PSALM 119 (PART 2: 67 – 120) TALK: THE SUPREMACY AND BENEFITS OF GOD’S WORD

PSALM 119 (PART 2: 67 – 120) TALK: THE SUPREMACY AND BENEFITS OF GOD’S WORD

(The second part of the longest Psalm and chapter in the bible like the first part sets down in some detail how God’s word shows us how we should live our lives. God’s word shows us the way God wants us to walk in this life and we should therefore follow its instructions and praise God for his word to us).

INTRODUCTION

This then is the second part or instalment of my Psalm talk on Psalm 119 the longest Psalm and chapter of scripture in the bible. Its length is a testimony to the love and devotion of this ancient man to God and to what he saw as the supremacy and benefits of the word of God.

Written at least 500 years or so before the coming of Christ this Psalm and its theme of the supremacy and benefits of God’s word is referring to what we know today as the Old Testament but we have so much more revelations from God in and through the coming of God’s Son Jesus Christ who John calls in John 1: 14, “The word (of God) become flesh”.

So far I have found each one of the first seven stanzas contained different but very practical helpful advice on living the life of a true believer. This continues in my second part of Psalm 119 and I will seek to open up eight more stanzas for you under the general theme of The Supremacy and benefits of God’s word.

Stanza. 8. (57 – 64) GOD’S WORD INSPIRES COMMITMENT AND FELLOWSHIP

I still consider some of the most blessed and rewarding years of my life were the three years I spent in Bible College over 40 years ago. There I spent three intense years in the sweet fellowship of over 70 other students and lecturers learning every day more and more about God and his word. We did this through lectures, private study, fellowship discussions and yes even through exams and we were all inspired to a greater commitment to God and his word and we were led to be able to have wonderful fellowship in the Lord again through our learning and sharing of the word of God, the bible.

The eighth stanza of Psalm 119 verse 57 – 64 has what I experienced in Bible College as its theme is how the word of God inspires in us greater commitment to God and fellowship the fellowship we have with others who trust in God and his word as well.

A key verse in this part is verse 63 which says,

“I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts”.

You don’t have to be in Bible College to experience what the Psalmist is talking about here as whenever we gather together formally or informally with other Christians we do get inspired by God’s word to greater commitment of God and experience the sweet fellowship of sharing God and his word together.

I have broken this eighth part into four parts:

     1. (5 7 – 60) A RENEWED PERSONAL COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS WORD

     2. (61 – 62) A COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS WORD EVEN IN THE FACE OF
          OPPOSITION

     3. (vs. 63) A COMMITMENT TO FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER FELLOW GOD’S
           WORD BELIEVING MEN AND WOMEN

      4. (vs. 64). A FINAL WORD OF COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS WORD

1.  (5 7 – 60) A RENEWED PERSONAL COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS WORD

I mentioned in my introduction that I enjoyed a wonderful experience of learning from God’s word and enjoying wonderful sweet fellowship in Bible College over 40 years ago and how those three years of intensive study of the word of God deepened my commitment to God and his word. Sadly that commitment to God and his word which I still have did not continue in some of my fellow former Bible College students.

Many students in my years at college did go on to love and serve the Lord like I have but a few have seemingly lost their love and commitment to God and his word and from what I can gather this for some of these former student friends is a result of the anti – God world we live in having a negative impact on their lives. Also the temptations of materialism and even the problems caused of going to churches that God’s word was not really believed in an taught also had a negative impact on some of my former Bible College students friends.

They and us all need to have a continual renewal of our commitment to the word of God like the writer of Psalm 119 speaks of here in the eighth section of Psalm 119 verses 57 – 60.

I have given each one of these first four verses as heading that encapsulates what I think each verse is telling us:

  1. (vs. 57) Committed to God’s word because God is his everything
  2. (vs. 58) Committed to God’s word because God has been sought and found
  3. (vs. 59) Committed to God because I have considered my wa
  4. (vs. 60) Committed to actively obey God and his word.

Lets then have a closer look at each of these first four verses under the theme of commitment:

  1. (vs. 57) Committed because God is his everything

This eighth stanza starts with verse 57 that says,

“You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words”.

Alan Harmon has an interesting theory on what the term, “You are my portion” might have meant to the original writer of Psalm 119 and he writes,

“These words could imply that the Psalmist himself was a levite”.

Harman goes on to explain the significance of this,

“No territory was given to Levies but the Lord was their portion” (Numbers 18: 20 and Deut. 10: 9)

We believe that David wrote Psalm 16 when he was on the run from King Saul and had to flee Israel and became for a while in exile in the land of Israel’s enemy the Philistines and so he then had lost his inherited land and he writes in verses 5 – 6 of Psalm 16,

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup, you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance”.

So for David and our writer of writer of Psalm 119 the Lord is their portion or in Old Testament material terms, their everything. This is a sure word of commitment to God and his word as Jesus said in Matthew 24: 35,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”

Peter speaks of the transient nature of our lives and i believe the things in our lives as compared to God and his word in 1 Peter 1: 23 – 25,

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you”.

So some of my former Bible College fellow students might have lost their commitment to God and his word because the lure of material things overcome them as Jesus says in the parable of the soils about the seed or word of God that falls amongst thorns in Matthew 13: 22,

“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful”.

All of us need to guard against becoming like soil that contains weeds or things that can and will deceive us and choke the word of God in our lives and we must be renewed in our commitment to God and his word by realising like the writer of Psalm 119 did in verse 57 that,

“You are my portion (my everything) Lord”

And by doing what he says by showing in our lives that we,

“Obey your (God’s) word”.

2. (vs. 58) Committed to God’s word because God has been sought and found

The writer of Psalm 119 continues in verse 58 to speak of his renewed commitment to God and his word by describing how, I think he came to this renewed commitment to God and his word. He firstly says,

“I have sought your face with all my heart”.

Jesus gives us a great promise about the results of anyone who seeks him in Matthew 7: 7 – 8,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”.

I have read of many famous Christians like John Newton and even a young John Stott proving this verse to be true as they sought to know God and asked God to reveal himself to them and they came to understand the true message of the Gospel.

The writer of Psalm 119 speaks of seeking God’s face and this term means according to an article called “Seeking the face of God’ on a internet sight called “Shofasound”,

“To seek the face of God is to seek His presence”.

To seek God’s presence is to seek who he really is or all that he is and a major attribute of who he is or what he is all about is mentioned in the second part of verse 58 when it says,

“Be gracious to me according to your promise”.

The God of the bible is a gracious or loving God and the word gracious means the same thing as the New Testament word, “Grace”, love that is undeserved. So the writer of Psalm 119 has a renewed commitment to God because he had sought God as he is and found yet again he is a gracious or loving God according to his promises in his word the bible.

The graciousness of God that the writer speaks of as the promise of God for him is what is found in God’s covenant love to his people Israel made clear by God himself in references like Deuteronomy 7: 7 – 9,

“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

This covenantal love widens out to the whole world through the coming of Jesus and his death for our sins on the cross as John 3: 16 declares,

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

And Paul makes it clear that this love of God is ours by faith in the Grace or undeserved love of God in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.

So we after seeking God afresh and seeing his grace should be able to re – commit our lives afresh to God and his word like the writer of Psalm 119 did in verse 58.

3. (vs. 59) Committed to God because I have considered my ways

If a person has come to a realisation that they have let something pull them away from commitment to God and his ways then they need to do what the writer of Psalm 119 says he has done in verse 59,

“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes”.

John tells us in 1 John 1: 9 what we should do if we find we have been pulled away from God and his word by some kind of sin in our lives, he writes

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.

Even the most committed Christian is still a sinner forgiven by God if he or she does what the writer of Psalm 119 says in 59,

“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes”.

So commitment to God and his word is an ongoing daily process that the writer of Psalm 119 seems to have practiced.

4.  (vs. 60) Committed to actively obey God and his word.

The writer of Psalm 119 concludes his first part of his commitment to God and his word with a resolve and that resolve in verse 60 goes like this,

“I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands”.

This resolve to “hasten” a pleading with God for immediate help like David uses the word in Psalm 40: 13,

“Be pleased to save me, Lord, come quickly (or hasten), Lord to help me”.

Or is it a term used to show the writers readiness to act as we see in Psalm 55: 8,

“I would hurry (hasten) to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm”.

It would seem to me to be the second idea of a readiness to act as he adds,

“And not delay”

So this shows his commitment to act and act quickly or decisively to obey God’s word. Paul expresses real and biblical commitment in Philippians 3: 13 – 14,

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

2.  (61 – 62) A COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS WORD EVEN IN THE FACE OF
      OPPOSITION

We realise after reading the first part of verse 61 that this commitment of the writer to God and his word was in the face of great difficulty caused by the persecution of his enemies as the verse reads,

“Though the wicked bind me with ropes”.

All commentators agree this is not literal but a metaphorical expression as Allan Harman says this expression includes,

“Any form of scheming that restricts or impedes”.

The writer of Psalm 119 has just made very clear statement of commitment to God and his word and he now says he is making this in the face of great opposition to God and his word yet he says in the second half of verse 61,

“I will not forget your law”.

David faced many scheming enemies who sought to restrict or impede him serving God and he offers words of advice and comfort in times of difficulty when he wrote in Psalm 37: 5 – 6,

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun”.

Then in verse 62 the writer of Psalm 119 uses I think another metaphor for difficulties he faced when he writes,

“At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws”.

Midnight could be a metaphor for darkness or difficulty and even if it isn’t he is praising God at the so called ungodly hour of midnight and so his faith is one way or another strong enough to face with God’s word and its many promises in mind any form of darkness in his life with commitment and praise.

Paul tells us to praise or thank God in all circumstances in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

To thank God in all circumstances including dark and difficult times really reveals our faith in God and our commitment to him and his word.

3. (vs. 63) A COMMITMENT TO FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER FELLOW GOD’S
WORD BELIEVING MEN AND WOMEN

After the writer of Psalm 119 spoke of those who oppose him because of his commitment to God and his word he speaks of the fellowship of those who like him wo fear or revere God and his word he writes in verse 63,

“I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts”.

I mentioned in my introduction that my three years in Bible College over 40 years ago was a highlight for me of wonderful fellowship with over 70 other committed Christians and lecturers all there to study the word of God and share the many gifts we had amongst us in ministry and worship.

However all through my Christian life I have belonged to vital and active churches who were and are committed to God and his word and I can testify that being with a group of friends who share the same commitment to God and his word as I do is a great encouragement and can and does help promote in me a greater commitment to God and his word.

The New Testament has much to say about the church which is not the building but the people who meet in it. The web site “Gotquestion?org” explains really well what the New Testament teaches about what the church is,

“The word church is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, meaning “a called–out assembly.” The word describes a group of people who have been called out of the world and set apart for the Lord, and it is always used, in its singular form, to describe a universal group of people who know Christ. The word ekklesia, when pluralized, is used to describe groups of believers who meet together. Interestingly enough, the word church is never used in the Bible to describe a building or organization”.

My experience has generally been positive for all the years I have belonged to churches and have visited and the great unique friendship or fellowship is even more evident the times I have visited in places overseas and I can testify to experiencing oneness in Christ that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4: 3 – 7,

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it”.

True Christian fellowship is a wonderful encouragement to continue in our committed to God and his word as the writer of Psalm 119 indicates in verse 63.

4. (vs. 64). A FINAL WORD OF COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS WORD

The writer of Psalm 119 now bring this eighth stanza to an end with a final declaration about his God that he has recommitted his life to in previous verses in this stanza. He is committed to a God and his word who is great and loving, two characteristics he obviously believe encapsulates this God he serves and worships.

He writes,

“The earth is filled with your love, Lord teach me your decrees”.

David wrote at the start of Psalm 19 verse 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

In another creation praising Psalm David writes, Psalm 8: 1,

“Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens”.

So now that glory and majesty that God’s creation is declaring is according to our writer of Psalm 119 God’s love. After all God made this world so perfectly and gave it to mankind as Genesis 1: 28 says,

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis account of God’s creation features God making everything by and through his powerful word made clear by the word’s,

“And God said”

That term appears six times through the first chapter of the bible, God’s word which this writer of Psalm 119 is so committed to and wants God to teach him more of as he closes stanza 8 of Psalm 119 with the request,

“Teach me your decrees”

Of course this writer has alluded to a much clearer demonstration of God’s love even in this stanza in verse 58 where he prayed,

“Be gracious to me according to your promise”

Obvious reference to the covenantal love of God he and his people Israel knew or at least should have known for the writer of Psalm 119 spoke much about how people in his own nation of Israel especially its rulers had turned away from God and his word and persecuted him for continuing to believe and uphold in God and his word.

We as Christians have a greater and more perfect demonstration of God’s love found in and through the coming of The Lord Jesus Christ that John speaks of in the famous John 3: 16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Later in the apostle John’s life he spoke further about this great love of God in 1 John 4: 8 – 10,

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”.

So we have great inspiration for a renewed commitment to God’s and his word, the great love God has for the world and us which is shown through the Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for our sins on the cross.

Therefore may we join the writer of this great Psalm who stated this stanza eight with the words,

“You are my portion, Lord I have promised to obey your words”.

Help me Lord to be committed to you
And not to things of this life
You and your people are my real friends
Your love helps me cope with my strife.

Stanza 9 (65 – 72) GOD AND HIS WORD IS GOOD EVEN IN TIMES OF AFFLICTION

Many years ago I read somewhere of a true story of the famous first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool England who died at the ripe old age of 84 one year after he retired from his role as that first Bishop of Liverpool. Ryle wrote many wonderful books and his famous book “Holiness” is a book I still consider one of the top ten books I have ever read.

The story goes that after the death of his third and last wife, Ryle lost two others to illness as well, he attended church in the Liverpool cathedral and was down to preach on that Sunday the day after his wife had tragically passed away from the effects of a heavy cold during a special Exhibition in Liverpool that turned out to be on a very wet and cold day. Instead of preaching a sermon from the cathedral pulpit Ryle went to the bible reading desk and opened the large church bible and lifted up an equally large tapestry book mark the wrong way around.

Ryle spoke briefly of the passing of his third wife with many tears as he held up the bookmark and said at the moment this is like my faith in God but then he turned the bookmark around and the congregation could read the word’s “God is Love”.

Ryle was illustrating a very real point sometimes when we suffer some kind of affliction in life we feel like Ryle and the people in the cathedral that day, unable to make sense of what God is doing but our faith should be like the faith J.C Ryle that even in our darkest hour God is still good as he is a loving God who promises to be with us at all times, both good and bad as James tells us in James 4: 7 – 11,

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”.

Paul says this about the love of God and difficult times in Romans 8: 35 – 39,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

In stanza 9 our writer of Psalm 119 speaks of God being good even though he was going through a very dark and difficult time owing to some kind of persecution by his enemies and he even says in verse 71 that it was for his good that God allowed him to suffer at the hands of his enemies,

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees”.

In my reading and study of this ninth section one other verse keeps coming into my head and that is Romans 8: 28 which says,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes”.

The structure of stanza 9 with the theme of God and his word is good even in times of affliction is”

1.(65 – 66) TEACH ME YOUR GOODNESS ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD

2. (67 – 68) TEACH ME YOUR GOODNESS DESPITE MY FAILINGS

3. (69 – 71) TEACH ME YOUR GOODNESS EVEN IN TIMES OF AFFLICTION

4. (vs. 72) TEACH ME TO APPRECIATE THE GOODNESS OR VALUE OF YOUR WORD

Lets then look a little closer at these four little sections of this ninth stanza:

1. (65 – 66) TEACH ME YOUR GOODNESS ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD

The writer of Psalm 119 starts his ninth stanza with two requests:

  1. (vs. 65) Do good to your servant
  2. (vs. 66) Teach me knowledge and good judgement.

These prayer requests we will see in later verses are in the context of difficulty owing to the persecution of his enemies (verse’s 69 and 70).

So as this writer is experiencing great difficulties his prayer is not just that God be good to him in helping him in his difficult time but that God would teach him new or greater knowledge and judgement as well in this dark time of persecution.

Lets have a close look at these two prayer requests:

(vs. 65) Do good to your servant

His first prayer request goes like this in verse 65,

“Do good to your servant according to your word”.

The Hebrew adjective for “Good” comes up four times in this stanza and Allan Harman explains that the opening use of this Hebrew adjective for “good” is an,

“Appeal for God to act in fulfilment of his word and deal graciously with his servant”.

Solomon at the opening of the Temple speaks of the promises of God being promises God gave through his servant Moses in 1 Kings 8: 56,

“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses”.

So the good this writer of Psalm 119 wants God to give him are the good promises God gave Israel through Moses we call the covenantal promises of God summed up in Deuteronomy 28: 1 – 3,

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: 3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country”.

The next ten verses spell out in more detail some of the blessings or good things God promises to give to his people if they obey him and his word.

We are not under this Old Covenant but a new and far greater one that the writer to the Hebrews speaks of in Hebrews 8: 6,

“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises”.

Note how we who believe in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross have a covenant that has better promises than what our writer in Psalm 119 verse 65 asks God to appropriate for him.

So what are some of the promises we have in Christ under this new covenant?

I found on the net a compulsive answer to this question by an article by a man named Paul Ellis called “The top 12 blessings in the New Covenant and here in a brief format are Paul’s 12 blessings,

1. God forgives all our sins (Matt 26:28, Acts 13:38).

2. God remembers our sins no more (Heb 8:12, 10:17; Jer 31:34).

3. God promises never to be angry with us again (Is 54:7-10).

4. God qualifies us (Col 1:12).

5. Jesus takes hold of us and never lets go (Php 3:12, Ju 24).

6. God credits us with the perfect righteousness of Jesus (2 Cor 5:21).

7. God gives us the Holy Spirit to teach us (Jn 14:26), empower us (Acts 1:8) and remind us of our
righteousness (Jn 16:10).

8. God is for us (Romans 8:31)

9. God is with us (Ez 37:27)! Because of Jesus the door to the throne room is always open (Heb
4:16).

10. God empowers us to overcome the enemy (1 Jn 5:4).

11. God offers us His rest (Heb 4:10-11).

12. God gives us eternal life (Romans 6:23).

So when we pray, “Do good to your servant according to your word” we have so much blessings in God for now and in our future in heaven.

(vs. 66) Teach me knowledge and good judgement.

Then in verse 66 our writer of Psalm 119 prays again for God to teach him which he already requested in verse 64 and also in verse 12. Now he asks for the same thing in verse 66 using the twin concepts of knowledge and good judgment, he writes,

“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands”.

Knowledge is similar to the other two requests but here he adds “good judgment” which Alan Harman means,

“Discernment or behaviour”

Knowledge of God and his word is very valuable but knowledge on its own is of little value as it does not necessarily achieve anything but knowledge understood and put into practice is wisdom and the wisdom only God can give is very valuable and so we read in Proverbs 3: 7,

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil”.

When I have found myself in very difficult situations in my life particularly caused by how others are acting towards me I have realised what I need is wisdom and wisdom only God can give so I have prayed for that claiming the promise James gives us in James 1: 5,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”.

Every time I have prayed for this wisdom God has graciously answered me and given me a insight or thought that has answered my need so perfectly.

2. (67 – 68) TEACH ME YOUR GOODNESS DESPITE MY FAILINGS

The writer of psalm 119 then in verse 67 seems to indicate that the affliction he was experiencing from his enemies came about by his own going astray from following God and his word, he writes,

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word”.

This concept of affliction caused by the writer going astray fits perfectly to David and the affliction his enemies made him suffer as a result of his sins of adultery and murder. As David speaks of in Psalm 35: 15,

“But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing”.

David might have been forgiven by God but his enemies where not like God but rather they saw David’s shortcomings as an opportunity to bring him down and exalt themselves over him like David speaks of in Psalm 38: 16,

“For I said, ‘Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip”.

So whether our writer of Psalm 119 is David or the writer of Psalm 119 is drawing on some kind of royal diary note of David we cannot tell but the fact is the writer indicates his current affliction caused by his enemies (vs. 69) was caused by his former sin or straying form obeying God and his word.

Then in verse 68 after indicating in the second half of verse 67 he obeyed God and his word he states how God is good so he asks again that God might teach him his word and obviously the writer of Psalm 119 will obey it,

“You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your ways”.

We need to learn from David and this writers example that turning away from God and his word has lots of consequences for our lives not less it opens up a door for Satan to enter with his forces to afflict us with perception or just plain difficulties.

James told us in a previous quote to,

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” James 4: 7

So the writer of Psalm 119 did sin or disobey God and his word for a time but he obviously turned back to God and his word and he now sought to obey God and his word in verse 67 and he then asked again for to teach him his decrees or word.

