Monday, August 5, 2013
Remember the word to your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.
The proud have me in great derision, yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
I remembered Your judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself.
Indignation has taken hold of me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.
The fact that the godly in the world shall suffer persecution is made evident here as well as throughout the Old and New Testaments. Ungodly men scorned Jesus, and Jesus said to His disciples that they should expect the same scorn that He endured.
The proud hold the godly in derision. A sure mark of grace is extreme sensitiveness to the exceeding sinfulness of sin. That sensitivity will make you a candidate for criticism and scorn by those who enjoy worldliness.
When affliction occurs, this passage teaches us to call upon God to fulfill His promises. The first thing we should do in the face of affliction is to open God’s Word and locate the promise that meets our case and then plead it. With God’s divine justice and goodness at work in our situation, we will have “hope.”
Verse 51 provides the warning that pain should not lead us away from God’s Word. It should not make us doubt God’s goodness. Job could say: Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. We should do no less.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
And I will walk at liberty; for I seek Your precepts.
I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love.
My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes.
If we seek for the Word of God, we shall find it. Finding it is our first duty, which involves seeing what it means.
Then we must meditate on the Word which involves application of that Word that we are studying to our very lives.
Meditation will show the infinite beauty and suitability of the Bible to the needs and aspirations of our soul, as well as instruction for the mind, direction for the will, cleansing for the heart, and guidance for the life. We will develop a love for the Word as we realize that it contains comfort for our afflictions, strength for our duties, peace for our distresses, and hope that transcends death.
The heart that loves the Word will delight in it (Psalm 1:2). Thus the study and practice of God’s Word is not a matter of dry duty, but of joy.
Those who suspect the authority and dislike the teaching of the Word of God are often ashamed of it. If we delight in God’s Word, then we will stand with Moses , Daniel, Peter and Paul in refusing to be ashamed of the Word.
The final duty that we have in these verses is that we must earnestly practice the Word (my hands also I will lift up to Your commandments). Anyone can seek, find, meditate, love, delight and not be ashamed of the Word, but the cost comes when we practice and suffer for the Word of God. Let the fire of the Word kindle joy in your hearts.
Nothing is more desirable or precious than liberty. Yet, there is nothing which we make more mistakes and enjoy less. A woman complained to Dr. Charles Stanley when he was preaching in Russia that she did not enjoy her freedom—the guaranteed pension given by the Communists was gone and thus nothing was coming her way.
Man’s natural condition is one of bondage. He has deliberately resigned and rejected his title to liberty by transgressing the terms on which it is based. Scripture everywhere represents the unredeemed man as sold under sin, led captive by the devil, desiring good but unable to reach it. This bondage is painful and degrading in its nature, and terrible in its consequences.
Man walks at liberty when he seeks and finds God’s precepts. The soul is free only when it moves unhampered in that sphere where its true interests lie. For us, the Bible is the only revelation of the great redemption, and alone shows how through the death of Christ and the work of the Spirit we may enjoy the liberty of the children of God.
When we gain freedom in Christ we have a new Master. We should serve that new Master who has emancipated us from the terribly tyranny of sin and death with the same diligence as you did your old master.
“Preaching and Practice”
Psalm 119:43-44 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth. For I have hoped in Your ordinances.
So shall I keep Your law continually forever and ever.
For the Psalmist, the declaration of God’s truth was both a duty and a privilege. How do you view it? Perhaps you responded to the Gospel, but you don’t want to hear it over and over, and you certainly don’t want to offend others so you stay silent. That is not the attitude here.
The Psalmist here wanted not to give just lip service to the preaching of the Word, he wanted to fulfil the divine plan for the conversion of the world.
In the vow “So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever” the Psalmist says that what he preaches to others he will preach to himself. He will cultivate the spiritual lives of others with the Word of God and also bring spiritual nourishment to himself. The study and preaching of the Word should be an occasion for promoting our growth in grace.
The strength of powerful preaching is found in verse 44, and it is the fact that the Psalmist bases his hope totally in the Word of God. When that hope is placed in God’s judgments, then you can be sure that you are on the rock, and that spiritual success is to be yours. Study, read and pray today!
Psalm 119:41-42 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD—Your salvation according to Your word.
So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word.
