Psalm 119: 97-104

97. Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99. I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100. I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101. I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102. I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103. How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104. Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

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

Do I meditate on God’s Word the whole day? No. Far from it. I’d much rather listen to music or other things that wouldn’t make me think as much as God’s Word. At the root, this is pride. I rather do what pleases me than what pleases God. I don’t love Him as I should.

98. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99. I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.

God’s Word does not make me wise by sitting on the shelf or traveling in my bag. The only way for me to glean truth and wisdom from it is to consciously pore over it–to diligently read and study it. And then, as I go about my day, I must meditate on what I’ve read. Lord, teach me to meditate!

100. I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.

I feel so immature and foolish at times. While the way others perceive me is no valid reason to pursue maturity, this fear of man drives me to consider how I may grow. And as I ponder, I realize that the reason to pursue maturity and, yes, any improvement, is to better glorify my Lord. The supreme value of my God is not made visible to others by my immaturity and foolishness.

101. I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.

It is not sufficient for me to refrain from certain non-edifying activities. It is vital that I replace them with beneficial activity.

I must replace idleness/laziness with work on to-do list items.

I must replace mere pleasureable music with music that promotes complex thought.

I must replace music with audio Scripture.

I must replace sleeping in on weekdays with wake-up activities to get me awake to focus on my Lord.

I must replace random FB surfing with replying to personal e-mails and messages.

I must replace pleasure food and drink with nourishing foods and water.

I must replace random surfing of blogs or Youtube with reading edifying books.

102. I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.

God, in all persons of the Trinity, is a reliable Teacher. What He builds into His students will not easily be destroyed. Books and preachers/teachers must never be viewed as a substitute for the Holy Spirit’s instruction as I read the Word of God. By His enabling alone am I able to walk the proper path.

103. How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Lord, teach me to delight in Your Word more than anything else. Steal my affection from all things that enthrall me and dedicate it to You alone. This work is impossible for me to do. But You can do it. Indeed, You are an expert at the changing of hearts.

104. Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Lord, Make me so in tune with Your ways as I study Your Word that I may recognize falsehood and evil for what they are. Make me wise. Cause me to glorify You.

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Psalm 119: 89-96

89. Forever, O Lord, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
90. Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
91. By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.
92. If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93. I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
94. I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
95. The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.
96. I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

89. Forever, O Lord, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.

There is nothing beside God’s Word (except for God Himself) that is sure and lasting. Social networks are not eternal. Fame is not eternal. Fun memories are not eternal. When I stand before God, what will matter? Only how I lived before Him during my life. Nothing will matter except obedience (and disobedience). I must live in constant light of eternity. How I use my time now will matter.

Sometimes I don’t see the point in my college studies. It seems like I’m just working for a piece of paper which won’t mean much and I may never really need it. But, then I remember that God put me in this situation. He obviously planned for me to do college and do it this way. He even planned my frustration. But why?

To teach me obedience and diligence, and endurance, among other things. I am grateful for my college education because the things God is teaching me through it do matter.

90. Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.

There will be no generation on this earth whose days are not dictated by God on His throne. No one will see the day when God is not in control and directing all that happens. How comforting this is! Worry about policies and economies can be dispelled by this truth. I am free to work in the harvest fields to further the Kingdom of God without fear or worry that I am neglecting some other cause that needs my help.

91. By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.

God created this earth, and all the earthquakes happening this year are no cause for fear. No inch of earth moves without His finger pushing it here or there. Every single quake originates from His hand. And all His reasons are good. We must not doubt this.

As long as God keeps the universe intact, it will be intact. We do not trust a madman who destroys at will, but a sovereign King Who controls all things for good.

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

If I do not keep my mind thinking rightly according to God’s Word, I will despair. There is no other sure foundation for hope. Christians should be the most joyful and hopeful people because they have true joy and hope in God and His Word. How it must hurt my Lord each time I neglect to think Biblically or fret about anything. He is trustworthy and will never change.

93. I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.

I must never lose my confidence in God’s Word, but cling to it diligently. Did it not bring me to life? Will it not guide me in growth? Is it not powerful enough to sanctify me more and more? Never lose confidence in the power of God’s Word.

