They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. Ps. 119:74
Tribulation worketh experience!
And that through patience!
For thus the apostle Paul writes in Rom. 5:3, 4: ‘‘knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience,” or rather, more in accord with the meaning of the original: “patience the experienced state,”
Perhaps, we may say that the relation between the preceding section of Ps. 119 and the one from which we selected the basis for the present meditation, is somewhat like that between patience and experience.
In the former the poet had written about his affliction, and had even there emphatically testified that through it all the Lord had! dealt well with him, and that it was good for him to have been afflicted, for in the way of affliction he had learned to know the statutes of Jehovah. Here, however, he rather speaks throughout as one that has been proved and approved, and now rejoices in hope, while at the same time he deeply feels the need of and longs and prays for Jehovah’s mercy, in, order that he may steadfastly continue in the way of His statutes.
He prays for understanding, that he may learn the Lord’s commandments. He beseeches Jehovah for the continual comfort of his merciful lovingkindness, and for the realization unto him of God’s tender mercies, for of those he will have need as he walks in the way of God’s precepts in the midst of this world.
In the meantime, there is in his heart a deep realization of the justice of Jehovah’s ways, and of His faithfulness to His people even in the midst of and through the affliction of this present time.
He tasted that the Lord is good!
There is a firm conviction that the proud shall be ashamed, and that his enemies shall be destroyed. He commits his cause to Him that judges righteously.
And he carries the joyous testimony in, his soul, that he belongs to the people of God, to them that fear His name.
Them he loves!
Their fellowship he seeks!
“Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.” vs. 79.
And he knows that this love and fellowship is mutual: they, too, give him testimony that he is one of them!
They will be glad to see him!
He is confident that at all times he will find a glad and hearty reception in their midst!
Because he has hoped in Jehovah’s word!
They, the people of God, those that fear the name of the Lord, will be glad to see me!
The statement is unlimited and unqualified!
The meaning is not that on a certain particular occasion, or under certain circumstances, such as those that were present with the psalmist at that particular time, they would be glad to see him. The reference is not to the fact that the poet had been afflicted, that his enemies had persecuted him, that he, perhaps, had been in prison, or nigh unto death, and that, now he had been delivered, and that for this reason, they would be especially glad to see him at this time, to have him return unto them in safety. The implication of his statement, is limited to any special occasion.
On the contrary, he states a general fact.
Always, under any circumstances, they that fear the Lord will rejoice when they meet him. There is a bond of fellowship between them and himself. There is an active operation of love on his part to them, but also on their part toward him. In their hearts there is a deeply rooted and consciously active affection for him, so that they like to meet him, to walk and talk with him, to have him in their midst, to receive him in their company, to open their hearts to him, to discuss with him the things concerning the statutes of the Lord!, and concerning the kingdom of God. They give him their confidence, they give him testimony that he is one of them, they recognize him as one of their own, as being of the same Spirit, and of the same mind; as striving with them for the same cause.
Glad they will be to see him!
Of this the poet is confident! For he does not speak of the fact that God’s people gave him a hearty reception, or that they assured him of their gladness to see him, but of his own, personal, spontaneous assurance of this fact. He knows, he is assured, he feels perfectly confident that they will be glad to see him.
We all know what it means to feel that with certain people, in a certain company, we are welcome.
With some we never have that feeling. Even though they be ever so profuse and exuberant in their assurances that they are glad to see you; though they welcome you in their home, and do all in their power to make you comfortable, still you do not feel at home.
With others you spontaneously feel that you are welcome, although they never mention that they are glad to see you, and put forth no special effort to make you feel at home with them.
You know they are your friends!
Thus it is with the poet in relation to them that fear the Lord. He knows that they will be glad to see him, and that they are always and everywhere ready to welcome him in their company! Those of whose love he is confident, and of whose hearty reception he is assured, are they that fear the Lord. And therein lies the blessedness of this assurance. Even in a natural sense it makes a world of difference who, what kind of people, are glad to see you. Their joy in your fellowship reflects upon your own character. There is truth in the adage: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” Here, however, the question is not concerning a natural, but concerning spiritual joy, and spiritual affinity. Not all men will be glad to see him. In fact, there are those that hate and persecute the poet. He has his bitter enemies. Nor is the distinction between those that hate him and those that rejoice in his fellowship determined by mere character or social position in the world. The matter goes much deeper. The distinction is spiritual. They that fear the Lord, they only, will be glad to see him!
Their fear of the Lord is the sole reason for their joyous reception of him!
As a spiritual principle, the fear of the Lord is the disposition and spiritual attitude toward God of the regenerated) heart that is rooted, on the one hand, in a profound acknowledgement of the infinite glory and majesty of the living God, and, on the other hand, in a childlike love of and confidence in Him as the God of our salvation in Christ, from which springs the heartfelt desire to be pleasing to Him, to keep His precepts, and an abhorrence of all that is contrary to His will and displeasing to Him. It is not the fear of “bondage again to fear,” the fear of the slave, but the fear of the Lord that is wrought by the Spirit of adoption, crying: Abba, Father!
Yet the psalmist does not refer to the mere principle of this fear of the Lord, but to its manifestation, to the fear of the Lord in action!