The primary object of this prayer was providential deliverance. The Psalmist was afflicted, God had promised deliverance. He trusted in that promise, yet salvation stayed. He prayed for salvation that he might give the enemy to see the stability of “the confidence wherein he trusted.”
In verse 41 we are confronted by the words: Let your mercies come also to me. This reminds us that we are lost and ruined without divine assistance. We must always remember that salvation is not a human effort, but truly a divine visitation. It is altogether an act of God upon the sinner, and which does not involve a co-operation between us and God.
When you have a major operation, do you assist or advise the doctor? Would you really want to find out that you are supposed to help God in procuring your salvation?
“Fear and Its Remedy”
Psalm 119:39-40 Turn away my reproach which I dread, for your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts, revive me in Your righteousness.
God’s people are the subjects of a twofold fear: the fear of God and the fear of sin. Verse 39 speaks to the first concern, and verse 40 to the fear of sin.
The Christian has nothing to fear but sin. Trials, poverty, persecution, sickness, and pain are not sin in themselves, and in fact may come to us for our good. But sin only works harm. It saps the foundation of spiritual life, blinds the intellect, damages the heart, destroys hope, kills usefulness, and blast the soul.
Even the world ridicules and mocks the one who is found in gross sin—if you don’t believe that ask the mayor of San Diego or a prominent mayoral candidate in New York City.
Believers also fear the reproach of sin, because it only lessens our effectiveness as representatives of our God and Savior. Pursuing a life of righteousness is always the remedy for sin. If we are pursuing a life of righteousness, we will confidently affirm: I long for Your precepts. When you long for the precepts of God--His precious Word--you will find revival of your soul in His righteousness. Let His Word fill you today, and pursue righteousness.
“The Servant of God”
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.
Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.
God qualifies His servants by a special divine fitness which suggests to us that man is naturally disqualified for divine service. It is only through God working on heart that are inclined to do His will.
Those whom God qualifies will also find themselves consecrated to doing the service of the Lord. That is why the Psalmist asks the Lord to turn his own eyes away from looking at worthless things (beholding vanity). As you fill yourself with the testimonies of God and His Law, sin will lose its attractiveness.
When God equips us for service, there are things which we are expected to exhibit.
Negatively, we will not be covetousness, which is the root of all evil according to I Timothy 6:10. Covetousness can be found in Achan’s sin in the book of Joshua, in Ahab’s murder of Naboth in II Kings, and in the deceitfulness of Ananias and Sapphira.
Positively, there is a devotion to God’s fear. To fear God is to revere Him and adopt that posture which befits His service. Devotion to that fear saves us from sinning against God, and stimulates us to His service. Let us desire the equipping of the Lord to His service.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
and I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
The way of Christian progress is always divinely revealed. We are taught by the LORD, not by human speculation, scientific probing, or even ethical development. God must make these statutes known.
The prime condition so missing in the many cults today is an understanding of the way. No man can make progress in business, unless he knows his business; in scholarship, unless he is acquainted with his books; in politics, unless he is conversant with the affairs of State. So it follows that Christians can make no progress without understanding God’s law.
With God as the teacher of the way, all the dangers, duties, difficulties, blessings, losses, and rewards are fully revealed. Spiritual enlightenment will follow.
I shall observe it with my whole heart it says. Unless I give earnest heed to the securing of a given object, I let it slip. How many times have we let opportunities for real advancement of the cause of Christ pass us by. No nation in history conquered by another power was so blessed as Japan after World War II. General MacArthur not only remade their society, he pled for Americans to send missionaries to lead them to Christ. Our Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions sent several families to Japan, but on the whole there was no rush for that open door. Japan did not convert as a nation and today are a non-sectarian materialistic (rather than militaristic) society.
It is interesting that the 35th verse includes a plea for God to supply the stimulus for following the path: “make me walk.” Here again we see the dependence upon Almighty God that is so key throughout Psalm 119. Depend upon Him at all times.
Psalm 119:31-32 I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame. I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.
Having chosen the way of truth, the Psalmist does not regret his choice, but adheres steadfastly to it, and makes rapid progress in it.
Notice the words I will cling. Here is a firm and consistent adhesion to fixed principles. The battle of the Christian life is won by those who adhere to the Word of God, which provides the strength for perseverance.