94. I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.

One evidence of belonging to Christ is a devotion to study and hunger for God’s Word. Assurance of salvation, though not based on works, is in part due to visible workings of God in the heart.

95. The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.

Believers will have troubles on earth. Never are we promised smooth sailing on the waters of life. There will always be some sin to fight. There will always be those who hate us. But there will always be a refuge in our Lord. One has only to consider accounts of persecution to realize that while God does not always grant physical deliverance, He always gives strength to endure for His glory.

Instead of becoming absorbed with worry or trying to take control of the situation, the psalmist turns his attention to the only sure foundation — God’s Word. (Distinguishing between God and His Word and saying one is more sure than the other is, in my opinion, not supported by Scripture. One cannot separate God Himself from what He says any more than one can say a person and his speech stem from different roots because out of the heart the mouth speaks.)

96. I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

One might be able to exhaust any resource or subject, but God’s Word can never be exhausted because God Himself can never be exhausted. How does this truth help me in my daily life?

I can rest secure in the arms of God, knowing that all my cares and worries are taken care of.

Psalm 119:81-88

81. My soul longs for your salvation;
I hope in your word.
82. My eyes long for your promise;
I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83. For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84. How long must your servant endure?
When will you judge those who persecute me?
85. The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;
they do not live according to your law.
86. All your commandments are sure;
they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
87. They have almost made an end of me on earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88. In your steadfast love give me life,
that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

81. I must be consumed with God’s promises for deliverance. God promised to not test His own beyond what they are able to endure. Currently, He has brought so many responsibilities [opportunities] into my life that I feel the need for deliverance from stress. What I really need, however, is a frame of mind to respond to stressful situations with calmness and faith in God’s strength working through me. The tasks He has put in front of me are my special assignments of service to Him. The fact that He gave them to me means that I can do them. Deliverance for me comes in the guise of thinking rightly about my circumstances.

82. The eyes, though they are small, are a wide gateway to the soul. They take in much, and what they take in is the material that our minds have to mull over. Our bodies will not be healthy if all we consume is not healthful. Similarly, it is foolish to assume that our thoughts will be pure if we fill our mind with images that promote the contrary. A sure hope is necessary when circumstances threaten despair. But, hope is not found in those circumstances. We must gaze intently upon the hope of our Lord. We must take in His splendor. We must diligently gaze upon His Word. Therein is our hope explained and therein is all we need to live well.

Set a strong guard about thy outward senses. These are Satan’s landing-place, especially the eye and ear. — William Gurnall

83. Though the psalmist was worn out by hardship, he could confidently state that he had not forgotten God’s Word. This is likely an understatement. I expect that he had actually been tending to his soul with God’s Word, not merely remembering that God’s Word existed. I assume that his remembering was diligent. Compare your diligence in studying God’s Word to your most diligent other endeavor. Are you really diligent in God’s Word?

84. My asking questions of God should not be in a demanding way. My attitude, even when perplexed and disturbed, should be one of joyful and humble submission to my Lord Who does all things well.

God will judge. On this earth, it may appear that He is more eager to judge His own than the lost. The wicked seem to have few or no troubles while the justified are overwhelmed by them. Is this unfair of God?

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. — Romans 8:25-39

Tribulation is a great aid to the Christian, as one of the things it does is demonstrate that he/she is held securely by God. Also, tribulation is a tool of sanctification in our lives.

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. — John 16:32-33

Tribulation shows that God’s promises always come to pass. It seems to me that one of the reasons Jesus promised tribulation is that His people might have peace. How does such a promise bring peace? A promise is only as sure as the person making it. No one or thing is more sure than God, Who existed from eternity past. His promises are sure. On one hand He promises tribulation. On the other, preservation. We are held by the most sure hands, and can rest peacefully therein.

Back to judgment–one day all will be made right. One day there will be no more injustice. The King of all things will do this, as no earthly judge is able to. So do not take revenge, but wait on God and learn to trust Him completely.

