A commentary on Psalm 119:41-48.
“Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules. I will keep your law continually, forever and ever, and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.”
As the psalmist opens the 6th subdivision of his glorious psalm, he entreats the Lord to let his mercy and deliverance come and reign in his heart. This entire section is an extended petition for God’s salvation to control all the facets of the psalmist. It is the Lord’s promise of salvation from sin, of rescue and redemption, that serve as his lone foundation for hope and praise. God’s sure and eternal mercies are the grounds for all confidence and courage as the psalmist is afflicted by the throes and chaos of life. See his reasoning: “Let your steadfast love come to me . . . then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me.” (Ps. 119:1-2) There’s no amount of confidence or trust placed on himself, but all his hope and faith find their resting place on God’s unlimited mercy and unmerited favor.
Surely the psalmist was accustomed to taunts and threats on his life. His life was filled with jeopardy as he fled from King Saul and sought refuge in caves and that jeopardy continued as he enlarged the Israelite kingdom with victory after victory over enemy nations. Throughout the Davidic psalms, a perpetual theme is that of finding refuge in the Lord and his sure and everlasting promises. And so it is here, that he seeks to strength and support against the assaults of the opposition.
Fly to the Word
We must notice, once again, that the immediate sources of refuge are not anything in himself. He doesn’t seek to find some inner strength; he doesn’t rest on what he can do or muster up to shield himself from these taunts. Rather, his first and only resort is the illimitable mercy of God promised in the Word. He flies to the Word of Grace and there seeks refuge and rest, rescue and redemption. So must our refuge be the eternal promises of God’s mighty salvation. (Isa. 63:1)
I can’t help but think that these taunts the psalmist is enduring aren’t merely physical but spiritual taunts and threats of the devil. Satan loves to bring regret and remorse over past sin(s) to the forefront, inciting you to feel guilty and defeated when you should feel free and victorious. Jesus’s salvation is “to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25), which means it’s utterly and completely perfect — a perfection salvation for imperfect sinners. That’s what God’s Word promises. Our greatest need is met by God’s greatest gift, his “unspeakable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15) The point being that when the devil afflicts you with doubt and shame, tempting you, taunting you to distrust the fullness of God’s deliverance, you can have the assurance and confidence to snap back to him, “No, Satan! My God is mighty to save! I’m washed in the blood and clothed in the righteousness of the Savior of the world! ‘O [devil], where is your victory? O [devil], where is your sting?’ You can’t threaten me!” (1 Cor. 15:55)
When you’re made aware of the fullness and freeness of Christ’s saving grace, then you’re made to “stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11 KJV) Then you’ll be able to “walk” and “speak” and “delight” and “lift up your hands” and “not be put to shame.” (Ps. 119:45-48) As Henry Law once said, “When the heart realizes assured salvation, it is supplied with abundant answers to those who sneer at the delights of faith.” (Henry Law, in Spurgeon, 120) Or, in the ageless words of the great reformer Martin Luther:
“When the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where he is there I shall be also!’”
A Sure Refuge
The refuge for tried believers is the deliverance of Christ, for “in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph. 1:7) This rescue is freely and abundantly given.
When you’re tempted and taunted by Satan, fly to the Savior. Run to Jesus.
Run to your “great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God . . . who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)
Notes & References:
Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988).