In this passage, the psalmist refers to such a time of opposition. He is facing affliction (v. 50). He is being utterly derided by those around him (v. 51). The iniquity of the wicked is so flagrant that his spirit burns with indignation (v. 53). The psalmist mentions no one who is encouraging him in God's ways - only the opposite.
Walking faithfully in God's ways is a challenge. Previous stanzas have referred to the struggle within oneself to continually do what is right. In addition to internal struggles, opposition can also come from coworkers, friends, and family. Even other Christians, satisfied with a nominal Christianity, may try to moderate a vibrant Christian; they do not want the unspoken rebuke of a truly dedicated testimony.
Opposition also comes from the source mentioned here: the world in general is no friend to a dedicated Christian. By no stretch of the imagination is society pushing or encouraging Christians in a quest toward godliness. Just like the people in this psalm, the world flagrantly forsakes God's law (v. 53) and ridicules anyone who tries to keep it (v. 51). It is already a challenge to try to live for God; in this world, a Christian receives no encouragement, but rather faces constant opposition.
Was the psalmist impacted by this antagonism? Yes, he was. In verses 49 and 50, he describes a situation in which he needed hope and needed to be revived. The hostility he faced did affect him and threatened to drag him down. Thankfully, however, he did not give in or give up. He did not remain in a hopeless situation. He drew comfort from the Word and pressed on; verses 51, 52, 55, and 56 speak of his faithfulness to remember and keep God's ways.
Remember is an important word in this stanza. The psalmist could not receive comfort from God's Word if he did not remember it - but he did remember (vs. 52 & 55). As he remembered, he also asked God to remember (v. 49). As the psalmist remembered God's Word, he was reassured of its promised help and comfort. God's ordinances are from "of old" (v. 52). His promises have been effective and sufficient for people since the beginning of time, and those tried-and-true promises will be effective for this man as well. All that is necessary is for God to remember and act on what is contained in His Word. That is what the psalmist asks for; he merely reminds God of His Word and asks Him to act based on it. He knows that this will result in comfort.
There is no danger of God ever forgetting. He knows His Word and the promises it contains. He knows His nature as revealed in the Word. He knows His love for His children. He will always act based on His promises, His nature, and His love. It is entirely fitting for Christians to remind God of these things and to humbly ask for Him to act accordingly. Help will come just as the Word promises. When things are ugly and difficult, God's Word has always given comfort and always will.
One important realization by the psalmist is that this world with its surrounding opposition is not his home. He is on a pilgrimage (v. 54). The negative influences and the threatening hostility that surround him are only temporary. In time they will pass, and the psalmist will be taken to his real home, a place where all opposition will cease. Instead he will be forever surrounded only by things that uplift God and righteousness.
Meanwhile, the psalmist finds comfort in remembering God's Word. In this stanza that speaks of opposition, there are more words referring to hope than to affliction. He has hope in God's Word (v. 49). He has comfort and has been revived by it (v. 50). He again speaks of comfort in verse 52. In verse 53, he speaks of the songs that he sings. These comforts from God's Word are so present with him that he remembers them even in the night (v. 55).
The opposition that a Christian faces is real. It can be discouraging, but it does not have to be destructive or devastating. Comfort comes by remembering the Word of God with its promises that will not fail. These promises and the faithful God who gave them will uphold and comfort the Christian through this earthly pilgrimage, until he reaches his real home in heaven where all affliction will cease.
"This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me." Psalm 119:50 (NASB)