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Psalm 119 (3)

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We need God’s awesome word because we are surrounded by opposition.

See this first by the requests that psalmist makes, which reveal the life, light, and lucidness of God’s word. (17-20)
Then we see the opposition that surrounds as he reflects on the standard, steadfastness, strength and sufficiency of God’s word. (21-24)
I. Section one of Gimel (17-20) records A humble servant’s prayer for understanding. What we need and what is provided in God’s awesome word.
Vs. Psalm 119:17
Psalm 119:17 ESV
Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
Observation: A request is being made by a humble servant to be treated thoroughly by the Lord so that he might flourish in life and grow in obedience to the Word.
Interpretation: The psalmist recognizes his position with the Lord, and as such he can confidently request kind and complete treatment. However, he makes his request with a proper motivation. In order that he might keep God’s word. In other words, he realizes who he is in relationship to God , he makes a rightly motivated request to God. Will you treat me good so that I can live and obey you?
Key Point: When we know Who’s we are, then we know where to go in order to gain what we need. The implication is that we need the Lord to deal with us graciously. He has done so especially in sending His Son jesus Christ. And when we are called to trust in Christ we are called to actually find real life, we find true identity. We find ourselves with the right motivation when we are found in the right relation to God.
Verse 17 teaches us that in keeping God’s word we truly live. His word brings us to new life in Christ and His word enables us to walk in that life.
Application: He is requesting life for a reason. That he might keep God’s word. Why do we ask God for life?
Vs. Psalm 119:18
Psalm 119:18 ESV
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Observation: Now, the writer goes on to request that his eyes would be uncovered so that he might perceive wonderful things from the Lord’s instructions. He is admitting that his spiritual eyes are dim and he needs help to see correctly.
Interpretation: Illumination is necessary in order to gain the bountiful and extraordinary truths from God’s awesome Word.
Key Point: We need to behold the wonderful things that come from God’s laws. However, we need help in order to see these amazing truths.
Illustration: In 1895 Clara Scott published these words to the hymn entitled “Open my eyes, That I my see.” I think she captures the point of verse 18 very well.
Open my eyes, that I may see Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me; Place in my hands the wonderful key That shall unclasp and set me free. Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready my God, Thy will to see, Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!
Application: Am I aware that I need God’s word to bring me life? Am I aware that I need the light of God’s word in order to see His truth? Have I simply asked him to open my eyes that I may see?
Vs. Psalm 119:19
Psalm 119:19 ESV
I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
Observation: Not only does the psalmist recognize his identity as a servant of the Lord but also as a stranger on the earth. He is a sojourner who finds himself away from his home country. Since he recognizes his being out of place, he also realizes that he needs the Lord’s commands to be clearly evident to him.
Interpretation: If we truly belong to Christ, then we are a people displaced from our eternal home. This earth is only a temporary dwelling. However, it is a very real and tangible environment in which we soon realize that we desperately need the Lord’s commandments in order to function. And the confidence we have since we know who’s we are is that when we ask for illumination is will be clearly revealed.
Key Point: The key point concerning God’s awesome word is that it is lucid.
Application: Lucid… Intelligible, knowable, comprehensible, it is not hidden. The reason this is so important today is that many Jesus followers have fallen into the trap of believing God’s word is illusive rather than illuminating. Often times the way we speak of God’s word is that is is wrapped in some unknowable mystery. For those who are truly converted, for those who are in Christ the truth of the Bible is not hidden.
See John 14:15-17 and John 16:13
John 16:13 ESV
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
John 14:15–17 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Vs. Psalm 119:20
Psalm 119:20 ESV
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
Observation: Verse 20 captures the expression of one who recognizes their identity, realizes who to go to for help, and then expresses a broken longing from the depths of his soul. As a humble servant of the Lord his longings have reestablished to represent his deepest need. What we find in verse 20 is further expression of the point that our identity will direct our desire. The humble servant of the Lord desperately needs God’s ruling ordinances at all times! In other words his soul is crushed with yearning for the only source of true justice. The just judgments of God will satisfy passionate longings.
It's much like the weary traveler who is crawling across the sandy desert without a drop of water. Everything in his body is consumed with desire for water. And the only thing that will satisfy is a drink of life giving , soul renewing, water. So to it is with the humble servant of the Lord who lives on this earth waiting for our full redemption. The awesome word of God is satisfying to our weary souls.
Application: What am I longing for? What am I yearning for that consumes my soul. Nothing else will satisfy like the Word of God. It just like Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:13-14
John 4:13–14 ESV
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Transition: Verses 17-20 answer for us the question, “What do I need.” The answer. We need our identity in Christ so that we truly live with illuminated longing to obey God’s awesome Word. God’s word gives life. God’s word illuminates our darkened eyes. And God’s word is not hidden, but rather is the source of true satisfaction for our soul.
Now, in verses 21-24 we will discover, “Why” we needs God’s awesome word. The primary answer has already been hinted at in verse 19. It is this, since we are sojourners on this earth, we are surrounded by opposition.
II. A humble servant’s commitment for counsel in midst of opposition. Why we need the provisions that are only found in God’s awesome word.
Vs. Psalm 119:21
Psalm 119:21 ESV
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.
