Ps 19.10-14 - Loving and Living God's Word
LOVING AND LIVING GOD’S WORD
Text: Psalm 19:10-14
Date: January 7, 2007
Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church
A year from now will mark the 160th anniversary of an important event in California history that happened about not far from here.
John Sutter and James Marshall had formed a partnership to build a sawmill about 12 miles or so from this church. After searching the foothills for a suitable site, they selected a small valley on the South Fork of the American River, called by the native Nisenan people "Cullumah." This place had tall straight pine trees easily milled into lumber, and a river for water power.
They began construction in the fall of 1847, and at around this time the next year, they found that they needed to deepen the ditch to help the river water through the sawmill without stopping. The flowing water carried away sand and dirt and lighter minerals, but a heavier metal was left behind to accumulate in the deepening ditch. When the workers hit bedrock at the end of the tailrace, a hidden yellow metal was at last exposed to view.
The first piece of gold was noticed by James Marshall early on the morning of January 24, 1848. Marshall rode to Sutter's Fort and showed the gold to the Captain. After consulting an encyclopedia and conducting various tests on the metal, Sutter decided Marshall was right. It was pure gold. [one source said “very fine gold – 23 carat]
The secret was not kept for long, and within a year, the California Gold Rush of 1849 would change the history of California and the nation. The find set off a movement, people left everything to pursue a gold rush that reached a frenzied pitch and even attracted prospectors from Europe. People flocked from all over and moved to California to pursue gold-mining. I was told that the population of Coloma in those days was substantially bigger than San Francisco (nowadays there are about 200 year-round residents of Coloma). The only thing more desirable than gold to most of these people was more gold, much gold, and they pursued it at all costs.
(above is adapted from http://www.coloma.com/gold/ )
King David also knew a lot about gold as a king of Israel, but he knew from experience what he said in our text that Scripture is “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold” (Ps 19:10).
We live in Gold Country and are a part of Gold Country Baptist Church, and as I learned a little of that history recently, I thought it only fitting that we should allow these things to be reminders of this great biblical truth we see in our passage and many places in Scripture: God’s Word is like spiritual gold:
- It is not only as valuable, it is more valuable than physical gold, of greater worth than anything on this planet, its precious meaning is superior to any precious metal
- Like the ‘49ers who gave up everything to follow riches in this county, believers are willing to give up everything in following Scripture and its spiritual riches
- At all costs, miners labored to pursue gold, and we should have that same intensity when we pursue God’s Word
- I’m told there’s some caverns you can go here where guides will shine major-watt lights up the mining shaft and there is still dazzling golden rock that illuminates the whole shaft with beautiful and brilliant light – this book also lights up the darkness with its glorious dazzling splendor and beautiful illumination of spiritual things (v. 8)
- In a similar way to how discovery of gold started a movement that changed the face of this nation, the discovery and re-discovery of God’s Word in the Reformation sparked a movement that still continues and has transformed many nations, one heart at a time
- Just as people traveled from afar and flocked here in desperation to seek gold, I pray that many from near and afar will still come to see where a superior value, the excellency of God and His Word is put on display. We hope for a movement back to Scripture’s Sufficiency.
- The reward of Scripture is eternal life in heaven where the streets are made of gold, but in contrast, those who pursued material riches in the wild west found out that not all that glitters has real or lasting value.
The materialism and madness ruined many, and Marshall himself never really “struck it rich.” Sadly, his Indian friends were murdered, Marshall was forced to flee for his life, and he spent his last years in poverty, and died drunken and penniless. Sutter, the man who owned the land where gold lay for the taking, had his land overrun by gold seekers, his cattle were stolen, and he was driven into bankruptcy. (Today in the Word, June, 1990, p. 16)
In a spiritual sense, may we always be those who rush to the true golden and glorious riches of God’s precious Word.
