Psalm 119: Life vs. Death

Editor’s Note: This is post 3 of 6 in a weeklong series on Psalm 119. Click here for more.

Before you study Psalm 119 today…

  • Ask God to meet you in the text and show you who He is, who you are in Him, and how you can apply the words you read to your daily life.
  • Read and/or listen to the entire text of Psalm 119. Click on the images below for the text in the English Standard Version ready to print and/or read from BibleGateway and for the audio version of Psalm 119 (voice of Sara Nelson and recording by Matt Gley).
Text Version
Audio Version
“I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.”
Psalm 119:96

In 2020, we have certainly seen a limit to all perfection. A sometimes-deadly virus caused the shutdown of nearly everything we thought we could control, and we still don’t have a ready vaccine against an enemy we can’t even see. Lives are crumbling, and people are realizing they cannot do life on their own. Through it all, some are surrendering their lives to the only perfect One, while others have become the wineskin of verse 83, which was used within a tent to absorb the smoke of a cooking and warming fire. In time the skin, used as a drinking container and hung inside the tent, would shrivel and become hard before becoming black and useless.

When we slip our hands into those of the Shepherd, He rescues us from death and delivers us into life eternal, which we can experience now, even in the dark night (vs. 55) of a virus, political division, racial injustice, financial insecurity, and so much more that characterizes this time in history. We may feel like our souls are clinging to the dust or nearing death, but when we cling to God’s ways, we have life (vs. 25) and can trust Him to uphold justice. We will not be a wineskin but the tree by streams of water that never loses its leaves (Psalm 1:3).

This promise of life is one of acceptance, not striving. In God, we can rest secure and allow Him to work justice in our lives for our good. In this time in history, we need this reminder all the more. 

Let. God. Work.

In 119:78, the psalmist prays for God to “let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood,” but then the psalmist says, “as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.” He isn’t trying to act against those who deride his good name. He is allowing God to work. In verse 84-85, the psalmist continues, “How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law.” Then he concludes the eight-verse section with the cry of his heart that God would grant him life through His Word.

Jaime Sherman

Key verse: In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth. Psalm 119:88

Questions to ponder: In what ways do you struggle to cling to God’s ways and allow Him to be your defender? How have you experienced life found in the Shepherd? Today, how will you choose to meditate on His precepts and rest secure, allowing Him to work in your life for your good?

Prayer: Lord, You are the giver of all life. Help me to choose life over death, to cling to your ways and meditate on your commandments. And empower me to trust You to work in a world that has been turned upside down from what I knew.