Observation: The tone changes here from prayer to proposition. He makes a declaration about the proud. He says that those who are insolent and presumptuous are actually cursed because they have wandered from God’s commands. This is the very derailment that he prayed would not happen to himself in verse 10. The psalmist is preparing to make a request by praying back to the Lord the truth of His word. He is basically praying Deuteronomy 27:26
Deuteronomy 27:26 ESV
“ ‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Key Point: Presumptuous and proud wandering from God’s commands will receive the cursing of harsh rebuke from the Lord. Those who in their arrogance will not align to the standard of God’s word will find themselves in opposition to God.
Application: What this reveals to us about God’s awesome word is that it is the ultimate Standard. It is the standard for life that we should be in alignment with.
It is also worth noticing the difference of an ignorant or unwise wandering or being lead astray to that of what is mentioned here, which is an ardent egotistical steering away from God’s word.
This happens in our own hearts, in our families, in our job places, in the church, in governments, in all fields of science, education, and ect. This presumptuous wandering is often observed in everything from the young parents who abandon the Bible for newer more seemingly relevant and trendy parenting principles to the elite scientist who is driven on making the Bible his target of attack insisting that new discoveries have made the Scriptures useless.
Warning: Wandering from God’s commands reveals a proud heart that thinks my own word is the standard rather than God’s. Those who are found in this sate are cursed and liable to the consequence of God’s severe rebuke. This shows us a little taste of the opposition that surrounds us and further reveals why we need God’s life giving, light bearing Word.
Vs. Psalm 119:22
Psalm 119:22 ESV
Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.
Observation: In verse 22 the humble servant asserts his obedience to the Lord’s testimonies and requests the removal of scorn. This is connected to what he has stated in verse 21 because he is basically saying, “I am not one of those who are wandering from your commandments. So would you take away the fiery darts of scorn and contempt that are flying my way?”
Key Point: David helps us to realize that opposition is normal for those who seek to keep the testimonies of the Lord.
Application: In order to live with blessing, bounty, we must continue to be steadfast in keeping God’s word. However, the blessing and bounty are not the absence of scorn and contempt. Rather, the word of God proves to be steadfast on our behalf while we are under attack. We need never be surprised that when we are keeping the testimonies of God that we will incur disrespect and reproach from those who abandon the law of God.
This teaches us about the Divine Preservation of God’s word.
The Bible has been banned, burned, billeted, and blasphemed and yet it remains. This is a testimony to the steadfastness of God in keeping His word and enabling His elect to persevere through whatever opposition may come against them. Is 40:8
Isaiah 40:8 ESV
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Vs. Psalm 119:23
Psalm 119:23 ESV
Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Observation: Now, the humble servant is coming to his senses. He confidently commits to intently focus on the Lord’s instructions even though princes plot against him.
Interpretation: This is the assurance granted to those who belong to Christ. That even when there are authoritative influences are plotting against us, we can maintain our minds on the more authoritative prescriptions from our Lord.
Example: This is the same resolve we see in Christ as He approached the cross. The Jewish leaders used their authority to plot against Him, However Jesus prayerfully and painfully submitted Himself to the will of the Father.
Point: This teaches us the strength and authority of God’s awesome word.
Application: It is so easy to meditate on the false authority of authoritative figures who plot against God’s people. We read or hear of all kinds of plots in the news. However, God’s word is not only the steadfast standard that everyone must answer to, but it is also the final authority that gives strength to God’s people. Especially when we are under attack.
Who’s authority are we most focused on? Who’s word carries the most weight to the meditation of our minds?
Vs. Psalm 119:24
Psalm 119:24 ESV
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.
Observation: Finally, in verse 24 the humble servant ends with a renewed tone of delight. He affirms that it is the testimonies of the Lord that are his counselors. His best advisors are not found in the senate or his closest friends, but rather in the written word of God.
Interpretation: This conclusion teaches us about the sufficiency of God’s Word. His advice is the best advice. His words are the best counsel. His words offer to us the most reliable directions for every aspect of our lives.
Think about the canyon that we started with as an illustration. On one side we have all the orthodox truths about God’s word. His word is life, light and lucid. His word is strong, steadfast, and straight. However, on the other side of the canyon is our actual obedience to God’s awesome word. Between the two canyon walls runs the raging river of inconsistencies. Of trial and error. Of knowing what we aught to do and never actually doing it. Why is this?
There may be several reasons why, but one very pointed reason that confronts us now from verse 24 is that we are not living with the testimonies of God being our first and sufficient counselors. We keep building make shift bridges across this canyon. We listen to talk show authorities more than our Bibles. We give more credence to financial experts than we do God’s word. We think the next new parenting book will solve our kids problems rather than God’s word. We spend more time with the therapist than we do the Bible. We listen more to our boss than we do God’s word. We run to the drug store long before we ever run to God’s word. We place more stock in life coaches, blogs, and social media posts than we do the sufficient word of God. We are more concerned about the sports scores and the college acceptance letters than we are the eternal sufficient awesome word of God. We care more about what our so called friends think of our outfits than we do what God thinks of our hearts! All of this leaves us plummeting back to the bottom of the canyon.
Church! Somewhere along the way we have convinced ourselves that so long as we say we believe all the right stuff about the Bible we are free to live according to the sufficiency of every other advisor except the Bible. This is not true Christianity. This does not cross the canyon of our great need. This Laodician attitude will not bring delight in the middle of opposition. Sadly, much of the opposition that surrounds us is of our own making.
Application: Is God’s awesome word first in my life?
We need God’s word because we live surrounded by opposition.
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