Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Rivers of Tears

Your decrees are wonderful.
No wonder I obey them!
As your words are taught, they give light;
even the simple can understand them.
I open my mouth, panting expectantly,
longing for your commands.
Come and show me your mercy,
as you do for all who love your name.
Guide my steps by your word,
so I will not be overcome by any evil.
Rescue me from the oppression of evil people;
then I can obey your commandments.
Look down on me with love;
teach me all your principles.
Rivers of tears gush from my eyes
because people disobey your law.
-Psalm 119.129-136
We've lost the beauty of God's commands. The psalmist gets it. There is such beauty and goodness in what God wants for us... in what he asks of us. They are "wonderful." The psalmist's description of this goodness is the word "'owr" which is the same word which is translated "enlighten" in the King James Version. The proclamation that God's words bring light is a proclamation of its power and influence, in this context, to bring right understanding.

They "guide our steps." This statement should get us thinking in this context. God's words bring light (enlighten) and they guide our steps. Our steps are a demonstration of God's commands or they are a perversion of this; a demonstration of something else. If our "steps" demonstrate bigotry, dishonesty, hate, oppression, etc. then our steps are being guided by something other than God's words. Our understanding is flawed. But if our steps are "wonderful" and reflect God's words; bringing life, restoration, acceptance, love, etc. then we are demonstrating right understanding of who God is. It's been said that good theology can make good people and bad theology can make bad people. Our understanding is directly connected with our actions toward people. If we understand God as a judgmental, angry God then we will be judgmental as well. If our understanding is of a God who loves and accepts then we will be loving and accepting.

The Psalmist wants to understand what God wants Him to do. This command from God is not ugly, as many of us usually see it living in a post reformation era where God demands nothing from us. The reason God's commands are beautiful to the psalmist is because he knows that they are "wonderful" and they will end the oppression he sees all around him. He knows that God's commands are not there so that he should "earn his salvation," as we understand it, but they are there so that a very real and beautiful salvation may come. He is praying for his oppression to end, "Rescue me from the oppression of evil people..."

He weeps not judgmentally but desperately. He doesn't weep just because the "evil people" are sinning but because he sees what their sin is doing. The psalmist knows oppression. He weeps because the pain that sin is bringing to him and his world. So where are we in this? Are we weeping or are we the ones causing the weeping? I have not known oppression or poverty. In a way I am much more of an oppressor than I am an oppressed. This psalm should be my prayer. when my steps demonstrate a selfish, spoiled, and uncompassionate understanding of God I must pray for God's words to bring light. God is calling us to compassion and selflessness... are we there yet? Are we weeping "rivers of tears" for the oppressed or are we the ones causing weeping? Our actions are a lot bigger than just our own insurance of heaven, they are directly effected by our understanding of God and they directly effect our world.

5 comments:

Maryellen said...

The reason God's commands are beautiful to the psalmist is because he knows that they are "wonderful" and they will end the oppression he sees all around him. He knows that God's commands are not there so that he should "earn his salvation," as we understand it, but they are there so that a very real and beautiful salvation may come.
I love that statement Wes!

WES ELLIS said...

thanks Maryellen!

Ashley said...

Thank you for reminding me of how beautiful the commandments are! I know I all to easily forget how amazing they really are. Beautiful!

BruceD said...

Obeying God is like obeying gravity. You don't really need to think about it, you just need to know how it works in your life.

Teresa said...

Very deep. You are so thought provoking. Great question: Are we weeping "rivers of tears" for the oppressed or are we the ones causing weeping? Our actions are a lot bigger than just our own insurance of heaven, they are directly effected by our understanding of God and the directly effect out world.