Well Tried

Pretty sure that this morning what I’m picking up isn’t exactly what the songwriter was laying down. That the words that have grabbed me were intended to mean something a little different than the meaning I’m getting from them. That what I’m chewing on has a little different flavor from how it was originally seasoned. And, I’m thinking, that’s ok.

Your promise is well tried, and Your servant loves it.

(Psalm 119:140 ESV)

Continuing to read in the psalmist’s love letter to the word of God. Twenty-two sections of eight verses each extolling the glory of God’s revelation of Himself and His ways for His people. The longest song in the Psalter, the longest chapter in the Bible, a divine acrostic as each section is given to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line in that section begins with that letter.

Today’s letter? Tsadhe or, in my English thinking mind, T. And verse 140’s beginning T word is tsaraph, or, as the ESV translates it, “tried.”

Tried is Your promise exceedingly, and Your servant loves it.

And, according to my handy dandy e-lexicon, the word has the idea of something that has been tried in a smelting fire and thus is without defect. That the nature of God’s word, the essence of His promises, are akin to something without impurity. That God’s word, His promise, is as pure as if it had been put through the flame. That God has given to His people a pure word is, I think, kind of the intent.

But the thought that came to me as I read this lyric from this divine love ballad was more of how I have “well tried” His covenant. Of how I have tested the veracity of His blessed assurances. Of how many miles, in a sense, I have put on His precious promises as I’ve appropriated them for myself, again and again, in my situations and need, thus making them well tried.

If the Christian life is marked by the reality of going so many steps forward then so many steps back, how many back steps have I taken in 40+ years of seeking to walk in the Way? And how many of those back steps have cast me upon the promises of God?

If I were to count every failure of the flesh that has required renewed belief in the promise that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn. 1:9); or count every time I’ve been drained empty by a life struggle, or life season, and have had to cling to the assurance that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Php. 4:13); or count the myriads of disappointments in my ability to walk the worthy walk and have had to retreat to the solid ground “that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Php. 1:6); or count the uncountable number of times I have had to claim other promises as I’ve stumbled my way along this pilgrim path; then, to be sure, I can say along with the songwriter, with equal conviction:

Your promise is well tried, . . .  and Your servant loves it!

Not that I make pure His word, but that I have tested it–more times than perhaps I would care to admit–and found it all-sufficient and without wont.

Praise God for His precious promises.

Praise God for His living, active, and enduring Word.

Because of grace. For His glory.

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