The Psalm of the Word (Part 10): Life

The Psalm of the Word

Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.

I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.

May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.

May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.

May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.

May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.

(Psalm 119:73-80)

God is our Creator – the giver of life. Understanding this fact should cause us to serve the Lord and do so in a certain way. Let us notice the connection between God being our Maker and our Master.

God is Our Creator

Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments” (Psalm 119:73).

The Scriptures begin with this statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God gives life to each one of us. The psalmist wrote, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:13-16). Paul told the philosophers on Mars Hill that God “gives to all people life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25). His work in creation shows us “His eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20), as well as His wisdom (Proverbs 8:30).

As the psalmist recognized this, he asked that he might be given understanding (Psalm 119:73). Seeing God’s work in creation ought to cause us to seek for Him. Paul said, “He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things…that they would seek for God” (Acts 17:25-27). When Paul was in Lystra, he cited God’s providence – “He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” – as a “witness,” reminding them of the need to “turn from these vain things to a living God” (Acts 14:15-17). Seeing God’s work in nature should lead us to seek after Him today as well.

David said, “Give me understanding” (Psalm 119:73). How does this happen? The only way we can understand God’s will is through His word. In discussing the work of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote, “We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Moses said, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). God has shown us in His word what He wants us to know. Since He is our Creator, He can certainly make His word understandable – He made our minds and knows perfectly how we think. Many claim we cannot understand the Bible, but we can. Regarding the revelation of God’s word, Paul said, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4).

God is the Giver of Spiritual Life

May Your compassion come to me that I may live, for Your law is my delight” (Psalm 119:77).

Not only does God provide physical life, but spiritual life as well. Just as we were born, we can be “born again” (1 Peter 1:23) – which is done in baptism (John 3:3, 5; Romans 6:3-4) – and be “raised” to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

This new life is according to His compassion (tender mercies, KJV), not somethings we can acquire on our own. Peter said, “We are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11). But that does not mean that salvation by grace is unconditional. This same apostle who said, “We are saved through…grace” (Acts 15:11) also commanded people to be baptized in order to be saved (Acts 2:38; 10:48). Jesus is “to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). As we have already seen throughout this psalm, David emphasized the importance of obedience to God’s commands (Psalm 119:1-4, 9-10, 17, 22, 32-35, 44, 56-57, 59-60, 67, 69). However, obeying God’s word does not mean we earn anything from God. We must have the attitude of which Jesus spoke: “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:10).

God’s grace/compassion should not cause us to ignore His instructions to us. Rather, we must have the attitude of David: “Your law is my delight” (Psalm 119:77). He said earlier, “I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word” (Psalm 119:16). We must “remember His precepts to do them” (Psalm 103:18). Spiritual life comes by God’s grace as we obey Him.

We Enjoy Fellowship with Those Who Fear God

May those who fear You see me and be glad, because I wait for Your word” (Psalm 119:74).

May those who fear You turn to me, even those who know Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:79).

Since God is the Creator, He also has the power to destroy the world. Peter addressed those who questioned the promise of God by citing His work in Creation and in the destruction of the world in the flood: “By the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5-6). If God had the power to destroy all life on earth (Genesis 7:21-23), He also has the power to destroy the earth itself: “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Since God has the power to destroy the world – which would include us (Matthew 10:28) – we should fear Him. God is able to “shake not only the earth, but also the heaven” (Hebrews 12:26). Therefore, we must “offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe [godly fear, KJV]; for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29). This godly fear is necessarily tied to obedience (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Acts 10:34-35).

Naturally, there should be fellowship between those of like mind. John wrote, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). The psalmist said, “May those who fear You see me and be glad” (Psalm 119:74). We are to hold our brethren in high regard, just as Paul and the brethren in Thessalonica did for each other: “You always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you” (1 Thessalonians 3:6). David also said, “May those who fear You turn to me” (Psalm 119:79). We should turn to one another, coming together that we might work in a common cause. [The Greek word for “fellowship” is koinonia and means joint participation.] We have the opportunity to have this sort of fellowship with one another in the church – through “the proper working of each individual part” (Ephesians 4:16).

God Provides Affliction and Comfort

I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant” (Psalm 119:75-76).

In the previous lesson, we considered the idea of affliction and the discipline that comes from God’s word (Psalm 119:67, 71). He afflicts us “in faithfulness” because His “judgments are righteous” (Psalm 119:75). The psalmist said elsewhere, “The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9). His word is always right (Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 30:5). Therefore, His affliction is always for our good (Psalm 119:71).

In addition to affliction, God also provides comfort (Psalm 119:76). As we seek to find comfort, it must be “according to [God’s] word.” It is of no help to us to listen to those who cry “peace” when “there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Many prefer the words of the false teacher over the words of the truth teacher (2 Timothy 4:3-5), but such words are of no lasting value. The only true comfort and peace comes from the promises and assurances we can find in God’s word.

We Must Maintain a Clean Conscience

May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; but I shall meditate on Your precepts” (Psalm 119:78).

May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed” (Psalm 119:80).

Despite the opposition from the arrogant, David said, “I shall meditate on Your precepts” (Psalm 119:78). Our service to God must be more than just “going through the motions.” God’s word must be in our hearts and on our minds (Hebrews 8:10; Colossians 3:16). Paul told Timothy, “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). We must serve God sincerely from the heart.

David then said, “May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed” (Psalm 119:80). The Lord demands sincerity, not hypocrisy. This was why the scribes and Pharisees were condemned: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28).

We may appear righteous to others, but God knows our hearts. He is our Creator – nothing is hidden from Him. On this point, the Hebrew writer said, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13). We should live in such a way that we have nothing to be ashamed of when He returns: “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:28-29). We must maintain a clean conscience by following God’s word and practicing righteousness.

Conclusion

God is our Creator. He gave us physical life and offers us spiritual life as well. But we must keep His word and do so from the heart – not just an outward appearance of righteousness. As we do this, we need to work together with those of like mind and continually work to conform our lives to His will.


This entire series is available in paperback. Click on the link for more information – The Psalm of the Word: A Study of Psalm 119.


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