Psalm 119 – Daleth

(Daleth is the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet)

I am laid low in the dust – ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Preserve my life according to Your word – save me and take me to heaven.
I recounted my ways, I listed all the things I’ve done in my life – good and bad – and You answered me. You showed me which were good, which were bad.
Teach me Your word.
Let me understand the teaching of Your word. When I understand, I will meditate on your wonders.
My soul is weary with sorrow.
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways;
Be gracious to me through Your word.
I have chosen the way of truth – to follow You;
I have set my heart on Your word. It’s what I want above all else, it’s what I think about most.
I hold fast to your word, O Lord, I don’t let go;
Don’t let me be put to shame. Bless me for holding fast to Your word.
You have set my heart free – free from sorrow
free from deceit
free from shame.

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Psalm 119 – Gimel

(Gimel is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet)

Do good to me, your servant and I will live.

I will obey Your word.

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.

I am not a stranger on earth – I am familiar with You.

Don’t hide Your word from me.

My soul is consumed with longing for Your word at all times – it’s all I think about.

You rebuke the arrogant. They stray from Your word and are cursed. I keep Your word – remove scorn and contempt from me – treat me better than the arrogant.

Though rulers sit together and slander me, I will meditate on Your word. No matter what those around me are doing or saying, Your word will be the center of my attention.

Your word is my delight.

Your word is my counselor and gives me advice.

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment was written by Jeremiah Burroughs in 1651. I learned about the book from my pastor’s top ten reading list and since I suffer with discontentment, I decided to read it. On the third page, I found the following “description” and decided to dig in and mull upon it:

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

I’ve been digging and mulling for a while now (I’m beginning to think there’s enough here to fill a lifetime!) and here’s what I have so far.

Christian contentment, not human, or material, but the contentment of a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and their Lord and Savior. Indeed, those who do not have a believer’s world view would probably find the above description to be ludicrous. It’s difficult to imagine freely submitting to anyone or anything when you’re self-focused and/or hurting, let alone to imagine delighting in it.

Contentment is sweet. It is tender, innocent, very special, precious.

Contentment is inward. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with outward circumstances. Contentment comes from within us no matter what is going on around us. Contentment is inward, not inner. Contentment doesn’t naturally reside within us. I picture “inward” as moving forward. We channel out thoughts, emotions and especially our will from our discontent toward contentment, from our self-focus on our situation toward focus on God’s view of and purpose in and for our situation. This inward movement is a constant process, sometimes flowing smooth and freely, somethings rough and choppy, but always moving, never stagnant.

Contentment is quiet. There is so much noise in the world and so much noise in our minds, hearts and spirits. We are constantly bombarded with reasons to not be content. Material reasons, lies we believe, painful memories, attacks from our enemy, Satan. Contentment is that inward special place where all of those are shut out and the only thing that enters is the love and peace of God.

Contentment is gracious. Contentment is filled with the grace of God. All the blessings we are freely given that we don’t deserve. We spend our earthly lives seeking things we believe are rightfully ours to have and demand to be given or obtain while we are totally clueless to the fact that as sinners before a holy God what we really deserve is every punishment unimaginable – hell. Yet, once we admit this and ask for forgiveness, a gracious God and Savior freely gives us all that we don’t deserve – every spiritual blessing unimaginable in this life and eternal life in the next.

Frame of spirit, not a frame of mind. If a frame of mind is “a particular mood that influences one’s attitude or behavior” (the first definition that comes up on my internet), then a frame of spirit would be a particular conviction that influences one’s attitude and behavior. I was struck by the word “frame”. My first thought was of a literal frame as an outward border of something, but as I was meditating, a picture came to mind of contentment starting small and growing until it became the frame of thoughts, emotions and actions. Contentment can become the frame of our inner being which influences our outer being.

Freely. Willingly. No compulsion, real or imagined. We want to, not have to. We freely choose who and what we follow. Contentment can’t be forced, it must be freely and willingly chosen. When we choose contentment, that choice brings even more freedom to enjoy and delight in God’s plans for us. We have freedom in Christ. Freedom to live in contentment instead of misery. Freedom to live as God intended instead of as Satan intrudes.

Submits to. In the Greek, the word is hupotasso. Hupo means under, and tasso means to place or arrange. Therefore, to submit means to place or arrange yourself under. As believers we are to place and arrange ourselves, our thoughts, emotions, actions and reactions under the authority of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives and spirits. We do this freely. The Trinity doesn’t force anything upon us. We are free to choose whose authority we submit too – theirs, our own, someone else’s or Satan’s. Freely choosing to submit to God’s plans for us brings us contentment and contentment enables us to more freely and easily choose to submit.