After acknowledging that basic clinging to the Word, Psalmist then states that he will steadfastly run by those commands. The perseverance of the Christian life is rapid in its attainment of results, and ought to be. For those of you who experienced a dramatic conversion from sin to salvation you perhaps recall how rapidly you grew in your faith. Then, perhaps there was that cooling down period where you adapted to being a Christian who just did not rock the boat. A sameness may have occurred that made you wonder if it was all emotion. The Psalmist, like the Apostle Paul, says that we are to run that path of truth, which will bring success in our Christian life.
At our youth activity Tuesday, one 15 year-old (known for presenting me with some of the deepest and most difficult questions in the Christian life that I have entertained) asked if there was a way that he could guarantee that his children would become strong Christians without any spiritual problems. [The background is that another teen asked what I thought about a very wayward 14 year-old at her school that came from a strong Christian family. I did not offer an opinion of blame as I did not know either the parents or their child.]
The boy who asked me about guarantees already is planning to home school, and also take the children off to the mountains to teach them and isolate them from corrupting worldly influences. He said: “Won’t that guarantee that they will never waver,” and I replied those were noble aspirations, but I cannot say that there is an absolute guarantee. Salvation is always a work of the Holy Spirit, and thus we present the Christian Gospel, example the Christian life, and pray for that child to receive the Savior and grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Savior.
Looking at the last part of verse 32, For you shall enlarge my heart, I would say that this took place in the hearts of both the one concerned for the family with the wayward child, and the one who already is concerned for the salvation and spiritual growth of his unborn children that are perhaps several years off.
Our youth at Bethany do not have to wait until adulthood to begin running the race, the race for you and for them is on—now. That is the message of verses 31-32.
“The Two Ways”
Psalm 119:29-30 Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me Your law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.
There are only two ways that determine the character and decide the destiny of mankind. The way of lying and the way of truth.
The false way is most natural to man, and thus the Psalmist urgently requests that the Lord remove that as a choice. No evil habit is so strong as the habit of untruthfulness. It is the one habit more than another that grows upon the young.
What stands out to me is that the Psalmist really depends on God for everything. Not only is God asked to remove the way of lying, but also God must then provide the way of guidance into the truth. For Christians there is the written law and the living law of the life of Christ in addition and guided by this threefold law the wayfaring man though a fool shall not follow.
Our responsibility is also seen in the last line, as continuing in the way of truth is conditional on the use of the divinely appointed means. Only by a diligent, careful, and accurate study of the judgments of God can our feet be kept in the way of truth.
“Strength in Weakness”
Psalm 119:28 My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word.
The Psalmist here expresses his extreme trouble—and it is a spiritual sorrow. The word “melts” in reference to his soul denotes literally a “dropping away.” It is so serious that his soul is consumed. Just as the sorrows of man are so far more intense than the sorrows of an animal, so also the sorrows of a spiritual man are so much more keen and intense than those of the natural man. The Psalmist here knows the character of sin and the claims of God, and his conscience is ever so sensitive to the slightest touch of evil.
Notice the request in this verse—it is not for the removal of the affliction, but for the strength of grace to bear it. Recognizing the nature of the affliction and the desire to be sustained until it should have accomplished its perfect work is the proper attitude toward this spiritual trial. We do well to remember like the Apostle Paul that God’s grace and strength is what we must always depend upon. (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Psalm 119:26-27 I have declared my ways, and You answered me; teach me Your statutes. Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.
We enter a classroom in these verses. The Psalmist presents himself for examination. He puts his whole case, his qualifications and disqualifications, before God, and God hears him.
The result of this examination is a consciousness and confession of ignorance and error. His prayer to be taught God’s statutes, to understand the way of God’s precepts, implies ignorance of the one and departure from the other. And he who comes away from the throne of grace with any other consciousness has been there in vain.
