This teaching by Pastor Barry was recorded at our family service on Sunday 30th October 2016. This is the 12th session in our verse-by-verse study of Psalm 119.
The first four verses of this Psalm outline God’s perfect standard for any who would truly follow Him, with a whole heart. The next four verses recall the hope we have that one day we will be conformed, transformed and renewed outwardly as well as inwardly. We will awake in the likeness of Christ (Psalm 17:15), and all the troubles, trials and temptations of this life will be past (1 Cor 15:53). But until that time we are to “walk by faith, not by sight”(2 Cor 5:7). We are to “walk in the Spirit, and not gratify the desires of the sinful nature”(Gal 5:16). We are to “walk worthy of the calling wherein we are called” (Eph 4:1).
But how? How are we to do this when we are continually wrestling against the world, the flesh and the devil?
The remainder of this Psalm is your guidebook to walking a life of victory! That may sound quite a claim, but this Psalm is the voice of experience. It has walked this path before and has been given to us by the Holy Spirit to be a companion on our journey, an instructor with Godly counsel.
In this study we continue on, looking at verses 105– 112:
Nun: Verses 105-112
The verb נון means propagate or increase
A Light in the darkness
Verse 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
My Grandmother (aka Gran) was a big influence on my life. I used to take the daily newspaper along to her house when I got home from school and stay for a while to chat. She would read to me from the Bible, or read something from Oswald Chambers’ ‘My Utmost For His Highest’. I was young and much of it went over my head, but when I was 13 she bought me a Bible. It was a Schofield Reference Bible (KJV), the same as she had used. Inside the front cover she had written just one verse, Psalm 119 105; from that moment this became my verse. Many people have a favourite verse or two, but this is more than that. Yes, it carries some sentimental meaning for the reasons just explained, but it has also become my life-verse. It has been an encouragement in difficult times; it has been an instruction to be closely adhered to; it has been a goal to aim for; it has been a reality check that brings me back to God’s word time and again. In many ways it has been prophetic, for from the age of 13 I started to read the Bible, and it has proven many times over to be a light that both shines in the distance so I can safely navigate my way home, and also a light that illuminates my path to that destination so that every step can be taken in confidence and obedience.
That’s not to say I have never wandered from the path! But I have become so accustomed to the light that everything else has, in contrast, become so conspicuously dark.
I love God’s word more than I could ever convey. I love it because it is God’s Word. He bothered to write to us! I love it because it is true; and we can demonstrably prove it to be so. It is settled in Heaven (v89) so I have no fear that man will undo it. It has made me wiser than my teachers (v99), so much so that I have ended up teaching them! It has quickened me (v50); it has strengthened me in the past (v28) and will continue to do so (74). It has been my reason to hope (v49), it has been for by comfort (v76), and it will light my way home! (105).
Spurgeon comments: “One of the most practical benefits of Holy Writ is guidance in the acts of daily life: it is not sent to astound us with its brilliance, but to guide us by its instruction. It is true the head needs illumination, but even more the feet need direction, else head and feet may both fall into a ditch. Happy is the man who personally appropriates God’s word, and practically uses it as his comfort and counsellor, — a lamp to his own feet”. CHS
Verse 106 I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
The phrase translated ‘I have sworn’ actually comes from the Hebrew שָׁבַע shaba`, which means ‘to swear as if by repeating a declaration seven times’. The phrase ‘I will perform’ from קוּם quwm, which carries with it the implication of rising, standing up, to establish etc.
Thus in the Hebrew, the text could be rendered: “I have declared seven times and will rise up to guard and protect Thy righteous judgments”. To paraphrase and expound this, we could say, “Your right-judgments concerning me, concerning the wicked, concerning the way You have called me to walk, are so precious to me now that I will jealously guard them, I will protect them from any that would rob me of them (including myself!), and so I will rise up and take a stand until they have completely (7x) transformed my mind!
Now that I have found them, or rather, now that they have graciously been made known to me, I will not let go of something so precious.
“Perhaps mistrusting his own fickle mind, he had pledged himself in sacred form to abide faithful to the determinations and decisions of his God. Whatever path might open before him, he was sworn to follow that only upon which the lamp of the word was shining”. CHS.
Verse 107 I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
The proud had afflicted him, God had afflicted him, and his own sin had brought affliction, but in all of this there was a ‘working together for good’ (Romans 8:28), for now he cries ‘Make me alive according to Your Word!’
Although this section is in the main positive, and bears witness to an increase in grace in his life, the Psalmist is still mindful of the affliction that is all too present. But the Lord, for His reasons, will sometimes choose to leave the thorn in the flesh.
To be quickened by the Word is to reverse the effects of the Fall. Jesus is the Word made flesh, and if the Son quickens us we will truly be alive. He died so that we might live!
As he prayed back in v71, it is good that we are afflicted, for it exposes our true condition and shows how much we need a Saviour. It removes any pretence; it is a shaking that will leave only that which cannot be shaken (see Heb 12:27).
Verse 108 Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
Praise from the upright is comely (Psalm 33:1). How we have reason to praise, for He has overcome the world (1 John 5:4). However even in his praise he is mindful of his need and so includes a petition for greater knowledge of God’s just judgments.
We continually need to be reminded of God’s mind on a matter, and not resort to our own natural thinking.
Verse 109 My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
This is a frightening verse! It would be good if my soul were in God’s hand, but alas, as we commented in our opening stanza, we have been given the ‘gift’ of choice, so our soul, our spiritual condition is largely in our own hands.
That is why we must never forget His law.
