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God’s Word for You

Psalm 119:41-42 Those who taunt me

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, June 22, 2023

Verses 41 and 42 begin the next part of the Psalm, a stanza where all of the lines begin with waw. In this stanza, the poet turns his heart to the love of God’s Word. The word will be with him in every walk of life (42-45) and even when he stands before kings to speak of God’s laws. This does not preclude David from being the author of our Psalm, since David as a subject and David as a king spoke with kings and lived in the orbit of the royalty of the nations.

41 Let your mercies come to me, O LORD,
  let your salvation come according to your promise;
42 then I will answer those who taunt me,
  for I trust in your word.

Our poet has the gospel on his mind here. “Mercies,” “salvation,” “promise” and in this case “word” all refer to the good news of the gospel in this context. How can we be certain of this? Because our poet says, “I will answer those who taunt me.” “Taunt” is two words combined here: “reproachful speech.” When the enemies of God’s people taunt them for any reason, God’s people have the promises of Christ to turn to.

Remember what happened about a century after the exiles returned. Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to organize and make repairs to the city. But enemies mocked and ridiculed him (Nehemiah 2:19). His reply was simple: “The God of heaven will give us success. You have no share in Jerusalem of any claim or historic right to it” (Nehemiah 2:20). Those enemies, among them historic enemies of Israel (a Samaritan and an Ammonite), did not want God’s people to thrive in Israel. They hoped to intimidate Nehemiah so that he would stop the building project. But Nehemiah knew that he had God’s promises on his side.

So it is with us. There are many people in the world, some of them calling themselves Christians or spiritual people, who do not want anyone to take the Scriptures at face value, to trust in the spoken and recorded promises of God, or to believe in the forgiveness of sins as the Bible proclaims it. Why not? In many cases this is because accepting forgiveness for such sins means accepting that they are sinful in the first place, and a great many people in the world do not want Christ’s severe definition of sin to be a judgment on their lives (Matthew 5:27, etc.). They want to live life in their own way, with their own choices, and they become enraged when someone dares to say, “That’s a sin.”

The taunts and jibes from enemies of Christ will not be easily resolved. Hearts are not changed unless the Law convicts and takes away all hope of self-justification like sandpaper and a scraper removing the peeling paint from a window sill. Just as new paint will not help a surface that has not been properly scraped and sanded, the gospel will not help someone who is still clinging to their sins. But when a sinner is made to see that they are hopeless relying on their own deeds and that eternity will be nothing but agony and punishment, then there is a heart that is ready to hear the gospel (Luke 1:17).

Then—oh, then!—God’s mercies come, his salvation comes, his promises all come, and his word creates trust, which is faith. This is the work of the gospel. Then the rescued lamb can take his ease, find true rest even in this life, and say, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits. And in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5). It is the waiting soul, the Christian living their faith, that also carries the crosses of life (Matthew 10:38; 16:24). These are burdens we ask God’s help to bear, but we bear them in love and in prayer, however much it grieves us, grieving at times like exiles with no way home again (Lamentations 1:4). When our roads to Zion mourn, we pray for God’s mercies to come to us, and for him to remind us of our salvation and his promise. That is our answer to those who taunt, and may God increase our trust and our faith.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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