85. Here, the psalmist states what has been done to him. But, he does not express anger or desire for personally taking revenge. He expresses concern for God’s glory which the proud disregard by disobeying God’s law. My concern must be not for my comfort but for God’s glory.

86. The psalmist paints a distinction between God’s Word and the wicked’s ways. God’s way is Truth, and the way of sinners is falsehood. There is no bigger difference. So the psalmist turns to the only source of aid–the Lord. Do I turn to the Lord for help or do I prove myself an idolator by looking elsewhere?

87. What reason do I have to complain about life? The psalmist almost lost his life. Why do I complain about what makes my life interesting?

I must dig into God’s Word in the easy times if I am ever going to do so in the hard times.

88. True life is in God’s mercy. I have been given all I need for life and godliness in Jesus. However, I must daily nourish myself in His Word. Though I have been given eternal life by God’s initiative alone, the present day experience of life involves my participation. God’s Word is like manna that I must daily partake of for nourishment. Once-in-a-while-time-with-God is not enough to sustain me. I must diligently nourish my soul in His living Word that I may walk righteously and godly in this world.

An Absolutely Amazing Analogy

In Old Testament times, covenants were made in this way:
The two parties would cut an animal down the middle and lay the two halves down with a walkway between them.
The two parties would then walk between the two halves of the animal–showing their commitment and consent to be treated as the animal was should they break their part of the covenant.
When God made a covenant with Abraham, He passed through the animals by Himself. There was no way Abraham could keep his part of the covenant. He would have failed in no time.
When God passed through the animals by Himself, He took both the responsibility and the penalty should the covenant not be kept. When God saves a person, He takes full responsibility for him or her. He justifies and sanctifies. Nothing is left up to us to fulfill. How comforting this is!
It’s terrible that we’re so used to weak and pitiful depictions of God. God is not weak and pitiful. He is powerful and uses His power without consulting humans. He is One worth trusting. His love for His people lasts.

Note: Here is only my feeble attempt at retelling what I heard during a sermon. I have not extensively researched covenants myself.

God's love: incarnation, initiation, propitiation

Notes from last Sunday’s sermon:

Have you merely gone from being a full-time pagan to a part-time dabbler in sin?

Your sin is so great that it took nothing less than the death of God’s Son to pay for it.

If you think that God is a loving grandfather and doesn’t really punish sin, here are some passages for you to read:
Revelation 1:13-17 . Hebrews 12:18-24 . Hebrews 12:25-29 . Isaiah 6:3-7 . Ezekiel 1:26-2:1 . Genesis 15:9-17

1) God manifested His love in Christ’s incarnation1 John 4:9
God’s love is not abstract. It is personal–displayed in a person.

The cross displays the power to bring dead people to life. Each Christian is evidence of this.

2) God manifested His love by initiation. – 1 John 4:10a
We were not the initiators.

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of thee.

Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea.
‘Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
as thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
For thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
always thou lovedst me.

– anonymous

3) God manifested His love in substitutionary propitiation. – 1 John 4:10b
substitutionary propitiation = satisfactory payment
The offended paid the full penalty for the criminal.

Psalm 119:73-80

73. Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75. I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76. Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78. Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79. Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80. May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!

73. God created me. He formed my mind. Only that of His Truth which He allows me to understand will I be able to comprehend. I have no ability outside of His enabling. I cannot wrap my mind around anything about Him and His Word except that which He communicates to me in a way that my frail heart can grasp. Rather than be discouraged by myself, I must fly to Jesus, seeking Him in His Word to make the words speak to me and to affect my understanding for His glory.

74. Hope belongs to believers. Without Jesus, you can have your best life now and put off unpleasantries till later. Face up to God’s wrath against you now, and you may enjoy His pleasure eternally. Only children of God have hope of good things while they are afflicted here on earth.

For the non-christian, this life is the best things will get.

For the Christian, this life is the worst things will get.

No light matter is here connoted.

75. God’s ways are all good. Even His chastening is good. God will be faithful to afflict me with my sin until He calls me home. What a comfort!