Delights in. Worldly speaking, delight is a step above pleasure and happiness. Biblically speaking, delight is “to bend towards, to be inclined towards”; or “to take delight or pleasure in”. First on Daniel L Aikens list is “God delights in the obedience of His children more than in sacrifices “(Hosea 6:6). Freely choosing to delight in God’s plans for us brings us contentment and contentment enables us to more freely delight in those plans.

God’s wise and fatherly. God’s plans for us are wise. He knows all things, we know very little. We should believe and trust that He knows better than we do. God’s plans for us are those of a loving, tender, encouraging Father. He constantly thinks about and plans for our good and not our harm. He constantly thinks about and plans for giving us a future and great hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Disposal. Merriam Webster defines disposal as “the power or authority to make use of as one chooses”. God certainly has the power and authority. He created all things with a word. “You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:6 NIV). His authority is what brings the multitudes of heaven to worship Him. Philippians 2:10 tells us that one day “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth”. God makes use of us, our gifts and our circumstances as He chooses. We may not agree or appreciate His choice, but the choice is His, not ours. Everything we are, everything we have, everything we do is a result of His choice. Even when our poor choices result in unpleasant or unprofitable consequences, He redeems them when we allow Him to and turns them into good.

In every condition. In, not of. Condition, not circumstance. God is in every part of our lives. He is with us in every external condition – marital (single or married), physical (healthy or not), financial (paycheck to paycheck, no paycheck, or money in the bank). Most importantly, God is in every condition of our lives, minds, hearts and spirits. When we are in despair, He is right there with us. When we could care less, He is still there. When we are at the pinnacle of delight, He is with us. In sin, He is there waiting for our confession, repentance and return. In our confusion, He is there with His wisdom and will impart it to us if we would only ask (James 1:5).

Content or not, He is still with us, but He is definitely more easily evident in our contentment.

Psalm 119 – Beth

(Beth is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet)

How can I keep my ways pure?
By living according to Your word.
I seek You with all my heart – I seek You in Your word.
Don’t let me stray from Your word.
I have memorized Your word so that I won’t sin.
Praise be to God!
Teach me Your word.
I recite Your word.
I rejoice in following Your word as one rejoices in being a millionaire.
I meditate on Your word.
I consider Your ways.
I delight in Your word – it’s my favorite book.
I will not neglect Your word.

Psalm 119 – Aleph

(Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In Hebrew the first word of the stanza starts with Aleph and so on through each section)

Be blameless. Walk according to the law of the Lord. Let no one be able to blame you for a misdeed. Keep God’s statutes. Seek God with all your heart. Look for Him everywhere. Do nothing wrong. Walk in God’s ways. God has laid down precepts, ideas that are to be fully obeyed – not partially, whatever is convenient or feels comfortable – all of it. Be steadfast in obeying, don’t obey here and there – be consistent – obey all and everyone. If I were steadfast, consistent, I would not be put to shame when I think about Your commands. I will praise You with an upright heart (blameless, free from sin, looking at You) as I learn Your laws. Learning Your laws causes one, leads one to praise. I will obey Your decrees; don’t forsake or give up on me.

Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord – He is good.
His love endures forever.
No matter what I do or how long I stay away, God still loves me.

In anguish? Cry out to God. He will answer by setting me free from that anguish. God is with me. There is no reason to be afraid. Man can’t hurt me if God is with me because man can’t hurt God. When God is with me, we become one. God is with me, He is my helper. I will overcome all my enemies and live triumphantly.

It is better to take refuge in God than to trust in man or rulers. It is better to seek protection, comfort and help from God rather than from man.

Enemies of all kinds surround me on every side, but in the name of the Lord, I can cut them off. Enemies of separation from God, enemies of fear, enemies of lack of trust. When God is with me, we become one refuge that enemies can’t enter or attack. God helps – He becomes strength, song and salvation – all I need to overcome the enemies. Salvation conquers separation; strength and song conquer anguish, fear and lack of trust.

When God and I conquer all my enemies, my heart will resound with shouts of joy and victory, giving credit to God and God’s right hand (which can be me if I obey).

I will not die. I will live and tell others what God has done. God has punished me, but not to the death.

Open the gates of righteousness, where God’s people dwell. I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. I give thanks because You answered my cry of anguish and saved me.

Jesus was rejected by the people, but God has made Him the key of salvation. God has done this and to us, it is the most wonderful thing. God has made and given us this day. I will rejoice and be glad in it. It is a chance to know God’s love, to be set free, to conquer fear, to triumph over enemies, to know His refuge, to know His strength, song and salvation, to experience victory and joy, to proclaim what God has done, has done with His mighty right hand, to experience His punishment, to give thanks.

O Lord, save me, grant me success. Help me to go out in Your name. Bless me. You are God. You have made Your light shine on me. Celebrate!

You are my God, I will give You thanks.
You are my God, I will exalt You.

Give thanks to the lord – He is good.
His love endures forever.