3. (69 – 71) TEACH ME YOUR GOODNESS EVEN IN TIMES OF AFFLICTION

Then we come to what I see as the heart of this ninth stanzas teaching and here we read of the writer of this Psalm telling us of his affliction and how even as he suffered this dark and painful affliction caused by his persecutors he was still trusting in God and his word and even delighting in it and wanting to learn more about it.

I have broken this part of the ninth stanza into three parts:

  1. (vs. 69) Affliction but faith in God and his word
  2. (vs. 70) Affliction but delighting in God and his word
  3. (vs. 71) Affliction but the affliction is appreciated

So lets look at these three parts of this third section of the ninth stanza of Psalm 119,

  1. (vs. 69) Affliction but faith in God and his word

I mentioned at the start of my talk on this ninth stanza the story of J.C Ryle and how he with tears held up the opposite side of a tapestry bookmark that expressed how he felt about God and his word after he had just learnt of his third wife death. Humanly speaking we just cannot see how God is good to us when we face terrible turn of events in our lives like J. C Ryle we need to look beyond the tattered mess of our lives to see in God’s word that God is a good and loving and that if only we would hang in and put our trust in God we will receive from him his help and assistance and even ultimately full understanding. This understanding often will not come to us unto we are in heaven but by faith we have to believe that God is working his purposes out for our good.

The writer of Psalm 119 had this kind of faith as he writes in verse 69,

“Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart”

In the midst of J,C. Rules pain and grief he held on to God and his word and so did the writer of Psalm 119 for he was slandered by arrogant men with false accusations and yet he stayed focussed on God and his word.

David wrote Psalm 27 with the same kind of commitment to God and his word as he faced great difficulty caused by a opposition from his many enemies and he says this in verses 1 – 3,

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life
of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my
enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not
fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident”.

Note how David saw that God alone was his light in his dark times caused by those who opposed him and who sought to bring him down.

Paul spent much time locked up by his opponents Jewish leaders and Roman leaders yet Paul in his seemingly dark times trusted in God and God always helped Paul and Paul wrote encouraging words to the churches about how God used him to establish his church like Philippians 1: 12 – 14,

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear”.

2. (vs. 70) Affliction but delighting in God and his word

In verse 70 the writer seems to show the great contrast of the attitude of his opponents and his attitude to God and his word in the face of his opponents persecution, he writes,

“Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law”.

His opponents do not have any real joy in their lives and their opposition to God and his word leads them to have callous and unfeeling hearts and Leopold says that the actual Hebrew words here describe,

“Men who are devoid of spiritual capacity”.

However in the face of this callous and unfeeling attacks of his enemies our writer of Psalm 119 says he takes,

“Delight in your laws” (or in God’s word”

Peter has these words of advice for his readers who were suffering persecution from people who were callous and unfeeling and in 1 Peter 3: 8 – 17,

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil”.

3. (vs. 71) Affliction but the affliction is appreciated

Finally in this third part of the ninth stanza that deals with the goodness of God in the face of affliction our writer actually states in verse 71 that the affliction he was suffering was actually good for him, he writes,

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees”.

I have experienced times of persecution from people who do not like my commitment to God and his word but looking back at those difficult times I can say as well that I learnt so much about God and his word through those difficult times and my faith did grow as I proved God in my life as I trusted in him as Peter also says about the value of difficult times in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”

May we join the writer of Psalm 119 in appreciating difficult times through persecution to see that through them we,

“Might learn your decrees”. (vs. 71)

4. (vs. 72) TEACH ME TO APPRECIATE THE GOODNESS OR VALUE OF YOUR WORD

This ninth stanza has struck the note of the goodness and value of God and his word even in the face of terrible difficulty in life through persecution so it is only fitting he should finish this ninth stanza with a statement of the value of God’s word, he writes,

“The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”.

The concept of the word of God being to our writer very valuable than any earthly riches is something he has already stated in verse 14 and will state again in verses 127 and 162 of this Psalm.

Sadly people today see no value in God’s word but let me put it this way what use is it to have all the riches in the world when we are facing death?

Jesus said in Matthew 6: 19 – 21,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

God and his word are eternal and he and his word is then are the only thing of any real eternal value so then as the writer of Psalm 119 says they are,

“More precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”.

Even in this life the hope and comfort God and his word gives money cannot buy as they come only from God himself as a gift we can know and enjoy even in times of affliction. I close this ninth stanza with the words of Paul in Philippians 4: 12 – 13, written remember when he was locked up in a Roman prison,

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

Inspire me now to know your word
O good Lord who is with us now
For even when trouble comes my way
Your word is my comfort each hour.

STANZA 10 (73 – 80) GOD’S WORD TRUSTED I PRODUCES A POWERFUL TESTIMONY

When I was in my late teens I returned to following the Lord after backsliding for four years after I left school and went to work and got involved in non – christians who quickly led me astray in a sinful life. In the first year I was going to church again and seeking to sort out the mess my life was in I attended a church coffee shop that were popular in the early 1970’s and a group of four girls were singing Gospel songs.

One of the four girls sang a solo song and this girl was a very attractive girl herself in her late teens but before she sang her song she shared with the people in the coffee shop that she had just learnt from her doctors that she had a very rare form of cancer that meant she had less than a year to live. She testified to her faith in the word of God and how she believed that the Lord Jesus through his death and resurrection had won for her and all who truly believe in him the gift of eternal life and because of that she knew where she was going when she died and therefore did not fear death.

Once this young girl had finished her song introduction and had sung her song there was not a dry eye in the coffee shop. I was deeply moved by this girls testimony and it certainly helped strengthen my newly re-committed faith in God and his word.

The writer of Psalm 119 in his tenth stanza speaks of the value of a powerful testimony that a person who trusts in God and his word has particularly for other fellow believers and I believe on non – believers as well. The key verse of this tenth stanza is verse 74,

“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word”.

This testimony of our writers commitment to God and his word is powerful because like the young girt in the coffee shop all those years ago it was in the context of difficulty and strife which adds to its power and value.

I have broken this tenth stanza into three parts all relating to the theme of how trusting in God and his word is a powerful testimony to other people particularly when that trusting in God and his word is done at a time of great difficulty and strife in the life of the person trusting in God and his word:

     1. (73 – 75) THE POWERFUL TESTIMONY OF A PERSON WHO TRUSTS IN GOD AND HIS
            WORD

     2.  (76 – 77) THE COMFORT AND SUPPORT GOD GIVES TO THOSE WHO TRUST IN
          HIM AND HIS WORD

     3. (78 – 80) THE SHAME OF THOSE WHO OPPOSE GOD AND HIS WORD

     1.  (73 – 75) THE POWERFUL TESTIMONY OF A PERSON WHO TRUSTS IN GOD AND HIS
          WORD

The writer of Psalm 119 knew God’s word so well that he knows that he is a created being who without the great and powerful God teaching him his word he is powerless to know and understand it. That is why I believe he asks God for understanding his word in the context of stating that the God of the bible is the creator God, he writes in verse 78,

“Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands”.

We have seen his reliance on God teaching him his word already in verses 18, 27, 33, 66 and he will ask for it again in verses, 135 and 169. So his logic is that if God made him and of course everything else then he has the ability and power to give him understanding of his word as Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 2: 6 – 10, passage in which Paul quotes from Isaiah 64: 4 which as Paul argues speaks of how God must teach us by his Holy Spirit what his word is really teaching us,

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has
conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him— 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Then in verse 74, once the writer of Psalm 119 had asked for the understanding of God’s word that God alone can give he states the effect the one who is committed to God and his word has on others, he writes,

“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word”.

The testimony of a person like the writer of Psalm 119 putting his hope in God and his word is described here as bringing joy that causes people who see this testimony of a person like our writer of Psalm 119 hoping in God and his word.

This is even a more powerful testimony because this trusting in God and his word is done as he suffers affliction as verse 75 say,

“I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”

The writer of Psalm 119 like that young girl I heard speak and sing years ago in the church run coffee shop actually strongly trusted in God as they suffered great affliction. For the writer of Psalm 119 this affliction was painful persecution from his enemies and in the case of the girl in the coffee shop it was her immanent death through cancer.

I know that on that night all those years ago I was greatly encouraged and challenged by the faith of the beautiful young girl in the coffee shop and her testimony was so powerful that it still has an effect on me some 40 or so years later.

What that girl all those years ago was doing was what Jesus commands us to do in Matthew 5: 16,

“let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.

The writer also states in verse 75 that even the affliction he is suffering comes from God’s faithfulness and his thinking here is explained by what he spoke of in the previous stanza and what he said in verse 71,

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees”.

I spoke of how I have seen the value of difficult times in the past and how during those difficult times I was caused to look to and trust in God more than in easier times and so I often grew spiritually far more in difficult times that easier times. I also referred to what Peter said about the value of suffering for the Christian life in 1 Peter 1: 6 and 7 well here is what Paul says about the value of suffering for the christian in Romans 5: 3 – 5,

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

2. (76 – 77) THE COMFORT AND SUPPORT GOD GIVES TO THOSE WHO TRUST IN
                       HIM AND HIS WORD

God in his mercy and love might allow us to suffer some kind of affliction from time to time in our lives but this does not mean he will desert us or even not help us when in difficult times as the writer goes on to speak of a number of ways how God helps us when we as believers suffer some kind of affliction.

In verse 76 he speaks of God’s promise of his love,

“May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant”.

In the case of our writer the unfailing love of God was made clear to him through God’s covenant promise of love that he made to his people Israel which he has obviously been referring to in other stanzas of this long Psalm and which is expressed so clearly in passage of the Old Testament like Deuteronomy 7: 7 – 9,

“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

The unfailing love of God also gave great comfort to the young girt I heard speak and sing years ago who was suffering fro terminal cancer a love from God expressed in what she shared to us that night that is found in verses like John 3: 16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Both the Old Testament covenant love and the New Testaments New Covenant universal love bring comfort to all true believers in the God of the bible but the comfort and support for all true believers in God and his word doers not stop there for our writer of Psalm 119 says this in verse 77,

“Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight”.

In both the Old Testament and New Testament the God of the bible deals with those who turn to him in faith in him and his word with compassion or grace as David speaks of in Psalm 86: 15,

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”.

And in the New Testament Paul says this about this God of mercy and love and why he comforts us in 2 Corinthians 2: 3 – 4,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”.

So like the writer of Psalm 119 when we face some kind of affliction we should ask God to let his compassion and grace come on us to comfort us in the midst of our affliction. The young girl in the coffee shop all those years ago was comforted by her faith in the grace or love of God and her witness became a word of comfort and love for me and everyone else who was present that night when she so beautifully and powerfully spoke and sang of God and his word.

Again the writer of Psalm 119 expresses like he has he has done many time before already that God’s word is a delight to him. So it is to us who know it, believe it and proclaim it with our lives and words.

3. (78 – 80) THE SHAME OF THOSE WHO OPPOSE GOD AND HIS WORD

In the final three verses of this tenth stanza our writer speaks of the fate of his evil enemies if they persist to oppose God and his word and of course those like our writer of Psalm 119 who they seek to bring down because of their powerful witness of God and his word.

Then in the next verse 79 he makes the contrast of how the true believers of God and his word support our writer who in the final verse of this tenth section states that God will not put true believers to shame because of their wholehearted commitment to God and his word.

Lets have a look at these last three verses a little closer.

First of all we have verse 78 which is a form or precatory prayer or prayer for God’s judgment to come on his enemies, a type of prayer we find a lot in the book of Psalms. Verse 78 says,

“May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts”.

I have mentioned each time one of theses precatory prayers has come up before that Jesus wants us to not pray for God’s judgment to come on our enemies but rather that God’s love might come upon them as Jesus says in Matthew 5: 44,

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

I have read of many Christians in our world today who have done just that as they have been so cruelly persecuted and God has used their powerful witness of his love to lead some of their enemies who persecuted them to become believes.

However for this who do not respond to the witness and message of God’s message of love we call the Gospel God’s shame or God’s judgment will come eventually on them as John writes in John 3: 17 – 18,

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”.

Our writer chooses not to oppose God and his word like his enemies but even as he is being persecuted for his powerful witness of God and his word he resolves to,

“Meditate on your precepts”.

Then in verse 79 we have a very different prayer that reads like this,

“May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes”

The writer like the Apostle Paul was so sure he was walking in the truth of God and his word he was not afraid for others to imitate or follow his example as Paul tells the Corinthians to do in 1 Corinthians 11: 1,

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”.

I have asked myself the question,

Could I be so sure of my faith and my witness of it that I would be willing to say to a non- believer or a younger Christian follow my example as I follow Christ?

Finally in verse 80 the writer of Psalm 119 closes this tenth stanza with these words,

“May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame”.

Maybe because he previously prayed that his powerful witness of God and his word would be imitated by those who fear or revere God he is naturally led as a consequence to ask God to help him wholeheartedly follow or be committed to and put into practice God’s word in his daily life.

Our writer knows that if a person does turn to God and his word they will not be put to shame or be judged by God so he is asking that others, maybe even some of his persecutors be turned around to be committed to God and his word.

I close with the words of Paul to the Philippians that they might have a powerful testimony in this dark world as they hold out or present the word of life or the word of God to what he called this warped and crooked generation in Philippians 2: 14 – 16,

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain”.

Just as you created me O Lord
Help me to understand your word
May my witness of you and your word
Be now seen and forever heard.

Stanza 11 (81 – 88) GOD AND HIS WORD IS WITH US EVEN IN DARK TIMES OF PERSECUTION

Many years ago I was inspired by God to write a new song I called’ “Never Alone” after reading about a Chinese Christian man being locked up for seven years in the 1970’s during the terrible persecution of Christians at the time of the infamous cultural revolution in China.

This man in his dark cell for seven years decided to remind himself of God and his word by scratching with a small rock every verse of the bible he could remember on the walls of his cell. By the time things had settled down for Christians again in China and this Christian man was released from his prison cell the walls of his cell was completely covered with verses he had scratched on the walls of his cell.

The book I was reading this in then said that the man claimed after his release that even though he was in solitary confinement for seven years he felt he was never alone because the Lord was always with him and this statement inspired the chorus of my song that says,

Never alone, Never alone
For the Lord is beside me wherever I roam.
Never alone, never alone
With his Spirit inside me his made me his own.

Stanza 11, the middle stanza of this 22 stanza Psalm has as its central theme the idea that God and his word is with us even in the darkest times of persecution or difficulty and because of that we can both trust in God to help us and eventually save us from the sinful enemies we might face in this life.

I will share some of the verses of my Never Alone song which are inspired by some of the verses I would have attempted to scratch on the walls of a cell if I was locked up for my faith in solitary confinement.

I have broken this stanza 11 into three parts:

      1. (81 – 83) SUFFERING BUT STILL CLINGING TO GOD AND HIS WO

      2. (84 – 85) SUFFERING BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE OPPOSE YOUR WORD

      3. (86 – 88) SUFFERING BUT GOD AND HIS WORD IS WITH ME

Lets have a closer look at each of these three sections of this eleventh stanza:

      1. (81 – 83) SUFFERING BUT STILL CLINGING TO GOD AND HIS WORD

All through the first ten stanzas of this Psalm the original writer of this Psalm speaks of affliction he is facing through persecution from enemies who do not believe in God and his word. It seems that even in our own day and age it is not enough for people to not believe in God and leave believers alone to live and believe as they wish for both individual atheists and Government atheistic regimes like Communist China want to hurt and destroy those who dare believe in a God they reject and claim doesn’t even exist.

My question to such people is, what are you afraid of if God doesn’t exist?

Now in stanza 11 the writer features the opposition and the persecution they have brought on him in a kind of prayer asking for God’s help and comfort. He kicks off this prayer for God’s help and comfort in the face of persecution with three verses that describe his desperate situation but with words of faith and confidence in God and his word.

The three descriptions of how he feels are:

i.) (vs. 81) My soul faints
ii) (vs. 82) My eyes fail
iii) (vs. 83) I feel left out to die

Lets have a closer look at each of these three descriptions of how our writer feels as he is being cruelly persecuted>

i.) (vs. 81) My soul faints

The writer of Psalm 119 writes in verse 81,

“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word”.

We have no idea just what these enemies of our writer did physically to him but he does tells us that with words they slandered him and brought him low in spirit as he declared in verse 69,

“Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies”.

and verse 78 that says,

“May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause”.

There are hints of him being locked up in some way for his stand to trust in God and his word like verse 61,

“Though the wicked bind m with ropes, I will not forget your law”

Which could be a metaphorical statement or could be a poetic way of saying he was locked up by his enemies. However whatever the persecutors were physically doing to our writer it caused him to be close to death as he says in verse 87,

“They almost wiped me from the earth”

So our writer felt faint in his soul but even as he felt that low owing to his persecutions he was still trusting in God and his word for he writes in the second half of verse 81,

“But I have put my hope in your word”

The apostle Paul had to face all kinds of affliction including being locked up in prison on a number of occasions yet he always kept trusting in God and his word and at the end of his life locked up in prison awaiting, we believe his execution he tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8 how he has remained faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and his Gospel in the great race of life we are all in, he writes,

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing”

ii) (vs. 82) My eyes fail

Our writer of Psalm 119 continues to describe the desperate situation he is in because of his persecution for his faith in God and how it is effecting him in verse 82,

“My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me”.

The term he uses, “my eyes fail” could be a literal problem he now faced owing to the mainly tears he might have cried caused by the great pain and anguish he was in but it also could be a
metaphoric description of how he felt close to death as he seems to say he is in verse 87.

Whatever it is it indicates the fact that he is in a terrible dark and painful situation owing to his current persecution and this is made even clearer by his prayer request in this verse that says,

“When will you comfort me”.

I once heard a talk by a famous Australian TV presenter Leigh Hatcher who is a very strong Christian who suffered for over two years the painful condition of chronic fatigue syndrome and how the pain of this condition was not just the physical pain but the emotional and spiritual pain caused by some so called christian friends who tormented him with so called advice like, “get yourself together and get out of bed and get back to work” or “why aren’t you praying about this because if you did pray with real faith God would heal you”. Fortunately Leigh did get real support and comfort from other Christian friends who simply sat with him, prayed with him and encouraged him with practical support and words of comfort.

Leigh came through his ordeal and learnt so much from it he wrote an amazing book “I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just A Little Unwell: My Journey Through Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”.

I’m sure Leigh wept many tears during those two long years of suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” but God did help Leigh through that dark time in his life as he hung on to God and his word through it.

iii) (vs. 83) I feel left out to die

The third description the writer gives of how he felt during his time of persecution from those who opposed God and his word is a little more difficult for us in the twenty first century to understand because the writer uses a old daily item of Bible times to describe it, namely a wineskin, he writes in verse 83,

“Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees”.

H.C. Leupold explains what a wineskin was i ancient times with these words,

“A wineskin was obviously the Old Testament equivalent of a bottle”.

He goes on to explain that,

“Unused wineskins would be hung near the rafters of a room for storage”.

If this storage room had smoke in it then the smoke would make the dry wineskin to shrivel up and so this Old Testament image is like the old expression “hung out to dry”, which Wiktionary defines its meaning as,

“To abandon someone who is in need or some kind of danger”.

This is the painful feeling the writer of Psalm 119 felt when he was attacked in some way by his persecutors but he might have felt abandoned but he says,

“I do not forget your decrees”

I believe he does not forget God’s decrees or word for he knows that God’s word makes it clear that God will never leave or forsake his faithful followers as he would have known from Deuteronomy 31: 6,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Also if he knew the writings of David or David himself in some way contributed to what we find in Psalm 119 we have statements of God not forsaking his faithful servants like Psalm 37: 28,

“For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones”.

Jesus tells us that he is always with his faithful followers and will therefore never forsake them as he says in Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I spoke in my introduction to this eleventh stanza my song “Never Alone” inspired by the Chinese Christian man who was locked up in solitary confinement for seven years and who scratched on the wall of his cells verses from the bible he could remember. Here is my first verse of my song based on what Jesus said in Matthew 28: 19, 20,

“Low I am with you to the end of the age
That is his promise in the bibles page.
Jesus is with me through joy and distress
And he is the one who’s desire is to bless”.

2. (84 – 85) SUFFERING BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE OPPOSE YOUR WORD

Some might ask if God loves you so much why does he allow you to suffer like the writer of Psalm 119 did?

The problem of suffering is a tricky concept to come to terms with but the answer has a number of levels to it’s answer. In my Psalm 6 Talk I go into some detail in my answer to this question but briefly God allows suffering in this world for four reasons and for each reason I will give just one bible verse to show one small example of how these four reasons come from the bible:

  1. Suffering comes as a test of our faith – 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7
  2. Suffering comes to bring glory to God – John 9: 2
  3. Suffering comes from living in a fallen sinful world – Genesis 3: 19
  4. Suffering comes as a form of discipline from God – Hebrews 12: 4 – 8.

To give you an answer of why you might be suffering is impossible as any one or a combination of the above four reasons is a possible answer but I believe our focus should not be on why we might be suffering at the moment but how are we firstly going to deal with it and secondly what can we learn from going through it.