His ignorance and error leads him to cry to the great Teacher for instruction. This instruction was twofold. First, it is intellectual—teach me Your statutes; and second it is practical—make me understand the way of Your precepts. One thing we must remember in all of this is that the instructor is God, not man; and the instruction is not in human guesses, but in divine truth and holiness. About 30 years ago, I was a long term substitute for an eighth grade science class. The classes had run off the teacher that had been hired at the beginning of the year, and they had run off two or three replacements. I was the fourth batter, and I was determined to stand my ground as I had no health insurance and desperately needed an operation. I made it through to the end, almost being removed just before the end of the term. One day I was called into the office, and the principal, assistant principal, and the science department head were all there with unhappy expressions on their faces. The approved textbooks were open to the section on evolution. A parent had complained that their child had heard me say to another student that the geological formation of the Grand Canyon could have been formed quickly by a massive hydrological catastrophe such as the flood of Noah. The science teacher head asked whether I could find that in the book as a teacher cannot go beyond the book to answer a question. I looked, and yes indeed it was not in there. I have seen the Grand Canyon twice and was not thrilled either time. The 13 year old was offended that he heard the word “Noah” come from a substitute teacher. That substitute teacher was offended when he goes to the Grand Canyon and sees these detailed signs that speak of the billions of years that it took for the canyon to develop. I was at Mt. St. Helens soon after the eruption back in the 1980’s. They had no signs saying that the complete change of the landscape including a mountain that was now mostly missing took billions of years to erode away. No, it was minutes. All of this to say that man’s education is “guessing” and in the area of science it is guessing with the premise that there is no Creator God. The Psalmist here says that we should meditate on God's wonderful works, and in so doing will receive a wonderful education.
“Affliction and Its Remedy”
Psalm 119:25 My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to your word.
This 25th verse is just the sentiment needed by some that shared their burdens Wednesday evening. Living in a fallen world, we face affliction on every hand. The Psalmist was no different and the incident alluded to in this verse may be a sorrowful inward experience or an extreme outward pressure. We know that God does not willingly afflict. Why then do His people’s souls cleave to the dust of affliction?
Four potential reasons for affliction in the life of a believer can be set forth:
(1) the affliction is to increase humility (2 Corinthians 1:7-9). Those in the Corinthian church needed many things, but humility was foundational.
(2) To correct believers for past transgressions and keep them from returning to that course. One person who called me at 3 AM Monday morning was not in church as he had promised, most likely because he had returned to both the sins that had brought him great sorrow, and now Satan literally had him trapped in a room where the door would not open. Gently, I told him that Satan was rejoicing that he had returned to the fold when he saw those sins back in his life, and Satan assumed that the call to faith was not real.
(3) To test the strength of their character, their faith in the promises, their hope in His mercy, and their knowledge of the depth and sincerity of Christ’s love. Throughout history, the one’s we call saints did not have an easy road, but rather suffered great adversity.
(4) To awaken the spirit of prayer and thus show to the one suffering the riches of God’s grace and God’s ability to complete their recovery (Psalm 71:20-21).
“Benefits of God’s Testimonies”
Psalm 119:24 Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.
The Psalmist in his trouble and distress, reacting to the contempt and reproach of the proud, turns to God’s Word, and there finds direction and joy.
While the world can have its joy, it is the joy of the Lord that makes it divine and powerful. It is also real (2 Cor. 6:10); great (I Peter 1:8); and endless.
To be theologically correct, we are commanded to rejoice—it is the necessary duty of the redeemed (Phil. 4:4).
This rejoicing is founded on and derived through the Word of God (Romans 15:4). Joy is particularly needful in affliction. Take time today to rejoice in the Lord!
“Keeping and Kept”
Psalm 119:22, 24
Remove from me reproach and contempt, for I have kept Your testimonies. Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.
Those who keep God’s testimonies shall be kept by them. The first question is: How do we keep God’s testimonies?
First, we must remember them. To forget is to lose. To have them kept in the memory is to have them ready for every time of need.
Second, we must obey them. Every act of obedience is an additional stone in the fortress of truth. Every duty formed strengthens habit and confirms steadfastness.
Third, we need to give them out. The vitality of a tree is conditioned upon its yielding fruit and leaves. Material wealth depends on the outlay of money. So unless we give in proportion as it is given unto us of the word of life, even that which we have will be taken away.
Psalm 119:21-24 You rebuke the proud—the cursed, who stray from Your commandments. Remove from me reproach and contempt, for I have kept Your testimonies. Princes also sit and speak against me, but Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.
The old problem of the prosperity of the wicked and the adversity of the good is dealt with in these verses. The Psalmist was in seemingly great misery, while his enemies flourished; but it was not really so. The Psalmist had privileges to which his oppressors had no title. He had God’s testimonies as his delights and counsellors; while those who oppressed him were of a debased moral character, and were under the condemnation of God.
