*The Reviving Power of Delighting in God’s Word (Psalm 119:89-96)*
/Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on January 4, 2009/
One of the key messages of this great Psalm is: /No matter what affliction, difficulty, sickness, trial, God’s Word is sufficient and God’s glory and purposes are most important/.
The writer of Ps 119 certainly believed that, and Psalm 119 by the inspiration of God reveals for us how to think rightly and biblically and to glorify God, and one of the ways we glorify God is by delighting in Him and His Word as our all-in-all no matter what dark or low times, we find here an all-sufficient all-satisfying portion and lasting delight and joy, even in all of the most difficult afflictions of our lives.
Our text today (v.
89-96) and next week’s stanza (v.
97-104) reach the high point of this Psalm, the peak of praise, exalting God and His Word as well as any text.
*Psalm 119:89-96 (NASB95) 89 **Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.**
**90 **Your faithfulness /continues /throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.**
**91 **They stand this day according to Your ordinances, For all things are Your servants.**
**92 **If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.**
**93 **I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have revived me.** **94 **I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your precepts.**
**95 **The wicked wait for me to destroy me; I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.**
**96 **I have seen a limit to all perfection; Your commandment is exceedingly broad.*
Verse 95 lets us know his circumstances and dangers have not changed, that’s not the reason this passage is so positive and upbeat.
But at the center of his life and thinking, in the center of this stanza, in the center of this psalm, verses 92-and 93 show us that the key for him (and by inspiration of God, this key is recorded for our benefit as well 3000 years later), the key was his delight in God’s Word as the only reason he survived such affliction.
The end of verse 93, says God’s Word revived him.
*/The Unshakable Power of God’s Abiding Word (v.
*/The Reviving Power of Delighting in God’s Word (v.
Up till this point, most of the stanzas or sections of this Psalm begin in their first verse or verses by expressing the great need of the original writer, usually some desperate plea for help or teaching or life to continue.
But this text begins not with a petition, but with praise in the first 3 verses.
And really there is only one request in these 8 verses (v.
94) and there are no requests in next week’s section (vs.
97-104) which elevates the Word even higher.
There were numerous questions in last week’s passage; this week’s passage is focused on the answer.
His uplifted spirit in this section seems to be traced to his uplifting of the Supremacy of God and His Word as his supreme focus.
I pray the same will be true for us.
After travelling through some low valleys in this psalm emotionally and spiritually and physically speaking in some of the recent sections of this long song, this stanza ascends the heights of Psalm 119 as we cross the halfway mark of this massive psalm that has been called “the Mount Everest of the Psalms.”
The transition to his fresh air at this higher altitude has been described this way:
‘After climbing up steeply though some very forbidding terrain [the last several stanzas] the spiritually cramping muscles of the man of God have been pushed seemingly beyond their limit and are in desperate need of the kind of rest that only stable ground can provide.
Some sure-footed territory is discovered by our psalmist on the firm high plateau of the /Lamed /and /Mem /stanzas [the headings over this week’s text & next].
There he finds respectively both rest and refreshment prior to his taxing descent which will take him through yet more of life’s crags, caves, and crevices.’
The passage begins in the highest heights of heaven itself:
*89 **Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.**
In some psalms the imagery seems to be one tossed about in a sea of trouble, but here he stands elevated on high ground above a shore of solid rock.
On the solid rock he stands while all other ground is sinking sand.
How firm a foundation we saints of the Lord find laid for our hope in His excellent Word, a Word that is forever settled in heaven.
In contrast to this temporal world of change, God’s Word is eternal and does not change.
Forever it remains.
God’s Word is settled.
However unsettled our lives or minds may be here on earth, God’s Word is settled forever in heaven.
However unsettling the news of our nation or our personal lives may be, God’s truth is settled forever in heaven.
It is unshakable in its abiding almighty power.
The marginal note of some translations for this word “settled” say “lit.
/stands firm/” (NASB, NKJV).
Here on earth, politicians may flip-flop positions, stocks may fall, economies may tumble, but God’s Word in heaven stands firm.
Other translations say it is “firmly fixed” (ESV), or God’s truths “stand secure” (NET).
It is settled securely, firmly – that’s our final answer.
We don’t need to ask the audience or take opinion polls.
If God has said it, that settles it, whether you believe it or not, whether anyone believes it or not.
