Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
Psalm 119:61 ESV
We might borrow the language of the author of Hebrews and say that time would fail us if we were to recount all the lives of our brothers and sisters who displayed these words with their very lives. Of course, we may rightly think of Noah. Although his generation was so wicked and filled with violence that God regretted having ever made humanity, Noah did not forget God’s law, and his family alone survived the destruction of the world.
Or perhaps Joseph ought to come to our minds. He was cast into a pit and sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. As a slave, he was wrongfully accused by his master’s wife of assault and thrown into prison. In prison, he interpreted the dreams of his fellow prisoner, who then forgot about him whenever he was released. Yet Joseph did not forget God’s law. After his father’s death, he affirmed the mysterious providence of God to his brothers, saying, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).
Job is another example for us. Though the cords of the Wicked One ensnared him and though his friends proved to be miserable comforters, Job did not forget God’s law.
We see the same with David as he was hiding from Saul. Though living as an outlaw and in constant fear of death, he did not forget God’s law, and we continue to pray and sing his psalms today.
The same can be said of Daniel and his three friends as they faced the den of lions and the fiery furnace respectively. We may also think of Esther’s faith. Joseph and Mary certainly remembered God’s Word as they fled to Egypt to escape the bloodbath that Herod had ordered. John the Baptist did not forget God’s law as he sat in prison and was eventually beheaded. And these are only a handful of the saints of the old covenant!
Although we may continue to remember examples of those before us who remained faithful despite the suffering brought upon them by the wicked, we ultimately ought to look to our Lord Himself. Throughout His life, the wicked continuously sought to ensnare Him, and upon His arrest in Gethsemane, He allowed Himself to be bound with their cords. Yet even through the beatings, ridicule, and death, He kept faithful to God’s law. Even as His communion with the Father was broken and the wrath of God was poured out in full upon Him in our place, still He did not sin.
The author of Hebrews gives us an exhortation quite fitting for this verse:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.Hebrews 12:1-4