Our writer suffered because he was livening in a fallen world which causes people who are in rebellion to God and his rule to oppose God and anyone who dates to side with God and his word or in Old Testament terms God’s law.

This is why in verses 84 and 85 our writer of Psalm 119 has to deal with people who oppose God and his word opposing him.

These two verses speak of two things those who oppose God can and often do to people who trust in God and his word and they are:

  1. (vs. 84) Those who oppose God and his word persecute those who trust in God and his
    word.
  2. (vs. 85) Those who oppose God and his word seek to trap and sometimes seek to kill those who trust in God and his word.

Lets have a quick look at each of these two reactions of those who oppose God and his word to those who trust in God and his word:

  1. (vs. 84) Those who oppose God and his word persecute those who trust in God and his
    word.

The writer calls out to God in prayer as he is suffering great persecution from those who oppose God and his word and in verse 84 he prays,

“How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors”.

Verse 84 is one of only two verses in the 176 verse Psalm that does not mention directly or indirectly God’s word and verse 121 is the other one. It does of course mention the often used call for help,

“How long”

This term features in Psalm 13 and H.C. Leupold commenting on this well used expression in the book of Psalms explains it this way in his commentary on its use in Psalm 13, he writes,

”How long, indicates the extremity of this poor man’s misery. His strength is well – nigh spent. His patience can hold out no longer. Why has God not intervened this long while?”

So the writer, if not David is using this same term to ask why God has not punished his persecutors for it he did punish them as they deserve then his persecution would stop.

This means that firstly those who oppose God and his word will sometimes persecute those who trust in God and his word and Jesus warned his disciples and us that this is exactly what will happen to them and us in John 15: 20 – 21,

“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me”.

Jesus not only warned his disciples of the trouble and difficulty ahead for them and for us if we follow in their footsteps but he also spoke to his disciples and us of the help he will give us through the Holy Spirit called in the later chapters of Johns Gospel by Jesus in some translations as the comforter and in others the advocate.

In John 14: 23 – 27 Jesus says this about what the Holy Spirit the comforter will and does do for us,

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.

2. (vs. 85) Those who oppose God and his word seek to trap and sometimes seek to kill
those who trust in God and his word.

The writer of Psalm 119 then speaks of what his persecutors were seeking to do to him in verse 85,

“The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to your law”.

John Gill explains the meaning of the concept of the writers enemies digging pits with these words,

“The proud have dug pits for me,…. Laid snares and temptations in his way, to draw him into sin, and so into mischief; they sought indeed to take away his life, and formed schemes for it. The allusion is to the digging of pits for the taking of wild beasts”.

This treatment of those who trust in Gd and his word is in such contradiction to God’s law or word that the writer of Psalm 119 tells us so. He like many people today who are innocent victims of those who oppose God and his word.

The Chinese man who I spoke of in my introduction was thrown in solitary confinement for seven years by cruel God haters who were part of a cruel atheistic Government who claimed they were champions of the poor and lowly but instead they turned out to be brutish God hating tyrants.

My second verse of my song inspired by the story of this Chinese Christian man features the famous Psalm 23 verse 4 verse that says,

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me”.

This verse would definitely be one I would have scratched on my prison wall for even though it has been used at funerals to refer to dying in the sense of going through the Valley of death it has more to do with going through dark and difficult times for other translations like old King James version say it is;

“The valley of the shadow of death”.

This image also fits death as well but it does have a wider meaning than just relating to death. In both cases the promise of this verse is that God through Jesus is with us even in the darkest times of our lives, guiding and comforting us through it all and eventually leading us to eternal life in heaven.

So my second verse of my song “Neve Alone” reads like this:
“Though I may walk through the valley of death
I have no fear for his overcome death.
Jesus did die on the cross for my sin,
He’ll raise me to heaven to feast their with him.”

3. (86 – 88) SUFFERING BUT GOD AND HIS WORD IS WITH ME

In each of the final three verses the writer of Psalm 119 contrasts the cruel and godless attitudes and actions of his persecutors with his trust in God and his word that he believes will help him (vs. 86) and save him from death (verses 87 and 88).

Lets look a little closer at how the writer actually contrasts his trust in God and his word compared to the Godless actions of his persecutors to him.

Inverse 86 he writes,

“All your commands are trustworthy; Help me, for I am being persecuted without cause”.

The people who opposed our writer of Psalm 119 obviously did not trust in God and his word for our writer of Psalm 119 calls God’s commands or word trustworthy but it seems logical to believe that those who were persecuting him did not trust in God’s word because they persecuted our writer of Psalm 119 without cause.

This verse is also call for justice and we know from the New Testament that a great day of justice is coming when Jesus will return in all his glory to judge those who have not turned to him called “the goats” in Mathew 25: 31 – 33, and those who have turned to God and his word through Jesus called “the sheep” who will escape the judgement because Jesus paid for their sins on the cross.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.

Then the writer of Psalm 119 says this in verse 87,

“They almost wiped me from the earth”,

Again as I said earlier this verse seems to be saying in some way or another his persecutors almost killed him, how we do not know but even in the face of death our writer says,

“But I have not forsaken your precepts”.

I have read of how so many brave Christians even today have not forsaken God and his word as they faced their deaths to the cruel Godless hands of people who oppose God and his word in many countries in our world today.

Finally in the last verse, verse 88 he writes,

“In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth”.

Our writer of Psalm 119 appeals again to the covenantal love of God which he has called upon many times already a love his nation Israel did not deserve but God gave it to them because he is a gracious or merciful God. The same God loves us and has saved us through his Son and his death on the cross for us.

I would like to now refer Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 11, which speaks about how we have all of the wonderful promises of the Old Covenant and more in Christ and then present to you the last verse I used in my “Never Alone” song,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul”.

“I am a pilgrim in a foreign land
But the Lord gently guides me by his loving hand.
Wherever I wander yes wherever I roam
The Lord is beside me and “Im never alone.”

So like the Chinese pastor locked up in solitary confinement for seven years during the cultural revolution in the 1970’s in China the writer of Psalm 119 trusted in God and his word and sought to,

“Obey the statutes of your mouth” or obey the very word of God that gives us comfort even in the darkest of times in our lives.

Keep me safe as I trust your word
O Lord my God who comforts me.
Even when I face great pain and strife
May you and your word set me free.

Stanza 12 (89 – 96) GOD’S WORD IS ETERNAL AND STABLE AND IT SUPPORTS US IN
OUR LIVES

Camel Rock at Bermagui is among the oldest rocks in NSW coast of Australia. It was created by undersea avalanches which rumbled down continental slopes of ancient Australia and created a spectacular rock formation that from a distance looks like a camel. On a holiday after I had finished Bible College I visited this amazingly rugged but beautiful beach and rock formation and sitting on a large rocky outcrop I opened up a copy of my New Living Translation of the book of Psalms and read the first two verses of Psalm 90 that read this way in that translation,

“Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 2 Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God”.

I had the tune of a old folk song in my head that day which I long lost the name of the original song but I began to write that verse into the metre of that tune and came up with,

“O Lord you’ve always been our home
Before the hills were ever known.
You’ve always been before the world began
Your eternally God who knows no end”.

Then as I sat on that huge rock with the surf pounding away at it I thought of other verses in the Psalms like Psalm 18: 2 that speak of God as our Rock, the one immoveable one who no matter what happens to us is always is there helping us and then I wrote what became the first verse of my new song I called, “The Rock Song” and that first verse simple says,

“We’re like the sea like the froth and foam.
We’re like the sea we forever roam
But you O Lord are a constant rock
You never change no you never stop”.

Now I had the first two verses of my song and later in this talk on the twelfth stanza of Psalm 119 I will share with you the other two verses to this song.

This twelfth stanza has, for me the theme of my “Rock Song” namely the supreme timeless stability of God and his word and how God and his word’s eternal stability gives me support in my daily life no matter what I am going through.

I see this twelfth section in three distinct parts:

     1.  (vs’s 89 – 91) GOD AND HIS WORD IS STABLE FOR THEY ARE ETERNAL

     2.  (vs’s 92 – 93) HOW THE STABILITY OF GOD AND HIS WORD HELPED THE WRITER

     3.  (vs’s 94 – 96) THE WRITERS DETERMINATION TO TRUST IN THE STABILITY OF
          GOD AND HIS WORD

Lets have a closer look at each of these three distinct parts:

     1. (vs’s 89 – 91) GOD AND HIS WORD IS STABLE FOR THEY ARE ETERNAL

The writer kicks of this twelfth stanza with a clear and simple statement about the eternal nature of God’s word in verse 89,

“Your word, Lord is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens”

Jesus made a similar claim of his words having an eternal nature in Mark 13: 31,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”.

The word of God both Old and New Testament is a miracle in itself as over thousands of years before the invention of the printing press and computers a very careful and often painful process was made to write out, by hand what we know as the bible. Critics of the bible have tried to dispute the accuracy of the bible but archeological findings like the Dead Sea Scrolls for the Old testament and countless New Testament ancient scripts prove that much care for accuracy of copying techniques was vigorously practiced over many centuries to give us a accurate account of God’s word as it was given to men and particularly through the Lord Christ in ancient times.

It was also God’s word that created everything as we see the words in the first chapter of Genesis using the term, “And God Said, which” is used to describe how God created everything, he simply spoke and things happened, this is what I believe verse 90 is speaking about when it says,

“Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth and it endures”.

Even modern science does not believe everything came out of nothing but something was always there, “matter’ and out of matter through the big bang came everything. However the bible says that it is not matter that is eternal as matter has no power to create the complex and amazing design of the universe but as verse 90 says God,

“Established the earth and it endures”.

So the writer of Psalm 119 says in verse 91,

“Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you”.

In my “Rock Song” for my third verse I picked up what I read in Psalm 90 verse 4 that in my New Living Translation of the book of Psalm says,

“For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. 5 You sweep people away like dreams that disappear.They are like grass that springs up in the morning”.

As I read these words as I sat on the large rock on the seas edge at Camel Rock beach all those years ago I thought of the fleeting nature of our lives.
I thought of how our lives compared to the creation and more importantly the eternal God who made it were like the verse says just like grass here today and gone tomorrow.

My third verse then for my Rock Song says,

A thousand years is like a day to you
Like yesterday returned anew.
Like a weed that sprouts in the morning sun
We burst and bloom and by night we’re gone.

The term,

“All things serve you”

Albert Barnes explains means,

“All worlds obey thy commands; all are under thy control. They show that they are thy servants by the conformity of their movements to the laws which thou hast impressed on them”.

Science could not study the universe unless it is governed by what is called natural laws that govern it and those natural laws came about because the one eternal God made them and keeps them going.

Paul describes Jesus this way in Colossians 1: 15 – 17,

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”.

So our writer of Psalm 119 in the midst of his ever changing and turbulent life with all its difficulties and uncertainties particularly because of his persecutors hangs on to one great sure and stable thing, God and his word which in verse 89 he says,

“Stands firm in the heaven”

And in verse 90 he says,

“Endures”

So as I sat on the great rock on the turbulent sea shore at Camel Rock beach Bermagui all those years ago I realised what my first verse of the Rock Song I wrote says,

“We’re like the sea like the froth and foam.
We’re like the sea we forever roam
But you O Lord are a constant rock
You never change no you never stop”.

2. (vs’s 92 – 93) HOW THE STABILITY OF GOD AND HIS WORD HELPED THE WRITER

We come then to two verses in this twelve stanza where the writer makes it clear that God word saved his life. How God’s word saved his life is not made clear but the writer of Psalm 119 is very definite God’s word saved his life and he uses two phrases to express this:

  1. (vs. 92) Perished in my affliction
  2. (vs. 93) Preserved my life

Lets then have a closer look at these two verses and particularly these two phrases that describe how God’s word saved our writers life.

1.) (vs. 92) Perished in my affliction

In verse 92 the writer of Psalm 119 says,

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction”.

Albert Barnes offered me the best possible explanation of how God’s word saved our writer from perishing in his affliction when he writes,

“I should then have perished in mine affliction – I should have sunk under my burden. I should not have been able to hold up under the weight of sorrow and trial”.

So many people today suffer from depression brought on in a lot of cases by the trials and tribulations of life. People get so desperate for help in their lives that they see no possible help available so they take their lives and suicide rates are on the rise as a result.

However God and his word offers those who take delight in it as our writer of Psalm 119 did offers us great hope and comfort especially during dark times of difficulty as Jesus holds out help to us in difficult times in passages like Matthew 11: 28 – 30.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Being a Christian does not assure us we will not go through dark and difficult times but it does offer us hope and comfort when we for one reason or another we face difficult dark times in our lives.

2i) (vs. 93) Preserved my life

Then, so that we got the message our writer says much the same thing in verse 93,

“I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have persevered my life”.

Many commentators have pointed out that the Hebrew word or term for “preserved my life” is actually “quickened me” or “Given me life” and again Albert Barnes shed the most light on this verse for me with these words,

“By that truth he had been made really to live. He had been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. He saw before him now, as the result of that, an endless career of blessedness. How could he ever forget what had worked such a change in his character and condition; which had inspired such hopes; which had opened before him such an immortal career of glory!”

Barnes then quotes James 1: 18 as a cross reference which says,

“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created”.

So God promises in his word to help us in our afflictions and through his word he offers us new life for us in Christ. So sat on the large rock on Camel beach Bermagui I realised that God is like that rock which kept me safe from the raging tide and through Christ, our rock he has given me new life that is eternal. It is eternal as one day he will take all of us who believe in him to the safe shores of heaven itself.

This is the kind of thought I had in mind when I wrote the fourth verse of my song,

“When I realise what I have done
When I think of Christ the eternal one.
I am so ashamed that I bow my head
Then he gives me life when I should be dead.

3. (vs’s 94 – 96) THE WRITERS DETERMINATION TO TRUST IN THE STABILITY OF
GOD AND HIS WORD

The writer of Psalm 119 has just indicated his life was preserved and given life through God and his word but he now asks God to save him yet again, he writes in verse 94,

“Save me, for I am yours”

He indicates in the next verse that he still needs to be saved from his enemies who oppose him because of his stand for God and his word, he writes in verse 95,

“The wicked are waiting to destroy me”.

Yet in both o these two verses that indicate he desperately needs held he reveals a determination to trust in what I believe is the stability or certainty of God’s word, he expresses this in verse 94 this way,

“I have sought our your precepts”

And in verse 95 he expresses this determination to trust in the stability of God and his word with theses words,

“But I will ponder your statutes”.

Jesus offers to save us if we would only but truly seek him as he says in Matthew 7: 7 – 8,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”.

This kind of determined seeking after God through Jesus is what non – believers need to do but not only non – believers need to do this but also those of us who trust in the Lord Jesus we aslso need to continually ask, seek and knock. We do this through prayer and trust in the Lord Jesus if we want to find and have the continued stability of knowing God and his word in our daily lives.

The last verse of this twelfth stanza brings all this to a fitting end when it says,

“To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless”.

I like the modern paraphrase version of this verse called the MSG translation that says,

“I see the limits to everything human, but the horizons can’t contain your commands”.

I would have said “but the horizons can’t contain your word” as “Commands” in this Psalm is yet another word or term for God’s word.

God and his word is the rock that we should build our lives upon for all other things in this life will pass away but God and his word will not. Jesus declares this also with a vivid parable of the building of as house and its foundations and the house in this parable is our lives and Jesus says in Matthew 7: 24 – 25,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock”

However if we do not build our lives on God and his word then Jesus says in Matthew 7: 26 – 27,

“But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

So stability in this life and the next is built on Jesus and his word and trusting in it and obeying it give us God’s eternal stability.

So when I sat that day on the large secure rock on the turbulent shore line of Camel rock beach at Bermagui I read that great Psalm 90 that spoke to me of the stability of God who David often called the rock. That in turn made we realise afresh how our lives are like that raging tide ebbing and sometimes surging in the storms of life but God and his word is our rock in life therefore we through him can know stability and peace in our lives as my first verse of my song I called “The Rock Song says,

“We’re like the sea like the froth and foam.
We’re like the sea we forever roam
But you O Lord are a constant rock
You never change no you never stop”.

I close with my alphabet poem verse for this twelfth stanza that says much the same thing,

Live your life grounded on God’s word
God and his word lasts forever
Jesus is my rock his word is true
Troubles in life can never sever.

STANZA 13 (97 -104) GOD’S WORD GIVES US WISDOM FOR LIFE

I woke up this morning to the surprising and shocking news that the Australian cricket team were caught cheating in the third test in South Africa. The captain and vice captain conspired with another player to deliberately tamper with the cricket ball in a sneaky way to make the ball harder to play. A small piece of some kind of corse tape was used to rough up the ball on one side but with all the TV cameras used in modern TV coverage these days captured this ball tampering and the Captain and the player caught doing this had to admit they had foolishly done the wrong thing and broken clear and simple cricket laws to gain a unfair advantage over their opposing team.

This is a tragic example of great sporting knowledge used in a foolish or unwise way and to me illustrates the difference between simple knowledge and wisdom. I once read somewhere that wisdom is knowledge rightly and inspirationally applied. I can know a great amount of knowledge but if I wrongly apply this knowledge in life I am a fool.

The book of proverbs says in Proverbs 1: 7,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

God’s word alone contains the knowledge God wants us to live our lives by so it rightly understood, applied to our lives and obeyed gives us real wisdom from God. Psalm 119 verse’s 97 and 98 says,

“Oh, how I love your law! I mediate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser then my enemies”.

In this thirteenth stanza of Psalm 119 we will see four aspects of how God’s word gives us wisdom for life:

     1. (vs. 97) THE LOVE OF GOD’S WORD BRINGS WISDOM

     2. (98 – 100) THE BENEFITS OF GOD’S WORD IS THAT IT MAKES US WISE

     3. (101 – 102) THE RESULT OF OBEYING GOD’S WORD IS WISE LIVING

     4. (103 – 104) THE VALUE OF GOD’S WORD IS INVALUABLE

Lets then have a closer look at these four aspects of how God’s word gives us wisdom for life

1. (vs. 97) THE LOVE OF GOD’S WORD BRINGS WISDOM

The writer of Psalm 119 states clearly what he thinks of God’s word and what he does with it in his life on a day to day basis, he writes in verse 97,

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long”.

This love for God’s word is something this writer speaks of often in this Psalm and Allan Harman puts forward the idea that the love for God’s word is in fact,

“The content of the Psalm summed up”.

Harman sights verses 47 and 48,

“For I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees”.

He also sights verse 27, which picks up the love of God’s word and its value which is a concept this stanza speaks of in its closing verses,

”Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold”.

To read and meditate on something all day means you must love or cherish that person or thing you are constantly prayerfully thinking about. Jesus showed great love for the word of God and this follows from the fact that he was the word become flesh (John 1: 14) and he used the word of God to fight the devil when tempted by him and he even quoted from it as he died on the cross.

Thanks particularly to scripture in song, popular in the 1970’s many bible verses run often through my head and one I often meditated on is the scripture in song based on Song of Songs 2: 4,

“He brought me into his banqueting hall and his banner over me is love”.

Of course I know now that this verse is a reference to the Old Testament Jewish wedding ceremony where the bride and groom meet in a great banquet under a banner but the verse still gives me the ides that as a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ he covers me and is over me in love and I find the message and the words of that great love in his word the bible.

So the word of God we will see in the next verse makes us wise and in that verse and the next two verses wiser than others who don not love and meditate on God’s word.

Paul tells Timothy the value and purpose of God’s word in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17, that says,

“All Scripture is God – breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

But what does the writer mean by the idea of meditating on the word of God all day long?

I don’t think it means that the words of the bible are always in our minds all day long but rather that the word of God is our inspiration for our daily lives and is something we use in our daily lives to direct us prayerfully as we live our lives.

I like the movement some years ago called, “What would Jesus do in this situation” which some Christians wore a wrist band that reminded them to practice the concept of acting in their daily lives in a way they believed Jesus through his word instructed them to do.

A good question to ask in our day to day lives is, “What would Jesus want me to do” when a problem or decision has to be made in our lives during a normal day. Years I attempted to put this into practice and one effect it had on me was to force me to make a more in depth study of the Gospels to know what Jesus in his word actually might want me to do.

Now I keep more general instructions of Jesus in mind in my daily life, like Matthew 6: 33,

“But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you”.

Another great two verses of God’s word I often bring to my remembrance in my day to day life is Proverbs 3: 5 – 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

2. (98 – 100) THE BENEFITS OF GOD’S WORD IS THAT IT MAKES US WISE

So the writer of Psalm 119 opened this thirteenth stanza with a declaration of his love for God’s word and now he makes it clear what a true love for God’s word that we meditate on in our daily lives leads to and it is simply expressed in verse 98 as, “wisdom”.

