In the entire chapter of Psalm 119, the psalmist made a point that the Word of God was his top priority.
More than a study tool or a reading interest, it was his way of getting to know God.
Throughout this 20th section, the psalmist faces some affliction in his life yet again. But by prioritizing his relationship with God, he receives steadiness and peace through God’s truth.
As we look at this next letter, the definition of Resh will help us understand how the psalmist prioritized His relationship with God first and how we can take this principle into our daily life: remembering, seeking, keeping, and accepting God’s truth as we grow in Him!
Definition of Resh
The definition of Resh is head.
It relates to the Hebrew word rosh, which means head but can also mean leader or ruler. Rosh can also represent origin, beginning, or first, like in Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year festival) or in Old Testament verses that talk about the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom. The word beginning is most often translated back to rosh.
It’s interesting how the 20th letter holds these meanings. It could’ve been earlier in the alphabet, or even first, but it’s placed here towards the end. In a way representing that life doesn’t stop at salvation, it actually begins.
The letter Resh and its definitions help us understand how to prioritize our relationship with God first. It’s sometimes assumed that once you come to God all your problems and trials will disappear, or that life gets extremely boring because you have rules to follow and a religious laundry list to complete.
But life with God is much more than being religious or “safe.” If anything, life gets more interesting.
We will still face trouble in this world, but only in Christ can we have peace (John 16:33). Christ doesn’t only lead us out or away from our troubles and trials, He teaches us how to get through them. When we keep Him first in our lives and turn our heads towards His goodness and mercy, we get to live in peace no matter what happens.
The truth in God’s Word is very alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It isn’t the words on paper that give life, but One who spoke those words. God gives us life, peace, freedom, and wisdom for every situation in life because He loves us and wants to DO LIFE WITH us. That’s also why He sent His Holy Spirit (John 14:16).
His Word is just one way we can grow in our relationship with Him. As we look through the following verses, I hope you get encouraged to prioritize your relationship with God first, to let your head and your heart get filled with His truth, and to trust that He’s with you in your greatest time of need.
Remember His Truth
Look at my affliction and rescue me, For I have not forgotten Your Law. Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.Psalm 119:153-154
As we mentioned, the psalmist turns to God in his affliction. These two verses reveal something more than just remembering the Word or memorizing scripture. The psalmist knew what God’s word said. He was familiar with God’s law and aligned himself to its truth.
There’s power in remembering God’s truth despite what our situations look like. And to remember something means to be familiar with it. The psalmist knew what God had already said about the troubles he faced; and instead of falling into anxiety, stress, or fear, he turned to God in prayer.
When you remember God’s truth and align your situations to it, you set yourself up to see it through God’s eyes. It can be tempting to fall into the traps of what this world offers and displays, but God’s word can speak to so many of our situations. It might not be specific or modern, but with faith and trust in the Holy Spirit, God will highlight the truth and wisdom you need to see.
Whenever you face hardship, affliction, and hopeless situations, remember what God’s Word says. Include it in your prayer. Let it revive your soul and mind.
Seek His Truth
Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes. Great are Your mercies, Lord; Revive me according to Your judgments.Psalm 119:155-156
Wickedness takes root when there’s refusal to seek God through His word. But interestingly and paradoxically, though salvation is far from the wicked, God is never far from them because of His tender mercies.
He is always ready to take in anyone because His grace and mercy extends all. But there must be a response; a willingness to turn from wickedness and a desire to change. These verses point out what Christ will have later fulfilled: that in all of our wickedness, He still died on the cross so that we would have new life (Romans 5:8).
With this new life and relationship with God, comes a daily response: prioritizing Him. Another way we do this is by seeking Him. Through prayer, worship, reading and studying the Word – these are ways we get to know God when we don’t feel like we hear from Him.
Having a relationship with God is a 2-way street, just like with anyone else. It takes time to get to know Him and to know what He says in His word.
Keep His Truth
Many are my persecutors and my enemies, Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies. I see the treacherous and loathe them, Because they do not keep Your word.Psalm 119:157-158
To keep His truth means to obey it, and to obey means to love Him.
Obedience seems like a scary word, with negative connotations. But in John 14:15, Jesus says if you love me, you will keep my commands. I’ve seen this scripture distorted and used against Christ, but that’s only because it was looked at through the world’s view. These words are from a place of relationship and complete freedom in Christ.
As Christians, we ARE set apart. We’re called to stand out. We’re meant to go against the world’s grain.
And this means to keep God’s truth even when others speak against us. This doesn’t mean you have to fight and debate, or get offended and afraid, but… continue to seek God’s truth and remember what it is! Know it for yourself and make it tangible in your life because our actions speak louder than our words.
This translation (NASB) uses words like treacherous and loathe, but in Hebrew the words are transgressors and grieved. The psalmist grieves from seeing anyone coming against God’s word, not because he expects them to be godly, but because he wants them to be. He’s grieved because they’re missing out on what God has for them.
When you are in a relationship, there are commitments you make such as remaining loyal, faithful, and keeping your promises. Similarly with God, to prioritize your relationship with Him first means to keep His truth and to actively participate in obedience, loyalty, and faithfulness to Him and His Word.
Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, Lord, according to Your faithfulness. The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments is everlasting.Psalm 119:159-160
When you prioritize your time in the word, you prioritize your relationship with God. It shouldn’t be out of duty, but out of desire. The psalmist emphasizes his love for the Word because he knows it is everlasting, revitalizing, and ultimately, growing him in God.
As a closing note, it’s important to accept God’s truth as He reveals it to you, because it’s the way you get to know God. Despite your opinions and feelings, trust God is leading you as you study and spend time in it. Like the psalmist said, the sum of His word is truth.
We must trust the Holy Spirit to reveal and lead us into all truth. In the meantime, fulfilling our part by continuously getting to know God. Take the time to seek it so you can remember it, and as you do so keep His word and accept it as truth.
I encourage you to prioritize your relationship with God first, to let your head and your heart get filled with His truth, and to trust that He will lead you into all truth as you grow in your relationship with Him. His word is one of the many ways we strengthen our relationship, what other ways can you do it?
Have you ever remembered God’s truth and aligned it to your situation? If so, what happened?
How do you seek God through His Word? What helps you get to know God?
What are some ways you keep and/or accept God’s truth in your life?