Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
Psalm 119:39 ESV
After praying to behold the confirmation of God’s promise with the Scriptures, the psalmist now prays for the LORD to turn away the reproach that I dread. The most natural question to ask is: What kind of reproach does he dread? Does he dread falling into God’s reproach, or is he referring to the reproach of men? Both are certainly possible. In verse 22, the psalmist longed to have the scorn and contempt of his enemies taken away from him, and he may be expressing a similar thought here. It is also possible that he is dreading the reproach of God’s discipline upon him. The rod of correction in the hand of our Father is rightly both to be loved and feared.
Spurgeon, however, suggests a sort of third interpretation. The psalmist may dread the reproach of his enemies because they will inevitably be linked to God as well. In other words, he may be zealous for the name and reputation of God, dreading that the LORD would endure any reproach caused by the psalmist, whether in actual sin or unjust accusation.
Whichever interpretation we take, the second line gives us grounds for dealing with reproach: dwelling upon the goodness of God’s rules. When we face the reproach of men, whether justly or unjustly, we must root ourselves not in our own reputation or integrity but rather in the goodness of God Himself. Although our obedience wavers like the tides, the rules of God remain good regardless of we rulebreakers. When we face the reproach of God, we bear it humbly, knowing that He is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and we deserve far more discipline from his hand than we often receive. Whenever reproach falls upon God because of us, we must remind ourselves that God alone will vindicate His name.