This wisdom is greater than the so called wisdom of three different groups of people in three verses and those three groups of people are:

  1. Our enemies who do not love God and his word (vs. 98)
  2. Our teachers who do not love God and his word (vs. 99
  3. Our elders who do not love God and his word (vs. 100)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three groups of people we are wiser than if we love God and his word:

  1. Our enemies who do not love God and his word (vs. 98)

The writer speaks of the first group of people he believes he is wiser than in verse 98, this way,

“Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies”.

The idea of God’s word being with him always in his day to day life continues in verse 98 and then because God and his word is always with him he makes the bold claim he is therefore wiser than his enemies”.

His enemies we have learnt in a number of previous verses in this Psalm do not love God and his word and in fact because they don’t and he does they seek to persecute our him as he says in verse 53,

“Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law”.

Or verses 84 and 85,

“How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors? The arrogant dig pits to trap me. Country to your law”.

So these enemies of our writer are not believers in the word of God and are giving our writer a very hard time because he dares to trust in the word of God which they deny the truth and value of.

I have felt the pressure of this same thing myself but the encouraging word of this verse is that because we know God and his word we are wiser than those who deny God and his word.

Paul makes a clear distinction between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God when he writes in 1 Corinthians 3: 18 – 20,

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world us foolishness in God’s sight”.

The problem with people who do not acknowledge God and his word is that they generally close their minds off to anything to do with God and his word which our writer of Psalm 119 calls arrogance in a number of places. The book of Proverbs makes it clear in a number of places that we simply cannot ever be truly wise if we refuse to let God and his word rebuke and advise us as we read in Proverbs 19: 20,

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise”.

The book of proverbs even goes as far as saying that those who will not listen to the advice and discipline of God and his word will become stupid or un- wise as we read in Proverbs 12: 1,

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid”.

So those of us who read and come to terms with what God is saying in our lives are wiser than those who refuse to acknowledge God and his word. This is also seen in the fact that those who refuse to acknowledge God and his word often become agitated and even aggressive towards those who continue to dare to believe in God and his word thus becoming their enemies.

Our teachers who do not love God and his word (vs. 99)

The second group of people the writer believes we are wiser than are our teachers as he writes in verse 99,

“I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statues”.

This verse is not saying that we are are wiser than those who teach us if those who teach us are themselves believers in God and his word but if our teachers don’t believe in God and his word like our writer who says he, meditates on Gd’s word, then we are wiser than our teachers.

In our universities today most so called wise and knowledgable teachers or lecturers refuse to acknowledge God and the value of his word and so they often come up with foolish or un- wise ideas that are country to the word of God. I did a five year part time university degree course in adult education in the early 1990’s and sometimes found it difficult to operate as a believer in this secular anti – God environment however I always kept Jesus words of advice in mind in those days when he said in Matthew 10: 16,

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”.

Peter gives us similar advice in 1 Peter 3: 13 – 16,

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good. But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander”.

As I prepared university assignments and even experienced discussions in out of lectures with my teachers and fellow students I often prayed for wisdom as James encourages us to do in James 1: 5,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

I can testify to the fact that what God promises through James is true as God often gave me wisdom throughout my five years of university part time study and I both passed all my courses and at the same time was able to witness to the truth and reality of God and his word.

2.  Our elders who do not love God and his word (vs. 100)

The third and final group the writer of Psalm 119 says he is wiser than is his elders as he writes in verse 100,

“I have more understanding than the elders, for I meditate on your statutes”.

This again is not saying that younger people are more knowledgable or wiser than older people as the bible teachers that Godly older people are wiser than younger people in the faith as Job 12: 12,

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?”

As Peter advises 1 Peter 5: 5,

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders.”

However if those older then us do not submit to the authority of God and his word then we are wiser than them simply because a person who does not believe in God or as the book of Proverbs puts it, fears God than that person is a fool as Proverbs 1: 7 says,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

So the writer of Psalm 119 has stated that God’s word brings understanding and wisdom if we mediate and obey it and this will make us wiser than anyone else who does not meditate on and obey the word of God.

3. (101 – 102) THE RESULT OF OBEYING GOD’S WORD IS WISE LIVING

The writer of Psalm 119 now tells us what is the results of meditating on and obeying the word of God and we read in verses 101 and 102 what they are:

“I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me”.

Way back at the start of this long and involved Psalm in verse 1 the results of walking in or obeying the word of God is,

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord”.

So God blesses the lives of his faithful people and our writer says that God’s word or law as he calls it in verse 102 has led him to do two things:

  1. Keeping his feet from an evil pat
  2. Not departing from God’s word.

These two things according to verse 1 of this Psalm leads to God blessings in our lives. This is a reflection of the words of the very first Psalm when it says in verse’s 2 and 3,

“But whose delight is the law of the Lord, and who meditate on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers”.

Spurgeon writes,

“The Bible is a very sanctifying book. If we keep its precepts, it holds us back from many things into which we might otherwise have run”.

Some Christians have problems with the doctrine of the bible that says we have assurance of being saved once we truly turn to Christ as stated by Christ himself in John 10: 27 – 29,

“My sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Fathers hand”.

Problems arise of course with this clearly stated doctrine of the bible when we see or hear of Christians falling away from the faith but the truth is made clear by Jesus in another verse like Matthew 24: 13 which says,

“But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved”.

So many of the falling away Christians are showing by the fruits of their lives they were not truly saved in the first place. Another problem is that if depart from God’s word or laws we will start to walk down a evil path according to the writer of Psalm 119 verse 101 but the grace of God does work and those who are truly saved God will bring back them back to himself often through great trials and difficulties in those believers lives (Hebrews 12: 7 – 12).

Jesus also taught in Matthew 7: 16,

“By their fruit you shall recognise them”.

For the writer of Psalm 119 the fruit or outcome of mediating or obeying God’s word is as I stated already,

  1. Keeping his feet from an evil pat
  2. Not departing from God’s word.

4. (103 – 104) THE VALUE OF GOD’S WORD IS INVALUABLE

The writer then returns to another favourite concept of the value of God’s word when he states in verse 103,

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth”.

Already the writer of Psalm 119 has said that God’s word to him is more precious than silver or gold verse 72 and will say that again in verse 12. He also considers God’s word a delight to him vs’ s 16, 24, 35 and 77 and now they are sweet to taste like honey.

David says these two things about God’s law or word in Psalm 19: 10,

“They are more precious than gold, the fine much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb”.

People in the ancient world treasured honey as a food source and it is said that pure honey has even been found in Egyptian Pharaoh’s tombs still able to be eaten up to three thousand years old such is the preservative qualities of honey.

So the precious nature of God’s word, like honey, makes it invaluable and considering how it is God’s word alone that makes a person truly wise we can see why the writer of Psalm 119 might advocate this.

Paul of course spoke of the invaluable nature of God’s word in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“All scripture is God – breathed and is useful for teaching , rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

In the final verse of this thirteenth stanza the writer brings to conclusion his thoughts on how God’s word gives us wisdom for life with these words,

“I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path”.

Hatred is not always a bad or sinful thing as to hate sin is to avoid it and to hate evil is to resits falling to its awful consequences. John says in Jude 23,

“Save others by snatching them from the fire, to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh:.

Albert Barnes commenting on hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh writes,

That thing referred to by which the garment had been spotted was polluting, contagious, or loathsome, and that it was proper not even to touch such a garment, or to come in contact with it in any way”.

God’s word then points out what is right and what is wrong and so it wises us up to how we should be living and what we should not be doing in our lives so therefore it will and should promote a healthy hatred of things we should not be doing if we want to walk in the way of the Lord or,

“Kept my feet from every evil path” verse 101 or,

“Not departed from your laws” verse 102.

I close with my verse that starts with a word that starts with the thirteenth letter of the English Alphabet, M which summarises what I have leant from this stanza,

May I meditate on your word
Daily Lord as I walk your way
Give me the wisdom your word does bring
Give me understanding each day.

STANZA 14: GOD’S WORD GIVES US LIGHT IN THE FACE OF THIS WORLDS DARKNESS

I have just started to write this fourteenth stanza on a caravan trip around Australia in a small wester Queensland town called Jericho. My study of this stanza has lead me to believe that the write of Psalm 119 sees God’s word as a lamp or light to his path in the face of terrible darkness represented by the terrible opposition and persecution he faced as he sought to walk in the light of the word of God which he speaks of in verses 107, 109 and 110.

Because I studied this fourteenth stanza in a place called Jericho I have been led by God’s Holy Spirit to reflect on the story of the conquest of Jericho and will use this bible story as a backdrop to my thoughts throughout this fourteenth stanza of Psalm 119.

One of the fascinating aspects of the story of the conquest of Jericho is the part that Rahab the prostitute played in this conquest and in this introduction I would like to point out that this lowly sinful woman somehow came to faith in the God of the bible as she says to the two Israeli spies in Joshua 2: 8b – 11,

“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.

We might say that this lowly prostitute saw the light because obviously her fellow citizens of Jericho although afraid of what the God of the Israelites had done for them did not acknowledge the God of the bible as the one supreme God of heaven and earth as this chapter reveals they sought to kill the spies and fight the incoming Israelites.

Rahab goes on to show how much she had seen the light by her request for salvation for her and her family when the Israelites successfully invade Jericho in verses 12 – 13 of Joshua chapter 2.

So this lowly prostitute shows us what it means to walk in the path of God and his word by acting on her new found faith in God by believing before the invasion of Jericho that God would give his people total victory.

The writer of the book of Hebrews says in Hebrews 11: 31,

“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient”.

I was inspired to write the words of a new song for this stanza inspired by its words and my observations of the dying little Queensland out back town of Jericho and the first verse and chorus of that song goes like this.

Jericho, O Jericho your creeks dried up and no waters flow
Jericho, O Jericho what has made you so.
Your shops are boarded up and your town is dying
You break my heart and I am crying
Jericho O Jericho what went wrong in Jericho.

Chorus:

Jericho O Jericho
Your like our world today
In darkness and no where to go
Thats the fate of a Jericho.

So we will see three great truths about walking in the light of the word of God in the face of this worlds great darkness in this fourteenth stanza which I have broken down into three parts

     1. (105 – 106) GOD’S WORD IS THE LIGHT FOR OUR PATH IN LIFE

     2. (107 – 110) MANKIND’S WICKEDNESS LEEDS TO ACTS OF DARKNESS

     3.(111 – 112) PEOPLE OF FAITH NEED TO BE COMMITTED TO GOD AND HIS WOR

1. (105 – 106) GOD’S WORD IS THE LIGHT FOR OUR PATH IN LIFE

The writer of Psalm 119 in verse 105 points to a great light for him in such as dark world he has to live in day by day, he speaks of this great light this way,

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”.

Many people have found this verse to be such a wonderful encouragement as it states the great purpose and benefit of God’s word for our lives. God’s word is a lamp and a light for our lives in this dark world. The apostle John had much to say about God and his light in his Gospel we call, The Gospel of John.

In the first chapter of that Gospel John speaks of Jesus as being the very word of God become flesh, John 1: 14,

‘The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”.

He goes on to speak of its great light or glory when he says,

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

In chapter three of Johns Gospel John spells out in verses 19 – 21, the value of Jesus, God’s light for those who believe in him but he contrasts this with the terrible reality of the darkness of mankind and how mankind actually loves darkness more than light,

“This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God”.

Arthur Deane the principal of the SMBC bible college I attended many years ago told us that he understood this concept of men loving darkness more than light when he once was walking through the Australian bush and turned up a old rotting log and saw how all the bugs who lived under that log could not stand the light for they ran as fast as they could to find darkness and cover under the turned up log.

That is what happens to most people when the light of the Gospel comes upon them they fight, kick and run for the cover of darkness because they love darkness or evil more than good and light.

Rahab in the story of Jericho demonstrated this by her words to the spies about what the rest of the people in Jericho spoke about the light or truth of God working for the Israelites who were closing in on Jericho in Joshua 2: 8b – 11,

“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.

Rahab responded to the light of God’s deeds and word with faith but the rest of Jericho’s reaction to the light of God’s word and deeds for his people is summed up in the words of Joshua 6: 1,

“Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in”.

Jericho was all walled up and shut off to God and his people as they unlike Rahab refused to come to faith in the God of Israel who they had heard was a mighty God to be feared. They probably chose to trust in their own false idol God’s which of course showed that they loved darkness more than light.

Our writer of Psalm 119 reveals his commitment to God and his word of light in verse 106,

“I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws”.

Rahab a fallen sinful woman obviously chose to take an oath to follow the God of the Israelites who is the one true God of the bible as we read of not only her confession of faith to the spies but also what we read of her in Joshua 6: 22 – 23,

“Joshua said to the men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the prostitutes house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her. So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belong to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel”.

We later read that Rahab becomes a distant descendent of David and of course Jesus so she becomes a most blessed women of faith in her life time and in the future. Such is the power and wonder of the God and his great light in this dark world.

The next verse of my Jericho song goes like this:

Jericho, O Jericho where is your faith in God’s word to show
Jericho, O Jericho you need the faith that Rahab showed.
Rahab saw the light and then turned to the Lord
Trusting the light of his life changing word
Jericho O Jericho turn to God O Jericho.

Chorus:

Jericho O Jericho
Your like our world today
In darkness and no where to go
Thats the fate of a Jericho.

2. (107 – 110) MANKIND’S WICKEDNESS LEEDS TO ACTS OF DARKNESS

Once the writer of Psalm 119 states his commitment to the word of God he calls the light to his path he then speaks of how the darkness of his world caused by men and women of his country Israel turning against him because he dared believe in God and his word.

He speaks of this opposition as he has already spoken of in previous verses and contrast this opposition with his reaction to this which I have broken into four parts:

  1. vs. 107 The opposition to God and his word seeks to take his life
  2. vs. 108. His reaction to this opposition to praise and seek further teaching from God
  3. vs. 109 His opponents seek to take his life but he will not forsake God and his word
  4. vs. 110 His opponents seek to trap him but he will not stray from following God’s word

Lets then have a closer look at these four contrasting verses that reveal the darkness and wicked acts of those who oppose God and his word.

  1. vs. 107 The opposition to God and his word seeks to take his life

So these four middle verses of stanza fourteen of Psalm 119 reveal a very real and disturbing contrast between the person who comes to the light of God and his word and those who refuse to do so and this contrast is expressed in verse 107 this way,

“I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word”.

Back in verse 88 he spoke of how those who opposed God and his word opposed him and sought to kill him because of his faith in God and his word,

“In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth”.

Why do some of the opponents of God and his word even today wont to kill or destroy people who have faith in God?

I think what I quoted from Johns Gospel in the previous section offers an answer to this question, John 3: 19 -20,

“This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed”.

If they hate the light of God then they will hate and sometimes want to kill those who declare or seek to shed the light of God by the way they live and by what they say about God and his word. Jesus warned his disciples of his kind of opposition in John 15: 18,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first”.

So both times the writer of Psalm 119 spoke of his enemies who live in darkness because they oppose God and his word seeking to take his life he asks God to preserve his life which is what he asks for in verse 107,

“Preserve my life, Lord according to your word”.

Jesus word to his disciples and of course to us in John 15 is that Jesus will not leave us alone but will send to us a helper or advocate or other translations call him counsellor who is the Holy Spirit to help and protect us, as we read in John 15: 26,

“When the Advocate comes whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father -he will testify about me”.

vs. 108. His reaction to this opposition to praise and seek further teaching from God

Even though the writer of Psalm 119 has just made it clear that his opponents who walk in darkness seek to take his life the big contrast in verse 108 is his reaction to this opposition is to be committed to praise of his God and seeking further teaching from God and his word as he writes,

“Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your word”.

This is an amazing reaction to dark and dangerous opposition instead of compliant and despair our writer reveals praise and commitment to God and his word and this reminds me of Paul’s command to give thanks in all circumstances in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 -17,

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

I have read of many Christians in countries today where Christians are in danger of loosing their lives owing to the faith and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ praising God even as some of them are being executed by their dark and wicked opponents this kind of testimony has brought others to faith even sometimes the very people involved in their persecution.

Jesus said in Luke 6: 35 – 36,

“But love your enemies, do good to them. And lend to them without expecting to get back anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked, just as your Father is merciful”.

We must always remember that all of us were enemies of God before we came to him and his Son to receive forgiveness and mercy so that is the way Jesus treated us when we were his enemies so should we treat our enemies the same way.

2. vs. 109 His opponents seek to take his life but he will not forsake God and his word

Again in verse 109 the writer of Psalm 119 reveals the danger for him of trusting in God and his word in his day which for him led to possible death at the hands of his enemies he writes in verse 109a,

“Though I constantly take my life in my hands”

In our writers day it was a dangerous thing to trust in God and his word and even though that is not the case in the country I live in Australia at the moment it is not the case in many other countries particularly those were Islam holds the sway. Even in Buddhist dominant counties like Myanmar which I have visited many times to minster being as faith believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has cost some Christians their lives.

However what is the contrasting reaction of this deadly threat, he writes in verse 109b,

“I will not forget your law”

Opposition will not deter our writer and it seems the opposition to God and his word only makes our writer more determined to be committed to it. Many of my friends in Myanmar feel the same way that the opposition they face has only made their faith stronger.

Paul faced prison, persecution and death all through his ministry for God and his word and in what seems to be words written down for his young prodigy Timothy as he faced his death we have Paul’s resolve to be faith to God and his word in 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8,

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day – and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing”.

3. vs. 110 His opponents seek to trap him but he will not stray from following God’s word

Finally this contrast of those who walk in the light to those who walk in darkness comes to a head with what the writer of Psalm 119 says in verse 110,

“The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts”.

Leopold writes,

“The wicked have set a snare for me – Whether this is to be understood literally or to be regarded as merely expressing the thought that plans are afoot to bring him to fall, the danger is extreme”.

The darkness of wickedness and refusing the light of the word of God leads to great opposition to those who are in the light of God and his word, that has been the main thought of these last four verses but in the face of this very real danger our writer is totally committed to God and his word and in verse 110 he expresses this commitment with these words,

“But Have not strayed from your precepts”.

Our writer like the commander of the Israelites Joshua was totally committed to God and his word as he faced the walled up hostile city of Jericho and God’s seemingly ridiculous battle plan for taking the city of Jericho was followed to the letter by Joshua and his people.

For they were to march around the city of Jericho following the ark of the Covenant that represented God and his word with his people once for six days blowing their trumpets and then on the seventh day they had to march around seven times and then blow their trumpets and the walls of Jericho would fall down.

The significants of this battle plan is mentioned in the third verse and chorus of my new song called Jericho.

Jericho, O Jericho your darkness led to your town to fall
Jericho, O Jericho Joshua followed God’s great call
God told him to march around those walls for seven days
This was to prove that they followed God’s ways
Jericho O Jericho you fell to God O Jericho.

Chorus:

Jericho O Jericho
Your like our world today
In darkness and no where to go
Thats the fate O Jericho.

3. (111 – 112) PEOPLE OF FAITH NEED TO BE COMMITTED TO GOD AND HIS WORD

Now that the writer has contrasted those who walk in the light of God and his word to those who walk in darkness he completes this fourteenth stanza with a clear statement of commitment to God and his word which I believe should be the kind of word of commitment any true believer of God and his word should also profess.

I see this statement of commitment in two parts:

  1. vs. 111 Our inheritance is God and his word
  2. vs. 112 Our hearts should be set on being faithful to God and his word

Lets then have a closer look at this two fold statement of commitment to God and his word.

  1.  vs. 111 Our inheritance is God and his word

I have become disturbingly aware of problems that inheritance can course families over the course of my life as I have seen families torn apart as they all go for the kill of getting the most they can out of their dead parents estates. This grab for money and possessions reveals the dark wickedness of the human heart without God and his word.

For the Christian our inheritance is in heaven not in on this earth and this kind of commitment to spiritual things is what the writer of Psalm 119 verse 111 is hitting at as it says,

“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart”.

In many places in the bible we read of the eternal nature of the word of the Lord, like Jesus words in Matthew 24: 35,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”.

Or Peters quote of Isaiah 40: 6 – 8 in 1 Peter 1: 24 -25 where mans mortality is compared to God and his word’s immortality,

“All people are like grass, and all their glory like the flowers of the fields, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever”.

If we seek a material inheritance we are saying that our heritage is material things like property and money but if we seek an eternal hesitance then we show by our actions that our hope or as Jesus put in Luke 12: 21 our treasure is in heaven which is founded in the eternal God of the bible.

Paul makes this point of working for or looking forward to our eternal inheritance in Christ Jesus in this life in Colossians 3: 23 – 24,

“Whatever you do, work at it with your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”.

So the writer of Psalm 119 did not see his heritage or inheritance as land in Israel or money or possessions but his heritage or inheritance was the eternal word of the Lord he calls God’s statutes.

