This study was originally presented over a five day period in July 1995 as a series of radio talks by Pastor Keith Graham. The material will be more profitable if digested in its five separate sessions, of which this is the second.
We are studying the 119th Psalm, that great treasurehouse of devotional jewels. Our method of study is to consider several of the various terms that the Psalmist uses for the written Word of God, and what each of them means. During our first session, you were asked to note the occurences of the terms LAW and TESTIMONIES (or LAW and STATUTES if you are studying with the NIV Bible) in order to be prepared for this second session. If you did this thoroughly, you will have found that the first of these terms, Law, is used by the Holy Spirit no less than 25 times in Psalm 119.
One thing becomes apparent quickly as we look at those 25 places where the Psalmist refers to the Law. That is the Psalmist's love for the Law!
Have you ever noticed how many people outside of Christ perceive what they call "religion?" They seem to feel that God is a cosmic killjoy, a great negative Person in the sky sending down commandments designed to make sure human beings have no joy, happiness, or pleasure.
Sadly, even some Christians seem to have a similar opinion of the Law of God. They eagerly desire to know how much of the Old Testament "does not apply" to them. They are keenly interested in knowing how much of their way of life before Christ they can keep; how much like the world they can be, and still count themselves Christians.
This is exactly opposite to the attitude of the Psalmist. Indeed, the very first verse of Psalm 119 shows this:
"How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the Lord."
The Psalmist exclaims how HAPPY, or blessed, are those who walk according to the Law of God!
The inspired Psalmist has a completely different outlook on God's perfect moral standard for mankind. He has tasted the beauty of holiness in it, and seen that it is far more desireable than any pattern of human behavior which the unholy world can offer!
We spoke of Timothy in our previous session, and how he knew the word of God from youth. Likewise was Timothy's mentor in the faith, Paul. Paul the apostle loved the law of God like the Psalmist, as we read in Romans 7:22-24: "For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"
So far from making the Law of God an obsolete thing of the past, the gospel and its power to bring new life makes the sinner become like the Psalmist...like Paul as he explains himself in Romans...not perfected, despising his failures, but inwardly delighting in God's Law!
Listen to the promises God makes to those who love His Law:
Psalm 119:165: Those who love Thy law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.
James 1:25 "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the Law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does."
Who can say with more conviction than the truly born again Christian, "O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day."
The second term used by the Psalmist to set forth the Word of God is TESTIMONY. We will consider that term now.
Again, if you did your homework, you will have found that the inspired Psalmist uses the word usually translated "testimonies" (STATUTES for New International Version users) at least 22 times in Psalm 119. What insight on how we are to look upon and obey the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God can we gain from this term?
God's Law and God's testimonies are closely linked. The Hebrew word translated testimonies in Psalm 119 is used to refer to the very tablets that God gave Moses, inscribed with the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 31:18 we read: "And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God."
To put it another way, the Word of God reveals to us not only God's perfect moral Law for mankind, as we discussed in the previous session, but it reveals His own holy character...it is God's testimony about Himself!
The prophet cried out about God's testimony in Isaiah 8:20: "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn."
Isaiah recognized the testimony of God as being like the very light of day...without it, men are in darkness.
The same Hebrew word found in Psalm 119 is used in the record of the coronation of King Joash or Jehoash. In 2 Kings 11:12 we read: "Then he brought the king's son out and put the crown on him, and gave him the TESTIMONY; and they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, "Long live the king!"
That is, they gave the king a copy of the Word of God, and indeed, by its wisdom kings can live long and rule well under the King of kings, ruling in imitation of Him.
Here is a call to those who have high positions in society to heed God's testimonies! Here is a call to Christians to pray according to the apostle's instructions in 1 Timothy 2:1,2: "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."
If we love someone, we desire to know as much about that one as we can. If we love God, we will want to know all the testimony about His own being and His ways that He has given us in His Bible.
These are some of the things the Psalmist says about the testimonies of God in those 22 places in Psalm 119: he observes God's testimonies, and rejoices in the way of them. He loves them, and as he meditates on them more and more he finds them to be his delight, and the joy of his heart. The prophet Jeremiah was familiar with that spirit, for he wrote, "Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts." The Psalmist prays that his heart be inclined to God's testimonies, and that he be given understanding to know them. He is determined that he will turn his feet to consider them diligently. We don't see here someone quickly scanning a few verses of the Bible as he wolfs down his morning pop-tart! This man is resolved to devote himself to God's testimonies!
The Psalmist also says that he will speak of God's testimonies before kings. The apostle Paul had that mind set as well. We have the record of Paul's speaking before a king, in Acts 26. Beginning at verse 2 of Acts 26, we read: "In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today...", and Paul goes on to speak boldly of his own conversion and about the gospel of Jesus.
And that gospel is the very heart of the testimony of God! We know that our Lord Jesus Christ is God Almighty, come in the flesh, and in Revelation 19:10, we read that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy! Only as we are cleaving to the testimonies of God will our hearts burn within us! The hearts of those men on road to Emmaus burned with love for Christ as they began to grasp His testimony...to them, as we find in Luke 24:27, Jesus came and explained the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with Moses and all the prophets.
The Psalmist boasts of speaking of God's testimonies before kings. Are you ashamed to speak of God's testimony even before your family members and co-workers? Do you want to gain victory over your reluctance to share the wonderful good news with those who so desperately need it? Be absorbed in God's testimonies! Give diligence to understanding and knowing them! Ask the Father to send in His fullness the Spirit of the same Jesus who came to those Emmaus road disciples! The apostle John wrote that the Spirit would come to God's people and explain all the things concerning the Son of God in all the Scriptures!
May God give you that Berean spirit of searching the Scriptures, of diligently considering God's testimonies. When we make His testimonies our own, when we learn to love them in the way the Psalmist describes, speaking according to them will increasingly become a way of life. God's Word will become to you what it was to the prophet Jeremiah, who wrote, "But if I say, `I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name', then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it."
You will gain better insight during the next session of our study of Psalm 119 if you do a little homework! Your assignment is to find occurences of the term "precepts" in Psalm 119.
Go to Session Three - Bible Study on Psalm 119
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