Text: Psalm 119:169-176
“Taw” is the Hebrew letter that each of these verses begins with. It means a mark or an impression, like a stamp or a seal. In ancient times, a king would use his ring as a royal seal upon any official documents to prove they were from him. It was like his signature. A mark of authenticity and ownership.
God uses this picture of a mark or seal when describing the love He has for His people. In the OT Book of Isaiah, the Jews were in exile. The walls of Jerusalem were destroyed. God’s people were in despair. God encourages them with these words: “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:16).
When we place our faith in Jesus, He writes His truth, His signature of ownership, upon our hearts. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. These verses not only point to the fact that we’re sealed by God, but we also find here how we should respond to God.
1. We respond to God’s truth by crying out to Him in prayer. (vv. 169-170)
This is a desperate prayer. Now, that’s not a bad thing. There’s a difference between being desperate, and being in despair. Being desperate means you know you need God now, and you know He is there. Being in despair means you know you need someone, but you don’t think anyone can help.
Sometimes, the rescue we need is a rescue of our own minds. To be reminded of what is true and what is not. To be reminded of God’s promises that He really is with me, and He really is working all things together for the good. He really does love me. He really has forgiven that sin. He really will provide for all my needs.
The deliverance we need, more often than not, is a deliverance from ourselves. To be rescued from my own doubts and fears, from the self-imposed prison of lies that I’ve believed, or to be reminded of truths that I’ve forgotten. There are times we can be delivered from battles with depression and despair by God reminding us of His past deliverance, the times He rescued us from that situation, or gave us the strength to make it through that struggle we thought we couldn’t make it through.
So, let us be a people who respond to God’s love and faithfulness written on our hearts by crying out to Him in prayer, trusting Him to meet our every need, to give us understanding, and take us deeper in His Word.
2. We respond to God’s truth through faith-filled praise. (vv. 171-172)
The psalmist is saying that he will not only respond to God’s word through prayer – asking God for things. But he will also respond with praise, even in the middle of the trial: the kind of praise we give God for answered prayer when we don’t have the answer yet. It’s a kind of praise where the pain is still there, the trial is still going on, but you are giving God praise in the middle of the trial.
A faith-filled praise is to be able to sing of God’s His mercy and His love when it feels like you can’t walk another step. It’s lifting your hands in praise and adoration, knowing God is good because His Word says so. It’s opening your mouth and declaring God’s holiness and faithfulness because He says He is.
May a faith-filled praise be our unashamed response to God for anything good He is doing in our lives or in the lives of others.
3. We respond to God’s truth by humbly trusting His provision. (vv. 173-174)
When we learn to depend on God instead of our own strength, there’s not only a comfort in that. But there’s also a power. Fear drains us. Faith fills us. To know that God will provide, that guards my heart against anxiety, against worry, against despair. It’s like having a shield around your heart and your mind that doesn’t let these things in.
No matter how much you and I try, how much we work and expend our efforts – whether it be for families to pay the bills and get ahead, or if it’s provision for our church to make more disciples, our best efforts will not be enough. We need the Lord’s help. We need His provision, His blessing, His power.
Because of our sin, we owed a debt to God we could not pay. Because of His love, Jesus paid that debt with His own blood. Because of His mercy, God applies that payment to us, through faith in Christ. That tells us there is no need He can’t meet.
4. We respond to God’s truth by fully depending on His keeping power. (vv. 175-176)
At first glance, this seems like a pretty depressing way to end such a long journey of thanking God for His faithfulness. But if we look closer, we will see it’s not depressing at all. It’s a perfect way to end this psalm. Because it highlights some evidences of God’s grace that we could otherwise miss:
- The psalmist displays a humility to recognize that he has gone astray.
- The psalmist calls himself a “sheep”, which means he knows he still belongs to a Shepherd. And a good shepherd did not let any of his sheep wander away. He went after them.
- He calls himself a “servant”. Not just a wandering animal in need of rescue, but he sees himself as one who is still in the service of His Master.
- The psalmist is asking to be rescued. He knows he has strayed. But he also desires to be near the Lord. And He knows God is the one who will do the rescuing.
When you trust in Christ, you belong to Him. He has written our names on His hands. And He has written His Word on our hearts. Right now, in your trials, He is holding you up, sustaining you, strengthening you, and keeping you.