Someone may say “well, /I believe/ God is a God of love and I just can’t see how He could send people to hell who are nice and sincere but aren’t followers of the Lord Jesus.”
But your belief or opinion on earth has no bearing on the fixed truth of God in heaven.
This word for settled is often used in the Old Testament for setting up a monument or pillar or some structure or boundary for generations to come.
The idea is that it is intended to be permanent and for the ages in the future to see and know.
That’s the idea here.
The language may allude ‘to the Word pictured as God’s eternal monument firmly foundationed in His own heavenly presence.’
The liberals may succeed in taking down some Ten Commandment monuments on public buildings in our country, but God’s Commandments will never be removed from heaven.
Moses may have broken the original Ten Commandment tablets on the mountain, and replicas copies in the Ark of Covenant may never be found, but God’s eternal Word will never be broken or lost, ever.
*90 **Your faithfulness /continues /throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands** [i.e., “firm” or “fast”; others “endures” or “abides”]*
The prophet Isaiah said “the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God abides ~/ endures forever.”
The Apostle Peter called it “the living and /abiding/ Word of God.”
In v. 90, the power of God’s abiding Word moves from spiritual heaven (v.
89) to physical earth where it is manifested.
Then in v. 91 it’s also illustrated in the literal heavens which are not only created by, but are also sustained by the abiding all-powerful Word of God.
Genesis 1 begins with God’s Word: “And God said” (each day).
How should this truth affect us?
Psalm 33:8-9 (NASB95) 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
9 For *He spoke, and it was done [creation of the world]; He commanded, and it stood fast.*
Psalm 93:1 The Lord reigns … The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, *the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.*
The immovable world was firmly established by the Word of God which is also immovable, and His same strength upholds all things.
1:3 says Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power” 119:91 says “/all/ are his servants” – we need to be His servants too.
I hope the reality of v. 89-91 thrills you like it did the writer (and me).
These works of God demonstrate the power of the Word of God.
God’s faithful Word upholds and sustains the universe, His faithfulness and Word as personified in the Lord Jesus Himself.
The same Word that upholds and sustains the universe will uphold and sustain us through any affliction as we delight ourselves in it.
As one hymn captures the truth illustrated in verses 90-91:
/Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love./
Jeremiah 31:35-37 (NASB95) 35 Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: 36 “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the Lord, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.”
37 Thus says the Lord, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 33:25-26 25 “Thus says the Lord, ‘If My covenant /for /day and night /stand /not, /and /the fixed patterns of heaven and earth I have not established, 26 then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.’
The existence of Israel and the Jewish people is not a coincident or of no significance, as I’ve heard some modern “replacement theologians” say.
So many nations have tried to exterminate the Hebrew peoples for thousands of years and still try, but they are still here, defying natural explanation.
And we like many faithful Christians since Reformation times, we pray for Israel’s spiritual reformation and restoration and salvation as Romans 11 promises.
God’s abiding Word, the unshakable power of His promise, is the only explanation why Israelites have not been wiped out through the ages.
And His promise that His Word would never pass away is also the only explanation as to why this Book has survived and thrived as well when so many wanted to annihilate it.
Heaven and earth may pass away; God’s Word never will.
The universe would dissolve sooner than one jot or tittle failed to be fulfilled.
Many have tried to destroy the Bible throughout history.
Bibles were burned, translators of the Bible into other languages were burned to death.
The path that brings this book to our hands is a path of blood.
God’s Word has always been established in heaven, but it has not always been available on earth to most people.
In fact we are incredibly privileged in all of human history to be living at a time in recent centuries where anyone can easily and affordably own an entire copy of the Bible written in our own language, many Bibles, helps, resources so amazingly available.
James Boice reminds us that ‘such conditions did not always prevail.
Until the time of the Reformation, when Gutenberg’s remarkable discovery of moveable type enabled the Bible as well as other literature to be mass-produced and distributed easily throughout civilized lands, the text of the Bible was preserved by the laborious and time-consuming process of copying it over and over again by hand, at first onto papyrus sheets and then onto parchments.
Throughout much of this time, the Bible was an object of extreme hatred by many in authority.
They tried to stamp it out, but the text survived … If the Bible had been only the thoughts or work of mere men, it would have been eliminated long ago, as other books have been [in fact there have been far greater efforts to destroy this book than any other book in history] … yet the text survived.