Updated: Aug 11, 2019
Have you ever created one of those mazes from dominoes where the push of one domino causes the rest to begin falling? In the movie, Collateral Beauty the main character, Howard builds several of these mazes. Howard, played by Will Smith, is under the oppression of depression and anger brought on by the death of his only child. Building these mazes and writing letters to death are his ways of coping with the pain he is feeling. Many parents have felt this same oppression. I am told it is like having a piece of you missing. Someone else likened it to a gaping hole in your heart that gushes blood with every heartbeat.
Most of us will never know such oppression. To be oppressed is to have a heavy or unjust burden placed upon you. The Hebrew word used in Psalm 119:121 is "ya'ashkeenee" and it means: "to press upon, defraud, violate." David was under much oppression in his lifetime, most of it from his own people. As king he could have chosen to retaliate and oppress the people with heavy taxes or unjust wages; but he chose instead to obey God's law.
In Leviticus 25:14&17 God had commanded His people:
"If you sell anything to your neighbor or buy anything from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another...You shall not oppress and wrong one another, but you shall [reverently] fear your God. For I am the Lord your God." AMP
Despite his oppression David realized God would protect him and reward him for his faithfulness to follow God's ways. We have an oppressor who presses in on us every day. He does everything he can to lay heavy and unjust burdens on us. Satan loves nothing more than to defraud or violate one of God's children to the point that our witness for God is ruined. Jesus has given us the power to overcome Satan's oppression. He tells us in Luke 10:18-19:
"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you."
Jesus is the one able to give us power to overcome because He became surety for us; He took on our sin-debt for us when He died on the cross. The KJV translates verse 122: "Be surety for thy servant for good..." To be surety for another's debt was explicitly forbidden by God yet He allowed His Son to be surety for the sin of the world.
When Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sin our debt was paid and we were counted as righteous before God. We also received the power He spoke of in Luke 11. Because His Spirit lives in us we have the power to be victorious over our enemy, we just need to appropriate that power. How? Revelation 12:11 says:
"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."
We overcome Satan by sharing the story of our salvation with others. We gain the confidence to speak boldly about Jesus as we study His Word and hide it in our hearts.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:121-122 is:
Love for God's Word protects us from our oppressor.
How have you been oppressed by Satan? Where do you run for help when he attacks? In what ways has love for God's Word helped you overcome him? How have you witnessed God's power working through you?
God is sovereign over all things. When we have submitted our lives to His lordship He uses everything in our lives for His glory and our good - even those times we are oppressed by our enemy. Thing is, because we belong to God we are not alone in our oppression or trials; God is with us: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
Knowing that God is with us in our trials gives us patience to endure them. Like David we look long and hard for God's salvation to come. We may not see an end to our troubles on this earth but we can know with certainty that one day Christ will come again and Satan will be put in his place once and for all eternity!
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7:
"For we live by faith, not by sight."
We may look for God's salvation in our times of trouble but we can't simply sit and hope. The Christian life is an active life. The AMP version renders the above verse:
"For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor, thus we walk] not by sight or appearance."
We regulate our lives by adjusting to God's standard as found in His Word. We conduct ourselves by our convictions; standing on the truth of His Word. We walk, eyes transfixed on Jesus, feet firmly planted in His Word. And as we walk through the trials of life holding onto the promises found in His Word, we learn to surrender to His will. The writer of Hebrews put it this way:
"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He promised."
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:123-125 is:
Love for God's Word teaches us patience and enables us to surrender to His will.
How have you learned patience through the trials you have endured? In what ways has knowing God is with you in your trials helped you endure? What trial are you currently in which you need encouragement? Get out your concordance and look up verses about that specific thing. Choose one of the verses to memorize. Write it on an index card and carry it with you to review throughout the day.
When we have been in a time of suffering for a long time we can become discouraged. God is our hope for relief from our suffering. When we aren't seeing Him act as quickly as we would like we must remember that His time is not our time:
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day." 2 Peter 3:8
We need to remember this truth as well when we look around at the evil in the world and become discouraged because those committing the evil acts do not seem to be punished. God is our hope for justice. He is coming to judge the evil. Sin will be punished. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord indeed!
David wasn't crying out to God to act for his own good, but because God's Word was being broken. He wanted God to act to defend His own honor. The evil people around him had God's Word but they loved money more. David considered God's Word more precious than the finest gold and because he did he hated every false way. Love of God's Word naturally leads to hatred of sin. We are called to love what God loves but we must also be willing to hate what He hates. Call sin, sin. We must not be tolerant of the sin of others or of our own.
"...count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:11-14
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:127-128 is:
Love for God's Word causes us to hate what He hates.
How willing are you to put your needs aside and cry out for God to act simply to defend His honor? Where do you find yourself being tolerant of sin around you? What sin are you tolerating in your own life? What will you do to rid yourself of that sin? Read Proverbs 6:16-18. List the things God hates. Do you hate these things? Go to your concordance again, find one verse for each of the seven things God hates and write it in your journal. Then write a prayer asking God to give you His heart to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
Gathered manna from Ayin (Psalm 119:121-128) is:
Love for God's Word teaches us to think His way.
