Ayin: This stanza prays that God would vindicate His own justice in the face of His law broken by His own people, who seem to get away with their rebellion.
Pe: The poet expresses longing and wonder for God’s word that gives light and understanding. He weeps because people rebel against His law (136)
Tsadeh: The poet humbly recognizes that God and His law are righteous because God is faithful. Despite suffering, he delights in God’s law.
In the first of these three stanzas, God’s laws are ignored, and His people are oppressed. The poet asks God to act for him; he is His servant and can only ask, but with boldness: It is time for the Lord to act, for Your law has been broken. (126)
The stanza marked “Pe” sees the poet’s amazement at God’s law, calling it ‘wonderful’ not in the flabby sense that this word has become, but ‘full of wonder’, ‘supernatural’. Only in trust that God will direct his steps in obedience will the riches of His Word be revealed.
The last stanza reveals God’s righteousness – He is completely just and will never exploit or abuse, and He keeps His promises. The poet humbly trusts God, remembering to keep His law despite trouble within and without.
To our ‘authority-averse culture’ (Keller), the law of God seems so arbitrary, unfair. ‘Righteousness’ is equated with ‘self-righteousness’ and misses the point completely of who God is. The oppressive nature of the world around us, unpunished corruption, war and rumours of war, disease, ‘alternative’ just about everything, is enough to make anyone not get up in the morning.
Yes, we have a God of righteousness and justice – and relentless love. To turn always to Him, asking for the Spirit to align our wills and hearts with His in prayer and earnest seeking, is what we do. But it requires change, daily, away from old habits of not attending worship, skimming the Word (or ignoring it altogether), skipping prayer and the means provided by our church – services, small groups, prayer teams for example. In the face of our careless spiritual laziness, we have His constant Presence, His supreme sacrifice to free us from what keeps us in a state of spiritual mediocrity, His abundant life to revitalize flagging faith. So we ask for His grace, listen for His instructions, then do His work to honour and bring Him joy. Best we do it together. No lone wolves, please.
Have I tried to get away with disobeying Your Word, hoping no one finds out, and without consequences? Do I weep over those I know and love (and who You know and love) who do not follow Your way? In tough times, do I turn to You and find that You are a delight, that makes it possible for me to praise?
Lord, I confess I take time only for the most superficial Bible study. I confess, also, that too often my heart has little desire to truly learn and love Your Word. I ask that by Your grace and Spirit, this entire Psalm will break my heart’s indifference. (Adapted from Tim Keller, The Songs of Jesus. 320)
Ayin (121-128) : Crown and Covenant - I’ve Judged Rightly
Pe (129-136): Crown and Covenant - Your Testimonies I Have Kept
Tsadhe (137-144): Crown and covenant - O Lord, You Are the Righteous One
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.