Psalm 119 is probably my favourite psalm. It is full of wisdom and advice for living a life that glorifies God. The psalmist is brutally honest with himself and with God and he lays himself open to correction for guidance and help with the hard decisions we all have to make. The commands, laws, precepts we read that he seeks in this psalm are designed to help us continue in the life Peter is describing here,
8 Although you haven’t seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don’t yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words.
I wonder how ‘glorious and beyond words’ my joy appears sometimes? Most of the time actually. I wonder if people looking at me and my life would use ‘unspeakable joy’ to describe my attitude and response to situations and circumstances? Peter is talking to a people being persecuted for their lack of conformity. Being a Christian had made them different from those around them in all sorts of ways and I think an overwhelming joy was probably one of them.
I am a sojourner in the world;
do not keep Your commands hidden from me.
Sojourner is an old word meaning someone who stays or resides temporarily. The psalmist recognises that he isn’t meant long-term for this world and he needs God to teach him how to live in it. The recognition that this world has no real hold on us, that there is an eternity beyond the suffering and disappointments, as well as the pleasures and fulfillment, we experience here, is a source of the joy Peter describes.
Yes, Your testimonies are my joy;
they are like the friends I seek for counsel.
The good news of the Kingdom is almost always upside down compared with what the world sees as good news. We take joy from something we can’t touch, from a person we have never seen yet who we know and who knows us intimately. We look to Him for guidance and direction. We turn away from the glitz and shine that surrounds us and focus on the Cross. We centre ourselves on a crucified saviour who asks us to die to our selfish ambitions and live to love Him and love others. But somehow this brings us unspeakable joy.
The truth is that we live by faith; we have an enduring hope in Jesus that sustains us in hard times and gives us balance in the good. We haven’t seen Him in the flesh as Peter had, but we still celebrate; our lives changed.
Let’s focus less on valuing what we have and see and more on pursuing what we know by faith. We’re sojourners, temporary residents here – our future is bright and secure
We’re sojourners, temporary residents here – our future is bright and secure because of Jesus.
Put like that – I can feel that joy stirring…