They that fear Thee! . . . .
Not to those that profess to have the fear of the Lord in their hearts, that say: Lend, Lord! without anything further, does the poet refer. Not even to them that, perhaps, actually are of God’s people, but to a large extent fail to reveal it, walk in sin, and in their actual conversation in the world are companions of them that know not God, is the reference. But to those that actually fear the Lord the psalmist speaks.
They that have their delight in His precepts, thud walk in His way, shall be glad to see him!
They that are strangers in the world, enemies of the enemies of Jehovah, shall rejoice in his fellowship!
Of this the psalmist is confident.
The psalmist is quite conscious of the ground in which this testimony, this confidence that the confessing believers shall welcome him with joy, is rooted.
He has hoped in the Word of Jehovah; therefore, they that fear the Lord shall always prepare him a hearty reception in their midst.
The word of the Lord is one of the main concepts in this entire psalm. It is considered from various aspects. And hence, it is denoted by different terms. Fundamentally, it is always the same: the Word of the God of salvation to His people, revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Yet, that one Word is rich in content and meaning. It is the same as the “law” of the Lord, the “statutes” of Jehovah, the “precepts” of the Most High, “the Word” in which God causes us to hope. Here, it is simply denoted as “thy Word.” But it is evident from the context that also here the poet looks at this Word of the Lord from a specific viewpoint. For in this Word! he has hoped! Hence, he considers the Word of God as the promise. Always the Word of the God of our salvation is a promise. From the very dawn of revelation in Paradise, even to the fulfillment of the gospel in our Lord Jesus Christ, that Word is a promise. It is the gospel. And even still, though the Word of promise is centrally realized in the incarnation, the death, resurrection, and exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the outpouring of the Spirit in the Church of the new dispensation, the Word is a promise directing the longing eyes of the heirs of the promise to the ultimate salvation and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven!
The promise it is of final redemption, but also of present help and deliverance.
I am with thee: fear not!
In that Word the psalmist had hoped!
The Hebrew uses a term that denotes, first of all, to wait for. To hope is to wait for, to look forward to, to expect in a waiting attitude. The time may seem long, but he that hopes waits patiently. The waiting may be hard, may demand self-denial: yet, lie that hopes continues to wait. To hope in the Word of the Lord, therefore, implies a hearty confidence in that Word, the assurance, not merely that the Word of the Lord is faithful and true, but also that its promise is meant for him that hopes and waits. It is to expect the fulfillment of the Word of promise with certainty, to long for it, with all our heart, and to persevere in waiting for its realization, no matter how long and difficult the waiting may become.
I have hoped in thy Word!
Evidently, the reference is to a definite manifestation of this hope on the part of the psalmist.
The fact that he had hoped in Jehovah’s Word’ of promise had become plain in his actual walk and conversation in the world.
It had been put to the test, and it had not failed.
He had been proved!, and approved!
This is evident from the very form of the expression: I have hoped in thy word. This appears, too. from the fact that this very fact, that he has hoped in the Word of the Lord, is for the poet a ground of the confidence that they that fear the Lord will be glad to see him. This would be impossible if the poet’s hope had remained a matter of the heart alone, had been hid from the view of others. They that fear the Lord had been witnesses of his hopes. It had come to definite manifestation.
Now it is difficult to surmise how this hope had been revealed.
In the midst of manifold temptations, surrounded by furious enemies that persecuted him, the psalmist had remained faithful, and walked constantly in the way of Jehovah’s precepts, waiting for the Lord’s salvation, and hoping in His Word.
Hope and a sanctified walk and conversation are inseparably connected. The relation is reciprocal. For, on the one hand, only in the way of sanctification is it possible to hope for the salvation of the Lord. When we follow the way of the world!, seek the things that are below, are companions of the ungodly, shun the reproach of the wicked and the sufferings of this present time with Christ, and for His sake, we will be accounted enemies of God, and there is no conscious hope in the Word of Jehovah. On the other hand, true hope is a strong incentive to purify ourselves, and to fight the good fight. For, our hope is that we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. I John 3:2, 3.
Of this the psalmist speaks.
Enemies had risen against him, affliction had been his lot, but he had not forsaken the precepts of Jehovah.
He had hoped in His Word!
And thus he had become manifest as a companion of those that fear the Lord.
And in his heart had been born the confidence that they would be glad to see him.
The fruit of an actual hope!
For as a cause of great joy the psalmist speaks of this confidence.
Not as an object of boasting, or as a cause for pride, does he speak of this assurance that the children of God will be glad to see him. He knows that all boasting is excluded, and that it is all of grace. Only in the Word of the Lord does he hope. But the confidence that he has a place among them that fear the Lord is to him a cause of great joy.
Not when the world welcomes us as belonging to its company, but when those that fear the Lord are glad to see us, there is reason to rejoice.
Joy, too, there is in this confidence, because thus the children of God bear us testimony that we, too, are of those that fear the Lord. For, if we are in fellowship with the children of darkness, we receive testimony from them, that we are children of darkness. But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another. . . .
And the joy of God’s children to see us confirms our assurance that, we are the children of God.