Last week, we looked at the Results of Scripture, this week will look at the Reward of Scripture, then lastly our Response
I. THE REWARD OF SCRIPTURE
There are three blessings that come right out of our text
Blessing #1 - Superior to riches, v. 10a
Gold is referred to hundreds of times in the OT and NT, more frequently than any other metal. “Two things are eminent in gold, — splendour or glory, and duration.” (John Owen, Of Communion with God, 71)
“The superior value and permanence of gold make it a frequent reference point in comparisons that we find in the Bible ... Whenever a biblical poet wants to signal superiority, gold is the image of choice.” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, 341)
"“Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, Nor can silver be weighed as its price. “It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, In precious onyx, or sapphire. “Gold or glass cannot equal it, Nor can it be exchanged for articles of fine gold." (Job 28:15-17, NASB95)
"The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces." (Psalm 119:72, NASB95)
"Therefore I love Your commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold." (Psalm 119:127, NASB95)
"How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver And her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her." (Proverbs 3:13-15, NASB95)
"“Take my instruction and not silver, And knowledge rather than choicest gold. For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10-11, NASB95)
"“My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, And my yield better than choicest silver." (Proverbs 8:19, NASB95)
"How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver." (Proverbs 16:16, NASB95)
Scripture “does have this one thing in common with gold: men must dig for its treasures. Great wealth is hidden in the pages of God’s Book, and man’s best interests are served by searching for them … I can truly say that no prospector is ever more delighted with the discovery of gold than I am to find nuggets of spiritual treasure in the Bible!” – (Believer’s Bible Commentary)
Digging is hard work, but it can yield gold. Don’t be lazy in your Bible study; Proverbs 2 says God blesses those who approach His Word this way.
Proverbs 2:1-5 (NASB95)
1 My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God.
I don’t want to stay on the surface or give you shallow messages, every week I dig in my study as best as I can, not for the sake of saying I read 20-30 commentaries on a passage, but because I take my responsibility very seriously to take us as deep as we can go. A preacher’s task is to be miner of God’s truth, who helps you discover more of God’s precious and priceless biblical riches.
So the first reward of Scripture is that it is superior to gold, Blessing #2, the 2nd reward is that it’s
Sweeter than honey, v. 10b
The Bible mentions honey literally from Genesis to Revelation
It was considered very important to the Jews, and was often associated with blessing (ex: “flowing with milk and honey”)
One preacher (Spurgeon, MTP 48) has commented in Psalm 19:
“As I read those six poetic lines in praise of the Word of God [v. 7-9], I could not help thinking how the bees build their honeycombs in hexagons of six-sided combs, all full of honey. Such is this portion of the Word of God with its hexagons of commendation, every part of which is full of sweetness to the true believer.”
Both Ezekiel (3) and John in Revelation 10 are given God’s Word to eat in a vision, and it says it tasted sweet like honey
When a boy first went to school in New Testament times, he went down to the synagogue while it was still dark to listen to the story of how Moses received the law. Then he was taken to the teacher’s house for breakfast, where he received cakes with letters of the law written on them. In school, the boy received a slate with passages from the Scriptures written on it. The slate was smeared with honey. He had to trace the letters through the honey with his pen, and it was natural to lick the nib of the pen as he proceeded. The idea was that he would realize that the purpose of his going to school was to absorb the Scriptures. This learning practice seems to have been based on an old custom that David refers to in the psalm. (Gower, New Manners and Customs)
Another psalmist said: "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103, NASB95)
So sweetness is one of the dominant qualities of honey, another quality is its satisfaction
Psalm 81:16 - “But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat, And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Not only sweetness, and satisfaction, but also sustenance
(ex: Jonathan in I Samuel 14)
Job could say “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." (23:12)
This week a newsletter came from an international evangelism ministry, about some Iraqi national Christians who were trying to bring God’s Word to a small town in Iraq.
These Iraqi Christians approached the mayor of the village, and shared that they are part of a Christian organization and that they wanted to distribute food, Bibles, and the JESUS video. The mayor sent immediately for the local Mullah (religious leader).
The Christians wondered uneasily what the response would be. Within minutes, the Mullah came to the mayor’s office. The mayor shared that the staff had come to distribute food, Bibles, and a JESUS video. They asked the Mullah to broadcast the news through the mosque’s loudspeakers. Amazingly, the Mullah agreed! Soon, the speakers that usually broadcast Arabic Muslim prayers only, these speakers were announcing the news that Christians were in town with food and Bibles. The staff commented that the Bibles were in even higher demand than the food!
