Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
Psalm 119:74 ESV
I recently wrote a reflection on the first question of the New City Catechism, which asks, “What is our only hope in life and death?” The answer is a thoroughly biblical statement: “That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.” Amen! I am not my own; rather, I belong to my faithful Savior, who suffered death upon the cross in order to reconcile me back to God. What greater hope could ever be expressed, to be held safely in the arms of the Good Shepherd?
Yet as with all of the Christian life, our steadfast hope in Christ has both a vertical and horizontal component, which should not be surprising since Jesus placed all of God’s law upon the same axis. Fulfilling the law requires loving God supremely and loving our neighbor as we do ourselves. The vertical (loving God) certainly is primary, but it is vain if we do not also have the horizontal (loving our neighbor). For how can we truly say that we love God if we do not also love those whom He loves? Similarly, the horizontal is unmoored without first being rooted in the vertical. For how can we truly know how to love without first knowing the One who is love?
Unfortunately, we tend to only think of our hope on the vertical axis. Of course, since the Christian hope sets our gaze firmly upon our Lord, there is good reason for that thinking. However, notice that in this verse the psalmist describes his hope in God’s Word under horizontal terms. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. In other words, everyone who is also setting their hope in God will rejoice to see that my hope is in His Word as well.
They will rejoice because a comradery is developed. To see someone else fixing their hope firmly upon God through His Scriptures strengthens my resolve to do the same. That is why the author of Hebrews spends all of chapter eleven giving his readers portraits of Old Testament saints who endured great trials, hoping in God’s promise that they never saw fulfilled while on earth. That is also why good biographies ought to be the regular reading of every Christian. We who fear God have great need to looking at those who have hoped in God’s Word, often at great cost, that we might rejoice and do likewise.