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The Scriptorium

Time for Outrage

Like Jesus was. Psalm 119.139

Psalm 119.137-144 (2)

Pray Psalm 119.139.
My zeal has consumed me,
Because my enemies have forgotten Your words.

Psalm 119.139-141.
(Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
Zeal consumes me for Your Word, O Lord, for my foes forsake Your ways.
Yet Your Word is very, very pure, and I keep it all my days.
I am small and I am much despised, O Lord,
yet Your holy Name I praise,
and Your precepts guide my ways.

Read Psalm 119.137-144; meditate on verse 139.

1. How had the psalmist’s zeal affected him?

2. Why?

We recall that the psalmist previously wept tears of sorrow over those who rejected the Law of God (v. 136). And that’s entirely appropriate. Lost and rebellious people need our love and patience.

But there comes a time when sadness and forbearance must give way to outrage at the insult people offer to God when they scorn His Law. Jesus understood this. So great was His zeal for the things of the Lord that He exploded in a rage against those who turned God’s house of prayer into a latte bar/bookstore/concert venue…

Oh, wait – moneychangers and sacrifice-sellers (sorry).

The zeal for the things of God overboiled in controlled rage as Jesus beat and drove the violators out of the temple, scattering their wares and wealth in all directions (cf. Jn. 2.13-17). This is what it looks like to hate sin (Ps. 97.10). And that appears to be what our psalmist was experiencing as well. His zeal for God and His Law caused him to reach his wits’ end. He was fuming with outrage, and it was probably a good thing no Lawbreakers were strolling by at the moment.

Does it trouble us when people hurl insults at our Father? At our Savior? We may not resort to violence, but we surely will reach the boiling-point within our soul at the outrage wickedness offers to our righteous Lord. Then we can come before the Lord and pour our outrage out to Him. And it’s good we do, because if we’re all eaten up with rage against wickedness, that might help to keep us from dallying in it.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
To forget something, it must have been known at one time.

The psalmist was zealous against those who knew God’s words but had now forgotten them. And when God’s laws are forgotten, everyone suffers.

The writer of Hebrews, in his zeal for God, wrote some terrifying words to church-goers: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6.4-6). That is a fearful state for anyone to be in. So, knowing this, our zeal for God’s Word should lead us to strenuously share the good and bad news of the Kingdom with the people in our Personal Mission Field. And take it to heart ourselves.

Zeal encompassed with love is our aim. And even though we are blooming with love, we still may be rejected by folks who are convicted of their sin. God didn’t want the people of Israel to be ruled by a king; He wanted to rule them by prophets, priests, and judges. But they wanted a king, and it didn’t take them long to fall through the temptation to be like everyone else and smack into sin. The prophet Samuel was zealous for the things of God and disheartened by the people’s request for a king. God said to him, “…they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Sam. 8.7). Those are a people who forgot what they knew.

Paul wrote to church brethren who were in the process of forgetting God’s law: “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 4.8). Better to remember.

Paul wrote to another forgetful church with these words: “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!” (1 Cor. 16.22). Love for God begets zeal for God.

Are we a people who have forgotten what we know? Or worse yet, rejected God?
We will do well to remember the Word of God with all the zeal we can muster.
Because forgetting isn’t really a good option. Not for us. Not for others.

“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead…” (2 Tim. 2.8).
“…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2.14).

For reflection
1. What could cause you to “forget” God’s Law?

2. What are some things you could do to help make sure you will not forget God’s Law, or any of His Word?

3. How can believers encourage one another to cling to the Word of God and not forget it?

But if we are animated with the zeal that inspired the Prophet it will carry us away to another kind of sorrow, which will take entire possession of our souls. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.139

Pray Psalm 119.142, 143.
Call on the Lord to light your path with His truth today, and to keep you from being overcome by the sins of the world.

Psalm 119.142, 143.
(Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
For Your righteousness, O God my Lord, ever after will endure;
and Your Law is truth, like all Your Word – righteous, holy, just, and pure!
Trouble overtakes me for Your Name, O Lord,
yet Your Word is ever sure
and Your grace my soul will cure.

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.
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