It does seem that the wicked are often in power, wealth, position, and popular esteem. The wicked are also arrogant and self sufficient. The righteous on the other hand are reproached for their conscientious scruples, integrity, endeavors, and aims. They are treated with ridicule and contempt because of those things that they hold most dear: God’s Word, Christian character, hope of heaven. They are unjustly judged because man cannot estimate the worth of godliness.
Our real state is what we are in the sight of God. The wicked stand rebuked of God, and are therefore cursed. There is nothing for a believer to envy when you consider the end of the wicked.
The believer’s adversity is man made, and therefore temporary—it will be removed by the justice and compassion of God. God’s testimonies tell them of God’s will and how to submit to it with resignation and patience. God’s Word testifies of God’s presence, God’s comfort, God’s heaven. Where is the adversity now?
“Strangers and Pilgrims”
Psalm 119:19-20 I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.
The first line of verse 19 utters a great truth that we often forget: I am a stranger in the earth. We enter the world as little strangers who come into this life and soon adjust to the ebb and flow and then after elaborate preparations settles into this life as all there is. But then, that door called death opens, and the stranger has become so comfortable that it is indeed difficult to pick up and leave. The problem is that the person forgot that he is always a stranger and a pilgrim with staff in hand. The problem is that he has been looking at the things which are seen and temporal, and not at the things which are not seen and eternal. Thus, there is hurry and confusion and distress in the going away, all which may be helped and thoroughly hindered if a man will but say, I am a stranger in the earth.
All men are strangers. Go into a museum and you see hanging there notched swords and helmets, but the owner is gone. We are all strangers. Back in 1985, Denise and I went to celebrate my parent’s wedding anniversary at Lawrence Welk’s Inn. I entered this one area and a 60 year-old man said, “Well, hello young man.” I responded, “President Roosevelt?” He laughed and said, “I just play him on stage, TV, and the movies.” He had the voice, the mannerisms, and the look like no one else. We talked for more than an hour, and then he said that he wanted to come and visit me some time. We lived in a humble shack behind an old house, but one day, I opened my door, and said to Denise, “President Roosevelt is here!” He was on a mission of recovery—he wanted me to straighten out and at the same time make sense of his life. I began with the plan of salvation in detail, and he responded that he had already had that crammed down his throat by other actors in the company of Annie (a play in which he played FDR). He said you are knowledgeable in all subjects so just solve my problems and leave out the religion stuff. After a couple of hours, I decided to bring out the heavy artillery. I took him to meet my father, and see if he could overwhelm that “Gospel hardened” exterior. Jack Denton, the actor who played FDR, left our home still lost in his sins. He got to play FDR in 1986 in Crossings, but I never heard from him again. A couple of days ago (after being offered an opportunity to play FDR at Nixon Library in Yorba Linda) I decided I should look up Jack Denton only to find on the internet that he died in 1986 at the age of 61. [Yes, the real FDR also died in his early 60’s.] His life in late 1985 could have been measured in days and weeks, and he wanted everything to be right, but without a dependence on the Lord. When we remember we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth, we will gain the right perspective that as strangers death is not an end, but merely a passage on the pilgrim’s journey. But the key is how we handle the manual of life—the Bible—and the message of the Bible, forgiveness of sins and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.
“Wondrous Things ”
Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.
The Law of God found in the Pentateuch is a relatively small portion of the entire Word of God, yet it was something that the Psalmist wants to perceive in its full orbed splendor.Man by himself cannot see wondrous things, and the reason is that without Christ man is spiritually blind (Revelation 3:17; Job 11:12). Naturally blind, as well as lacking that divine light which can alone reveal and illuminate the sacred mysteries.
The Psalmist not only desires to see the Law of God, but to see wondrous things. He does not wish for another law, but rather that with the light that he has been given he might see light. The contemplation of that which supernatural light has been thrown is the clear and experimental knowledge of the Word of God that will be obtained.
In reality, the wondrous things are the plain truths of the Word of God. The perfection of God’s Law is a thing of wondrous beauty. No poet has ever had so exquisite a sense of the beauties of nature. The Word is without parallel.
The Word is also wondrously surprising. No other book was written over a span of 1600 years, several cultures, 40 authors, three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) and yet does not contradict itself. That itself argues best for divine authorship.