Thinking God's way is the definition of wisdom I taught my children when they were younger. The more we read and study Scripture the more we realize just how wonderful God's Word is. The whole process of Bible study is a domino effect. The more we study the wiser we become; the wiser we become the more we begin to think God's way; the more we think God's way the more we desire to obey; the more we desire to obey the more we want to know of God's Word; and the whole process begins again.
Solomon stated in Proverbs 2:6:
"For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."
And James tells us:
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5
I'm so very glad God gives us wisdom to understand His Word. Each time we open His Word we should pray for His light to illumine our minds to understand what we read. A prayer for wisdom is one God loves to answer. When Solomon was about to take the throne as king, God gave him the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon's request is found in 2 Chronicles 1:10:
"Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
And God's response:
Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions, or honor, nor the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern My people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given to you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have."
2 Chronicles 1:11-12
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:129-130 is:
Love for God's Word gives understanding and wisdom.
What is your attitude toward Bible study? Is it something you have to do or something you want to do? How has studying God's Word caused the domino effect mentioned above in your life? Is it your habit to pray before you open God's Word? Will you make that you habit today? How can asking God for wisdom help you understand His Word better?
Another domino that falls when we study God's Word is that of longing for more of His Word. But this longing is one that leads to seeking and this seeking brings about fulfillment. God's Word satisfies every longing we have. Though that may be true we must do the work of seeking for the satisfaction He brings. We cannot be content to simply long for more of God's Word, we must seek to make time for His Word. We cannot be content to simply long for understanding of God's Word, we must seek to understand through prayer and study. We cannot be content to simply long for more of God, we must seek for Him with our whole heart. He promises He will be found by us when we do.
"You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with your whole heart. I will be found by you..." Jeremiah 29:13-14a
Seeking for God leads to an understanding of just how unworthy we are to be in His presence. As we get to know our God better and better we realize how desperately we need His mercy. In verse 132 David pleads with God to: "Look upon me, be merciful to me..." David realizes a truth we need to remember: Should God look on us without eyes of mercy; we would be no more. God is righteous, holy, unable to look upon sinful humans. Yet in His great love He looks with mercy on those who call on Him for salvation.
Asking for God's mercy sets in motion another domino effect. Once God has shown us mercy and saved us it becomes our desire to walk in His ways, to be holy as He is holy. We cannot do this without His help. We must ask God to direct our steps each and every day. We want to direct our steps by our feelings, by our lusts, by our relationships, by our circumstances. When we direct our own steps most times we end up in trouble! Proverbs 3:5-6 is a good standard to measure our step taking by:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."
With God directing our steps we are less likely to fall into sin. David's next plea is for no sin to rule over him. Sin is sneaky. It crouches at our door waiting for the opportune time to pounce. Sin is patient. It waits until the day we're running late and don't have time to spend in God's Word. It waits until we're tired and have little resolve for self-control. It waits until we've had a hard day or something sad has happened and we're too stressed or too depressed to fight the temptation. We must continually pray for the strength to stand firm and for no sin to rule over us.
Someone once said: "Sin can have dominion over us, or we can have dominion over sin."
It all depends on how firmly we are rooted in God's Word. Being firmly rooted in Scripture frees us from sin’s grip. Like Jesus we are able to answer Satan's temptation with God's Word and keep sin from dominating our lives. The domino effect is seen here as well; the more God frees us from the oppression of sin, the more we long to obey His Word. We don't desire to go our own way in this freedom but we long to go God's way.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:131-134 is:
Love for God's Word brings His mercy and keeps us from sin.
Two final dominoes fall when we are drenched in love for God's Word. First, we long to see God face to face. No longer are our prayers all about us, all about what God can do for us; we no longer are seeking His hand but longing to see His face. We want to have a deep, abiding sense of His presence with us as we walk through each day. We want to be as Moses and meet with God face to face as with a friend. We want His glory to shine on us so we can shine with His glory. We want to experience God not just know about Him or even know Him, we want to feel Him present in every area of our lives.
This deep desire for God's presence begins to change our perspective toward other people. In other parts of Psalm 119 we have seen David's anger with the evil and wicked people around him, anger at their lack of reverence for God, anger at their lack of obedience to His Word. In verse 136 we see his sorrow for them, his pity toward them. David has gained God's perspective. Time in God's Word does that. It helps us see others as God sees them, gives us His heart for the lost. Time in God's Word causes our heart to break with what breaks His.
At the end of Matthew 23 we see Jesus heartbroken over the sin and unbelief in Jerusalem:
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." Matthew 23:37
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:135-136 is:
Love for God's Word teaches us to love what He loves and breaks our heart with what breaks His.
How are you seeking God? What is your deep desire toward Him? How has time in God's Word changed your perspective of other people? Who in your life do you need to have God's heart toward? What will you do to gain His perspective of this person?
Gathered manna from Pe (Psalm 119:129-136) is:
Love for God's Word gives us insight into His heart.
I have often prayed: "Lord, break my heart with what breaks Yours." Will you join me in praying this prayer this week. Then stay alert to the people God places in front of you and the experiences He brings your way.
Until next time,
God bless and keep you,
1) Read Psalm 119:129-136. Mark all references to God's Word.
2) Prayerfully answer all the questions in this lesson.
3) To gain insight into what breaks God's heart read the following Scriptures and list the things mentioned: