I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
How can someone claim to be righteous? Only by God’s indwelling: God cannot leave the new me because he is the new me – I am founded on him and his character. My once-upon-a-time oppressors, I should pray to be delivered from returning to them.
Ensure your servant’s well-being;
let not the arrogant oppress me.
Well-being relates to our identity as servants of a good master. We are free of the oppression of the arrogant particularly because the arrogant admit no authority other than themselves- they cannot assume authority over us because we are in a more direct, essential chain of command.
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
It’s a full-time job, seeking God. I seek your kingdom on Earth, Lord, your salvation for the people, until day fails and night falls. If I spent the entirety of every day looking for the application of God’s promise to the day, I wouldn’t be wasting my time.
Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
To do all this we must embrace the Father’s – the master’s – love for us and let him change us. What a relief to be taught his will – that we do not have to invent a new way of living, but have a teacher ready and willing to explain to us how we must behave and to help us do it.
I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statues.
Like a servant entrusted with keys that can unlock his master’s wealth, discernment allows us to understand God’s statutes and then follow them, apply them around us, anticipating his justice, anticipating the natural consequences of people’s actions. However, ‘no longer do I call you servants’ – John 15:15. Jesus invited us into a place of understanding we inherit the keys ourselves.
It is time for you to act, O Lord;
your law is being broken.
A bold plea to God – but always relevant – like the inscription on the Clock at St Nick’s church in Nottingham – it is time to seek the Lord. Always relevant. Somewhere, in some heart, God’s law is always being broken, but he does desire for us to gain as much a hunger for justice as he has, and does desire for us to ask him to intervene wherever his law is being broken – including in my own self.
Because I love your commands more than gold,
more than pure gold,
This is the security against sin and unrighteousness that the Holy Spirit can give us: a desire for God’s word – a deep love and passion – that jealously consumes all of our attention, so that there is no spare desire for sinfulness! What a wonderful prospect – to grow in our desire for God and to become used to his justice until we, eventually, are freed from our pleasure in sin. Like the hymn: ‘Take away our love of sinning, Alpha and Omega be, End of faith, as its beginning, Set our hearts at liberty.’
and because I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path.
This is exactly where the scriptures should lead us: a preference for one path, however difficult, is based on considering God’s instruction preferable to every other choice.