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The Scriptorium

God Who Upholds

He holds us up and makes everything clear. Psalm 119.116, 117

Psalm 119.113-120 (4)

Pray Psalm 119.116, 117.
Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
Hold me up, and I shall be safe,
And I shall observe Your statutes continually.

Sing Psalm 119.116, 117.

(Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
Uphold me by Your Word, Lord, and keep me from all shame.
Let me live ever forward to glorify Your Name.
Lord, hold me up! Sustain me in all Your holy way.
To keep Your statutes train me, and help me to obey.

Read Psalm 119.113-120; meditate on verses 116, 117.


1. What did the psalmist want God to do?

2. To what did he commit himself?

Here is another fine example of Hebrew poetry set up as a parallelism. Can you see how it works? Take a minute and look for things that go together or imply one another. Soon you’ll notice the parallel takes this complementary form:

            A “Uphold me…”
            B “…that I may live…”
            C “…let me not be ashamed
            A “Hold me up…”
            B “I shall be safe…”
            C “I shall observe Your statutes…”

It’s not hard to discern the primary message: We need God to lift us above our trials and afflictions into true and eternal life, where we are safe and unashamed in the counsel of His Word. We hear people talk about wanting to live “above the fray”, to “get on top of things”, or “rise to the challenge…” Can you see how all such talk reflects this basic understanding of the soul about our need for the Lord?

Above the fray, on top of things, and surmounting every challenge are possible by clinging to the Law and Word of God and seeking His upholding grace in prayer. This is how we demonstrate our trust in Him, as well as how we grow through our trials, know peace and safety, and dwell in happiness in the shelter of the Lord. And this, in a nutshell, is the basic message of Psalm 119.

These poems were meant for repeated meditation, recitation, and singing. They are still valuable for such purposes today. Set aside some time today to meditate on, pray, and sing just these two verses. And let the Lord lift you to Himself above all the trials, challenges, and troubles of your day.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
At our house, Christmas decorations do not come out until the day after Thanksgiving. But fall decorations can appear whenever the sun begins to slant differently through the leaves and the temperatures dip below 80. It is very subjective. Thus, not too long ago our seven-year-old grandson Ralph was sounding out a little decoration that consisted of one word. He is a very good reader but was having some difficulty with this one. He asked, “Is that pumpkin an O?” When answered in the affirmative, the lights came on. Welcome! But there is a big difference between Welc me and Welcome. The pumpkin was obfuscating the obvious.

So often our thoughts are like that. We feel confused about something in the Word of God; we might even feel embarrassed or ashamed. We take a wrong turn somewhere because we can’t “sound out” how the Word applies to our lives, moment by moment. We have a big pumpkin obscuring our sight.

I think the psalmist was experiencing that, too.

“Uphold me.” “Hold me up.” Those are cries for help. “Let me live.” “Don’t let me be ashamed!” “Keep me safe!” Because, most of all, he wanted to observe God’s statutes continually. (Ps. 119.116, 117)

David prayed something similar: “Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip” (Ps. 17.5).

And that should be our response as well. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered” (Prov. 28.26). God tells us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Is. 41.10).

How do we know when we’re seeing the Word properly and trusting God to uphold and hold us up? When we are certain about what we believe and determined to believe it continually: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1.16). “…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able…” (2 Tim. 1.12). And then the final pumpkin-buster? “…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1.27).

When we truly know and believe God, we can see Him in His Word. We believe that He upholds us and holds us up. The pumpkins that we all occasionally see that block and bewilder us, will be more readily discernable for what they are. And we will daily read more clearly God’s Welcome to us into His glorious Kingdom work.

For reflection
1. What would make you “ashamed” of your hope in the Lord?

2. Why are we “safe” when we’re abiding in the commandments of the Lord?

3. What can we pray when we feel like something is blocking our understanding of Scripture and jeopardizing our view of God?

true stability is to be found no where else but in the word of God; and that no man can steadfastly lean upon it but he who is strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must therefore always beseech God, who alone is the author and finisher of faith, to maintain in us this grace. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.116

Pray Psalm 119.113-115.
Commit yourself to sheltering in the Lord and keeping His Word throughout this day. Dedicate every activity to Him.

Sing Psalm 119.113-115.

(Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
Lord, those who do not trust You with all their mind and heart,
shall soon receive their just due – let them from me depart!
My shelter and my shield, Lord, I hope in all Your Word!
To all Your Law I yield, Lord, to live in full accord.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, 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.

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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.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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