Remember the word to Your servant,
In which You have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
That Your word has revived me.
The arrogant utterly deride me,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O Lord,
And comfort myself.
Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked,
Who forsake Your law.
Your statutes are my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
O Lord, I remember Your name in the night,
And keep Your law.
This has become mine,
That I observe Your precepts.
Sometimes… life is tough. Sometimes enemies (or frenemies!) surround us, making our days difficult. So it is for the Psalmist in Psalm 119:49-56. He says he is afflicted and derided, or mocked. The problem of arrogant, wicked people who have forsaken God’s law keeps him up at night, and burning indignation has seized him. Yet he finds hope, comfort, reviving, and even the joy of song in God’s word.
In this section, we find five different words the Psalmist uses to refer to God’s word. While he uses “word” twice, the other four terms are synonyms for law. We don’t usually find comfort in law, but this writer does. Why? Because he knows that by remembering, sticking with and keeping God’s ordinances, he can hope in the promises therein. As Romans 13:3 says, doing what is right enables us to have no fear of the law, and instead to hope in its judgment for those who afflict us. To those on the right side of the law, it really is a comfort. The same goes for God’s law.
So while the Psalmist is afflicted and mocked, he knows that he has not turned aside from following God, even “from of old.” Not only that, but his own personal law is that he observes God’s precepts. In other words, his past rests in obedience to God’s laws, as does his present, and his future. Because of this, he has comfort.
The word for comfort is one that is rooted in the idea of a sigh. When you come home after a long day, get on your comfiest clothes and snuggle into your favorite chair, what do you do? Perhaps you heave a great sigh of relief and… comfort. That is what the Psalmist finds in God’s word. Not only that, but he finds reviving.
Reviving is a word that means living safe and sound, or living fully. In John 10:10, Jesus says that He has come that we may have life and have it abundantly; He did not come to steal our fun or to be a killjoy. Following God’s ways produces a life that is anchored in hope beyond the grave (Hebrews 6:19), and as such cannot be harmed by any earthly trial. Not only that, keeping God’s ordinances literally keeps you alive in many cases. Consider, for example, those who have forsaken God’s law and who live in a haze of drugs. Their very life is at risk. The Psalmist here recognizes that God’s statutes have preserved him and granted him a well-lived life.
The Psalmist draws his comfort, his songs even, “in the house of [his] pilgrimage.” Life is short. We are only here for the briefest of days when compared to eternity. If we do not turn aside from God’s ways, we too can hope in his promises and find, as this writer did, comfort and reviving even in the face of arrogant mockers who have no regard for God. All that is left is for us to follow his example, and join in his commitment, that we too can say, “I observe Your precepts.”