It’s too bad that usually food has a higher demand than the Bible, our spiritual nourishment. It is exciting to hear what God does around the world, but I also pray that over here God will awaken a lethargic and apathetic America to a hunger for God’s Word, that the famine in our land due to lack of Scripture would be replaced with a growing and insatiable craving for more and more Bible
Notice what Psalm 19:10 is doing … taking the comparisons to superlative degree
“More desirable than gold -> yes even much fine gold
Sweeter also than honey -> even the honey from a honeycomb”
John Owen has written summed up the blessings of Scripture well:
‘I know, and am sure, that this is the word of God: never mere man spoke at such a rate; never did the word of man work such effects. The entrance of it has given light to my soul, which was before in darkness, not knowing whither it went. How many glorious mysteries do I see in it! what purity, what spirituality, what holiness! etc. — all which speak the wisdom, and power, and goodness, and holiness, and truth of the Author of it. What sweetness have I tasted in it! It has been as the ‘honey and honeycomb” to me, Ps. xix. 10 . What power, what life, what strange energy have I experienced in it! What a change has it wrought in me! What lusts has it discovered and mortified! What duties has it convinced me of, and engaged me in! What strength has it furnished me with! How has it quickened me when I was dead in sin, revived my comforts when they were dying, actuated my graces when they were languishing, roused me up when I was sluggish, awaked me when I was dreaming, refreshed me when I was sorrowful, supported me when I was sinking, answered my doubts, conquered my temptations, scattered my fears, enlarged me with desires, and filled me “with joy unspeakable and full of glory!” 1 Pet. i. 8’ (Sermons of John Owen, p. 419).
David is saying God’s Word is more valuable than the most valuable commodity, gold, and even the purest or finest gold. God’s Word is sweeter and more satisfying than the sweetest food, even in its purest form.
We’ve looked at two blessings of Scripture, it’s superior to gold, it’s sweeter than honey, the third blessing is in v. 11
It is Supremely rewarding, v. 11
“By them [Scriptures] your servant is warned”
- Notice the humble posture and submission (“your servant”)
- Notice it is Scripture that warns us
"How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You." (119:9-11)
“In keeping them there is great reward”
- “keeping” speaks of obedience to scripture
- “great” speaks of abundance, quantity, much reward
This is one of the themes of the Bible: Blessing comes through obedience. Disobedience brings judgment. Scripture not only warns us of the bad, but also gives the way of blessing, the way of abundant good reward.
Thomas Brooks: “There is a reward not only in keeping, but also for keeping of His commands, Ps. 19:11. Joseph, for his thirteen years’ imprisonment, had the honour to reign fourscore years like a king; David, for his seven years’ banishment, had a glorious reign of forty years’ continuance; Daniel, for his lying a few hours among the lions, is made chief president over a hundred and twenty princes.” (Golden Treasury, 26)
"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward." (Hebrews 11:24-26)
One thing each of those men had in common was that they went through difficult times for quite awhile, before they saw the light and fruit of biblical trust.
If they had compromised their principles, there could have been temporary benefit, but as they remained faithful to Scripture, God in His timing gave great reward, just like Psalm 19:11 promises.
“Your spiritual health depends on placing the utmost value on the Word of God and obeying it with an eager heart ... Don’t relinquish the sweet, satisfying riches of God’s Word for the bitter gall of this world’s folly.” (MacArthur, Sufficiency in Christ, 90)
The Psalter (psalms set to music) recaps Psalm 19:7-10 this way:
Most perfect is the law of God, Restoring those that stray;
His testimony is most sure, Proclaiming wisdom's way.
The precepts of the Lord are right; With joy they fill the heart;
The Lord's commandments all are pure, And clearest light impart.
The fear of God is undefiled And ever shall endure;
The statutes of the Lord are truth And righteousness most pure.
They warn from ways of wickedness Displeasing to the Lord,
And in the keeping of His word There is a great reward.
That’s the Reward of Scripture, now lastly I want to look at
II. OUR RESPONSE TO SCRIPTURE
I think we all know that our response to Scripture should be obeying or applying it – but there’s something else very critical that we see here. Notice how David moves from talking about the Word of God to talking to God. Verses 12-14 are really a prayer to God, and this was very instructive and convicting to me.
