The Man Everybody Wants to See 

“Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in Your law.”  Psalm 119:18

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

INTRODUCTION:  The tenth stanza of Psalm 119 is the Hebrew letter yodh.  It is the Hebrew letter Jesus referred to when He said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).  The yodh is a mere dash of a pen.  Jesus was affirming the sureness of God’s will being carried out to the smallest degree.  John MacArthur explains Jesus reference this way: 

“In other words, not only will the smallest letter not be erased, but even the smallest part of a letter will not be erased from the Law.  Not even the tiniest, seemingly most insignificant, part of God’s Word will be removed or modified until all is accomplished.”

In this passage, the psalmist wants us to rest in the assurance that God’s Word will never fail.  What God says, He will do.  What He promises, He will provide — even to the smallest detail.  That is vitally important to the psalmist because he is going through a time of affliction.  And the affliction is coming from God Himself.  In our last devotional we learned how God “ruthlessly perfects those He royally elects.”  The truth is that God allows affliction to come into our lives so that we will learn to trust in Him and His promises in the midst of darkness.  When we come out of those hard and trying times, and we will, we come forth as personal testimonies to the faithfulness of God and the power of His promises.  We know by experience what we believed by faith.  As God’s grace flows into our lives, it overflows into the lives of others.  That is why I entitled this stanza, “The Man Everybody Wants To See.” 

Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands. 
74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in your word. 
75 I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous,
and in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 
76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
according to your promise to your servant. 
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight. 
78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts. 
79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes. 
80 May my heart be blameless toward your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame.
Psalm 119:73-80


Verse 73:  The psalmist begins with a basic affirmation that comes directly from the opening pages of the Bible.  Man is not an evolved animal that gropes the earth under the curse of fate or chance.  God personally made and formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7).  Man is not like beasts who cannot know and understand the ways of God.  That is why he prays for understanding.  Our eyes have been darkened by the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4) and our hearts have been hardened by sin (Mark 6:52) so that we cannot know the ways of God unless God by His Holy Spirit brings illumination.  So, he prays for understanding.  That understanding not only includes the ability to know but the humility to trust.  That is why prayer is so essential in times of affliction.  Here is how the Psalmist said it in Psalm 27:  “Hear my voice, oh God!  Be merciful to me and answer me.”

Verse 74:  A friend of mine wrote me a note expressing appreciation for her Pastor and Sunday School teacher.  Through their faithfulness to the Word of God, they were able to speak God’s timely truth to her in the midst of her struggles.  In affect she was saying, “I rejoice when I see those two men speaking God’s Word for I know that I will be fed God’s precious Word in hope-giving, faith-building, Christ honoring ways.”  It is the desire of every man or woman of God to have that kind of Bible saturated influence.  I cannot think of any greater honor or joy than for friends and family to rejoice when they see me coming because they know that God will use my life and my teachings to encourage them.  A Bible saturated, Christ-honoring life is contagious.  It overflows into blessing and healing and joy for others.  Jesus gets the praise and we get the joy. 

Verse 75:  When affliction comes and we see no reason for it, we face a great temptation.  It is easy to slip into a self-pity, “woe is me” frame of mind.  But, if we believe that God is good and all that He does results in good for His called ones; and God is great so that no circumstance can hinder His will for our lives, we have hope.  It is the kind of hope that enables an embattled Job to say, “Though he slay me yet will I trust him.”  The rock solid foundation of that hope is the righteousness of God.  He can do no wrong for His character is holy.  When preachers and teachers counsel their hurting to “forgive God” they give confusing, unbiblical counsel.  God can do no wrong.  The problem lies not within God but within us.  God always deals with us in faithfulness.  All things will be turned around for our good and His glory.  That is why Joseph could say to the brothers who betrayed him, “You meant it for evil.  God meant it for good.”

Verse 76:  In our affliction, we not only have the assurance that God is righteous in all His dealings with us, we have the promise of His presence in the midst of the pain.  Notice again the importance of prayer.  God’s unfailing love is not just “assumed,” it is sought and requested.  God is honored when His people believe His promises and then cry out for their implementation.  In other words, the life that pleases God is an active, not passive faith.  It is not a “whatever will be will be” because I trust that God will do what He wants regardless of my actions.  No, He has determined that our prayer, issued in faith, will bring our provision and bring Him praise.  “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me”  (Psalm 50:15). 

Verse 77:  The compassion that the psalmist seeks here is really mercy.  What that means is that the psalmist is not asking for what he deserves.  That would be catastrophic.  God is merciful and gives us what we don’t deserve:  grace.  That is so encouraging to us who are in the midst of affliction; especially when it is the result of our sin.  When we are in affliction because we have sinned, there is that “voice” that comes to suggest that we are getting just what we deserve so there is no hope for us.  But as John reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  There is no sin that is greater than God’s forgiveness.  The cross of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cover every sin that we have committed.

