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The Scriptorium

Such a Great Salvation

But it's a workout getting at it. Psalm 119.123

Psalm 119.121-128 (2)

Pray Psalm 119.123.
My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation
And Your righteous word.

Sing Psalm 119.121-123.
(Leominster: My Heart Doth Overflow)
Lord, justice I have done, and likewise righteousness.
Leave me not to the proud one, Lord, nor those who would oppress!
My strength and promise be of more salvation, Lord.
O God of grace, my Guarantee, uphold me by Your Word!

Read Psalm 119.121-128; meditate on verse 123.

1. What was the psalmist seeking?

2. How diligent was he in seeking this?

Our psalmist has used nearly this same expression before (v. 82). Here, however, he is not seeking comfort from the Lord, but merely expressing the diligence of his effort in working out his salvation.

This verse puts me in mind of Philippians 2.12, Paul’s command to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Salvation is a great and unfathomable gift. While we expect to increase in it, to gain and know more of it, to become more like Christ day by day, still we will never plumb the depths of it nor scale its heights of glory, delight, and power. There is always more – exceedingly, abundantly more (Eph. 3.2) – to our salvation than we can ever know.

We have such a great salvation (Heb. 2.3) because our salvation is in the Lord Himself and in His righteous Word, and He is infinitely and eternally good, beautiful, wise, and true. Thus, we work out our salvation to increase in the knowledge of the Lord, even though we do not expect ever to know Him fully (Eph. 4.17-24; 2 Pet. 3.18). Our desire must always be to learn “more about Jesus” (Eliza E. Hewett) in all facets of His glory and grace.

This working out of our salvation involves seeing and all its attendant activities – looking, reading, contemplating, understanding, and so forth. We are to apply ourselves diligently to looking into God’s Word, observing His creation, and seeing with the eye of the heart our Lord Himself in His glory. So constant and intensive should this work of seeing be that it nearly causes our eyes to fail.

The sense here is that we are to be always about the business of seeking to increase in our salvation in everything we do. And though our physical eyes may grow weak or even fail completely, still by our spiritual eyes, and all our other senses, we must seek the Lord and His salvation in all we do, ever striving and straining to know, love, and serve our Lord and thus to know our great salvation with ever-increasing glory.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
I daresay we all hope that the surgeon that is about to operate on our loved one studied very hard to get their degree. Or the pilot who is about to take us soaring above the clouds; we truly hope he did his homework. How about the builder building our home, or the autoworker who put together our car; or the chef who just prepared our restaurant meal—our hopes, dreams, and aspirations for these folks is that they studied and learned, and worked hard to be in the position they are in.

What about us? How seriously do we take our licensure to be a Christian? Have we worked hard enough to be convincing in this role? Have we studied God’s Word so diligently that our eyes fail? Do we exhibit the results of being a student of God? We have, after all, claimed about God that “You Yourself have taught me” (Ps. 119.102). And will those who fear God be glad when they see us because we have hoped so mightily in His Word? (Ps. 119.74)

Paul instructed Timothy: “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2.15 Amplified Bible).

Study hard and eagerly and assiduously. Work so hard that when you stand before God you will not be ashamed about your lackadaisical attitude toward Him and His Word. Study so hard, in fact, that you always rightly understand His Word and are even able to teach it. Work hard to know it inside and out because this Word is the absolute Truth (an amplification on the Amplified Bible).

And all this hard work will result in our love exponentially growing for God and for others. Even if we grow weary and our eyesight weakens it will all be for good. Because we love God and are called according to this purpose, His purpose (Rom. 8.28).

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that
your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15.58).

For reflection
1. How would you explain to a new believer what it means to “work out” your salvation?

2. What things can keep you from working out your salvation? How can you overcome those obstacles?

3. In what does working out our salvation result?

In short, the failing of his eyes indicates perseverance combined with severe and arduous effort, and it is opposed to the momentary ardor of those who immediately faint, if God does not grant their requests. This expression also denotes a painful earnestness, which almost consumes all the senses. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.123

Pray Psalm 119.124, 125.
Call on the Lord to teach you and give you understanding of how best to serve Him this day. Spread your day before the Lord, and offer yourself as a living sacrifice to please and glorify Him in all you do.

Sing Psalm 119.124, 125.

(Leominster: My Heart Doth Overflow)
With mercy greet me, Lord, Your servant, ever true;
teach me the wonders of Your Word, and set my heart on You!
Help me to understand and serve You day by day,
Lord, lead me by Your good, strong hand, and keep me in Your way.

T. M. and Susie Moore

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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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