Songs in the sojourn, Psalm 119, Zayin

“Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning,” writes the psalmist in verse 54.

Meditating on the portion of Psalm 119 constructed around the Hebrew letter Zayin reminds me of this weekend’s retreat reflections on telling the old story while singing a new song.

We may feel as if we know nothing, but God knows everything and he never forgets anything. Yet this section of Psalm 119 (ESV) begins with a request for God to remember.

 Remember your word to your servant,
   in which you have made me hope (49).

Such requests in the Bible are not because God forgets, but because we do. Asking God to remember the promises in his word reminds us of those promises and demonstrates our faith in them. Our only hope is in God’s word.

This is my comfort in my affliction,
   that your promise gives me life (50).

Whatever our affliction, God comforts us through his biblical promises. The greatest of which is his life-giving promise of salvation. God’s word comforts us when we suffer at the hands of others.

The insolent utterly deride me,
   but I do not turn away from your law .
When I think of your rules from of old,
   I take comfort, O LORD.
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
   who forsake your law (51-53).

Even when we endure derision from insolent people, even when anger overcomes us at their wicked actions, we take comfort from the Bible’s timeless truths. God’s truth sings in our minds.

Your statutes have been my songs
   in the house of my sojourning (54).

God’s statutes become the songs in believers’ minds and the creativity flowing from believers’ pens (or keyboards) while we travel through life in these decrepit tents. When we wake in the night, we remember the Lord’s name and law.

I remember your name in the night, O LORD,
   and keep your law (55).

Keeping God’s law is itself a blessing.

This blessing has fallen to me,
   that I have kept your precepts (56).

We tend to think that God will reward us for keeping his law, but the psalmist clearly states that obedience itself is the blessing. That blessing does not randomly drop from heaven like a sudden lightning bolt; blessing intentionally falls from God’s fatherly hand like life-giving spring rain.

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