The Psalm of the Word (Part 12): Stability

The Psalm of the Word

Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven.

Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.

They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.

If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.

I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.

I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.

The wicked wait for me to destroy me;
I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.

I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

(Psalm 119:89-96)

The world around us is constantly changing. Yet God’s word is “firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89, ESV). This allows us to have stability in our lives if we follow God’s word.

God’s Word is Forever Settled

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

The laws of man are always changing. In the United States, the sale and production of alcoholic beverages was made illegal in 1920 (Prohibition). In 1933, Prohibition was repealed. Just recently in June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex “marriage” was legal nationwide. Prior to 2004, when Massachusetts legalized it, no state in the union recognized it. The laws of man, even over something as fundamental as marriage, do not stand forever.

However, God’s law does not change. This is why Paul told the churches of Galatia, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8-9). When confronting Saul about his sin in failing to destroy all of the Amalekites, Samuel said of God, “The Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind” (1 Samuel 15:29). The Lord is not affected by polls, elections, or special interest groups. His word is “settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89) and it “endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).

Someone might wonder: What about the old law? After all, the old law was “taken…out of the way” and “nailed…to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). Does this mean that God changed His mind – and so changed His law – as human rulers often do? Not at all. Even when the old law was given, it looked forward to the coming of Christ and the new law. The old law was a “tutor to lead us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24). The regulations in it were “imposed until a time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10). It was even prophesied that there would be a new covenant and new law that would be coming (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12). The commandments found in the old law were “holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12), and they accomplished what God intended (Isaiah 55:11). But now that the new law has come, we are not looking for anything else to come later. While the old law contained prophecies of the new (Jeremiah 31:31-34), the New Testament contains no such prophecies. The will of God has now been “once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). It is “settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89) and will not be amended or replaced.

Creation Proves the Power and Faithfulness of God

Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances, for all things are Your servants” (Psalm 119:90-91).

The opening words of Scripture contain this fundamental fact: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Jesus was instrumental in this. John wrote, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). This physical world continues “according to [His] ordinances” (Psalm 119:91). Paul said of Christ, “All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

Immediately after the flood, God promised that His providential care would continue perpetually: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). His care “throughout all generations” (Psalm 119:90) is a “witness” to Him to “all the nations” (Acts 14:16-17).

If the earth can stand as long as it has, we can trust God’s word to stand. The psalmist said that heaven and earth “stand this day according to [God’s] ordinances” (Psalm 119:91). This is important to remember because it also pertains to our spiritual well-being. Just as physical birth continues through God’s providence (Genesis 4:1; 1 Timothy 2:15), spiritual rebirth continues through His word. Peter wrote, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). God continues to give us spiritual life if we will trust and obey Him. His ongoing care in matters of this life are enough to prove to us that we can safely trust in Him.

Forsaking God’s Word Leads to Destruction

If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92).

In a world filled with turmoil, there are disastrous effects for us if we forsake God’s word. If we do not delight in God’s law, we will perish.

First of all, we need God’s word to protect us from the destruction that comes from following our own way. The wise man wrote, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Second, we need God’s word to protect us from the forces of evil that are against us. Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:12-13). The armor he described is made up of the word of God, what is contained in it, and what is derived from it (Ephesians 6:14-17).

Finally, if we drift away from God’s word, we will not escape the penalty that we deserve. The Hebrew writer warned, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3). The penalty we deserve for our sin is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). If we forsake God’s word, which is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16), we will get exactly what we deserve.

We Enjoy Stability As We Follow God’s Word

I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have revived me. I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts. The wicked wait for me to destroy me; I shall diligently consider Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:93-95).

Paul warned about being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). In order to prevent this, we go to God’s word: “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects” (Ephesians 4:15). Knowledge leads to maturity (Ephesians 4:13); so for us today, the Lord has set up the church to help us to know the word (Ephesians 4:11-12, 16).

Notice again what David said. How can we enjoy stability despite the evil that exists around us?

  • Never forget God’s word (Psalm 119:93).
  • Continue to seek God’s word (Psalm 119:94).
  • Diligently consider His testimonies (Psalm 119:95).

We have a firm foundation by following the Lord’s teachings. Jesus told the parable of two men who each built houses – one built on the rock, the other built on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). When the storms came, only one house stood – the one built on the rock. Jesus said that the one who built on the rock represented “everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them” (Matthew 7:24). The one who built on the sand represented “everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them” (Matthew 7:26). The difference came down to whether one followed the Lord’s word or not. We have a firm foundation only when we follow the word of God. Therefore, we must “stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13) and “hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth, or by letter” from the Lord’s inspired writers (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

God’s Word Is Infinitely Better Than the Word of Man

I have seen a limit to all perfection; Your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Psalm 119:96).

Finally, David contrasted the limit to man’s knowledge with the unlimited knowledge of God. Man is on a never-ending quest for knowledge. The wise man said, “And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with” (Ecclesiastes 1:13). He said later, “The writing of many books is endless” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Some like to “spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). Sadly, there are many who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

By God’s design, there is a limit to what man can know. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2). There are some things that we simply cannot know. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). We cannot know any more than what God allows us to know through natural revelation and verbal inspiration.

However, there is no limit with God. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33). The psalmist wrote, “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). His ways are infinitely higher than ours. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Paul reminded the brethren in Corinth: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).

More than just God’s word enduring – “forever… settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89) – it is forever right. David said later in this psalm, “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting” (Psalm 119:160).

Conclusion

With all of the turmoil that exists in the world, God’s word provides us with a solid foundation. His word is “forever…settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). We simply need to trust in God and believe and obey His word.


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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