Saturday, December 12, 2009

Obey God's Word

"Psalm 119 paints a comprehensive portrait of the value of God's Word."  (Explore the Bible - Adult Learner Guide, Fall 2009, page 107)  This psalm is also an alphabetical or acrostic Psalms which is is divided into twenty-two parts which correspond to the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet with eight verses in each part.

In the first sixteen verses, the Aleph and Beth sections, the psalmist uses different words to refer the Scriptures which reveals much about the purpose of the Bible:
  • law (verse 1) - the Hebrew word is Torah from a word meaning “to teach”.  The Bible "guides, directs, and instructs in the way of righteousness" (Adam Clarke's Commentary)
  • decrees or testimonies as in the King James Version (verse 2) - The Bible is truthful and good.
  • His ways (verses 3, 14 and 15) - the Hebrew word, derek, figuratively means a course of life or mode of action, and by following the Bible we will know how to live and act each day.
  • precepts (verses 4 and 15) - a mandate (of God; plural only, collectively for the Law).  The Bible is authoritative.
  • statutes (verses 5, 8, 12 and 16) - positive laws that "mark or describe the line of conduct we are to pursue and order or ordain what we are to observe" (Adam Clarke's Commentary)
  • commands (verses 6 and 10) - laws that both forbid and enjoin.  "They show us what we should do, and what we should leave undone, and exact our obedience" (Adam Clarke's Commentary)
  • judgments (verses 7 and 13) - "rules of conduct formed by God’s judicial decision" (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary
  • Word (verses 9, 11 and 16) - "In his revelation God speaks to man; shows him, in a clear, concise, intelligible, and rational way, his interest, his duty, his privileges; and, in a word, the reasonable service that he requires of him." (Adam Clarke's Commentary)
Also, in these verses the psalmist describes how we should respond to God's Word:
  • to walk or follow (verses 1 and 3) - to act or do as God's Word says.
  • to keep (verses 2, 4, 5 and 9) - to protect or to take heed.  "God has never given a commandment, the observance of which he knew to be impossible. And to whatsoever he has commanded he requires obedience." (Adam Clarke's Commentary)
  • to seek Him (verses 2 and 10) - to inquire as to what is God's will.  We must do this wholeheartedly.
  • to respect (verses 6) - look at intently or consider what God's Word states.
  • to be directed (verse 5)- to have our lives fixed on God's Will or to apply the Scriptures to our lives.
  • to learn or to be taught (verses 7, 8 and 12) - to have received instruction from God's Word.
  • to keep pure (verse 9) - to be translucent or innocent.  We will have nothing to hide, if we are abiding by the Scriptures because we will be receiving instructions so we can make wise decisions.
  • to treasure (verse 11) - The Word of God is precious and vital to our spiritual growth, and we must keep it close to us in our hearts and minds by memorizing, meditating and applying Scripture.  "If God's word be only in his Bible, and not also in his heart, he may soon and easily be surprised into his besetting sin." (Adam Clarke's Commentary)
  • to proclaim (verse 13) - tell others what is in God's Word.  To speak the truth of God's Word, it must be a part of us, that is deeply embedded in our hearts and minds.
  • to rejoice (verse 7, 12 and 14) - to be thankful for God's Word and for what we learn from the Scriptures, grace to apply what we learn and the benefits we reap as a result of our obedience.
  • to mediate upon (verse 15) - to think about what the Scripture mean and how to apply it in our daily lives, to talk to others about the Scripture and what we have learned, and to pray the Scripture asking God to reveal more insight to us and the wisdom and strength to live out His Word.  Meditation requires us "to focus our mental, emotional and physical energy on the teachings of the Scriptures for the sake of our spiritual growth." (Explore the Bible - Adult Learner Guide, Fall 2009, page 113)
  • to delight in (verse 16) - "The word is very emphatical: eshtaasha, I will skip about and jump for joy." (Adam Clarke's Commentary) We are to enjoy studying God's Word.  If an activity brings you joy, then it is very likely that you will make it a priority in your life.
  • to remember (verse 16) - to retain in our memory and/or to keep our attention.  We must not forget what God has done, His many promises and what He has commanded us to do.
Also, in these verse the positive consequences of obeying the Scriptures are listed:
  • we will be happy. (verses 1 and 2)  This happiness is not like the fickle, temporary happiness of the world, but a state of joy that endures regardless of our circumstances and our emotions.
  • we will be blameless (verse 1) that is we will  have integrity.
  • we will do no iniquity (verse 3, 10, 11), that is we will "avoid all idolatry, injustice, and wrong" (Adam Clarke's Commentary).  "We must also put God's Word to work in our lives, making it a vital guide for everything we do." (Life Application Bible Notes)
  • we will not be ashamed or disappointed. (verse 6) because we are living in obedience to God.  We only feel shame when we are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit for our disobedience.
  • we will praise him. (verses 7, 12 and 14) - Praising God will be the natural consequence of growing in Christ through Bible study.  The more we know about Christ, the closer we walk with Him, our joy will increase, and as our joy multiplies, we will be unable to contain it, but will have to proclaim it through praise.
  • our hearts will be right with God (verse 7) - our motives will be pure and our actions and words will be in line with His Will and His Word. 
The first sixteen verses of Psalm 119 also contains requests that the psalmist made of God:
  • "never abandon me" (verse 8) - The psalmist recognizes that without the grace of God he will not be able to be obedient to God.  We not only need the Bible, our instructions for living, but we need the Holy Spirit to guide, teach and rebuke us so we will stay on the right path.
  • "don't let me wander from Your commands" (verse 10) - The psalmist asserts his desire to obey God, but once again acknowledges that he cannot do it alone.  Wandering from God and His Word will only bring us heartache, but thankfully, the Holy Spirit is always working within us prompting us to return to God when we stray.
"This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object; our good is its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is given you in life and will be opened in the judgment and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents." ~Author Unknown

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