2.  vs. 112 Our hearts should be set on being faithful to God and his word

The second part of our writer of Psalm 119 word of commitment to God and his word is the a statement of the desire or goal in life to always keep the word of the Lord in his life, which he states this way in verse 112, the last verse of stanza 14,

“My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end”.

The writer of Psalm 119 has told us already that he faced great opposition for trusting in God and his word yet here in the last verse of this stanza his desire is to devote his heart to always keeping the very word of the Lord.

I have been referring to the story of Jericho in this stanza as it relates to what the writer of Psalm 119 has been teaching us and here I want to turn your attention to the commander of the Israelite army who God used to bring judgment upon that ancient city of Jericho.

We leant that Jericho was all walled up or closed up in defiance to God and his chosen people, only a prostitute named Rehab and members of her family acted on the very real word of the Lord in what they knew he did for the people of Israel when escaping Egypt and in victories over many enemies in the forty years of their wilderness wanderings.

Joshua was a man of great faith and commitment to God and his word and I want to refer to two references in the book of Joshua that show the commitment of this man Joshua to God and his word.

The first is in Joshua 5: 13 – 14, when Joshua was near Jericho he had a encounter with God through a person called “The commander of the army of the Lord”, some bible scholars say this could have been a pre- incarnation of the Lord Jesus himself,,

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’
‘Neither’, he replied. ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come”

Note then what Joshua does on hearing this,

“Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does the Lord have for his servant’”.

Joshua’s heart is clearly here committed to following only God and his word and then I would like to take you to the final chapter of the book of Joshua and reveal to you the word of commitment Joshua had for God and his word even at the end of his life, which reveals that he believed that God and his word was his heritage or inheritance,

Joshua 24: 14 – 15,

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshipped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But id serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord”.

Joshua knew the temptations of serving other God’s would always be a factor in the future history of his people but he made it clear that for him and his family they were committed to serving the Lord.

Jesus makes it clear what our commitment to the Lord should be in Matthew 6: 33,

“But seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

I close with the fourth and last verse of my new song Jericho and my four line poem I finish each of these 22 stanzas of Psalm 119,

Jericho, O Jericho Joshua trusted God as the way to go
Jericho, O Jericho you failed to turn O Jericho
Darkness is the fate for those who turn from the Lord
Light is given through God eternal word
Jericho O Jericho you’ve been judged O Jericho.

Chorus:

Jericho O Jericho
Your like our world today
In darkness and no where to go
Thats the fate of Jericho.

Now your word is a light for me
Showing me the way in this life
Helping me through this dark dangerous world
I trust in Lord even in my strife.

STANZA 15: GOD’S WORD IS TO BE TRUSTED AND OBEYED TO BE SAVED

This year my wife and I celebrate 40 years of happy and successful marriage and when we were married 40 years ago we chose hymns for our wedding ceremony that we hoped would speak to the unbelieving families we both came from. One hymn we chose was the famous and wonderful hymn called Trust and Obey written by John Sammis in the late 19 hundreds after a young man gave his testimony at a D.L Moody evangelistic meeting in Brockton Massachusetts and said, “I’m going to trust, and I’m going to obey”. These words were passed on by Moody’s song leader Daniel Towner to Sammis in a letter to him about this young mans powerful but honest testimony and Sammis used them as the theme of a chorus he soon developed into a hymn.

The first verse and chorus of that hymn goes like this:

When we walk with the Lord
In the light of his word
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey.

Chorus:

Trust and obey for there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Bit to trust and obey.

The fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119 features this very important teaching about trusting and obeying God and I think verses 115 and 116 speak of this in this way,

“Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God! Sustain me, my God according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed”.

So with the central theme of trusting and obeying God’s word to be saved in mind I have broken this fifteenth stanza into three parts:

    1. (113 – 114) WHEN WE TRUST AND OBEY GOD’S WORD WE HAVE GOD AS A REFUGE
         AND HOPE

     2. (115 – 117) WHEN WE TRUST AND OBEY GOD’S WORD WE WILL BE SAVED

     3. (118 – 120) WHEN YOU DON’T TRUST AND OBEY GOD’S WORD YOU WILL SUFFER GOD’S JUDGMENT

Let’s then have a close look at these three parts of this fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119:

1. (113 – 114) WHEN WE TRUST AND OBEY GOD’S WORD WE HAVE GOD AS A REFUGE
AND HOPE

As the whole of Psalm 119 has done there is a constant contrast with the many who oppose God and his word and the writer who seeks to love and obey God and his word and the first verse of this fifteenth stanza does just that with these words,

“I hate double minded people, but I love your law”.

Allan Harman says that the term “double minded people” speaks of people who are,

“Unstable in all their ways”

Harman points to the words of James in James 1: 7 and 8 where James uses the same expression of being double minded when speaking of people who ask God for things without exercising faith and in fact actually doubt that God will answer their requests, James writes,

“That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double – minded in all they do”.

The people then who opposed our writer of Psalm 119 did not trust and obey God and his word but our writer is saying he does even as they oppose him for doing so.

Then the writer of Psalm 119 makes a clear statement of what it means to trust and obey God and his word and what such trust and obedience leads to in verse 14,

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word”.

Our writer picks up a favourite expression of the writers of the Psalms particularly David in the concept of God being their refuge and shield. David puts it this way in Psalm 18: 2,

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation my stronghold”.

The idea that God is our protector or the one who saves those who trust and obey his word is put this way by David in Psalm 32: 7,

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance”.

Note how the writer of Psalm 119 believes God is his refuge or protector and it is because he has put his hope on God’s word. This means that for this man God’s word promises that God will save or sustain him as he states in verse 116,

“Sustain me, my God. According to your promise, and I will live”.

It is not that David or our writer of Psalm 119 or any other writer of the bible believed that they made any contribution to their salvation but that God, out of his love promises through his word that those who turn to him in faith shown by obedience will be saved by him and him alone. Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no can boast.”

Like the young man at the D. L Moody evangelistic meeting the writer of Psalm 119 says in the second half of verse 114,

“I have put my hope in your word”.

This is another way of saying that he trusted in and sought to obey God and his word and this word promises those who do so have God as their refuge and hope as John Simms puts it in the second verse and chorus of his Trust and Obey Hymn,

“Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But his smile quickly drives it away,
Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear
Can abide while we trust and obey,

Chorus:

Trust and obey for there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Bit to trust and obey.

2. (115 – 117) WHEN WE TRUST AND OBEY GOD’S WORD WE WILL BE SAVED

The writer of Psalm 119 then:

  1. Speaks directly to his enemies who do not trust and obey God and his word (vs. 115)
  2. Speaks directly to God for God to help him trust and obey God and his word (vs’s 116 -117)

Lets look at these three verses a little closer:

  1. Speaks directly to his enemies who do not trust and obey God and his word (vs. 115)

The writer speaks directly to his enemies in direct and strong way with the words in verse 15a

“Away from me, you evildoers”.

It seems that the people who oppose him oppose God and his word because the reason the writer wants these evildoers to leave him alone is so that he can trust and obey God and his word because he writes in the second half of verse 115,

“That I may keep the commandments of my God”.

The writer of Psalm 119 has spoken many times about how his enemies have sought to kill or destroy him because of his commitment and obedience to God and his word as he declares back in verse 95,

“The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes”.

Even today opposition to those who trust and obey God and his word is alive and kicking and we need to be prepared for such opposition by as Paul puts it in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

“Finally be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the amor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

Paul then spells out what that armour is and he includes such things as the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and the breastplate of righteousness which is all brilliant images of simply trusting and obeying God and his word when we are under attack by the devil and his many followers.

Speaks directly to God for God to help him trust and obey God and his word (vs’s 116 -117)

The writer of Psalm 119 then turns from addressing his enemies to addressing God which is simply a prayer to God for God to help him trust and obey his word in verse 116 and 117,

He writes,

“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees”.

Some say that assurance of faith in God leads to disobedience as if we are once saved and always saved we could take a salvation for granted but the bibles says that a truly saved person is a person of faith and obedience and that not trusting and obeying God reveals we actually have not truly understood and grasped the grace of God he gives to those who trust and obey his son, The Lord Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation as Paul writes in Romans 6: 1 – 4,

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism unto death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life”.

Paul makes his point even more clearer in the next three verses that a true believer has died to sin and freed to serve God in what have been calling trusting and obeying God, Paul puts it this way,

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin”.

So like the writer of Psalm 119 in verses 116 and 117 we should show our trust and obedience to God in our prayer and desire for God and God alone to sustain us, help us to live. Not let our hopes to be dashed and be delivered which is Old Testament language for being saved.

Even here in the Old Testament the act of salvation is in God alone, he sustains us, he causes us to live, he upholds us and he delivers us but we like the writer of Psalm 119 must,

“Always have regard for God’s decrees”.

That also is Old Testament language for trusting and obeying God and his word. I like the third verse of John Sammis hymn “Trust and Obey”

“But we never can prove
The delights of his love
Unto all on the altar we lay.
For the favour He shows,
For the joy he bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Chorus:

Trust and obey for there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Bit to trust and obey.

3. (118 – 120) WHEN YOU DON’T TRUST AND OBEY GOD’S WORD YOU WILL SUFFER GOD’S JUDGMENT

The Gospel message is both Good news and Bad News in that it is good news to those who accept it and are saved but it is bad news to those who reject it and simply want to stay in rebellion to God. As John puts it in John 3: 18,

“Whoever believes in him is not Condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”.

The writer of Psalm 119 puts it this way in verse 118,

“You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their delusions come to nothing”.

The writer of Psalm 119 is a Jew or a member of God’s special people called the Israelites who were the people who he is speaking about here in verse 118 and are the same people God’s word came through by the law being given to Moses to them as a gift of grace and some have turned away from following it.

The writers enemies have stopped trusting and obeying God and his word and what they have replaced that with is called by our writer as,

“Their delusions”

Paul told Timothy that what people will turn to when they stop trusting and obeying God’s word is according to 2 Timothy 4: 4,

“Myths”

Interestingly Christians today are accused of believing in Myths but the truth is anything other than the word of God is a delusion or myth. Some forms of Christianity have turned the truths of the Gospel into myths but the word of God is not a myth as it is grounded in history in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So verse 118 of Psalm 119 says that God rejects those who stray from his life giving word and verse 119 goes on to say they are therefore under the judgment of God,

“All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross”

A echo of the words in Psalm 1: 4,

“Not so the wicked! They are like chaff / that the wind blows away”.

These are words of God’s judgment coming on those who refuse to trust and believe in God and his word as verse 5 of Psalm 1 states clearly,

“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement; nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous”.

The opposite is true of those who trust and obey God and his word as verse 6, the final verse of Psalm 1 says,

“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous”.

The righteous in this Psalm are is summed up in verse 2 and 3 of Psalm 1 when it says,

“But whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers”.

The writer of Psalm 119 closes his fifteenth stanza with words of his commitment of trusting and obeying God and his word in verses 119b and 120, he writes,

“Therefore I love your statutes. My flesh trembles in fear of you. I stand in awe of your laws”.

I close this Psalm talk on the fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119 with both the final verse of Trust and Obey and its chorus and my own four line summary verse for this stanza.

“Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Chorus:

Trust and obey for there is no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Bit to trust and obey.

Open Lord my heart to your word
Help me now to trust and obey
You are my refuge against my foes
Lord give me hope and faith today.

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PSALM 119 (Part 1: 1 -56) TALK: THE SUPREMACY AND BENEFITS OF GOD’S WORD

PSALM 119 (Part 1: 1 -56) TALK: THE SUPREMACY AND BENEFITS OF GOD’S
WORD

(The first part of the longest Psalm and chapter in the bible that sets down in some detail how God’s word shows us how we should live our lives if we we want God’s blessings in it. God’s word shows us the way God wants us to walk in this life and we should therefore follow its instructions and praise God for his word to us).

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

Last year I got involved in some long hot debates on line concerning a number of current issues of morality and faith and one of my non – christian music friends told me that I was now completely out of step with modern thinking and attitudes because I both believed in God and the bible. He was actually saying to me that both God and the bible were not only outdated but irrelevant now in the 21st century.

This kind of claim is not new and even back in bible times amongst God’s own people the relevance of both God and his word was challenged. The people of Israel even lost the bible at one point in their history because they were fooled into looking to other God’s at the expanse of God and his word.

One Psalm stands out like a beacon advocating the supremacy and benefits or relevance of God and his word and that Psalm is Psalm 119 which is both the longest Psalm and longest chapter in the bible. Psalm 119 is a “acrostic Psalm” or “Alphabet Psalm” which along with eight other acrostic Psalms were written like this to aid memorisation. Psalm 119 is devoted to the theme of the supremacy and value or benefits of the word of God in a persons life. It uses 10 terms for God’s word. Only two verses in Psalm 119 don’t use one of these ten terms for God’s word and they are verse 84 and verse 122.

Here is an simple explanation of each of the 10 words or terms used in this Psalm for God’s word which I have summarised by Stephen J. Coles in his introduction to Psalm 119:

Law – “” In the first five books of the bible often called, “The Torah” or “The Law”.

2. Testimonies – “To bear witness points to the bibles witness of the things of God”.

3. Ways – “God’s characteristic manner of acting, as contrasted with our ways”.

4. Precepts – “Points to the particular instructions of the Lord”.

5. Statutes – “Comes from a word meaning ‘to engrave in stone’ thus they speak of the binding
force and permanence of Scripture”.

6. Commandments – “Idea of giving orders”.

7. Judgments – “These are the decisions of the all – wise Judge”

8. Word – as used in vs. 9 and 23 – “Emphasising the fact that God has spoken”

9. Word – another Hebrew word for word used in vs. 11 and vs. 19, here means, “to say”

10. Faithfulness – God’s “Righteousness (vs. 40) or “Faithfulness vs.90 and Name vs. 132,
synonymous for the Scriptures in this Psalm”.

The big question of for this Psalm is who wrote it and how did they write it?

We have no definitive answer to these two questions but many commentators argue for David who we know wrote Psalm 19 and verses 7 – 9 which mirrors in a brief form much of what this Psalm has to say to us. However the Psalm was not placed in the book of psalms unto after the return from captivity in Babylon as it is part of book five of Psalms and therefore some commentators point to Nehemiah or Ezra as its possible authors.

Spurgeon makes this interesting speculation with this comment,

“We are incline to the opinion then expressed that here we have the royal diary written at various times throughout David’s long life”.

Could a person like Ezra or some Jewish scribe of that time somehow got hold of a old copy of David’s Royal diary and wrote from it what we now know as Psalm 119?

It is a fact that each of the 22 stanzas stand alone and are actually individual Psalms of eight verses only linked together by the acrostic pattern of the first word of each new stanza staring with a sequenced letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Psalm 119, no matter who wrote it, sets down twenty two issues in life with information of how God’s word is the supreme authority for that issue and at the same time it spells out some of the bibles help and benefits for those issues.

In my Psalm talk for this Psalm. I will state the life issue and then attempt to explain what the Psalmist says the bible or the word of God has to say to that life issue.

Also because this Psalm is so long I have decided to break it into three Psalm talk parts:

Introduction and stanzas 1 – 7 (verses 1 – 56)
Stanzas 8 – 15 (verses 57 – 120)
Stanzas 16 – 22 and a conclusion (verses 121 – 176)

I hope that through these three Psalm talks on Psalm 119 you will be able to see both the supremacy and timeless practical value of God’s word even for us living in the 21st century.

My outline for the first seven stanzas of this 22 stanza Psalm is:

Stanza 1. (1 – 8) GOD’S TRUE HAPPINESS AND HOW TO FIND IT

Stanza 2. (9 – 16) GOD’S PURITY AND HOW TO WALK IN IT

Stanza 3 (17 – 24) GOD’S GUIDANCE IN THE FACE OF OPPOSITION

Stanza 4. (25 – 32) GOD’S HELP IN THE MIDST OF AFFLICTION

Stanza 5. (33 – 40) GOD’S INSIGHT OF HIS WORD AND THE DISTRACTIONS FROM IT

Stanza 6. (41 – 48) GOD’S LOVE AND HIS HELP TO PROCLAIM IT

Stanza 7. (49 – 56) GOD’S HOPE AND COMFORT IN HIS MANY PROMISES IN HIS WORD

Stanza 1.    (1 – 8) GOD’S TRUE HAPPINESS AND HOW YOU FIND IT

The Psalm opens in a familiar way as verse 1 says,

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless who walk according to the law of the Lord”.

Psalm 1 opens with,

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers, 2  but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night”.

I wrote this about what the word “Blessed” actually means in my Psalm 1 talk,

“Being Blessed by God or being truly happy is what all people really want but true happiness seems to be such a fickle thing”.

The happiness God wants to give is so different than the happiness people seek today as it involves forgiveness of sin, Psalm 32: 1 – 2,

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit”.

And is more of a deeper spiritual sense of peace as Paul describes in Romans 5: 1,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

And this peace transcends circumstances as Paul speaks of in Philippians 4: 7,

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

The writer of Psalm 119 now tells us how we can have this kind of happiness in verse 1 – 3,

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— 3  they do no wrong but follow his ways”.

Note how these verses tell us how the word of God helps us find God’s happiness for us,

“Walk according to the law of the Lord” and

“Keep his statutes”

If we are honest and real we will all say but I haven’t or even cannot do this and if this came originally from a diary of David he would agree with you and that is why he wrote as we previously saw in Psalm 32 verse 1 and 2,

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2  Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit”.

Words we believe he wrote after he had so badly sinned with adultery and murder but what David did after he realised God knew he had sinned big time is what the last part of verse 3 says in Psalm 119,

“And seek him with all their heart”

Even Psalm 119 suggests that the writer knew like David he had not obeyed God’s word fully as he writes in verse 5 and 6,

“O, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands”.

He says this after stating again what God’s word the bible says how he should live in verse 3,

“They do no wrong but follow his ways”.

It was the love of God or rather the mercy of God that David needed and sought in Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 and we read his prayer of looking up to God for mercy in Psalm 51 starting with these words,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions”.

We have a far greater understanding of this mercy of God and how it has been won for us in the New Testament and Paul using the New Testament word for mercy, grace which he spells out in Ephesians 2: 4 – 9,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.

The writer of Psalm 119 then closes his first stanza with two commitments that are vital to finding the happiness God wants to give us and they are:

i)  A commitment to praise God as he learns about God in his word (verse 7)
ii) A commitment to seek to obey God’s word (vs. 8)

Lets have a quick look at each of these two commitments of the writer of Psalm 119,

i)  A commitment to praise God as he learns about God in his word (verse 7)

David often finished his Psalm with a commitment to praise God as he does for instance in Psalm 35: 27 – 28,

May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say,

“The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” 28  My tongue will proclaim your righteousness your praises all day long”.

So here in Psalm 119 we have a similar commitment to praise,

“I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws”.

The easiest times for me to praise God has been when I have been with others reading and studying God’s word together. God gives us so much to praise him for especially for the grace given to us through The Lord Jesus Christ and his death for us and when pondering these sorts of things either in my own private study of God’s word or especially with others praise for God naturally flows.

ii)  A commitment to seek to obey God’s word (vs. 8)

Finally his last commitment that I believe flows also again from his understanding of God’s word is,

“I will obey your decrees; do not forsake me”.

Not only are these words a wonderful commitment that flows from any true study of God’s word but they sum up all that the writer has been trying to say through this first stanza of this long but beautiful Psalm.

He has said that it is through obedience to God’s word that true blessing or happiness comes from God but he indicated his need for God to help him because he knew he had not fully done this so he closes with a plea for God to not forsake him and therefore help him obey God’s word.

A person is blessed by obeying God’s word
Walking in God’s word all their days.
Forgive me O Lord for my wrong deeds
Let me walk down your road with praise.

Stanza 2. (9 – 16) GOD’S PURITY AND HOW TO WALK IN IT

This is the only stanza in Psalm 119 that opens with a question and the question relates to young people for verse 9a says,

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?”

Why this question is phased in the guise of a young person could have at least three answers?

First of all young people are especially under greater attack by the devil to get involved in acts of immorality and carnal sin.

2. The Psalmist could have been a young person when he wrote this.

3. Phrasing wisdom concepts in the guise of teaching a younger person is a common style
of writing in the Old Testament.

Lets have a look at each of these three reasons why Psalm 119: 9a is a question how a young person can stay pure.

1. First of all young people are especially under greater attack by the devil to get involved in acts of immorality and carnal sin.

It is true that many sins like sexual or interpersonal relationship breakdowns are particularly problematic for a young person. Paul speaks of the sins his Ephesians readers were saved from in Ephesians 2: 3,

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath”.

In Colossians Paul lists the desires of the flesh in a bit more detail when he writes in Colossians 3: 5 – 5 – 10,

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[a] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator”

It is true that we might find many of the temptations to fall into these types of sins more acute when we are young but Paul was not writing just to young people in his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians but to new Christians of all ages and I think the writer of Psalm 119 is speaking to all ages in verse 9 of his Psalm 119.

