I cling to your decrees, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame (Psalm 119:30 NRSV).
“Fly, you fools!” Our son Nathan exclaimed as he was clinging onto a rock at the top of a cliff and suddenly let go, disappearing from our sight.
We weren’t really nervous, unlike Gandalf (in Lord of the Rings 1) he wasn’t actually being pulled down by a Balrog. There was another ledge just a few feet beneath him.
But whenever we watch Gandalf let go, I like to ask, “Why doesn’t Gandalf just keep clinging to the edge of the cliff like Frodo does at the end of LOTR 3?” Frodo doesn’t initially let go (despite having just lost a finger) because he doesn’t want to get burned up in lava, but right as he’s tempted to give up and stop clinging, Sam commands him to not let go, so he just keeps clinging until Sam helps him up.
The psalmist is more like Frodo than Gandalf.
The psalmist desperately clings to God word and doesn’t let go. In 119:25, the psalmist clings to the dust in 119:25 (see here). And now, just a few verses later the psalmist is clinging to God’s decrees (or “testimonies”; see below in the ESV).
Since the Hebrew verb “cling” is dabaq the psalmist uses it at the beginning of two verses (119:25, 31) here in the Dalet section of Psalm 119 (verses 25-32) where every verse begins with the Hebrew letter Dalet.
For Frodo, clinging meant not getting burned up in hot lava like Gollum (oops, too late, spoiler alert). For the psalmist clinging to God and God’s laws protect the psalmist from shame (see also 119:6 here). (Despite my unfortunate familiarity with shame, I’d still probably rather be ashamed than get burned up in hot lava.)
For the psalmist clinging involved, among other things, writing a 176 verse poem singing the praises of God and God’s laws. For me, it involves blogging about Psalm 119 every Sunday (or in this case, Monday morning).
What other ways can we cling to God’s word?
I hope I can be more like Frodo, than Gandalf in this regard, desperately clinging onto God and God’s word. But all of us, a bit like Frodo, need people like Sam, who tell us not to let go, in this case of God’s word. Be like Frodo and like Sam.
Help us, God, cling to you and your words.