Lastly, the Word is wondrously perfect in its wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:6), its purity (Deut. 6:49), its power (Romans 1:16), and its unity—as noted in the previous paragraph (Psalm 119:89).
Don't let a day go by that you refrain from looking into the Word of God! Wondrous things await you!
“Life: Its Sustenance and Its Aim"
Psalm 119:17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word.
How do you view life? In reality, everything depends upon a true and adequate view of life. The person of the world views life as a field for pleasure, the soldier for military prowess, the student for learning, the businessman for wealth, the statesman for politics, but the Psalmist for the service of the Lord.
In considering himself a servant, the psalmist was picking up a common thread that runs through the Patriarchs in Genesis, the prophets of Israel, and even the Apostles--they were all servants of the King of kings.
The plea of verse 17 is that God would deal bountifully with his servant. There is no statement that the Psalmist has merited this bounty, but rather a reliance that God is able to supply all "the servant's" needs.
The aim of verse 17 is that the Psalmist's life will be directed to keeping God’s Word. Since God has made man, it is His aim that man should keep that which should enable him to fulfill that purpose. It is a soul satisfying aim, and with the Word of God as the law of our being, there will be great reward for us as we find ourselves servants of the King.
“A Fourfold Determination”
Psalm 119:15-16 I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate your ways.I will delight myself in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
While the earlier verses of this Psalm speak mainly of the past, here the Psalmist builds for the future. He has already sought, hid, declared, and rejoiced. Now he vows to meditate, contemplate, delight, and not forget.
Meditation is the act of actually digesting the truth of the Word of God. Spiritual thoughts are distilled in the heart as the Psalmist meditates on the Word.
Meditation will show that God’s ways are the right ways, and will lead to a full contemplation and choice of following God’s ways. At the same time, that choice will cause one to avoid every other way. Following this pattern will allow one to make a firm, steady and persevering progress in the Christian life.
God’s statutes deserve delight because the Author is God. They are God’s storehouse of riches for our poverty, comfort for our afflictions, life for our death.
That which we delight in will be easy to remember. Thus, forgetfulness of the precepts of God’s Word will not be our pattern. How many Christians today are guilty of forgetfulness of God’s precepts. Sunday, how many forsook the assembling of themselves together on the Lord’s Day in order to do that which they wanted because it was the weekend after the Fourth of July. That is a precept found in the book of Hebrews, and one that is important for all of us.
“God’s Testimonies as a Basis of Joy”
Psalm 119:14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
In this verse the Psalmist rejoices in the study and practice of the Word of God. Looking around him he observed that riches were the main elements in human joy, and that men considered themselves happy in proportion to their wealth. But his conclusion is that all riches could afford him no greater joy than that which he had in the Word of God. He rejoiced in the way of God’s testimonies. That way is indeed “the way of holiness,” as that will naturally occur as one rejoices in the testimonies of the LORD God.
What is the way of God’s testimonies?
Basically, it is truth, which is good for his understanding (Proverbs 24:13-14). When any capacity is filled with that which is suitable to it, joy and satisfaction will naturally arise. While our minds can become disordered by the error and perplexity of this life, it will find satisfaction with the truth. The so-called truths of philosophy and science to one generation are often errors to another, and the mind is often bewildered by the dogmatism of its teachers. Only the truth of God is immutable, and subject to no revision.
The Psalmist rejoiced in God’s testimonies as much as in all riches, because of their exact suitability to his need. Joy is that which inevitably results from the reception of a suitable blessing. Food rejoices the hungry soul, not the full one. The way of God’s testimonies is our way home. For each of you reading this, that truth should generate strength, lighten labor, and ease pain. May God give you strength through His precious and Holy Word this week!
Psalm 119:13 With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth.
In verse 11 the Word is hid in the heart, now it finds expression on the lips. To express what we do not feel is hypocrisy; and what is really in the heart will find an outflow. In verse 12 God is asked to teach His statutes: the prayer is now answered, and, mentally and spiritually qualified, the Psalmist now teaches others.
The subject of this testimony is the judgment from the mouth of Almighty God. God’s judgments are the divine criteria whereby to decide in all matters affecting truth, duty, and destiny. In fact, God’s judgments are the rule by which He judges the world. (John 5:45-46).
The focus of verse 13 is to show that as we perceive God’s judgments we need to then clearly, fully, and faithfully proclaim those judgments. It is not our own opinions, speculations, or doubts (I Peter 2:2), but rather the whole counsel of God.