2. The Psalmist could have been a young person when he wrote this.

Some commentators argue that this first verse is phrased in the guise of a young person because he was young himself but even if that is true the walking of God’s path of road relates not only to when we are young but when we are older as well.

3. Phrasing wisdom concepts in the guise of teaching a younger person is a common style
of writing in the Old Testament.

This seems to be the more logical reason for the way this question is answered as we see in the book of Proverbs which are presented as an older person to a younger person as we see in the start of Proverbs 2: 1,

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you”.

So how can any of us young or old stay on the road or path of purity”

Verse 1b says,

“By living according to your word”.

The rest of this stanza spells out how we can actually do this and I have broken this down into six things we need to do with God’s word (note they all start with the letter “S”):

i)   (vs. 10) Seek not to stray from God’s word
ii)  (vs. 11) Store God’s word in our hearts and minds
iii) (vs. 12) Savour and learn God’s word
iv) (vs. 13) Sing and Declare God’s word
v) (vs. 14) Strive to put God’s word into practice
vi) (vs. 15) Study prayerfully God’s word
vii)(vs. 16) Satisfy your desires with the word of God

Lets have a closer look at each of these seven things we need to do to be able to live according to God’s word to stay pure:

i)  (vs. 10) Seek not to stray from God’s word

All the advice we find in this Psalm is both practical and straightforward unlike the often complicated and confusing advice you get in self help books these days.

The writes advice in verse 10 simply says to live according to God’s word to stay pure he will,

“Seek you (God) with all my heart”

He then asks God,

“Do not let me stray from your commands”.

James another easy to understand practical bible writer explains how we fall to sin with these words in James 1: 14 – 15,

“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”.

When we focus on God and his word our evil desires cannot drag us away to sin and I heard it said by a preacher one day that when any kind of evil non God honouring thought comes into our minds the best thing we can do is follow Paul’s advice in Philippians 4: 8 – 9,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”.

In the case of Paul, “whatever you have learned or received or heard from me” would have been what he knew Christ and the word of God had taught so the right, pure and admirable things would include of course God’s word itself”.

Also it has been suggested that Paul’s run down of “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy” fits perfectly a description of the Lord Jesus Christ so we should think about him when the devil seeks to tempt us with evil desires and thoughts.

ii)   (vs. 11) Store God’s word in our hearts and minds

The second way we can live according to God’s word to stay pure is found in verse 11,

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”.

The value of memorising scripture cannot be over looked, I know so much scripture in my mind from my youth singing scripture in song songs that were popular at my church when I was in my late teens teens and early twenties during the 1970”s.
Also by regular daily bible study over many years again many bible verses and even passages are part of me now and I can easily bring them to mind.

To know the value of knowing God’s word in our heart and mind to stay pure we can go no further than the Lord Jesus himself who when he was tempted by the devil answered him back with God’s word.

Paul tells us the value of knowing God’s word in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

God’s word is so valuable to every part of living the Christian life according to Paul in these verses and the writer of Psalm 119 is telling us the value and need to work at hiding or implanting God’s word in our hearts and minds to be able to follow God’s way of purity.

iii)    (vs. 12) Savour and learn God’s word

Suddenly the writer of Psalm 119 breaks out in praise at the start of verse 12,

“Praise be to you, Lord”,

This word of praise particularly for God’s word crops up all through this Psalm and it seems that one of our authors goals in writing his long Psalm is to give praise to God and particularly his word which he finds so valuable so he goes on to ask God,

“Teach me your decrees”.

The writer values God’s word so much that he wants to learn as much about it as he can so he really savours or values God’s word but at the same time he realises that in himself he cannot learn all there is know about God’s word so he asks God to help him learn his decrees or statutes which Stephen J Cole says are,

“The binding force and a permanence of Scripture”

I always pray for God’s Holy Spirit who inspired the whole writing of the word of God to help me both understand and teach me what it is actually saying. Jesus promises his disciples and all who like them seek to follow him as their Saviour and Lord the promise of the Holy Spirit who will lead us all into all truth in John 16: 12 – 15,

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you”.

So Jesus himself is telling us to look in prayer to the Holy Spirit to help us understand and learn God’s word.

iv)  (vs. 13) Sing and Declare God’s word

Then in verse 13 the writer of Psalm 119 speaks of how we need to declare with our lips or tongues God’s word and I believe from many other Psalms this is by word and song, verse 13 puts it this way,

“With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth”.

David spoke on many occasions about declaring God’s word in song like Psalm 18: 49,

“Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name”

And by word in Psalm 35: 27 – 28,

“Let them shout for joy and be glad, Who favour my righteous cause; And let them say continually,
“Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” 28  And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness And of Your praise all the day long”.

Before Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection he told his disciple to, Mark 16: 15 – 16,

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned”.

Paul’s final charge to his younger prodigy Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 2, was to,

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching”.

Even if preaching the word is not God’s gift for us we still need to declare God’s wonderful saving message with our lives and do what Peter says in 1 Peter 3: 15,

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and respect”.

Of course the main hope we have is found in God’s word so something of our defence or reason for our hope will be something of the word of God which we will declare or testify of.

How this helps keep our way pure or keeps us on the road or path of purity is linked to being connected to God through his word which the previous 3 points pointed to.

v)   (vs. 14) Strive to put God’s word into practice

The next point follows naturally with the last as the last suggests that by declaring God’s word we are helped to stay on the road or path of purity so in order to declare God’s word we must strive to put it into practice and so verse 14 says,

“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches”.

I mentioned in my introduction that aspects of some of the teaching in Psalm 119 is found in Psalm 19 verses 7- 11 which we know David wrote and the value and priceless nature of God’s word is spoken of so well in Psalm 19: 10 – 11 I want to share it with you,

They (God’s word) are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward”.

Do we treasure God’s word?

Is the bible more precious than gold or as Psalm 119 verse 13 says, “great riches”?

Jesus said in Matthew 6: 21,

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

So it goes that if we are rejoicing and treasuring God’s word we are valuing it so much we will want to act upon it or put it into practice or as verse 14 says follow it. If we are putting it into practice then we will as verse 9 says,

“Stay on the path of purity by living according to God’s word”.

vi)    (vs. 15) Study prayerfully God’s word

Then in verse 15 we have a word that crops a lot in the book of Psalms and in the bible, “Meditate”and I found this very valuable definition of Christian or the bibles meaning of meditation on the “gotquestions?org sight,

“True Christian meditation is an active thought process whereby we give ourselves to the study of the word, praying over it and asking God to give us understanding by the Spirit, who has promised to lead us ‘into all truth’ (John 16: 13)”.

So verse 15 of Psalm 119 says,

“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways”.

Psalm 1 verse 2 says,

“But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, who meditates on the his law day and night”.

Putting both verses together we have the truth that if we want to stay on the path of purity you will need to read and study God’s word day and night and then you will know what to follow. If we do this Psalm 1 has a beautiful picture of what this word of God will do in us and that is in Psalm 1: 3,

“That person (he who delights and meditates on God’s word) is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers”.

vii)   (vs. 16) Satisfy your desires with the word of God

The final way a young person or even a older person can keep on the path or road of purity is summarised in verse 16 the last verse in this second stanza.

We have seen how by seeking to not stray from God’s word, storing it up in our hearts and minds, savouring and learning it so that we declare it in song and word after we have studied it prayerfully we will be dong what Psalm 119 verse 16 says,

“I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word”.

And not neglecting God’s word will help us to stay on God’s road or path of purity.

My alphabet poem verse for this stanza then is:

Be a person who lives by God’s word
And stay on the path to God
Reading and studying the word of God
To heaven you will surely trod.

Stanza 3. (17 – 24) GOD’S GUIDANCE IN THE FACE OF OPPOSITION

This amazing Psalm, 119 now looks at the important subject of “Guidance” and states clearly in the last verse of this third stanza, verse 24 that God’s word is where we find God’s guidance in our lives,

“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors”

Even at the start of stanza 3 our writer is seeking God’s guidance and help to obey his word that we learnt in the last stanza that obeying God’s word is God’s path to God’s purity or the way he wants us to live. So we read in verse 17,

“Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word”.

The two key terms in this verse are:

i)   Be Good
ii)  While I live

Lets have a quick look at each of these two terms:

i)   Be Good

Allan Harmon says that this term “be good” actually means,

“Acting generously to someone”

And he gives three verses to explain this and I found two of them very helpful and the first is Psalm 116: 7,

“Return to your rest, my soul for the Lord has been good to you”.

The second reveals that we do not deserve to be treated good by the Lord but he does not treat us as we deserve, Psalm 103: 10,

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or pay us according to our iniquities”.

We know from the New Testament that this is because God treats us with a special love which it calls “Grace” and that this undeserved love is made possible to us because of what Jesus has done for us in paying for our iniquities on the cross as Paul speaks of in Romans 3: 24,

“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”.

So God is good to us, according his word the bible because he gives us love we don not deserve, called grace.

ii)   While I live

This is the first of many times in Psalm 119 that its writer will refer to living or life and I counted that this Psalmist in Psalm 119 refers to his life or to living 13 times and the others are, 25, 37, 40, 50, 77, 88, 93, 109, 116, 144, 154 and 175.

The writer is keen to not only show the supremacy of the word of God but how relevant and helpful it is to living the life God wants us to live which we learnt from the first stanza is the life of true happiness.

The writer now explains the relevance and even need of the word of God in the issue of guidance especially in the face of opposition in verses 18 – 24 and I have broken this explanation of how God’s word guides us even in the face of great opposition into four key points:

i)   The need for God to open our eyes to what his word is saying to us (18 – 19)
ii)  The need not to stray from God’s word even in difficult times (20 – 2)
iii) The need to stay focussed on God’s word even when things get tough (22 – 23)
iv) The need to see how God’s word is always supreme and why (vs. 24)

Lets have a closer look at each of these four explanations of how God word can guide us even in the face of opposition and difficulty:

i)  The need for God to open our eyes to what his word is saying to us (18 – 19)

The writer of Psalm 119 seems to be going through a difficult time in his life when he wrote these words and if the idea for this Psalm came from a kind of diary of David then either the time of his being on the run from king Saul for eight years or so or when he was on the run from his rebellious son Absalom would fit very well to the ideas in this stanza.

The writer has already asked God in verse 12 to,

“Teach me your decrees”

Now in verse 18 he asks,

“Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law”

The bible is not like any other book and is unique in a number of ways and one of them is that just as it is inspired by the Holy Spirit so it needs the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to understand it as Peter says about the word of God in 1 Peter 2 : 20 – 21,

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

And so in that last stanza we read Jesus words in John 16: 12 – 15,

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you”.

This first became clear to me when as a young Christian I was visiting a close christian friends house and this friends father, who was a very convinced atheist said to us, “I have read the bible through twice and it did absolutely nothing for me”. This man now long departed from this life had read the bible without the eyes or thoughts of faith but rather with a closed mind to the things of God.

Even this very devout bible committed writer of Psalm 119 prays to God,

“Open my eyes that I might see”

And what does he want to see?

“Wonderful things in your law”

We read of how David saw the value of the word of God in Psalm 19: 9b – 11,

“The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11  By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward”.

Jesus said in John 7: 38,

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”.

I felt both frustrated and sorry for my friends father who had such a hard heart towards God and his word that he could read his word and get nothing out of it. Jesus has just said in John 7: 38 that faith in him, the word become flesh (John 1: 14) will lead to the wonderful experience of having rivers of living water within us and I can testify that I regularly feel overwhelmed by the wonderful truths God’s word has taught me and through that guided me in my life.

However the writer of Psalm 119 is not saying that following the leading of God in our lives leads to a life without difficulty as he writes in verse 19,

“I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me”

This idea of being a stranger on earth I believe is in the context of the writer feeling out of step with the majority of people around him who do not believe in the God of the bible or his word as David obviously felt in Psalm 39: 12,

“Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were”.

Peter in the new Testament calls us foreigners and exiles in this word in 1 Peter 2: 11,

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul”.

I like the old song that says,

“This world is not my home I’m just a passing through”

Therefore while we live God’s way and value his word in this life we will often feel out of step with the world around us who do not share our faith and commitment in God and his word. The temptation in such conflict is to walk away from God and his word or at least water down our commitment to his word and it seems the writer of Psalm 119 felt the sane way so he asked God to,

“Not hide your commands from me”.

We will see more of what the opposition this writer faced in the next four verses and how God and his word helps guide him through this opposition and difficulty.

ii)   The need not to stray from God’s word even in difficult times (20 – 21)

The writer now goes on to give the contrast to his stand as a believer in God and his word and those who are non – believers in verses 20 – 21, he writes,

“My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, who are accused, those who stray from your statutes”.

I like the MSG translation of these verses that says,

“My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous! – insatiable for your nourishing commands. And those who think they know so much, ignoring everything you tell them – let them have it!”

Not sure if I like the term “let them have it” but the rest of this modern paraphrase of these verses describe well the idea that their is a big contrast in attitude and actions between those who believe in God and his word and those who don’t.

The believers stay focussed and committed to God and his word like a hungry man satisfied by God’s word alone and the non believers arrogantly reject God and his word and seek to live their lives accordingly.

We must be like the writer of Psalm 119 and stay focussed on God and his word even when the majority of people around us seem to be doing the opposite and always remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7: 13 – 14,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

iii) The need to stay focussed on God’s word even when things get tough (22 – 23)

Now the opposition this writer seems to be up against is spelt out in verses 22 – 23,

“Remove from me their scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes. 23 Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees”.

Those who oppose our writer are described it two ways as:

i)   Those who give him scorn and contempt
ii)  Those who rule over everyone and slander him

Let me try and tell you what the writer means by these two descriptions of those who oppose him:

i)   Those who give him scorn and contempt

Often when we as believers do not join or go along with the prevailing crowds attitudes and way of living we are scorned and abused with contempt and this seems to be the problem the writer of Psalm 119 is speaking of in verse 22 and Peter speaks of the same kind of thing in his day in 1 Peter 4: 3 – 4,

“For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you”.

I have suffered from this myself especially in my non – christian contacts in the local music world I am often appreciated by my non – christian music friends but also like my friend on Facebook I am also scorned with contempt because I dare profess a faith in God and a commitment to his word and for that my local musical prospects are far less than others. Some find me so offensive they merely put up with me because I have both have talent and always seek to be friendly as much as I can.

Peter also told his readers how they should act in the company of people in their non believing world when he says in 1 Peter 2: 11 – 12,

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us”.

ii)  Those who rule over everyone and slander him

Then a far more difficult description follows in verse 23 as some of his enemies are the local rulers or we might say are people in high office who not only dislike this man who calls himself God’s servant in verse 23 and 17 but who slander him.
This sounds a lot like what David said about his enemies in some of his Psalms written we believe when he was either on the run from King Saul or his rebellious son Absalom.

As David writes sin Psalm 41: 5 – 9,

“My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” 6 When one of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it around”. All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, 8  “A vile disease has afflicted him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.” 9  Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me”.

David was a ruler himself as King of Israel but before he became king he was hunted down and slandered by King Saul only because he was filled with jealousy and later David for a short time was forced to flee for his life when Absalom rebelled and again sought to kill him.

I cannot relate to the idea of being opposed by those in high office except maybe from former non christian bosses who gave me a hard time because I was a Christian and they were not. I have read of Christians who face great opposition from their rulers in the counties they live in and my prayers go up for them.

So how did this writer of Psalm 119 find God’s guidance in the face of this terrible opposition?

His answer is both surprising and very helpful as in verse 23 he says,

“Your servant will meditate on your decrees”.

In the face of such great opposition the writer says he simply prayerfully studies God’s word, which is what I believe the word meditate means here. He does this obviously to find the guidance and encouragement that only God can give him.

David speaks of doing just what the writer of Psalm 119 verse 23b says in Psalm 40: 1 – 3, where David speaks of waiting patiently for the Lord and having his feet secured on a rock and a rock is always in the writings of David a poetical symbol for God and his word,

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him”.

Jesus offers the same sense of protection and guidance if we build our lives on him the rock in Matthew 7: 24 – 25,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock”.

I mentioned earlier of how I have read of many christians who suffer at the hands of ant – God or anti – christian rulers or local authorities and how difficult their lives are but i also read of how many these people are loyal to the Lord Jesus and his word and how so often they are finding his guidance and help in such difficult situations.

iv) The need to see how God’s word is always supreme and why (vs. 24)

I started this third stanza of Psalm 119 with the words this amazing Psalm, 119 now looks at the important subject of “Guidance” and states clearly in the last verse of this stanza, verse 24 that God’s word is where we find God’s guidance in our lives,

“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors”

So we have seen that only through obeying God’s word, having God open our eyes to it, longing for its truths, not straying from its commands, keeping it, prayerfully studying it and now delighting in it do we find God’s counsel or guidance even in the face of great opposition and difficulty.

Continually look to God’s word
In it wonderful things you’l see
Even in the face of great difficulty
God will guide you and set you free.

Stanza 4. (25 – 32) GOD’S HELP IN THE MIDST OF AFFLICTION

I have recently become very aware of how fortunate we are living in modern times compared to even as far back as the 1940’s owing to the great blessed advancement of modern medicine. One of the ways that became clear me was after recently reading of a biography on Charles Dickens who lived from 1812 – 1870 and in the book it was said that sickness of some kind was so prevalent that most people were either sick or recovering from sickness.

Before the days of penicillin (1930’s) flu and other viral disease could not be treated and any kind of problem needing an operation was not done effectively unto after 1900 owing to the lack of effective anaesthetics people died often on what we would call primitive painful operating theatres.

So way back 2,500 years ago when Psalm 119 was probably written or at least placed in the fifth book of Psalms sickness and the treatment of it was even more primitive and therefore it is not surprising that the Psalms like this have much to say about dealing with sickness or affliction particularly on a spiritual level.

The fourth section looks at sickness or physical affliction and offers both hope and comfort for any true believer when they experience sickness in their lives today.

How do we know that this fourth section deals with affliction or sickness?

Well for a start the first verse says,

“I am low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word”.

Being low in the dust Allan Harman says is a,

“graphic description of how close he feels to the grave”

This is because low to the dust is a poetic image that comes from Genesis 3: 19,

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

So he is sick and so sick he is close to death. Also verse 28 speaks of how this sickness has effected him spiritually,

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word”.

Both verse 25 and 28 speak of God helping him,

“According to your word”.

This “according to your word” is probably a reference to passages in the Old Testament like Deuteronomy 28 which starts with these words, verses 1 – 2,

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God”.

Then Deuteronomy 28 goes on with a long list of blessings God will give those who seek to obey his word.

Or the writer of Psalm 119 might have the words of Deuteronomy 32: 39 in mind which says,

“See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand”.

He might even have had the words of God’s promises to help us in times of sickness in mind that the other Psalms speak of like Psalm 107: 20,

“He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave”.

Or Psalm 34: 19,

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”.

Whatever he had in mind it clearly came from God’s word and he wanted God to act for him to save him from death owing to great sickness according to what God had promised in his word.

The writer of Psalm 119 however has a very different way of dealing with sickness and even death and this can be summed up by what he says in verse 30,

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws”.

So rather than trusting in man, or letting his sickness course him to turn away from God he determines to stay faithful to God and trust in God’s word no matter what happens to him.

I see then three things this writer seeks to do to find God’s help in the midst of affliction and they are:

i)   Pray and trust in the word of God when your sick (26 – 27)
ii)  Pray and and seek to not sin when your are sick (28 – 29)
iii) Trust in God and seek to obey his word (30 – 32)

Lets then have a good look at each of these three things the writer seeks to do when he is suffering affliction or sickness:

i)   Pray and trust in the word of God when your sick (26 – 27)

In verse 26 the Psalmist writes,

“I gave an account of my ways and you answered me teach me your decrees”

Joseph Benson gives us a full and clear understanding of what this writer first did when he was so afflicted with sickness he felt he was going to die with these words,

“My manner of life, my sins, my temptations, my sorrows, my wants, dangers, fears, cares, and concerns; my designs, undertakings, and pursuits: I have spread them all before thee, by way of sincere confession, humble supplication, or solemn appeal”.

When I have got sick in the past all I can remember doing was asking God to heal me and maybe help me bare the pain and discomfort but this man of God goes into far more detail in his prayer to God when he was very sick.

A lot of God’s word teaches that affliction or sickness comes from God dealing with sin in our lives as David speaks of a number of times like Psalm 6: 1 – 2,

“Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony”.

The bible links the confession of sins to healing as we clearly see in James 5: 16,

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”.

However the bible also teaches that sickness is not always caused by God disciplining us for our sins as we know from the example of Job.

