Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Delight That Sustains

There are many verses of scripture that we tend to read over so quickly that we fail to really get hold of what’s being said. Psalm 119:92 is one of those verses. David writes,

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” 

Read over it again, more slowly this time. David is saying that the afflictions of his life were so great that he was about to die. He was literally at the end of himself. The only thing that sustained him, the only thing that got him through those afflictions was the great delight he took in God’s law. 
This is an amazing statement isn’t it? In a chapter that is entirely devoted to describing the greatness of the character & nature of God as revealed in his law it’s hard to pick out individual statements that stand out. But this is one.
This is helpful verse for us to consider because it instructs and encourages us. Here’s what David tells us in this verse.
First, there is a delight that can sustain us. This is incredibly good news because life will beat us up. If you’ve never experienced that, just wait; you will. Life has a way of surprising us and sometimes threatening to overwhelm us. There are health issues and relationship issues. We have financial strains and uncertainty about the future. There are spiritual issues that we wrestle with. And on top of all of that, we have an enemy who seeks to devour us. Life can overwhelm us! But David says that he was sustained through those times by his delight in God’s word. In other words, there exists in the world a delight that can sustain us. 
Second, that delight is not found within ourselves. David wasn’t sustained because he had a great five year plan for his life. He wasn’t sustained because of the money in the treasury or the crown on his head. He wasn’t sustained because he’d beaten Goliath or replaced Saul. David was sustained by a delight that came from outside himself. This is so important for us to see, but so easy for us to miss. We tend to look within ourselves for what we need. We think we need to be stronger or smarter or work harder. Those things may be true but none of them will sustain us through life. We have to look outside ourselves for a joy that will keep us, a delight that will sustain us.
Third, and this crucial for us to get, the delight that sustains us is a delight in God. What does David mean when he speaks of a delight in God’s law? If we consider the rest of the Psalms we understand that the delight he speaks of is not just in the law-its in the giver of the law. In Psalm 16:11 David would write, 

“…in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” 

David’s joy was found in knowing God and being known by him. The law gave him joy because the law taught him more about God.  The law puts the perfections of God on display to us. To borrow a phrase from the Puritans, it shows us the “superlative excellencies” of who our God is and its in that reminder that we find strength for the afflictions. In verse 50 of the same Psalm David writes,

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

In verse 50 the comfort is the promise, but in verse 92 it’s the law. So which gave David comfort? Both! The law pointed to the lawgiver. The promises pointed to the promise maker and promise keeper. Both send us straight to the throne. And it's there, in the presence of the king, that we find the delight that can sustain us through the darkest days of our lives. 

Though life can threaten to overwhelm us our God is greater than whatever we'll face. How do we know this? The cross. At the cross Jesus defeated the greatest enemy of mankind—he overcame our sin & overcame death. Salvation is available to all who will receive it. No works are necessary, no additions; simply a hand opened to God, receiving by faith the grace he offers in Jesus. 
Rest in the finished work of Christ, and be strengthened by delighting in our sin-conquering, grace-giving King.

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