It should be very natural for us to move from the Word to prayer, or vice-versa. In Psalm 119, the passage that speaks about and exalts Scripture more than any other, the writer constantly interrupts himself with praying. He speaks about God’s Word or His experience, and then before long he cannot help but pray for his own heart and spiritual life. It says in James that we have not because we ask not, and I wonder sometimes if we don’t have more spiritual power and life and joy and all of these blessings, because we don’t pray for them as we read the Bible.
Prayer may be the most essential and missing link in Scripture being effective or ineffective in our life.
How we pray and what we pray for gauges where we are spiritually. The overwhelming pattern of biblical prayer requests are for spiritual needs.
Our prayer should be driven by Scripture, and Scripture should drive how we pray.
The closing verses of Psalm 19 teach us we should pray for at least three things:
- forgiveness of daily sin, v. 12
- protection from presumptuous sin, v. 13
- help to please God with our whole life, v. 14
We should pray for forgiveness of daily sin
It is appropriate that David moves from talking about the book without errors, to mention his own errors in verse 12. He began by saying “the Law of the LORD is perfect” and then he is quick to remember that he is not perfect. As perfect and as glorious and as sufficient as Scripture is, it will never do all these things in our life if our sin keeps getting in the way, and that’s why David spends the rest of this psalm dealing with the sin issue. If you have not experienced any of the blessings of Scripture that we read in this psalm, you have never dealt with your sin. You need to come to Christ today and submit to His Word which v. 7 say “converts the soul” – commit your life to Jesus as Lord, so that you can receive forgiveness for past, present, and future sins, as you repent.
David says “Who can discern” or “who can understand” which reminds me of Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (NASB)
“Errors” in Psalm 19:12 is a word that means oversights, mistakes, ignorant, or inadvertent sin. He calls them “hidden / secret” in 12b
His prayer at the end of the verse is that God would “forgive” (NIV), or “acquit” (NKJV), or “cleanse” him from these “secret” or “hidden” faults. There are so many sins we do that we aren’t even aware of, that we still need to plead God’s grace for.
QUESTION: Is there such a thing as “secret sin”? There are sins some humans don’t know of, but "God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus." (Romans 2:16, NASB95). "You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence." (Psalm 90:8, NASB95)
Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon (#116) on “secret sins” where he says well:
‘Ye who have sinned without discovery, "Be sure your sin will find you out;" … Sin, like murder, will come out; men will even tell tales about themselves in their dreams. God has made men to be so wretched in their consciences that they have been obliged to stand forth and confess the truth. Secret sinner! if you want the foretaste of damnation upon earth, continue in thy secret sins; for no man is more miserable than he who sinneth secretly, and yet trieth to preserve a character. [That deer], followed by the hungry hounds, with open mouths, is far more happy than the man who is pursued by his sins. [That bird], taken in the fowler's net, and labouring to escape, is far more happy than he who hath weaved around himself a web of deception, and labours to escape from it, day by day making the toils more thick and the web more strong. Oh the misery of secret sins! One may well pray, "Cleanse … me from secret faults.’
QUESTION: Is a Christian supposed to continually pray for forgiveness for even daily sins, whether done secretly, or even sins we’re not aware of?
According to I John 1:9, the answer is yes. It’s not about salvation, it’s about our relationship as child-to-father. The time of communion is also a great time to pray this prayer for cleansing.
Make sure when you pray this way that you really mean it. The way God cleanses us from these sins is not just by wiping the slate clean, he wants us to actually get rid of those sins.
Ray Stedman points out that God’s “way of dealing with hidden faults is either to send somebody to point them out to you or to bring them out through some circumstance in which you are suddenly confronted with what you have done or said and you find that it is ugly and you do not like it. That is the way God cleanses us from hidden faults. He opens up the secret places. Usually he does it through other people because, as God well knows, we cannot see ourselves but other people can see us. These faults are hidden to us but not to others. They see them very plainly. And we can see their hidden faults better than they can. You know that you can see the faults of somebody you are thinking about right now, better than they can. You say, "I don't see how they can be so blind." Well, someone is thinking that very same way about you. We do not see ourselves. That is why it is always proper to say, "Lord, cleanse thou me from hidden faults. Help me to see myself through the eyes of a friend who loves me enough to tell me the truth." (from www.pbc.org, sermon on Psalm 19)
So we should pray for God to forgive us of daily sins, and also
#2 Protection from presumptuous sin, v. 13
A godly person wants deliverance from both public and private sin
Verse 12 deals with the unintentional or hidden sin, v. 13 talks about the willful and blatant sins, some call them defiant sins. The original word includes the idea of prideful, arrogant, shameless sin.
