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The Scriptorium

Balancing Act

Love them, but hate their sin. Psalm 119.157, 158

Psalm 119.153-160 (4)

Pray Psalm 119.157, 158.
Many are my persecutors and my enemies,
Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.
I see the treacherous, and am disgusted,
Because they do not keep Your word.

Sing Psalm 119.157, 158.
(Angel’s Story: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Many foes and persecutors from Your Word have turned away.
Though they threaten to undo me, yet Your truth will I obey.
O revive us! O revive us, Lord, our Rock our Strength, our Stay.

Read Psalm 119.153-160; meditate on verses 157, 158.


1. How did the psalmist feel about those who are “treacherous”?

2. Where did he turn?

There will always be people who don’t like us. They don’t like what we believe and stand for, and they don’t like that we won’t endorse or approve their lawless behavior. They may try to make our lives uncomfortable or even difficult. Or worse.

What to do? First, don’t suppose that in this world we should not have tribulation (Jn. 16.33). Very often afflictions will come from people in our family, at our workplace, in our school, or in our community – people we can’t avoid. We need to learn the right way to respond to such situations.

And that means not backing away from our convictions in the hope of easing their threats or chiding. We must rather turn even more fervently to cling to the Word of God in the face of those who mock and scorn us because we do (v. 157). Mockers come and go; the Word of our God stands forever.

Moreover, we must love and do good to those who abuse us (Matt. 5.43-48). We must not approve their behavior, and we must not conceal our disgust with their treachery against God and His Word. This is a tough balancing act: love the sinner, loathe the sin. Jesus did it for us, and in His power and Name we can do it for others.

No wonder the psalmist prays three times in this stanza, “Revive me!”

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
There are a lot of people who persecute me for my beliefs: people in my family, church, workplace, even so-called friends. I guess they could even be called enemies. But can they shake my faith in God? No, never!
They cannot make me turn from God’s testimonies. So, then I look around and I observe others who I would deem treacherous. They are treacherous towards anyone who disagrees with their ungodly behavior.
And why would they be considered ungodly? Because they do not keep God’s Word (Ps. 119.157, 158 – my paraphrase).

Even though I’m persecuted and have enemies, I still have not forgotten God, nor have I gone against anything in His covenant. My heart has not turned back from my decision to follow Him; and
the path I follow in life is His way. If I had forgotten the name of God or His laws, or decided to live in a way that seemed as if I was following another god, wouldn’t God know that? Well, yes, He would. Because He knows the secrets of my heart (Ps. 44.17, 18, 20, my paraphrase).

Paul, when confronted with his persecutors and enemies, and knowing their desire to put him in chains and cause him many tribulations, said, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself,
so that I may finish my race with joy, and  the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.24). I long to have that same attitude. One that declares that the only thing that matters is to glorify God by following Him. Determinedly—for the there and then, here and now.

“Moreover,” as Samuel said to those not following God’s decrees, “as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” (1Sam.12.23, 24).

In my Personal Mission Field, Lord, help me to love and do good to those who don’t follow Your law; never confusing love with a need to approve of their treacherous behavior against You (Ps. 51.4).

And most importantly:

“Jesus did it for us, and in His power and Name we can do it for others.”

This is the Balancing Act that pleases God.

For reflection
1. How does God use persecution and affliction in our lives?

2. How should we respond when others seek to oppress or afflict us?

3. How can believers encourage one another when affliction comes?

A man, steady in the way of his duty, though he may have many enemies, needs to fear none. Those that hate sin truly, hate it as sin, as a transgression of the law of God, and a breaking of his word.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Psalm 119.157, 158

Pray Psalm 119.153, 154.
What temptations, testings, trials, or troubles can you anticipate in the day ahead. Give them all the Lord, and call on Him for grace to meet all your needs.

Sing Psalm 119.153, 154.
(Angel’s Story:
Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Lord, look down on my affliction, see my wounded, weary soul!
Plead my cause, redeem and save; deliver me and make me whole!
O revive us! O revive us! Let Your Word our lives control!

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.
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