Some people struggle with that thought.  They have sinned greatly and so still “feel” the weight of their guilt.  Misguided counselors will tell them that God has forgiven them so now they must learn to forgive themselves.  Forgiving the self is not the problem.  The problem is one of ignorance or arrogance.  Ignorance does not know that Christ’s death on the cross covers all and every sin we could ever commit.  Arrogance says that there is something more I need to do that will somehow enhance what God has accomplished on the cross.  That is more pride.  No, we do not need to forgive ourselves.  We cannot do that.  We need to believe God’s Word and pray that He will open our eyes and soften our heart so that we trust what God has promised in His Book.  When His law becomes your delight you will also know that.

Verse 78:  There is a real but fine line between justice and vengeance.  It is not wrong to seek justice.  It is wrong to seek vengeance.  Vengeance is a prerogative of God alone. 
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:  “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  (Romans 12:19)

Only God can mete out punishment in the right way to the right extent for the right purpose.  Here the psalmist cries out for justice but puts his case into the hands of the Holy Judge.  God will deal with those who arrogantly have hurt him.  But he will not get caught up in the process.  How many people have allowed the desire to get justice from an enemy dominate and ruin their lives?  The psalmist chooses to go another path.  He will meditate on God’s law.  In other words, he will go to God’s Word for direction, guidance and grace to trust God to do what is right for him and his enemies.  He is freed from the bondage of self interest. 

Verse 79:  Here we see a reiteration of what the psalmist said earlier in verse 74.  It is not just a momentary wish but a passion of his heart.  He desires that he will be so saturated with God’s truth that all those who have that same desire will look for him because they have a similar passion.  One of the great joys I have received in this ministry is the fellowship of those who have joined me because they fear what I fear and love what I love.  They fear that the Word of God is losing its rightful place in the life of the Church.  They love Jesus and His Word so much that they are willing to pray, give, go, and sacrifice to “proclaim the excellency of Christ and the sufficiency of His Word to the extremity of the earth.”  What an honor and encouragement to have such friends and partners “turn to me” to join with me in this ministry.  God has so designed ministry that we cannot do it by ourselves.  So, He brings people of the same passion and same purpose together to work together for His glory.  What a joy it is to know that these men and women who support me and work with me are in fact gifts from the Lord.  Ministry brings with it times of struggle and affliction.  How comforting it is to know that I have friends and partners who will stand with me no matter what we must go through to carry out our calling.

Verse 80:  The psalmist closes with a prayer that reveals the passion of his life.  He prays for a blameless heart.  In spite of all he has written, he knows that he is vulnerable to sin and its subtle and destructive ways.  The famous evangelists of the 1970’s fell when their ministries were at their heights.  They were saying many wonderful things about God and His Word on TV.  They were having great “success” in numbers and gifts.  Buildings were being erected.  Ministries were thriving.  But, in their hearts, unseen by the TV cameras, sin was at work.  The psalmist is no fool.  He knows that even though he is writing about God and talking about his faith and giving testimony to his convictions, he will fail without the grace of God.  Affliction can move us to sin, but so can prosperity.  And, so, knowing his own heart and the subtlety of the evil one, he cries out to God to protect his heart.  It is an example we should all follow.

CONCLUSION:  So, we come to the end of this stanza.  The prayer of the psalmist is, “May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.”  It is my prayer too.  Is it yours?  You will find out when you are called through a time of affliction.  One of the godly men of the past was Andrew Murray.  He was the kind of man you rejoiced to see because God’s grace flowed out from his life and writings in wonderful ways.  In 1895, he was in England suffering from a terribly painful back.  One morning as he was having breakfast, his hostess came to him and told him of a woman downstairs who was in great trouble and wanted to know if he had any advice for her.  Murray handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on and said, “Give her this advice I’m writing down for myself.  It may be that she’ll find it helpful.  Here is what the note said: 

In time of trouble say, “First, He brought me here.  It is by His will I am in this strait place; in this I will rest.”  Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.”  Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends to learn, and working in me grace He means to bestow.”  And last, say, “In His good time He can bring me out again.  How and when, He knows.”  Therefore say, “I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time.”

I pray that God will use His Word, the words of Murray, and the words of this devotion, to strengthen you in the midst of your affliction.  And may God pour out His grace into your life so that you become a messenger of His mercy and love.  And, may it come about that your life takes on such a gracious character because of your hope in His Word, that when you step into the room everybody who fears the Lord will rejoice that you made it.