"I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant the cursed
Who wander from Your commandments.
Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.
Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight;
"I am a poor wayfaring stranger,
traveling through this world of woe.
There is no sickness, toil or danger
This was one of my favorite songs growing up, and I still sing it. I'm not sure how many trials I actually felt as a child singing this, or even as a teenager except for that phase of feeling like a stranger lost in my own world. And now, this world of woe is getting more woeful, woe-ing more every day. That bright land is looking better all the time after I get through with this wayfaring.
Christians are called God's peculiar people. That means we stick out as not belonging. We might as well be wearing big buckles on our shoes and wide collars and white caps and aprons cause we are pilgrims just traveling through. That means we sometimes have to eat lunch all by ourselves because we aren't part of the cool crowd. That means we like to gather with other peculiars, strangers on this earth, in order to feel like we might belong somewhere. It's called church. For David it was a longing for the pure, unadulterated commandments of God. He wanted to cling to his guns and his Bible, or at least to his sword and the Torah.
Sadly many people are "lost in the place where they should be found." It's called losing out when they are right smack dab where God has placed them. He is down on His knee with His arms outstretched waiting to receive them, when they turn away and go right back to wandering away from Him. It is a wretched thing to reject God and become a lost wanderer. That's not the kind of stranger-wanderer David is talking about here. He is craving God, running full on into His arms.
Have you ever had your soul crushed down? Yeah? I bet it wasn't from longing for God's ordinances. Usually we are crushed by events or people. But when we are crushed down and are just crumbs on the bottom of the lunch bag, or the dregs in the bottom of the cup, we suddenly find ourselves desiring to look up and cry, "Won't somebody help me?" If we look high enough, we might find help in His promises. His word can resuscitate us by breathing in new life longing for those ordinances that David describes that might give us a clue on how to live down here where we are wandering. Yep. Are you with me yet, Pilgrim?
The King James Version says, "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all time." Adam Clarke says, "We have a similar expression:--it broke my heart--that is heart-breaking--she died of a broken heart. It expresses excessive longing, grievous disappointment, hopeless love, accumulated sorrow. By this we may see the hungering and thirsting which the Psalmist had after righteousness often mingled with much despondency."
So that is how I relate to this poor wayfaring stranger traveling through this world of woe. I get hungry and thirsty for righteousness after such wandering around being a stranger on this earth. Do you know the craving for God's Word, being hungry and thirsty for it? David did. Because after all the years of facing giants, hiding with a motley crew of followers running from a crazy king who wanted to kill him, fighting the bad guys with lots of gore and bloodshed, finally getting into the kingdom with all its heavy burden of expectations and responsibilities, he got it. He never would belong truly to this earth, to his earthly kingdom. It all boiled down to him a stranger on this earth only needing God and a deep, deep desire to hear from Him once all the other noise quieted down. It wasn't even about belonging to a Jewish nation, about being one of the Hebrew children. David stood under the stars alone, a stranger on this earth. It was just him and God.
Then there's the rest of the world. More and more there are the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from God's commandments. They try to throw reproach and contempt on us for observing God's testimonies and statutes. They like to sit in Starbucks, or in their university offices or "safe zones" where we can't hurt them by our differing opinions, or in Congress, in campaign headquarters or in the situation room, or in the U.N. Princes sit and talk against us just as they have persecuted Jews all through countless governments all through the ages. It is still a main topic on the floor of the U.N. and in the Oval Office and in the news. Meanwhile back home, the servants of God meditate on what God says to us so that we can obey God rather than man.
Why? Because God's testimonies are "my delight...my counselors." This is a little different than sitting in a yoga position meditating. This is David, God's servant, jumping up and down with joy clapping his hands in delight over what God has said. This is David dancing with all his might. kind of delight.