153 Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!
155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Great is your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to your rules.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
As my commentary put it, the Psalmist did not live in an ivory tower studying scripture all day. He was a real person, with a real life and he interacted with real people. At first glance from this entire Psalm we see him jumping all over the place from passage to passage. One day he is praising, the next he is asking for understanding so that he can obey and then the next day (today’s reading) he is asking for deliverance from his afflictions and from people who disgust him because of their own disobedience and faithlessness. At first glance we could find him fickle because of the many ways that he jumps around, but then I have to take a good look at my own life and aren’t I pretty much the same? I love God and I desire to follow His will and His way for my life. I desire to know His word. I desire to live a life that is worthy of any calling He has put on my life. But you give me just a minute and I will not be living my life worthy of the calling but will be disgusted with people surrounding me that I look on as faithless. I do like how the Psalmist keeps returning to God though and oh may it be so of me.
The Psalmist starts this passage pointing out his own afflictions and asking for deliverance. He is saying “I do not forget your law”. He knows where his help is coming from and he is asking for deliverance because he knows the word of God and he knows that God is where his deliverance and help will come from. He goes on to plead his case to God and he asks help me because of who You are God, according to what I know to be true about Your word. The Psalmist knew the scriptures so he was in effect able to pray the scriptures back to God. I think God loves it when we ask Him to help us according to what we have learned!
The Psalmist goes on to point out that the wicked, his adversaries were far from salvation. The reason is not because they couldn’t be saved, but it was because these people were not seeking salvation. They did not have God in them, therefore it wasn’t that there was no hope for them at all, it was just that there was no desire in them to turn from their wicked ways. The Psalmist goes on to recognize the mercy of God, which saved him, and he prays again for revival in his own heart according to God’s law and his rules.
The next couple of verses give us a picture of the world that the Psalmist was living in. He was living in a world with people who were persecuting him and in turn he felt they were persecuting his love for God. He was living among a faithless people and he felt disgust because he felt they were a disgrace to God and His word. It wasn’t that he expected godly behavior from the ungodly but that he felt the people around him were open about their disgrace to God. He didn’t just live among the ungodly but maybe the ungodly were trying to impart their own ways to him. I can see that it is a precarious place to be, because don’t we live in a world that is much the same way? We, as Christians are called to be tolerant of non-christians, yet it’s not just about tolerance any more is it? We are now being asked to accept the ways of the ungodly. Several years ago we were called to be silent about what goes on around us by the world. And now, the world wants us to accept the things of this world. It’s a fine line, but we need to have a disgust for the ways of the world and still remain a light in the world.
We have to start with knowing His word and His ways. The Psalmist cries out to God one more time for this. And when we know His word and His ways, we will love His word and His ways more and more. This is why we stay in the word. The Psalmist says “give me life” or as some translations say “revive me”. We must keep coming back to the word to be revived to get our life so that we can navigate the faithless and to get deliverance from our adversaries. Oh may it be so Lord! Revive us Again!