76. As long as I am chastised by God for my sin and continually brought back to Him from my straying ways, I can rest in knowing that I belong to Him. Falling from the hands of my God would be the greatest tragedy. Therefore, knowing that I am held securely by Him is the greatest joy.

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6

77. God’s grace in my life is my life. I have no life outside of His life. What He has given me and continually gives me is true life, not some semblance of a happy existence.

78. I must not try to right all wrongs. First, I would never be able to do so. Second, God alone is Judge. He will right all wrongs in His perfect timing, so I can rest in His goodness.

Here, is an example of what to do when we are falsely accused. Rather than mull over our hurt and ways of revenge, we should meditate on God’s Word. It alone is Truth. It is bad to encounter falsehood, but it is a hundred times worse to stoop into falsehood ourselves. Stooping to false thoughts shows a deeper false belief that our thoughts, words, and actions will not be judged.

To war against falsehood in our own lives, we must give ourselves to reading and meditating on what is true—God’s Word.

79. Are we so filled with God’s Word that we have a ready answer for all who question us? Are we able to confidently say that we can communicate God’s Word to others?

Ministry is not the goal. Knowing God is the goal.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:15 (emphasis mine)

Nevertheless, we should all be equipped to articulate our hope and minister to others in due time.

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:13-17

We cannot articulate our hope unless we know what it is and know it well. We cannot have any counsel to minister to others if we have not plunged the depths of God’s counsel ourselves.

80. The psalmist did not here state that he desired his appearance or the way others perceived him to be blameless. He asked for his heart to be blameless. You cannot get any deeper than that. The heart in Scripture denotes the whole inner person, including the mind and attitudes. The heart, too, is the seat of emotion. Rather than wanting to promote an upright image, the psalmist desired Truth in the inmost parts. He wanted to be spotlessly clean on the inside. Why? If we Christians already have the promise of eternal salvation, why expend much energy on purifying ourselves? Why give ourselves to housekeeping of our earthly temples? (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Scripture states that each person will receive what is due him at the final judgment.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

I want to be worthy of receiving a large reward, don’t you? Now what should be my reason for desiring a large reward? I cannot think of a better reason than that I may be able to give a large reward back to my King. Whatever I may receive will rightly be cast back at my Savior’s feet. How big of a reward do I want to cast back? How much glory do I want to ascribe to His Name?

Now, here is a reason to pursue uprightness with a passion—to glorify my God as much as I can as long as He gives me breath.

Psalm 119:65-72

65. You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
66. Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
67. Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
68. You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
69. The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
70. their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
71. It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
72. The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

65. God deals well with His children. All His ways are good and good for us. His goodness was, is, and will be. He will never stop being good and doing good. His Word is good and He is good. This does not only imply sweetness, but Truth. There is nothing that is more true and right than Him and His Word. And this is the One we can call “Master.”

66. Because God is the only good One, He is the best teacher of good. All the excellent books of solid Biblical teaching cannot substitute for God’s Word’s interpretation of itself. Unlike books written by men, the Bible stands on it’s own as a complete curriculum on God, His relationship to us, and our responsibility toward Him. It is worthy of diligent all-consuming study.

67. This is an amazing paradox. When I was comfortable with my sin, I strayed far from the path. But, now that I am bothered by sin, I keep to the path. When it went “well” with me, I erred greatly. When I became afflicted, I pursued rightness. This is not to say that God’s people don’t sin anymore. This is an illustration of life before and after conversion. Surely, it is good that God calls His people not to a path of ease but to one that is often ridden with stones.

68. God is completely good. Diligently remind yourself of this—one among most basic truths.

69. Though I am attacked by unbelievers, I must not allow any part of my heart to become anxious. I must diligently keep my whole heart focused on Truth and God’s Word—my greatest and unfailing treasure. I must not become distracted by lies.

70. Though their hearts are cold, and they don’t care about me, I must not be offended because I do not live for their approval anyway. I must continually delight in God and His Word. Therein lies true joy.

71. Affliction is good for the soul.

We can stand affliction better than we can prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God. -D.L. Moody

72. God’s Word is better for me than any earthly riches. I must remember this when I am choosing activities and investments (particularly of time).