This basically proves what we all know to be true: Schoolhouse Rock is and always will be the best educational cartoon ever! Here’s to hoping they still use this stuff in grade school! But anyways, onto more important, less complicated things than knowing the ins and outs of English grammar…
If you haven’t already, read Psalm 119. We’re going to study this Psalm for guidance in how to navigate through some common struggles we face as Christians in this fallen world. These are the verses we’ll be covering: Psalm 119:23,51,61,69,83,85-87,95,110,141,143,157,161.
There’s a recurring theme found in these verses. They’re all referring to the persecution and interpersonal struggles we face in this world as believers. There’s also a second, more subtle pattern here. Check out the Psalmist’s use of conjunctions in this Psalm (specifically, in these verses). Let’s take a closer look at the situations described in these verses. First up, Psalm 119:23,
Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
THE RESPONSE: I will maintain the lowly, humble heart of a servant. I will direct my thoughts away from the acts performed against me, regardless of how ill-intentioned they are. Instead, I will direct my gaze towards the Word, for it is my Lifeline and my Light (Psalm 119:105, John 1:1-5). The deeds done against me cannot and will not overcome the Light. Taking on the humble heart of a servant, I will shine the Light into the world and into the lives of those who plot against me.
The insolent utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from your law.
THE SITUATION: People rudely, boldly (and sometimes, publicly) mock me and my God.
THE RESPONSE: I will stand firm upon my Solid Rock, Jesus Christ. Mockery will never be enough cause to turn my heart away from my God. No amount of jeering, scorn or scoffing will convince me to turn from His laws. Because I know that His promises, His commands, His precepts give me life (Psalm 119:50). The world can’t offer me that. I am confident that because He is merciful, because He knows I love His precepts, He will plead my cause and redeem me, giving me life according to His promises and steadfast love (Psalm 119:154,156,159).
Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
THE RESPONSE: I will not forget His Word. I will remember that I am a sinner. I will remember my God’s hatred of evil and sin. I will remember that His law requires blood as the atonement for sin. And in this moment, my heart will race to remember His Son who came to fulfill the law once and for all (Matthew 5:17-20). I will remember His sacrifice that paid for even the vilest, stupidest, most selfish of my countless sins. I will remember that God, in His infinite wisdom and foresight, knew I would fail, fall, and stumble. And when I fail Him, I will repent. I will seek His face. I will thank Him for His mercy. I will praise Him for His grace. Though I am sinful, I am no longer a slave to my sin. For freedom, He has set me free (Galatians 5:1)!
The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
THE RESPONSE: I will wholeheartedly continue to walk in obedience to the Lord. I will not succumb to the pressure to defend myself in an aggressive or similar way. I will not stoop to the level of my adversaries. I will look to the Word and remember my Jesus. Though He was oppressed and afflicted, He opened not His mouth. Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, so He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53:7). I will follow His example with a humble, willing, and joyful heart. As He endured my Cross for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-2), I will endure persecution for the eternal joy awaiting me in Him! I know the Lord is on my side and I know He knows what is true. He will not be fooled by the words of others. He knows my heart.
So there you have it! The first four of twelve situations described in this Psalm. The conjunctions are where the beauty is found.
When the world is against us, when it’s hard to live for the Lord, when we feel pressured to conform to the world, when we are mocked and persecuted, may we INSTEAD, choose to meditate on His words, focus our gaze on His law, remember His commands, and wholeheartedly obey His precepts.
The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.