The warning seems to be that if the little sins are left unchecked, hidden sins can grow into bold-faced wicked presumptuous sin. Better to stop the snow at the top of the hill before it becomes a big snowball that’s nearly unstoppable. Better to dig up the weeds and hidden roots before they overgrow and destroy the garden. Better to pray for God’s help in stopping sin before it starts and spreads.
QUESTION: Is all sin equal?
Any sin can send someone to hell, but not all are equal in consequence or damaging effect as defiant or presumptuous sin:
“But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people." (Numbers 15:30)
"The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel." (Deuteronomy 17:12)
The fact that David asks God “keep back your servant from” these kind of sins clearly implies that even God’s best servants have a tendency to go headlong into great transgression if not for the restraining grace of God preventing us from sin. Everyone in this room is capable of shocking sin – do we pray for God to keep us back? If a man after God’s heart prayed this way, who are we to think we can not be vigilant in praying our steps avoid sin? Let’s join David in this pre-emptive strike against presumptuous sin.
Jesus told His disciples to “watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation”
He taught them to pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”
If you’re a Christian, you often pray for God’s forgiveness after you’ve sinned, but maybe we don’t do enough this common prayer in Scripture for God to keep us back from sin before it starts. Are we trying to keep from sinning in our own strength?
God told Abimelech in Genesis 20:6 “I kept you from sinning against me”
Here are some great ways to pray in Psalm 119:
"Do not let me wander from Your commandments." (119:10)
"Remove the false way from me" (v. 29)
"Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me." (v. 33)
"Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice deeds of wickedness With men who do iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies." (Psalm 141:3-4, NASB95)
Back in Psalm 19:13, David says “let them not rule over me”
The problem is that presumptuous sins, when they are repeated, become dominating sins, which enslave us
"The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast." (Proverbs 5:22, NIV)
Paul didn’t want even neutral things to rule over him, how much more should we avoid sin
" All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12, NASB95)
God told Cain “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”" (Genesis 4:7, NASB95)
The “great transgression” at the end of verse 13 is in contrast to the “great reward” at the end of v. 11 which comes from keeping God’s Word
It is by an accumulation of the little secret sins of v. 12 that the person gradually walks into the great sin. It is important that Christians confess their sins immediately and allow the Word and the blood to cleanse the heart. (Warren Wiersbe, Expository Outlines)
Prayer #3 - help to please God with our whole life, v. 14
“the words of the mouth and the meditation of my heart”
Both internal and external, the whole person
What I say, but also what I think
He is first LORD, our master, whom we have relationship with
Then David calls Him “my Rock” – He is my strength in keeping the Law; literally “my rocky cliff,” which is a metaphor for protection; or a “sheltering rock.”
And He is my Redeemer, the one who redeems me. This metaphor casts the Lord in the role of a leader who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis. (NET Bible Notes)
How do you know if Jesus is your Lord, your Rock, your Redeemer? Just look at the verse, the ones who can call Him Lord and Savior and their Rock, are those who want above all else to please God with their whole life and whole person
Application: Do I really believe that there is “great reward” in obeying God’s commandments?
Every day for devotions I should ask myself:
- What warnings should I be heeding from God’s Word?
- What commandments do I need to obey?
- Am I really valuing God’s Word above gold? Am I digging into the Word, or am I missing out on precious nuggets of truth due to laziness?
- Do I crave it more than any food?
May God help us to be serious partakers of His sufficient Word. I pray that you and I will pray more, repent more, love Scripture more, and live more in light of it, so that we can join the heavens in declaring the glory of God as Psalm 19:1 says. I want to be a living banner for the supremacy of God’s glory and the sufficiency of God’s Word.