The young traveler writing this psalm now shares with us another struggle he had in making sure he kept to the path that would lead to his reward as a good and faithful servant of God. The natural obstacles to his progression were hard enough to deal with, let alone those roadblocks and stumbling blocks put in his way by those who didn’t want to see him succeed. These people were determined to keep him from going all the way to victory, because they themselves were not prepared to pay the price necessary to get there. So, if they kept him from making it, then somehow that would justify their lack of dedication, thereby proving that his commitment to following God’s ways would have all been in vain.

O LORD Eternal, please remember Your promise to me, it gave me so much hope; Yes, it was Your promise that kept me going, and kept me from collapsing under pressure, My doubters made such fun of me, yet I didn’t forsake Your Teachings. Rather, I recalled all the good declarations You’ve made, O LORD Eternal, and that gives me such comfort. That’s why I get so upset when I see evil-minded people abandoning Your Teachings; Your principles for living are like music to my ears whenever I pause to rest along my journey. And when I go to bed at night, O LORD Eternal, I keep thinking about Your wonderful Teachings. All of this is made possible because I live by Your guidelines.”

And, O LORD Eternal, I am determined to follow Your advice no matter what. So with all my heart I plead with You, that by grace Your blessed assurances will be mine. I took a look at where I was headed, and redirected my steps to get in line with Your instructions. I don’t put it off for one minute; I quickly made sure I am responding to Your commandments. Even when a bunch of know-it-all’s started criticizing me, I stuck to Your Teachings. I’ve even gotten up at midnight just to give You thanks because I love Your declarations. Now I only stick with those friends who revere You, and those who live by Your guidelines. I see evidence of Your undying love wherever I go, so teach me more about Your principles for living.” Psalm 119:49-64

Reflection: In his book “Up From Slavery,” Booker T. Washington describes his encounter with an ex-slave from Virginia one day. During their conversation the man told him how he made a contract with his former master, two or three years prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. During that time his master allowed him to find work wherever and with whomever he pleased in order to pay it back. So finding better wages in Ohio he moved there. At that time he still owed his master some three hundred dollars. Notwithstanding that when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed it freed him from his debt, this black man traveled back to the old master’s plantation, walking most of the way, to finally pay off the loan with interest. When Booker T. Washington asked the man his reasons for doing so, the man told him that although he was under no obligation to pay, he had given his word to his master, and he was the type of man who never broke his word. He felt that his freedom will mean very little unless he fulfills the promises he makes. The psalmist felt the same way about his LORD Eternal. He knew that God kept His word no matter what, so he promised to remain true to his own vows come what may. Both the psalmist and this great gentleman provide us a beautiful example of honoring one’s word. Although we may ask for some leniency in keeping our promises to others, when it comes to God we must do our very best to remain faithful and true. After all, look at the price God paid for our freedom, and what good is that freedom if we use it to excuse ourselves from paying any attention to His purpose for liberating us. We must always keep in mind that the finish line we must cross in order to reap our eternal reward is where God placed it, not where we want it to be.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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