What do you do when a trial or threat you are facing wakes you up in the middle of the night? Your mental, physical or emotional stability is hanging by a thread. Do you get up out of bed and go to your safe, pull out a stack of bills and start counting your money? Does that give you comfort? Do you pull out a prized collection and handle the objects of your desire for relief? Or, do you close your weary eyes and sing with all your heart, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” What, or who, do you place your hope in?
This stanza appears to describe one of the psalmist’s seasons in the life; he is in a place so dark and desperate, a place where none of us wants to go, let alone think about. My soul faints (v81); my eyes fail (v82). Whatever it is we put our hope in better be big enough, sure enough, true enough, strong enough, to bring us back from the brink. (Remember: God is my portion in Psalm 119:57)
(v83) Wineskin in the smoke – Empty wine skins were strung up in tents. The fire in the tent turned the skins black and sooty and caused them to wrinkle and shrivel, rendering them useless. Are there times when you feel useless?
(v84) How long must I wait – We need to remind ourselves that God never tires of us asking him (Isaiah 40:28-31).
(v86) Your commandments are faithful – unlike the society in which we function, we don’t have to learn some new software or worry about something we learned being obsolete. God’s truth is able to meet any present or future need.
(v88) The word of God is a life preserver – the living word of God speaks to us when we need it. Jesus has saved us by the power of the cross (John 1:14 the word [of God] became flesh and lived among us).
If the previous stanza portrays the psalmist as being at the brink of ruin, this stanza is filled with great certainties. Derek Kidner reminds us that God and his commandments extend beyond the limits found in the world in which we live.
(v89) God’s word is eternal; (v90) he is faithful; (v92) your word saved me (don’t forget to stand on the promises found in scripture).
(v96) There is a limit to perfection we see in our world – a confusing verse but consider that in any situation we deem “perfect” such as witnessing a perfect sunset or a picturesque fall day, there will always be a limit to how long it will endure. Contrast this thought with: But your commands are boundless – There is a spiritual (eternal) side to everything we experience that can only be truly be satisfied by God’s word (a.k.a Jesus Christ)
Matt Chandler in his video series on Psalm 119 stresses that there is hope found in God’s word. It is a deep hope based on God being enough regardless of life’s circumstances. Hope is not crossing our fingers, it is placing our trust in the God of the universe. Finally, rejuvenation can be found for those who place their trust in God.