Job was allowed to become sick at the hands of Satan to bring glory to God by being faithful to God even through sickness and difficulty and we see in the opening two chapters of Job. Jesus himself tells us that a man who was born blind did not have that affection because of his sins or the sins of his parents as he tells his disciples this in John 9: 3 just before he heals him,

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him”.

So the writer of Psalm 119 simple unburdened himself on the Lord like so many Psalms do when a person is in some kind of affliction and the result of this according to the second half of verse 26,

“And you answered me: teach me your decrees”.

This man said that as he unburdened himself on God, God answered him through his word. It is through the bible , the word of God that God primarily speaks to us as Peter declares in 2 Peter 1: 3,

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”.

The writer who knew this fact of spiritual life then asks God to help him understand what God is saying to him through his great affliction in verse 27,

“Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds”.

I have found that affliction like sickness will do one of two things when it comes on us, it will either drive us away from God or it will draw us closer to God. Our writer had the second experience through his time of affliction as he says it caused him to understand God’s word so much more.

He even wants to now medicate or prayerfully study what God has wonderfully done. His focus in affliction is not then centred on himself like sadly I have done in the past when I got sick but his focus was on God and his word.

ii)  Pray and and seek to not sin when your are sick (28 – 29)

When I have got sick in the past as I have just said I have prayed prayers to God for healing or relief from my sickness which is quite OK but as we saw in the past two verses I should also widen my prayer to asking God to help teach me something of himself and his word through that time of sickness or any other kind of affliction.

However the writer in verse 29 picks up another flaw in most of our approaches to dealing with sickness and I include myself here and that is he wants to not sin when he is suffering sickness or affliction as he writes,

“Keep me from deceitful ways”.

In verse 28 he has indicated that he is in deep pain and difficulty particularly spiritually as he writes,

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word”

So now he wants God to help him not sin or be deceitful and Albert Barnes explains what he is really asking for here with these words,

He was, like all people, in danger of acting from false views, from wrong motives, or under the influence of delusion and deceit”.

Another reason we suffer all kinds of trials like sickness or some kind of affliction the bible teaches is to test our faith as Peter says in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

So often when I got sick I did not really exercise faith in God but simply grumbled and complain and even have doubts in my faith but God through other christians encouraging me and through his word taught me to trust in the Lord and his word and in a sort of way I too was able to join with the writer of Psalm 119: 29 to find God’s grace and even learn from my experience as he writes in verse 29b,

“Be gracious to me and teach me your law”.

iii)  Trust in God and seek to obey his word (30 – 32)

In the final two verses we find his final helpful words of how we as God of the bible believers should face sickness or affliction and this is expressed in two resolves:

i)   Trust in God’s word (30 and 31)
ii)  Seek to obey God’s word (vs. 32)

Lets have a closer look at each of these two resolves:

i) Trust in God’s word (30 – 31)

In both verse 30 and 31 the writer of Psalm 119 resolve in the face of affliction or sickness is to trust in God’s word as he goes through it. In verse 30 he puts this resolve this way,

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws”.

It is though there are two ways to face affliction or sickness as I said in a previous point either give God away or believe in him more. In many popular films I hear people say something like, “I once believed in God but once this or that happened I gave up my belief for how could a so called loving God allow that to happen”.

This is not what the wrier of Psalm 119 says rather his reaction to his affliction was to say, now even more because of what I am going through I am going to trust in God and his word, I am deliberately going to go the way of faith in God.

Then he says much the same thing in verse 31,

“I hold fast to your statutes, Lord; do not let me be put to shame”.

I remember an illustration I once read Charles Spurgeon gave of what its means to have God as our anchor in life and he said its like a boat that is anchored which might move around this way or that but it will never go off into disaster as it is tied securely to a anchor. As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 6: 19,

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”.

I remember when I was very young and going through Bible College and attending a local church near my college as a trainee church worker and one of the elders called a church wardens in my denomination gave his Christian faith away when his wife died painfully of cancer. The minister I was working under said “isn’t it sad that just when this man needed God and his church the most he had chosen to walk away from them”.

Things will and do happen in life and we will probably not often know the reasons for them but God knows and he offers his help to cope as Jesus promises in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Will you choose the way of faithfulness or holding fast to God and his word the next time you face affliction like sickness?

If you do let me assure you Jesus promises to help you carry that load of that burden.

ii) Seek to obey God’s word (vs. 32)

The writer concludes his fourth section of Psalm 119 that deals with dealing with sickness or affliction in his life with a final resolve to this time obey God and his word expressed this way in verse 32,

“I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding”.

To run in the paths of your commands is a poetic way of saying he will seek to put into practice God’s word in his day to day life and this final verse with its image of running in the way of God’s commands or word reminds me of one of my favourite verses in the bible namely Proverbs 3: 5 – 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

That’s how you run in the path of God’s commands even as you face great sickness or affection.

Determined to look to God’s word
Even in the face of great pain
Trusting in God not turning away
In sickness and in health you’l reign.

Stanza  5. (33 – 40) GOD’S INSIGHT OF HIS WORD AND THE DISTRACTIONS FROM IT

Before I study God’s word or before I seek to present it publicly I always pray a prayer like, “Lord help me by your Holy Spirit to understand your word” or “Help me and those here today to understand your word through your Holy Spirit”. I and most of the preachers of God’s word I listen to always pray something like this before presenting God’s word. They have already prepared the sermon or lecture but they still pray for God’s insight for themselves and their hearers by his Holy Spirit before they seek to present the message they have prepared,

Why?

I think Paul answers this question very well with 1 Corinthians 1: 14 – 16,

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ”.

The writer of Psalm 119 now devotes a stanza to a prayer for God to give him insight into God’s word because he too knew that without God’s inspiration he in himself cannot understand God’s word and because of many temptations we can easily get distracted from both understanding and putting into practice the wonderful truths found in the word of God.

This section follows a three part pattern which is:

I)   (33 – 35) A prayer to God for insight into his word
ii)  (36 – 39) A prayer for God to help him avoid the distractions from insight into Gods’ word
iii) (vs. 40) A final prayer for insight into putting God’s word into practice

Lets then have a look at each of these three parts of this fifth stanza of this Psalm:

I)   (33 – 35) A prayer to God for insight into his word

The first two verses of this fifth stanza are a prayer for insight into God’s word and the first word for insight is the word “Teach” so verse 33 reads this way,

“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end”.

All through this long Psalm the concept of walking a path or road is used and here he wants God to give him insight to walk that road to its end. He knew the he constantly needed God’s help to understand and learn from God’s word. This prayer for God to teach him his word is not unique to this Psalm as we have seen it twice already in Psalm 27: 11 and Psalm 86: 11 both Psalms of David.

David prayers in Psalm 27: 11,

“Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors”.

Psalm 27 features the need for us to have spiritual light in our lives and as verse 1 of that Psalm says,

“The Lord is my light and my salvation”.

Jesus spoke of himself as being both God’s light John 8: 12,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”.

And Jesus also claimed to be the truth, John 14: 6,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

So we must ask Jesus through his Holy Spirit to teach us so we can know him, God’s light, truth and way in life that leads all the way to the end, heaven with God forever.

Then in verse 34 the writer of Psalm 119 says a prayer for understanding,

“Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart”.

The bible is a unique book and Jesus who is the bible or God’s word become flesh, John 1: 14 is a unique person as only he has the words of life as Peter declared to Jesus in John 6: 68. Because of the uniqueness of both the word of God the bible and its main focus, The Lord Jesus Christ we need God’s help to both understand it and put it into practice which the writer of Psalm 119 says is to,

“Keep your law and obey it”.

The wonderful thing is Jesus promises all of his disciples, those who seek to follow him help to understand his word through the Holy Spirit in John 16: 12 – 14,

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you”.

Some say that these words or this promise was only for the disciples of Jesus present at the last supper but what these men and men like Paul received from Jesus through the Holy Spirit was his word which presents and glorifies Jesus and so that same Holy Spirit of God that inspired the disciples to write down what Jesus said and did will help us through it to be guided into all the truth.

The New Testament only contains the work and words of Jesus declared, explained and applied through the Letters of men like Paul, Peter, John and other men who heard and saw what Jesus did and said.

So when we pray to God for insight before reading, studying or presenting God’s word Jesus promises through his Holy Spirit to give us that insight or understanding we need to have.

Even in verse 35 of Psalm 119 the writer of this Psalm is asking for insight and particularly in this verse direction into the word of God for his path or road to walk in life,

“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight”

It is such a wonderful delightful experience to gain God’s insights into his word but this can not be gained by human intelligence alone for we need the direction of God’s insight, through his Holy Spirit to fully understand and be able to apply this most precious word of God. As Paul prays for his Ephesian believers in Ephesians 1: 17 – 20,

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms”.

ii)  (36 – 39) A prayer for God to help him avoid the distractions from insight into Gods’ word

The writer then reveals that he because he is human or a sinner living in a sinful world faces daily many temptations to look away from God’s word. Things that will prevent him having insight into God’s word and particularly things that will stop him from putting God’s word into practice so in verses 36 – 39 he prays for God’s help or assistance to avoid the temptations and distractions that cause him to not have insight into God’s word and stop him from putting it into practice.

He speaks of four temptations or distractions that stop him from having insight into God’s word and also stop him from putting that word into practice in his daily life and those four things are:

I)   (vs. 36) Selfish gain – or money and riches
ii)  (vs. 37) Worthless things – or materialism
iii) (vs. 38) Reading God’s word falsely
iv) (vs. 39) Fear of opposition to God and his word

Lets then have a closer look at each of these four temptations or distractions to insight into God’s word and putting God’s word into practice:

i)  (vs. 36) Selfish gain – or money and riches

The first temptation or distraction to insight into God and his word is expressed in verse 36 as “Selfish gain” as verse 36 says,

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not towards selfish gain”.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6: 10,

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”.

Paul is pinpointing out a great fact of life that the love for money or more money and riches is a great evil that leads many astray in following God and here in Psalm 119 verse 36 understanding his word.

Some might think that this problem with money is one only rich people have but Paul does not say money is the root of all evil but the love of money. Even a very poor person who has very little money can be consumed with desiring and seeking money and when poor and rich people make trying to get more money or riches their aim or goal in life then God and his word very quickly goes out the window or out of a persons sight and they quickly become spiritually dead.

I have seen even in the church of God sadly money issues causing conflict and division. Church committees I have been on in years past operate often very well unto a money issue comes up and then the real spiritual state or commitment of those on the committee is often revealed.

I went to youth fellowship groups with many far gifted and talented Christian young people than me but so many of those more promising Christians than me no longer believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ because they got caught in the money trap as Jesus explanation of in his parable of the soils in Matthew 13: 22 says,

“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful”.

The problem then is that the love of money can easily pull us away from God and his word if we let this pursuit of money or riches dominate our lives so the writer of Psalm 119 verse 36 asks God to,

“Turn his heart towards your statutes”

Note that the problem of seeking riches is a problem of the heart and Allan Harman explains that the heart is,

“Regarded as controlling the whole direction of life”.

We then need to put Jesus at the centre of our being or heart by putting into practice what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 6: 33,

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

The poorest time in my life or when I had the least money in my life was when I was in Bible College for three years in my early twenties but I can testify to the fact that during those three years I lacked nothing I needed and in fact in many ways God blessed me with what I needed in abundance.

Just one example here for your encouragement is when my old VW car broke down on the way to a church youth fellowship camp. My old car was completely finished as the motor dies. Within three weeks of that church youth fellowship camp the members of my Youth Fellowship group collected money amongst themselves and purchased another VW car for me. One Sunday night after our fellowship meeting before church they blindfolded me and led me to the church car park and there they gave me my new second hand car.

I have heard christian preachers say in the past, “God is no mans debtor” which comes from Hebrews 6: 10 and so if you want insight into God’s word and the ability to put it into practice ask God to do what the writer of Psalm 119 verse 36 wants God to do,

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not towards selfish gain”.

ii) (vs. 37) Worthless things – or materialism

Something that follows on from the problem of the love of money as our main priority in life is the pursuits of things called “worthless things” in verse 37. Materialism goes with the love of money because to buy lots of things you need lots of money. So verse 37 says,

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; persevere my life according to your word”.

Note how the writer views the pursuit of what he calls “worthless things” as a problem of our eyes and Allan Harman points out that,

“The mention of eyes suggests the external influences that effect behaviour”.

We see things which appeal to us and desire them. For me musical instruments will be a delight to my eye and I have two high quality Ukulele’s. However Ukulele friends of mine who are not believers have many but when I see an attractive Ukulele in a shop or at a festival I say to myself, I can only play one ukulele at a time and both Ukuleles I have sound great so why do I need to spend lots of money on another one.

When you are young the temptation to buy lots of material things are even greater and young Christians need to look away from the “things” that they are attracted to buy and work out what they need rather than what they want before they make a purchase of anything.

Some might say how can all material things be called “Worthless” well in the terms of eternity and what is important to God anything else is relatively worthless as the old saying says,

“You can’t take it with you when you die”.

John has this to say about loving things in this world more than God in 1 John 2: 15 – 17,

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever”.

So with all this in mind we should pray what the writer of Psalm 119 prayed in verse 37,

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; persevere my life according to your word”.

iii) (vs. 38) Reading God’s word falsely

The writer of Psalm 119 then prays what seems a strange prayer in the context of what we have been looking at in previous verses for in verse 38 which reads like this in the NIV translation,

“Fulfil your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared”.

But other translations do not use the word “Fulfil” but “Confirm” and I like how a modern translation phrases this verse with the word confirm and it is called “The Christian Standard version” at it reads like this,

“Confirm what you said to your servant, for it produces reverence for you”.

When we use “Confirm” or “stablish” rather then “fulfil” Albert Barnes says the meaning of this verse is,

“Stablish thy word unto thy servant – Confirm it; make it seem firm and true; let not my mind be vacillating or skeptical in regard to thy truth”.

Therefore the writer of Psalm 119 wants God to help him understand God’s word correctly Tremper Longman 111 says,

“He again counts on God to keep him on the straight and narrow”.

To tamper with God’s word to suite our own purposes is another temptation or distraction that will interfere with gaining God’s insight into his word and if we continue to do so we will loose reverence or fear of God as the last part of verse 38 says.

Paul warned Timothy about the danger of false teaching coming into the church and says this to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5,

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”.

So if we want to have God’s insight into his word that leads to greater reverence of God we should also pray the words of verse 38 which says,

“Fulfil or confirm your promise (God’s word) to your servant, so that you may be feared”.

And that is not only feared by us but by those who hear our teaching from God’s word by ear or in print.

iv) (vs. 39) Fear of opposition to God and his word

Then the final temptation or distraction to finding God’s insight into his word is expressed this way in verse 39,

“Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good”.

This word “disgrace” could also be translated “reproach” and most commentators believe it is referring to the reproach or disgrace given to us by those who oppose God and his word. Allan harman says that he is actually praying,

“For release from such attitudes of his enemies”.

This writer is very real and human by indicating he does not like or even finds opposition to God’s word by his enemies hard to handle as he uses the word “dread” or “reproach” as some commentators translate.

No matter how difficult or uncomfortable opponents of God and his word can make us feel the writer of Psalm 119 says that God’s laws or God’s word is good. Some Christians do find the modern pressure to see God’s word as out of date and irrelevant to much to bare and either stop reading their bibles or abandon the bible all together.

We heard what Paul told Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 4: 2 in the previous section,

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction”.

The bible today is definitely out of season but we must not abandon it for as the writer of Psalm 119 says,

“Your laws (or God’s word) are good”.

3. (vs. 40) A final prayer for insight into putting God’s word into practice

The writer of Psalm 119 makes a call or prayer to God for God to give him insight into God’s word to now put that word into action in his life he writes,

“How I long for your precepts! In your righteousness preserve my life”.

The Geneva Study bible explains what the writer is asking for with these words,

“Give me strength to continue in your word even to the end”.

The writer longs to be taught by God his word as in verse 33, he prays for understanding of God’s word by God in verse 34, he asks God to direct his path in life to follow God’s word in verse 36 and 37 he asked God to turn his heart to his word. He then asked God to help him to not let earthly distractions cause him to not have insight into God’s word in verses 36 – 39.

Now in verse 40, the final verse of this stanza he asks God to answer his longing for his word to be given to him by God’s righteousness or saving power so that he can put Gods’s word into all the days of his life.

One commentator saw the words of Peter in 1 Peter 1: 3- 5 as fitting closing words for this stanza of Psalm 119,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”.

The living hope Peter speaks of in this passage is found in the message of Jesus death and resurrection which we know through God’s word that he makes this clear to us through the work of the Holy Spirit therefore we must read, study and act upon this word of God looking to God for insight to do so.

Enlighten me O Lord above
By your promised Holy Spirit’s power
Help to understand and apply
Your saving word each day and hour.

Stanza 6. (41 – 48) GOD’S LOVE AND HIS HELP TO PROCLAIM IT

In June 1967 the Beatles performed the song ‘All You Need is Love” as Britains contribution to a TV program called “Our World” a TV program described as the first global television link watched by over 400 million people in 25 different countries being broadcast for the first time via satellite. The single released the previous month became a world wide super hit. The simple but haunting chorus says:

“All you need is love, all you need is love
All you need is love, love, love is all you need”.

In the sixth stanza of this 22 stanza Psalm the writer of Psalm 119 has a similar message but his message of love is not human love but what he calls in verse 41, God’s,

“Unfailing love”

May I suggest the Beatles got the message the world needs right in one sense, all the world needs is love but as Psalm 119: 41 – 48 presents that the world needs the message of the love of God and like the writer of Psalm 119 we need God’s help to obey and proclaim this message of God’s love to the world.

The structure of this sixth stanza is again like the other stanzas very simple and follows this four point pattern:

  1. (vs. 41) The content of the message – God’s love
  2. (42 – 43) The value of the message – It is truth
  3. (44 – 45) The commitment to the message – obey it and live it out
  4. (46 – 48) The need to proclaim the message – Speak, delight and praise God for it.

Lets then have a close look at these four parts to this sixth stanza of Psalm 119 that relate to the message of God’s love and the need to believe in it and proclaim it.

  1. (vs. 41) The content of the message – God’s love

The sixth stanza commences with a wonderful Old Testament statement of the central message of the bible namely the message of God’s saving love for this world, it says,

“May your unfailing love come to me, Lord your salvation according to your promise”.

In Old Testament terms the writer of Psalm 119 is speaking of the message of God’s love in the covenant or agreement God made with his people Israel found in passages of God’s word like Deuteronomy 7: 9 – 10,

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him”.

God set his love on a people who did not deserve his love as the two verses before Deuteronomy 7: 9 – 10 state,

“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt”.

In New Testament terms this love widens out to the whole world because of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave his life in love to save not just sinful Israel but the world as John 3: 16 says,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Like Israel no one in the world deserves this love of God but God gives it even though we don’t deserve it and the New Testament calls this love, “Grace” or love that is not deserved as Paul speaks of this way in Ephesians 2: 4 – 7,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”.

So all this is what the writer of Psalm 119 verse 1 calls God’s,

“Promise”

So the writer of Psalm 119 who would have known the promise of God’s covenant love wants God to bring it to him or I think make him fully understand as it is as he states that this love of God is the message of,

“Salvation”

Or how God saves us by making us right with himself and this then is God’s message we will now see that God wants us to proclaim even to Kings and rulers (vs. 46).

   2.   (42 – 43) The value of the message – It is truth

The writer of Psalm 119 believes that this message of God’s love is so great and powerful that he believes that it answers all the taunts or mockery of his enemies as he writes in verse 42,

“Then I can answer anyone who taunts me”

He reveals his belief and confidence in the message of the love of God for salvation for anyone with the words of the second half of verse 42 that says,

“For I trust in your word”.

He only knows this message of God’s love because he read about it from God’s word the bible.

But why is what for him was written on scrolls and for us is written in a book is the grounds for faith and trust?

The answer is in the first part of the next verse, verse 43,

“Never take your word of truth from my mouth”

You see he trusts in the reality of God’s love because it is in the word of God and that word is the truth and therefore because it is the truth God’s love is not some kind of fairytale but is real and therefore accessible for anyone.

Jesus spoke a lot about truth and I like these words he said about truth in John 8: 31 – 31,

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Then Jesus later says in John 14: 6,

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Note how Jesus claims to be the way to God which I believe is what biblical salvation is all about and so God’s love is real because he sent Jesus into the world which was a real event and therefore it is based on truth.

Atheists believe Christians believe in fairytales but Jesus is not a fairytale he is a real person who lived in what is sometimes called time and space and his death actually took place and he also rose from the dead and the resurrection proves that Jesus has won victory over death.

Pau believed and proclaimed that Jesus resurrection won for us victory over death and this is what he says in 1 Corinthians 15: 55 – 56,

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law”.

