This teaching by Pastor Barry was recorded at our family service on Sunday 4th September 2016. This is the 4th 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 of verses 17-24 we see the Psalmist on his knees before the Lord pleading for Grace, which is always given to those who ask.
Spurgeon makes the following comment: “In this section the trials of the way appear to be manifest to the Psalmist’s mind, and he prays accordingly for the help which will meet his case. As in the last eight verses he prayed as a youth newly come into the world, so here he pleads as a servant and a pilgrim, who growingly finds himself to be a stranger in an enemy’s country. His appeal is to God alone, and his prayer is specially direct and personal. He speaks with the Lord as a man speaketh with his friend”.
It is easy to read this and miss the real emotion and progression of thought, and whilst this was written as a song, it is a song that comes straight from the heart. My paraphrase of these verses is as follows. May you be edified and encouraged as we take a few more steps together through this Psalm and this life!
“LORD, please deal bountifully with me, let me know your blessing and don’t let me forget all Your blessings to me; for I feel like I am suffocating in this godless world. Let me keep your Word, for if I am not living for You I am not living.
There are so many things around me, to distract me and pull me from You, so let might eye be single! Let my focus be on You alone by opening up Your precious Word to me, and letting me see the breathtaking truths and revelations You have hidden, as precious gems, waiting to be discovered by a diligent soul. If my eyes are on You, they will not be on this world!
LORD, I ask this because I am a stranger here, I am a pilgrim just passing through, my citizenship is in Heaven from which I am eagerly awaiting my Saviour! As each day passes, more and more I realise this world is not my home, I don’t belong and I don’t fit in. I sit and listen to conversations I have no desire to be part of. I see a world around me that cares nothing for God, that does not value the things I hold most dear. LORD, I am close to the edge. I am as a stranger in Babylon, and so easy it would be to blend in, to become accustomed to the culture, to eat from the king’s table all his delicacies and to therefore forget my God. Don’t let Your commandments be hidden from me. May they be continually before me, around me, behind me, within me. If I for one moment forget them, I will fall and the enemy is hiding in the shadows ready to devour me. If I struggle to perceive Your way, how can I walk in it? Please don’t make it obscure or unobtainable to my mind.
I have given up all else, I have nothing left here, all I have is Your Word, Your precepts, Your statutes; Your judgments! But my soul is breaking, not just my heart, but my very soul, because of those who blaspheme the great name by which I am saved. I am tired of the injustice that is allowed to flourish for the sake of convenience or money. I am tired of the iniquity that is presented to us as ‘normal behaviour’ and the fact that I am told I must be ‘tolerant’ by those who are intolerant of everything that is Godly! I am weary of those who profess to belong to Christ yet deny Him by their lifestyle and words. I long to be surround by those who love His word and rejoice in His judgments!
Yet LORD, even in this valley of deep emotions Your Spirit bids me to consider the proud and what awaits them. Though they err from Your commandments they will not escape your righteous judgment. As I think about this I am stirred in my soul! For though (for now) the proud may seem to prosper, it will not always be so! Yet for me, for all your servants, there awaits us blessings beyond compare!
Knowing the proud will have his day is a great comfort, yet the reproach and contempt they have uttered against me sticks like a wet garment! So LORD I ask that You will will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. But either way, I plead LORD that You will remove it, for any attempt of my own to clear my name, any attempt to vindicate myself will result in failure and greater reproach, not only on me, but also on Your great Name!
Even though slander and cruel words may come from those close to me, or from those whose opinions others listen to, I have a sure refuge from the storm, a place of safety where no assault can would or hurt, and that place is Your statutes, by meditating upon the things your have engraved on my heart. Your promises are sure and You are faithful. If God be for me who can be against me? Though a mighty army march against me, I will not be afraid! What can man do to me!
This is why Your testimonies are my delight! They are my counsellors! They have proven trustworthy and unfailing in hours of need in times past, and I know that You will never leave me or forsake me now!”
As a practical step, just take one verse of this Psalm a day (start today!), and meditate on it throughout the day. Start at breakfast, then remind yourself mid morning of the verse. Then again at lunchtime, then in the afternoon, then as you sit to eat your evening meal, then in the evening, and finally when you go to bed (see Psalm 119:164). It might be helpful to get a notebook and jot down the things the LORD reveals to you. You will be amazed at the things the Holy Spirit will reveal, about your life, your walk, His goodness and patience, and the reality that He is able to make us stand! (Romans 14:4).