Sometimes pilgrims travel the road slowly. There have been times over the last few months that I have wondered if my feet were even moving or if I was caught in a never ending, slow motion, journey that was going nowhere. But when God has his people on a slow road, going over rough terrain, there’s a reason. This has been a time to slow down so that the heart can be revived, so that the eyes can see more clearly, and so that God can pour the truth of his love over a hurting soul.
Again today, I got slowed down on just a few verses from Psalm 119.
“The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten your Law.” Psalm 119:61
This verse would never have jumped off the page for me before the events of this past summer. Now, the metaphor of cords cutting you off, squeezing you tightly, hits home.
The cords of the wicked are meant to shut you down. These cords are a stronghold meant to squeeze the life out of you. The metaphor speaks clearly of the dangers that surrounded David, dangers that came from the wicked who opposed him, wanted to hurt and even kill him. The battles. The enemies. The cords that made it heard to breathe.
These cords encircled him. They ensnared or encompassed him. The HCSB version frames it this way, “the ropes of the wicked were wrapped around me.” The NET Bible takes it a step further, “the ropes of the wicked tighten around me.”
David felt it. It is not a comfortable feeling.
He was encircled, but not just by the cords of the wicked that were seeking to cut him off.
David was also encircled by God’s presence, nearness, mercy, and love…by his covenant of unfailing lovingkindness.
It seems to me, one way to understand this strophe then is to see that David felt the cords tighten their grip on him, but he did not forget God’s law. God’s truth, his word, his promise, his character – these were the mainstay for David.
This is why David can come “at midnight to give thanks”. David knew that God encircled David and that surrounding love of the Lord was just as real for David as the threats and evil deeds that came from the wicked.
Verse 64 connects this thought….
“The earth is full of your lovingkindness, O Lord; teach me your statutes.”
The cords of the wicked were local threats. The steadfast love of the Lord is global. God’s kindness, mercy, goodness, and love permeates all of his creation.
Father of love, my Savior and Protector, thank you that you love me and are committed to showing me that love through your deeds that are full of mercy and care. Your love encircles me. Thank you for this reminder of the truth that your covenant love is a love that you delight to wrap around me, tightening around me, ensnare me even – Jesus your sacrifice, death, and resurrection shows me your infinitely deep well of love that was put on display for all to see. I might again be encircled by the cords of the wicked, but help me to remember that your love grip on me is stronger.