The writer of Psalm 119 has just said he wants God’s word which is the truth not taken from his mouth and I believe he does not want it taken from his mouth because apart from the scrolls in the Temple and Synagogues the only way he could carry the word of God around in bible times was in his head. Jewish boys even in Jesus day went to school at the local Synagogue to learn and memorise the bible and particularly the Psalms and so they would say out loud with their mouths God’s word.

So why doesn’t he want God’s word not taken from his mouth?

And the answer is twofold, first it is because God’s word is truth and secondly because the writer has,

“Put his hope in God’s laws” or as we understand in this Psalm what God’s laws stand for namely God’s word.

Paul speaks of holding on to the word of life or the word of God in Philippians 2: 16 and the many benefits that word of God will bring to his readers.

    3.   (44 – 45) The commitment to the message – obey it and live it out

The commitment to the word of God we have just seen in verses 42 and 43 then finds practical expression in two ways in our writers life namely in:

i)   Obeying it (vs. 44
ii)  Living it out (vs. 45)

Lets have a closer look out how the writer wants to practically show his commitment to God’s word and its central message of love.

i) Obeying it (vs. 44)

The first way he wants to show his commitment to the word of God is expressed this way in verse 44,

“I will always obey your laws for ever and ever”

Here the writer of Psalm 119 is saying he will act on what God’s word says in obedience which is the principal way God wants us to respond to his love as Jesus expresses in John 15: 10,

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Fathers commands and remain in his love”.

Even in the Old Testament we are not saved by obedience to God’s law as David says in Psalm 51: 14,

“Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my saviour and my tongue will sing of your righteousness”.

Paul says we are saved by faith in the grace of God alone in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.

However James points out clearly that we show that we have faith by our obedience to God in James 2: 18,

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds”.

So we too should seek to show our faith and love for Jesus by obeying his commands.

ii) Living it out (vs. 45)

This obeying God’s word is shown in how we live and so the writer of Psalm 119 says this amazing thing about living out his obedience to God in verse 45,

“I will walk in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts”.

Note how even here in the Old Testament the living out of obedience which is often described in the image of “walking in” in this Psalm is in described as “freedom”.

Albert Barnes explains here what this idea of freedom would have meant to the original writer with these words,

“He would not be restrained by evil passions and corrupt desires. He would be delivered from those things which seemed to fetter his goings”.

Paul had much to say about Christian freedom in his letter to the Galatians and he starts chapter 5 with these words,

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery”.

The message we should be taking to the world is that the natural way of thinking we can get right with God by trying to do good or not sin is something we cannot do. Therefore God sent Jesus to die for our sins on the cross to set us free from this slavery to trying to save ourselves by doing good.

So through the death of Christ the penalty of our sins is paid for and all we have to do is turn to God and receive his gift of salvation sometimes called righteousness and then show our gratitude for receiving this free gift by seeking to live a life of obedience and service to God as Paul sums up in Romans 5: 17,

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one men, Jesus Christ”.

I referred earlier to Paul’s words in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9 how we are saved by faith in God’s grace alone well Paul goes on to say in verse 10 how this being saved by faith in God’s gift of grace alone leads to a life of obedience or in here in Ephesians 2: 10, a life of good works,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

So we should join the writer of Psalm 119 verse 45 to confess a commitment to following God’s word of love in a walk or a life of freedom and service.

4. (46 – 48) The need to proclaim the message – Speak, delight and praise God for it.

Finally the writer of Psalm 119 asks God to help him proclaim this great message of his loving salvation found in his word in the last three verses of this sixth stanza and each of the last thee verses speaks of three ways he wants God to help him do this:

I)   (vs. 46) Boldly speak God’s message even to his rulers
ii)  (vs. 47) Delight in God’s word that contains this message
iii) (vs. 48) Praise God as he learns his message from his word

Lets have a closer look at each of these last three verses,

i) (vs. 46) Boldly speak of God’s message even to his rulers

The writer of Psalm 119 has spoken about rulers which could apparently be another accepted word for kings in verse 23 slandering him and in verse 161 he speaks of rulers persecuting him without cause so here he is speaking about his boldness to speak or proclaim God’s message to even his current enemies who seem to be his rulers, he writes,

“I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame”.

The putting to shame is like David often talked about in many of his Psalms when his enemies falsely accused him and put him to shame like Psalm 25: 2,

“I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me”.

Jesus spoke of loving our enemies and praying for them and Christians who live in countries where their leaders oppose the Gospel put Jesus words into action sometimes paying for that with their lives but more than often showing the Gospel message is a message of love in action with great effect.

I must confess this kind of boldness is lacking often in my life so I find personally the truth of this verse very challenging but at the same time very encouraging.

ii) (vs. 47) Delight in God’s word that contains this message

A number of times this writer of Psalm 119 speaks of delighting in God’s word and here in verse 47 he tells us a reason why he delights in God’s word and that reason is because he loves it,

“For I delight in your commands because I love them”.

If we love God’s word and particularly his message of love then we to will delight in God’s word and this should lead us to want to share it more boldly and Paul told the Roman church his delight and love of the Gospel and why he had it in Romans 1: 16,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile”.

Then in Ephesians 6: 19 – 20 he asks his readers that he might always speak or proclaim the Gospel or the word of God,

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should”.

Again I find these words of Paul very challenging but if we truly delight in God’s word and particularly his Gospel we would naturally want to speak or share it.

iii) (vs. 48) Praise God as he learns his message from his word

The last verse does not mention the word praise but when it says,

“I reach out for your commands which I love”

Alan Harman suggests he is lifting up his hands in praise as he says,

“Lifting up of hands is in connection with praise”

Harman then gives a number of references from the book of Psalms that speak of the lifting of hands as a act of praise and here is one that clearly says just that, Psalm 63: 4,

“I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands”.

So final way we proclaim the central message of God’s word, his saving grace, is bound up in how our lives as well as our lips live in praise of that wonderful message of the love of God found in his word.

The writer of Psalm 119 concludes this sixth stanza of his Psalm with his final commitment to meditate on God’s word which is to prayerfully study it, he writes,

“That I may meditate on your decrees”.

I like the prayer of Thomas Cranmer found in his original prayer book the the Anglican church which says,

“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen”.

The expression Cranmer came up with of “hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them” perfectly sums up for me what real Christian meditation of God’s word is all about. If we do that then what the writer of Psalm 1119 prayed for at the start of this sixth stanza will be answered,

“May your unfailing love come to me, Lord your salvation, according to your promise”.

Fill me now with your love O Lord
For I know your Son did come
Freely he died on the cross for me
Forever may I praise your Son.

Stanza. 7. (49 – 56) GOD’S HOPE AND COMFORT IN HIS MANY PROMISES IN HIS WORD

Many years ago when I first started to preach sermons in my church I preached a sermon on the topic of “Hope” and my minister came up to me at the end of the service and said I don’t think you can use the word hope today as that word means something like “I hope something will happen” and the bibles concept of hope is as you said in your sermon is more to do with certainty and expectation.

I decided to re- name my sermon “Hope to Cope” and made sure that I compared the modern use of the word hope as opposed to the way it is used in scripture as we see in the first verse of the seventh stanza of Psalm 119,

“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope”.

Or Paul’s use of the word hope in Romans 8: 24 – 25,

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”.

This biblical hope is certain not a wishful thinking thing and we will now see that this kind of hope and the comfort it brings is in the seventh stanza of Psalm 119 as its central theme.

I have broken this seventh stanza of Psalm 119 into three parts:

  1. The writers hope and comfort founded in the promises of God (49 – 50)
  2. Why the writer needed hope and comfort (51 and 53)
  3. How the writer appropriates God’s hope (52 and 54 – 56)

So lets then have a close look at these three parts of stanza 7,

  1.  The writers hope and comfort founded in the promises of God (49 – 50)

The first two verses speak of hope although only verse 49 uses the actually word, hope because verse 50 uses the word “Comfort” which we will see has a similar meaning to the writers idea of hope.

The writer of Psalm 119 opens the seventh stanza this way,

“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope”.

As we will see in more detail in the second part of this stanza the writer is facing difficult times and yet in the midst of these difficulties he has hope and in verse 50, comfort. This writer speaks of hope in God a lot as it comes up in this Psalm in verses 43, 81 and 147 and so he is testifying a number of times to the certainty and comfort he has in God that he says in verse 49 comes from,

“Your word”

In the New Testament the words hope and faith are interchangeable and this is how Hebrews 11: 1 defines faith and this is a good definition of the sort of hope the writer is speaking about in verse 49 of Psalm 119. So Hebrews 11: 1 sats,

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”

So the writer of Psalm 119 asks God to help him remember his word and implies that through this word from God he has hope.

The next verse, verse 50 spells this out even more when it says,

“My comfort in my suffering is this; Your promise preserves my life”;

Paul calls God the God of all comfort and explains how the comfort of God works its way out in the Christian church in 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 5,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ”.

The writer of Psalm 119 speaks of where he gets God’s comfort from and he calls that source of God’s comfort,

“Your promises”

The bible both Old and New Testament is chock full of promises and it said that the bible contains 5,467 promises and the writers of “Bible Gateway” say this about the Promises of God,

“The promises of God reveal his particular and eternal purposes to which he is unchangeably committed and upon which believers can totally depend”.

People might ask me why do I spend so much time reading and studying such a ancient book as the bible?

My answer is I believe that the Bible is like no other book as it contains the wonderful promises of God and how we might have the fruit of these promises in our day to day lives. The writer of Psalm 119 in verse 50 claims that even when he is suffering or going through a difficult time the promises of God help him or as the text says, they,

“Preserve my life”

This term “Preserve my life” is translated by the commentator H.C Leopold as “Gives Life” and he writes this about that term,

“Gives life does not refer to inner spiritual processes such as regeneration but to the revitalising of the ebbing strength of body and soul”.

The full quote of Paul’s word on the bibles hope in Romans 8 is verses 22 – 25 is,

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”.

So God’s word promises the Christian believer his Holy Spirit who even in difficult times gives us hope to cope.

     2.   Why the writer needed hope and comfort (51 and 53)

The writer of Psalm 119 speaks in two verses of his seventh stanza of why he needed God’s hope and comfort and those two verse come down to speaking about how the writer was facing great difficulty through persecution. The two verses speak of persecution in two ways:

I)   (vs. 51) Being mocked for believing in God’s word
ii)  (vs. 53) The pain of being close to people who don’t believe in God’s word

Lets have a look at each of these two ways the writer of Psalm 119 is facing difficulty through persecution:

I)  (vs. 51) Being mocked for believing in God’s word

In verse 51 the writer of Psalm 119 yet again speaks of difficulties in his life caused by persecution. I say yet again because he has already spoken about this in verses 22 and 23and will speak of it again in verses 61, 69, 78, 85, 95, 110, 134 and 157. Here in verse 51 he says,

“The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law”.

The writer is not talking about enemies outside of Israel here but arrogant men within his own so called people of God community who according to verse 53 have forsaken the word of God persecute him because he dares to believe in God and his word. Allan Harman says,

“Adherence to God’s ways provides opposition”.

Currently my church has been studying in sermons and bible studies the Gospel of Mark and we have seen over and over again the hostile reaction Jesus suffered from the so called religious leaders of his day and in Mark 11 they seek to trap Jesus with tricky incriminating questions which Jesus turns back on them with clever bible based answers and then in Mark 12 after Jesus told them the parable of the evil tenants we read this in verse 12,

“Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away”.

Eventually the religious leaders of Jesus day seem to have had a victory in getting Jesus arrested at night, away from the crowds on trump up charges which led to his death by Roman crucifixion.

Before Jesus is arrested he warned his disciples and us that the same kind of persecution he faced we will also face in John 15: 18 – 21,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me”.

So the writer of Psalm 119 who lived hundred of years before Christ suffered mocking at the hands of people who should have had a commitment to God and his word yet they had no such commitment so they attacked with mocking words the writer of Psalm 119 but he says in the second half of verse 51 that in face of this mocking he will,

“Not turn from your law”

Why?

Because as we have seen already in God’s law or word he finds God’s hope, verse 49 and God’s comfort, verse 50.

Jesus promised his disciples and us his help through the Holy Spirit who he calls the “Spirit of truth”, John 15: 26,

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me”.

Also note the word “Advocate” could also be translated “Comforter” so Jesus speaks of the promised Holy Spirit giving his disciples and everyone who believes and follows him inspiration and help. In John 16: 12 – 15 he even predicts the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples to lead them into all truth (verse 12) to write the New Testament which contains so many promises for believers when they face difficulties like persecution.

ii) (vs. 53) The pain of being close to people who don’t believe in God’s word

Then in verse 53 the writer of Psalm 119 pin – points the root cause of people from his own nation mocking him and that reason is that they have,

“forsaken your law”.

Being surrounded by people who have forsaken God’s law or word causes the writer of Psalm 119 to say in the first part of verse 53,

“Indignation grips me because of the wicked”.

The wicked here are people who should have known better for God gave them his word yet they forsake it. We might think that people forsaking the word of God and mocking those who believe in it is a relative modern thing but here we have it hundreds of years before Jesus came. Even before that we have stories of prophets who lived hundreds of years before the time of the writer of Psalm 119 facing the same problem.

The prophet of God named Elijah who after beating the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel goes off to a cave and complains to God that he alone believes in God and his word but God reveals to Elijah in 1 Kings 19: 18 how he has 7,000 faithful believes in Israel.

When I here of church leaders forsaking the word of God today it does upset me and like the writer of Psalm 119 because of it,

“Indignation grips me”.

How the writer appropriates God’s hope (52 and 54 – 56)

In verse 52 and the final three verses the writer of Psalm the writer of Psalm 119 seeks to tell us how he actually seeks to appropriate God’s hope he finds in God’s word and I have broken these appropriations into three parts:

I)   (52 & 55) He remembers God’s word
ii)  (vs. 54) He sings God’s word
iii) (vs. 56) He obeys God’s word

Lets then have a closer look at these three ways the writer of Psalm 119 seeks to appropriate the God’s hope which is found in God’s word.

I)    (52 & 55) He remembers God’s word

In two verses in this seventh stanza of Psalm 119 the writer speaks of remembering God’s word as one of three ways he sought to appropriate God’s hope and comfort even in the face of great difficulty caused by persecution and it was through simply remembering God and his word, he writes in verse 52,

“I remember, Lord your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them”.

One of my most popular Psalm talks on the internet is Psalm 70 which has the simple message of remembering God and his word and in it I speak in that Psalm talk of how we are so often dominated by memories of the past usually in a negative way but Psalm 70 and now this verse 52 of Psalm 119 encourage us to look back to the past but not to our sinful short comings of our past but long back in the past to God and his word called here in verse 52,
“Ancient laws”

People today seem to reject things of the past and write them off as out of date and even superstition but the past can and does teach us many great truths and we only have our present so called modern knowledge because great work was done in the past that we today so often don’t realise we have built our knowledge upon.

God’s laws or word is ancient because it goes back as far as creation itself and even for the writer of Psalm 119 who lived at least 2,500 years ago his written word of God particularly came into being up to 2,000 years before his time when Moses led his ancestors out of Egypt and God told his people even back then that they were to always remember his commandments which was his law or word he gave to them then through Moses at that time as we read in Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 7,

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”.

God’s word might be ancient but it is timeless truth that our writer and countless people through the ages and even today find,

“Comfort in them”.

So when we face difficulties in our lives the best thing we can do is remember God and his word like Jesus words of comfort and help tell us in John 14: 26 – 27,

“But the Advocate (or Comforter), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.

Then in verse 55 the writer of Psalm 119 speaks of remembering God and his word, he writes,

“In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law”.

Could the night be a poetic expression for a dark difficult time?

Or is he literally speaking of night time when he is alone in bed and thinking and praying over the problems and difficulties of his day?

In both instances whether we are in the midst of a dark or difficult time of life or even if we are simply thinking over the problems and difficulties of the day in bed at night the advise of the writer of Psalm 119 is very valuable he says he did this in his night,

“I remember your name”

The name of God is all that God is, all his love and power, all his faithfulness and many promises and all his grace towards us that we find clearly spoken of in his wonderful word. That is what Jesus is speaking about in John 14 that if we look to God in faith his Holy Spirit will remind us everything that Jesus has told us and when that happens his promise is his peace, John 14: 27,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.

Paul speaks of turning our anxieties into prayers and when we do that the peace Jesus promises will be given to us even in the most difficult of times, Philippians 4: 6 – 7,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

ii)  (vs. 54) He sings God’s word

Then in verse 54 he speaks of how, for him, singing the word of God, which was particularly the Psalms as they are the music of the Old Testament believer, he writes in this in verse 54,

“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge”.

This writer reminds me of David who spoke so much about using music and singing as a way of both praising and proclaiming the truths of the word of God as David writes and sings in Psalm 28: 7,

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him”.

Then David writes and sings this in Psalm 105: 1 – 2,

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts”.

Music can be greatly undervalued in the Christian church and even in the Christian life but I believe God has given us the gift of music to play a vital role in us appropriating his word in our lives and as a wonderful means for proclaiming that word to the world.

Paul did not undervalue the role of music in the church for in two letters, Colossians 3: 16 and Ephesians 5: 18 – 20 Paul speaks of how music is to play a important role in the church. This is Paul’s advice to the Ephesian church about the value and place of music,

 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

The expression,

“Wherever I lodge”,

Is translated by H.C. Leupold as,

“In the house of my pilgrimage”

This expression could be more to do with the idea of singing the word of God where ever we go in life and so that means that we should take music that is based on God’s word into all our lives. Then we will remember God and his word for music does help us remember God and his word and we will find God’s comfort as verse 52 indicates.

iii) (vs. 56) He obeys God’s word

The writer of Psalm 119 ends his seventh stanza of his 22 stanza Psalm stating the third way he appropriates the hope and comfort of that God’s word gives him is by stating yet again his commitment to obey it, he writes in verse 56,

“This has been my practice: I obey your precepts”.

The writer of Psalm 119 has stated in this seventh stanza of this Psalm that God’s word provides the promises of God that give him hope and comfort even in the face of difficulty caused by persecution. He has indicated that he appropriates this hope and comfort by firstly remembering God and his word and by making it the basis of his songs for life and now he says this hope and comfort is his because he obeys this word which is his, “Practice”.

Or way of life, a way of faith and faith put into practice by his obedience to God’s word.

We know from the New Testament and particularly Paul’s teaching in the book of Romans that yes God requires our obedience to his law but we simply just cannot obey owing to our sinful nature as Paul makes clear in Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Paul goes on to point out that God had to do something for us to make us right with him and so in the next three verses, 24 – 26 Paul states what God has done for us in his Son Jesus Christ,

“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”.

So this is telling us that the most appropriate way to respond to God’s word is by faith but this faith as James taught must show itself in our lives that seek to now obey God as James says in James 2: 17,

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead”.

I close with a quote from a short article by John Piper which is a answer to the question “How do we build our hope in God?

Piper writes,

“So the essence of what we look to in the Bible to build our hope is, What has Christ done for me in my sinful condition that enables me to know that I will not come in to judgment and condemnation and that all things are working for my good? And the answer is that Christ died for me, rose again for me, and therefore all the promises of God are yes in him”.

God please remind me of your word
That offers comfort and hope
Even when I face pain and stress in life
Your promises give me hope to cope.

My summary poem of these first seven stanzas of this 22 Stanza Psalm uses the first letter of the English alphabet in each first word on each stanza in sequence and it is my summary of what have learnt from these first seven stanzas.

I also have a closing prayer for this first part of Psalm 119,

GOD’S A – Z OF THE BENEFITS OF HIS WORD
(Part 1: A – G – Based on Stanzas 1 – 7 of Psalm 119)

A person is blessed by obeying God’s word
Walking in God’s word all their days.
Forgive me O Lord for my wrong deeds
Let me walk down your road with praise.

Be a person who lives by God’s word
And stay on the path to God
Reading and studying the word of God
To heaven you will surely trod.

Continually look to God’s word
In it wonderful things you’l see
Even in the face of great difficulty
God will guide you and set you free.

Determined to look to God’s word
Even in the face of great pain
Trusting in God not turning away
In sickness and in health you’l reign.

Enlighten me O Lord above
By your promised Holy Spirit’s power
Help to understand and apply
Your saving word each day and hour.

Fill me now with your love O Lord
For I know your Son did come
Freely he died on the cross for me
Forever may I praise your Son.

God please remind me of your word
That offers comfort and hope
Even when I face pain and stress in life
Your promises give me hope to cope.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

Father in heaven I thank you for your word given to us freely long ago and particularly through the coming of your Son who is your word become flesh. Help me to remember all your wonderful promises that help me live the life you have planned for me. May I seek to remember your word, live by it and proclaim it to others and may those who do not know your life changing word come to faith in it so that they also may know the real happiness and purpose that faith in your word gives us. In Jesus name I pray Amen.