Friday, July 25, 2008

Psalm 119: Our Complete Delight in God's Glorious Word

In my last post I mentioned taking a closer look at all of Psalm 119. Well, by the providence of God, Psalm 119 was part of my daily reading today as I am going through the Old Testament. As I was reading I was deeply moved by the psalmist's repeated connection between God's Word (also written as His commandments, law, precepts, testimonies, and promise) and our delight in it (using terms such as love, joy, rejoice, and of course delight)! What I have decided to do is post every verse that somehow links the two just to show you the power of God's Word and the beautiful effect it has on individuals who commit themselves to it. This is good for my personal meditation as well as a challenge to us all to seek our delight in God's Word:
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes
I will not forget your word.
-vv. 14-16

Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.
-v. 24

Give me understanding, that I may keep
your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it

-vv. 34-35

I will also speak of your testimonies
before kings and shall not be put to shame,
for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward your
commandments, which I love

and I will meditate on your statutes.
-vv. 46-48

The previous verses are particularly challenging, connecting our love and delight in God's commandments with our speaking to people about them, not even being afraid to tell kings (i.e. powerful people) about God and His Word. This is proclamation. This is preaching. This is a labor of love. Thus in our delight in Him we should also delight in sharing God's Word with others.
The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

-vv. 69-70, 72

Let your mercy come to me, that I may
for your law is my delight
-v. 77

If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
-v. 92

Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
-v. 97

Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
-v. 111

Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
-v. 127

Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.

Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
-vv. 141 & 143

I found this verse to be insightful, especially for those of us who think that because we are spending time in the Word, in prayer, and feel "connected" with Christ, that somehow our lives are going to be easy on this earth. There is truth in the fact that we can be joyful in Christ, yet still be in anguish and troubled. Christ endured the Cross, despising the shame, for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2). Paul also wrote that he and his fellow laborers for the gospel because of their circumstances were treated as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10). He also wrote that he had unceasing anguish in his heart because of his fellow Israelites who had yet to believe in Jesus (see Rom. 9:1-3). And here, in Psalm 119, the psalmist who had been writing about delighting in God's law also reveals some of his own sorrows as he writes, "My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law" (v. 136). On the outside, our circumstances may look troubling--tough family life, physical ailments, no financial stability--but nothing can rob us of God and His Word, for His Word is forever fixed in the heavens (Psalm 119:89), nor should anything be able to rob us of our joy in Him! This is in part why Paul wrote:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Don't let your circumstances steal away the delight you can find in God's Word.
Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.
-v. 159

Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
I rejoice at your word

like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.
Great peace have those who love your law;

nothing can make them stumble.
-vv. 161-163, 165

And the final one, nearing the end of the Psalm:
I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
-v. 174

So many words can be, and probably have been, written as meditations on these words lifted up to the God of all creation, but I only wrote a few of my own. I hope that if you have gotten this far, you will take the time to read them here and also in your own Bible if you have one. If only this day, I pray that you will delight in God's Word and see how much His love for you and your love for Him are so magnificently tied to it. Then reflect on how this culminates in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14), who made His dwelling among us so that through Him--His life, His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, and His eternal reign as King of kings and Lord of lords--we are made alive, raised up, and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:4-6). How gracious He is to us to give us a glimpse of who He is and to allow us to live in Him.

By His Grace.

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