Psalm 119:17-24 | ג Gimel


People have relied on camels as working animals, using them for transportation, food, and clothing. We see them throughout the Bible and see they’re still used today–especially in tourism! It’s understandable they’re reliable, and since people have domesticated them for so long, we can appreciate how they rely on their owners. Like camels, not only is it important to be reliable but also to have reliable people in our lives. Reliability is an important building block for our relationships.

In this section, every two verses hold a principle we can apply to our lives to become more reliable and find reliability in others. The Hebrew word for camel, gāmāl, sounds a lot like it and the letter. This helps us remember both the letter of this section, its meaning, and even the verses. Before we dive into it, here are some fun facts about camels:

  • Camels with one hump are dromedary camels. Camels with two are Bactrian.
  • Camel humps don’t store water but fat, which helps regulate their body temperature in hot, dry weather for a long time.
  • They have three sets of eyelids and two rows of eyelashes to keep sand out of their eyes.
  • They can completely shut their nostrils during a sandstorm.
  • They can withstand changes in body temperatures and water consumption that would kill most other animals.
  • We know them to spit on people (defense mechanism).
  • They rarely sweat despite the heat!

How to be more reliable and how to find reliability in others:

Get & Give Feedback:

17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.

Psalm 119:17-18

The best thing to do is to ask for feedback with an open heart. Constructive criticism can be hard to hear or accept, but it’s important when you want to become more reliable. Likewise, it’s important to give feedback to the people in your life. Proverbs 27:17 says iron sharpens iron, so it may hurt to get and give feedback from time to time. How often do we ask God to make us a better person? And how often do we ask our spouses, friends, and coworkers, and other peers for feedback?

We need to be open to asking God and people to deal with us, to be honest with us, so we can get better at being reliable. The psalmist’s request shows how important it is to be open to getting and giving feedback. Because when we have open eyes, we learn new perspectives and receive fresh revelations. Also, we know camels store fat in their humps to help regulate their body temperature. They’re obviously not going to give you constructive criticism or encouragement, but we can take this example and use the feedback we get to “regulate” our personal development in every season.

Pursue Honesty & Truth:

19 I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me.
20 My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times.

Psalm 119:19-20

Proverbs 10:9 tells us whoever walks in integrity, walks securely. This makes you reliable for yourself, others, and God. Reliable people live with integrity, which means the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It’s important to be honest with yourself and others when managing your commitments and priorities. Being reliable doesn’t mean saying yes to everyone all the time, it means to be honest with what you can and cannot do. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no (Matt. 5:37).

When you pursue truth, people will trust you. As new beings in Christ (vs. 19), we live in truth, so we might as well know it (vs. 20). The Bible, especially Proverbs, has so many truth-bombs to help us live a life of honesty and truth. The life of Jesus is the ultimate proof of how we can live in this world. And camels, well, they can survive long periods of time without external water sources. When we fill ourselves with the truth (Jesus), we can survive long periods of trials and hard seasons because His living water is in us!

Surround yourself with reliable people:

21 You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments.
22 Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies.

Psalm 119:21-22

You may have heard of the quote, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” by John Rohn. It’s important to surround yourself with people who have qualities you aspire to have. In these verses, the psalmist also seems to be aware of this, for he observes who gets rebuked. Then, he asks God to take away reproach and contempt from him because of what he values (God’s testimonies). You are who you spend time with because ever since you were born, you learned by imitating.

Camels have three sets of eyelids and two rows of long lashes to protect their eyes from sandstorms. Sometimes we find ourselves in toxic environments and situations (sandstorms) and need help to see our way out. We can get the best help by surrounding ourselves with 1-3 reliable people to be our “eyelids”! Along with this, we have the old and new testament (two long rows of lashes) to protect us and help us see what and who is reliable or unreliable.

Focus on what’s important:

23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
24 Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.

Psalm 119:23-24

You can remain confident in yourself and your work, despite what others say. Earlier, we talked about getting feedback from others, and frankly, many times, it’s easier to get offended and off-track than motivated. If what you’re doing makes you question yourself, you need to check your motives and be honest with yourself (principle #2). Is what you’re doing important and why?

God weighs our hearts and motives. As reliable people, it benefits us to remain steadfast and focused on what’s important. You do this by familiarizing yourself with your “buttons” and learning to control your emotions. We find explosive people to be less reliable and trustworthy. Like camels’ spit on people as a defense mechanism when threatened, we tend to do the same. Hopefully not with actual saliva, but with our words and actions. Let’s not be like camels when reacting to our situations, but focus on what’s important to be more reliable than before.

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