Here we see two things emphasized: the righteousness of God, and the comfort that the psalmist finds in God’s Word in the midst of sorrow. It is in God’s words, God’s promises, that the psalmist sees the clearest reflection of God Himself. Affirming, dwelling on, and celebrating God’s righteousness brings an assurance that nothing else can. The perfect righteousness of God and His Word bring us comfort in times of trouble.
How does the truth of God’s righteousness reflected in His word make a difference in our everyday lives, especially when things go wrong? Four assurances these verses give us: In our time of trouble…
1. We can trust in God’s Word, knowing God is faithful. (vv. 137-138)
God is righteous (right, good, just), and so is His Word. God is good and so are His promises. The psalmist is affirming the faithfulness of God’s character, how God has handed down His word faithfully through every generation. When we read in the Bible how faithful God was with Moses, or Abraham or David or Paul, know that He is the same God today. He will not love you one day, then change his mind the next. What is true today will be true tomorrow and forever. Because God is faithful.
God has never lied. He’s never been late. He has never led you astray. He has never attempted something and failed. He has never made a mistake. He has never lost a battle. He has never been overtaken by evil. He has never forgotten about you. He has always loved you. Always been faithful to His promises. Always provided for your needs. Always done what is good, what is right, what is just. Always been merciful. Always been gracious. And with a track record like that, we can always trust Him.
2. We can love God’s Word, knowing it is tested and tried. (vv. 139-140)
To be tried means to be tried by fire, like gold in a furnace. Other translations say “your word is very pure”. God’s Word is trustworthy and pure. And God proves this over and over by keeping His word. He promises something, and He does it. His word is completely trustworthy, and completely true, because it is a reflection of its Author.
Therefore, the psalmist “loves” it. To love God is to love His Word. To read God’s Word and meditate on His promises is to grow to love God more. One of the obstacles in our own hearts to loving God’s Word is the knowledge that we don’t always obey it. Someone who we think is angry with us, we tend to avoid them. Sadly, we can view the Bible that way: I’ve failed, I’ve not obeyed God fully, and if I open the Bible, I’ll just be reminded of that failure. So, I’ll avoid it.
But we should react in just the opposite way: I failed today. So, I will God to God’s Word and be reminded that He is faithful, and He never fails. All I can see is my sin, so I will go to the truth of God’s Word and be reminded of His forgiveness shown to me on the cross. All I can hear in my heart is condemnation and shame, so I will go to God’s Word and be reminded that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In Him, I am loved, I am forgiven, I am accepted, and I am free…because I belong to Him.
3. We can find strength in God’s Word, knowing it never changes.
When we want our situation to change, we need to remember the truths that don’t change: that I am in Christ, that God is for me, that even in my pain, His purposes are good – these will sustain me through everything else. Emotions change. Situations change. Good times will be interrupted by bad. Bad times turn to good. Some friendships end. Some last a lifetime. One day our health is great. The next day, we can be battling with sickness. One day we’re encouraged, the next day, we don’t know if we can make it another step.
In all these changes, we need something that never changes. We need to remember that God never does. God is righteous forever, and His Word is true forever. His Word is not outdated and never expires. Every promise He has made to His people has either been fulfilled when Jesus came, is being fulfilled now, or will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again.
4. We can find delight in God’s Word, knowing it gives us life.
The psalmist says “trouble and anguish have found me out”. Like a hungry lion, trouble has hunted him down, taken hold of him, and won’t let go. This trial is ongoing. He can’t shake free. He doesn’t see an end in sight. But he knows God is faithful, because he is reminded of the truth of God’s Word. And because of God’s Word, David has delight. Even in the grips of trouble and anguish, he has delight.
The psalmist can’t see the outcome of the trial, but he’s trusting in God’s righteousness, knowing God is trustworthy and faithful. David knows this is not an issue with God’s character, but it’s an issue with his own understanding. So that’s what he prays for (v. 144).
God uses our trials to bring us to a point where we say, “I can’t do this myself. I need help. I will turn to the Lord and hear what He has to say.” And God’s word breathes new life in us daily, renewing our hope, and increasing our delight in Him, even in the midst of the storm.
God is at work in your trial. Trust Him. Find comfort in His righteousness, in His Word. And He will give you a song even in your darkest night.