We are challenged in this verse to prepare ourselves by diligent study of the judgments of God, to then to share that with others. Let us remember Colossians 4:6, Hebrews 3:13; and Psalm 37:30.
“Seeking God with a Whole Heart: a Fact, an Argument, and the Prayer”
Psalm 119:10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
[By a mistake, we skipped verse 10 (Tuesday’s verse).]
The Psalmist in this verse presents before God’s notice a fact. He then bases an argument upon this fact, and then turns the fact and argument into a prayer.
The fact is that he has sought God with his whole heart. What is it to seek God? It is an earnest and diligent endeavor to find God in certain definite characters for certain definite purposes. When we search we find that God is our sovereign, Father, and Friend who guides us by His Word and His Holy Spirit.
How should we seek God? We should seek Him with the whole heart personally. Men sometimes profess to seek God, when they are but seeking their own interests (John 6:26).
As for the Argumentative value of the fact, the Psalmist does not offer it boastfully—the plea goes side by side with confessions of unworthiness. Talking today with Ervin Romero and wife Kaitlin, we spoke of those in the public eye in the Christian world who have remained influential—they have stayed humble. They did not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think.
The prayer is founded on our proneness to wander. Robbie Robinson was a young man with many struggles. He wrote "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for they courts above." Robinson's struggles even after writing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing did not unfortunately end well. The saint’s sensibility of this proneness to wander is evident also. The more we desire to seek God, and are on the way to find Him, the keener will be our sensibility of error. The saint’s conviction of God’s ability to keep him from wandering is paramount. I warned a young man who accepted Christ as His Lord and Savior nearly two weeks back that there would be opposition from Satan. I told him to call when under stress and he indeed has. The enormity of stress upon him is at times overwhelming. Tonight at dinner I told him that all that is happening to him since receiving Christ is to me a great confirmation that he really “meant business” with the Lord when he accepted Christ. He wants to seek God with a whole heart, and not wander from the LORD’s commandments. May we all seek to do that.
“Sphere of the Word”
Psalm 119:11 “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
The Word of God is the revelation of His person and will. It is the duty of man to treasure it up where it can be preserved most safely. If it is only on our shelves or in our heads, it may be stolen or forgotten; but if it is in our hearts, cherished by our affections and guarded by our will, and embodied in our spiritual life, it is safe from loss or decay. But once in the heart it is not only kept by the heart, but keeps the heart.
How can the Word be hidden in your heart?
First, you must understand the word. Thoughts pass into the heart through the mind (Proverbs 2:10). Second, you must believe it. Until unbelief is broken down, the Word appeals for entrance in vain. When it is welcomed by the hand of faith, it enters in and dwells there. Third, in the heart you learn to love the Word. Fourth, when you have an understanding faith and love, the appropriating of the Word by reading the Word, searching the Scriptures, and meditating upon it will enable you to not forget it.
The purpose of hiding God’s Word in our hearts—that we might not sin against the Lord. If the heart is filled with the Word of God, it will be difficult for it to also hide sin. The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the spiritual armor found in Ephesians 6. From this verse, the Sword (the Word of God) is the best weapon against sin.
“Serious Word for the Young”
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
The situation in this verse is of a young man pondering the question of how he may be saved from the corruptions of his own heart, and escape the temptations to which he is exposed in early years, and lead a pure and upright life.
There can be no more important inquiry for one just entering on the spiritual life, and there can be found nowhere a more just and comprehensive answer.
In the question: How can a young man cleanse his way? the emphasis is on that word “way.” A way is continuous, and if we are in it we are advancing in it. The farther that you travel on that way the farther you go away from other directions. Following the way means that you don’t get off on the wrong path—a path that could be a violation of some part of God’s Word.
The answer is brief but comprehensive: “By taking heed according to Your word.” God’s Word is the only rule of righteousness. All other rules must, in the long run, lead astray. Only the word of God is pure, and alone exhibits the sum of all perfection in the holiness of God and the character of Christ. The Word affirms: “Be ye holy, as He who has called you is holy.”
The Word of God is the only means by which we can be cleansed. “Sanctify them by Thy truth” it says in the Gospel of John. Where is the truth? It is found in studying and meditating and memorizing the Word of God. Study the Word today and everyday!