether.
Imagine yourself as a parent. It is your responsibility to love, guide, nurture, and constrain your beloved children. And for all your concern, love, wisdom, and sacrifice, you are ignored and unappreciated. I’d say those are some pretty wicked children. And a little stupid too. (Oh, we don’t say stupid.) Anyway, you get the point. God is our heavenly Father, and if we ignore Him, we are wicked. No two ways about it.
Let’s hear what Solomon has to say about this:
“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov. 28.4).
“He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
but he who is careless of his ways will die” (Prov. 19.16).
“He who justifies the wicked, and
he who condemns the just,
both of them alike are
an abomination to the LORD” (Prov. 17.15).
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12.13)
And frankly, when we read what the wisest person who ever lived has to say about keeping God’s Law,
and we decide we know better? That seems rather foolish. Or someone else decides they know better? That is truly something to be indignant about. And if we feel indignant, do we need to wonder how God feels?
An angel has some clear words on this topic: “If anyone worships the beast… [i.e., a wicked person] …he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation…” (Rev. 14.9, 10). We do not even want to go there.
Keep the Law. Show God that you love Him, for by so doing you will not engage the rage and indignation of God or others.
1. Why should we feel indignation about people not keeping the Law of God?
2. What does our neglect of the Law say about our love for our Father and His Word?
3. Resolve that you will not neglect the Law of God, but will learn to delight in, love, and obey the Law of love. What will that require of you today?
On the contrary, the prophet asserts that he was seized with horror, because, though he considered the long-suffering of God, on the one hand, yet, on the other, he was fully persuaded that he must, sooner or later, call for condign punishment. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.53
Pray Psalm 119.49-52.
Remind yourself before the Lord that many people do not love Him, do not care about His Word, and will not appreciate your talking about Him and the Gospel. Pray for them, and pray for yourself, that God would increase love in you for the lost.
Sing Psalm 119.50, 51.
(Wycliff: All for Jesus)
Lord, remember all the good Word You have spoken unto me!
For I ever hope in You, Lord as I serve You joyfully.
This my comfort in affliction, this my comfort in all strife:
that Your Word is my redemption, giving me eternal life!
Though the proud deride and taunt me, I will trust Your faithful Word.
Let Your judgments from of old be all my comfort, holy Lord.
T. M. and Susie Moore
You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.
What is the Law of God and how should we learn and obey it? Two books can help. The Law of God arranges the statutes and precepts of God’s Law under their appropriate number of the Ten Commandments. This book is an excellent tool for meditating on God’s Law and thinking about its application in our time. The Ground for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copies of each of these here and here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.