RESH - Preserve My Life
(153) Look upon my affliction and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. (154) Contend for my cause and redeem me. Preserve me according to your promise. (155) Far from the wicked is salvation, for they do not seek out your decrees. (156) Your compassion is great, Yahweh. Preserve me according to your judgments. (157) Many are the foes pursuing me. I have not turned from your statutes. (158) I look at those who act treacherously with loathing. They do not obey your word. (159) See, I love your precepts. Preserve me, Yahweh, according to your steadfast love. (160) All your words (are) true. All your righteous judgments (are) eternal.
This stanza contains several repetitions and parallel structures which lead us to an understanding of its meaning. The verb “look/see” occurs three times, opening verses 153, 158, & 159. Four consecutive verses begin with double resh words, that is, two words beginning with the same Hebrew letter, “resh.” These include “contend for my cause” (vs. 154), “far from the wicked” (vs. 155), “your compassions are great” (vs. 156), and “many are the foes” (vs. 157). Three times the imperatival form of the verb meaning “preserve” is used in the second lines of verses 154, 156, & 159. In the previous stanza, the same word is found at the end of verse 149. Two more synonyms of “preserve” are used in this stanza: “deliver” (vs. 153) and “redeem” (vs. 154).
As the main thrust of the segment, the psalmist cries out for Yahweh to preserve his life in the midst of grievous opposition. The author uses four synonymous expressions to describe what is threatening him: “affliction” (vs. 153), “the wicked” (vs. 155), “foes” who pursued him (vs. 157), and those “who act treacherously with loathing” (vs. 158).
I. Crying out for Yahweh’s deliverance from the wicked (153-158)
II. Confident of Yahweh’s preserving those who love his truth (159 & 160)
In the midst of difficulty and opposition, those who love Yahweh’s Word can trust him to preserve them from all hostility.
Our lives are inevitably filled with problems and difficulties. It is not a matter of whether we will struggle or not, but how much – not a case of “if,” but “when.” In the midst of testings and trials, the psalmist finds that Yahweh’s Word is a constant source of strength and encouragement. Scripture reveals to him the character of his loving God and gives him assurance. He has learned not to trust in his own resources but in the deliverance that Yahweh will surely provide.
While we may not be faced with the same kinds of enemies and struggles the psalmist encountered, we are destined to undergo affliction in our lives. It is vital at every twist and turn, in every detour and danger on the highway we travel, that we entrust ourselves to a loving God who knows exactly where we are heading, what we can bear, and how to get us to our destination safely. It is wonderful to know that when we, like the psalmist, cry out, “Preserve me, Lord,” Yahweh will be there to sustain us. He gave his chosen people the following assurance through Isaiah, a pledge we do well to take to heart: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze, for I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Is. 43:1-3).