Princes have persecuted me without a cause:
but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
~ Psalm 119:161
Happy is the servant that can find blessings in the midst of trials. We are instructed, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2). David was suffering diverse temptations. Princes were his persecutors. These were men of high station and were supposed to be men of judgment and justice. However, they were persecuting David without a just cause. Where can one turn when the upholders of the law are the very violators of the law? Nevertheless, David found cause of rejoicing.
David’s trials had particular sharpness because of his persecutors. They were princes, men of high position. Yet, these were David’s peers. They gave him no respect, only reviling. “Princes also did sit and speak against me” (Psalm 119:23). Those of his own stripe, physically speaking, afflicted him. Perhaps, he sought understanding from those of similar standing. However, he found no comfort among them. Often those that are closest to us and those that we believe should understand are the ones that smite us the worst. Let some worldly unknown speak against us and we hardly pay attention, but let one that is close speak ill words and we are cut to the heart.
He suffered grievous trials being put to it without a just cause. He was walking in the right way and his enemies were multiplied. “Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:157). An honest man is ashamed when his accusers speak the truth, but when they accuse him falsely he is grieved. David had not solicited his present abuse. His enemies were malicious. Yet there is joy for David, even in the time of trial.
David found joy in the fact that his detractors were wrong. They had not anything true to say. They were reduced to make themselves liars. Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:11). David was blessed in the false accusations of others. He had no reason to be himself ashamed. He was suffering for righteousness’ sake. “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14). “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16). In the midst of cruel mocking, David had reason to glorify God.
David was also blessed because his faith was increased. Though his enemies were multiplied, he said, “Yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.” He was persecuted without reason and said, “But my heart standeth in awe of thy word.” He was resolved to hold to the Word of Life, regardless of his enemies. They may delight themselves in worldly endeavors, “but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.” He had looked into the face of afflictions and could say like Paul, “But none of these things move me” (Acts 20:24). He would not allow himself to be drawn off course by these distractions.
David found greater satisfaction in the meditation of the Word than in the strife of the world. Many are sidetracked by debates and arguments. Some lose their way through needless self-defense, becoming obsessed with turning everyone’s opinion. The scriptures prophesied of Christ, “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.” (Matthew 12:19). He did not occupy His time with politics, trying to make everyone like Him and agree with Him. The blessed man of God finds “his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). His friends may speak vain things and engage in unprofitable debates, but he declares of God’s Word, “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors” (Psalm 119:24). David had joy because he believed, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Lastly, David said, “But my heart standeth in awe of thy word.” He had a very high opinion of God’s book. He delighted in its precepts and feared its judgments. The opinions of worldly-wise men did not shake his faith in the right statutes and pure commandments of God. The Bible has many detractors and opponents today. Some, having become wise in the eyes of men, lead others astray through their criticisms of the Scriptures. Others pervert the Scriptures to conform to their determined doctrinal bent. The man of God approaches His Holy Word with awe. He prays, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18). Let us remain in awe of God’s Word and hold to His unchanging testimony.