Our consolation is that having been purchased by His blood, we are eternally secure, even if our daily challenge continues for now.
It has become a light for our path, how could we even take a step without it? How could we forget His law now that we have come to treasure it, particularly when we have been made aware of the responsibility given to each of us to choose the way of truth.
Verse 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
As if we need to be continually reminded, the Psalmist again tells us of the danger that lies in our path. Every step could lead to our undoing if we do not consult the map we have been given. His precepts are not just for instruction but also for preservation!
Verse 111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
Uncertain if permission has been granted, our Psalmist boldly lays claim to God’s testimonies as his own inheritance and reward. They have been a delight, but now he wants to own them, knowing they will be adequate to allow him to complete his journey.
Verse 112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
Previously he had asked God to incline his heart. Now he is recognising his own responsibility, that he must exercise the free choice that he has feared but now for the good. Now he has done the impossible and made straight that which was crooked! He has found a way to incline his own heart toward God’s statutes and not to the fleshly lusts and desires. How can this be done? Only by God’s Word!
Notice the set is thus completed: ‘teach me they judgments’ v108, ‘I do not forget thy Law’ v109 ‘I erred not from thy precepts’ v110, ‘Thy testimonies I have taken’ v111, and to conclude he will ‘perform God’s statutes’ v112. How bright and how varied is the lamp that we have been given to light our way! A normal torch will not illuminate the full spectrum. Infra-Red & Ultra Violet are not visible to the naked eye, just as there are things in our path that we might altogether miss if we rely on our natural sight. We need the full spectrum of God’s word to be a lamp to our feet that exposes the potential danger of every step. Thus now we have completed the foundation course in walking by faith. We have sat the theory exam and are now ready for the practical.
We have completed 2 x 7 x 8 verses. Two is the number of witness, seven speaks of complete and eight of new beginnings.
“let us go on unto perfection” (Hebrews 6:1)
Samech: Verses 113-120
The verb סמך means lean upon, support, uphold
Freedom to Obey
Verse 113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
Isn’t this the goal in one sense of the Christian life? To walk by faith? To obey through choice but to also have the power to perform that which heart and mind are now united toward? Isn’t this what Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2, that we really can be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we can put on the new man “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”. (EPh 4:24).
But oh, dear saints, remember that this has been a journey, a growing in grace, and we have had to learn to walk before we can run.
We must forever be mindful that it is his Word that has quickened us, not our own volition.
Verse 114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
We must have a place of retreat from the battle for it is oh so intense. We must have a place of safety from the storms or we will again be swept away in the overwhelming flood.
Jesus indicated that there should be a prayer closet (Matt 6:6), or some mountain where we can be apart to pray and fellowship with our Heavenly Father (Matt 14:23). Jesus needed that fellowship, and so do we. Determine in your heart to find such a place and retreat there often!
We also must now grow to maturity and take up our shield of faith. We will be attacked; the fiery darts of the wicked one will come. But all can be extinguished when we lift up that most valuable piece of spiritual armour.
The disciples couldn’t deal with the demoniac (Matt 17:19) simply because they were not ‘strong in the grace’ (2 Tim 2:1). They had not been alone with their Heavenly Father to ‘re-fuel’ for the journey ahead. Jesus had not been fasting exclusively to deal with this issue – many seem to think fasting is the heavy artillery we bring in to tackle a particular problem – fasting is about being connected to the source, so that when we then come down to the valley below, we are strengthened and renewed and ready to face whatever the world, flesh or Devil care to throw at us.
Verse 115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
With such preparation well might we declare with authority ‘depart!’ to all and any spiritual foe.
“And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour” (Matt 17:18).
Verse 116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Verse 117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
Both these verses are an appeal to the grace that makes us stand
Verse 118 Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
There is no gloating in this, but a declaration of God’s faithfulness. The Psalmist had prayed that God would judge the proud and wicked and now he observes that God had done this.
Verse 119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
This has happened, and will happen. There is a world that is perishing because they reject the One and only Saviour of the World. But it is a world that is wicked. It is a world that aborts over 100,000 babies each day. In fact, in the time it has taken you to read just this section, more than 150 more babies have been killed in the womb (source: www.numberofabortions.com). Excluding abortions, over 1300 people are murdered each day. In London alone, an average of 14 people a day are stabbed (source: www.standard.co.uk/news). More and more are declaring themselves atheists and morality is becoming so subjective as to erode any sense of propriety.
We are living in days such as Isaiah spoke of: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isaiah 5:20-23).
Isaiah was speaking of the days leading up to Israel and Judah’s captivity. God did not spare them. He will not spare the world now.
Because the LORD will not allow the wicked to get away with their sin, we love His testimonies –
Testimonies – meaning to bear witness. This speaks of the things God has testified of, has born witness to as being true. God is outside time, and bears witness as to the right way. Because He can see the end from the beginning He sees the end of every way we can choose, i.e. where it will lead to, so gives us the benefit of His wisdom.
The book of Revelation is an example of His testimonies. It foretells the destruction of the wicked, but speaks of unending hope for the righteous!
Verse 120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
Having just pondered the destiny of those who reject God, the Psalmist becomes overwhelmed to the point of physically trembling. It is right to fear God. He is the potter, we are the clay. None of us deserves His mercy, all of us deserve His wrath! So let us offer the freewill offerings of our mouths in praise and adoration to His great and holy Name!
He is just, He is faithful, He is merciful, He is compassionate, He is all-powerful, He is all-knowing, He is gracious, He is the LORD!
“Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him” (Deut 13:4).
“The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
“O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him” (Psalm 34:9).
Every blessing as you continue to study His word,