Life-Everlasting.net

Psalm 119:89 to 112

Forrever O’LORD and the need to meditate on the Bible

LAMED. 89 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven

90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.

91 They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants.

92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then 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 wait for me to destroy me, But I will consider Your testimonies.

96 I have seen the consummation of all perfection, But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

MEM. 97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.

101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.

102 I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself 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.

NUN. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

106 I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments.

107 I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

108 Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your judgments.

109 My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law. 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.

111 Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart.

112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end.

Psalm 119 is a long Psalm, therefore today’s message is only a part thereof for reasons related more to time restraint than that of an unwillingness to unwrap this Psalm in its entirety. To begin, the author is unknown. Some say Ezra the priest, others David (though this may be because of his largesse in the Psalms as a writer), however, from our view point, the 21 st century reader it matters not.

Of more interest is the pattern of the Psalm, and those in the know, including Gaebelein (Loizeaux Brothers, 1985) states that this is the most perfect Psalm in the whole collection, primarily because of the structure. Briefly, the Psalm has 22 sections, each section having eight verses, each verse commencing with the Hebrew letter of that section as each section ‘represents’ a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The three sections I have just read are Lamed, Mem and Nun. Gaebelein, in continuing his commentary notes the meaning of each letter: Lamed – The Word eternal, Mem – Wisdom through the Word, and Nun – The Word the lamp and the light for all occasions. Therefore, each alphabetical letter and each stanza offers insight into the Word of God, as is the pattern of the Psalm as whole. Through this next few minutes we will see how this is so.

The first two words of Lamed make one of the most intriguing statements one can get from the Bible: "Forever, O LORD". When we think forever, we think into the future as far as we can think, which for a three year old child, may be a whole five minutes – as in, ‘its taking forever to get there’, and ‘are we there yet?’ So to this group of individuals, forever, is not so forever. Even the way an adult thinks of the word, it is generally a finite expression, though, at times we have more insight than a child, and forever may be a period of even ten minutes, if waiting for a telephone call to be connected, or 30 seconds if waiting for a traffic light and we are late for an appointment. What I am getting at here, is the vast difference in God’s timing, and ours. Forever for God is a very long time. In fact, God’s forever goes in two directions, backwards in time, and forwards in time, both to the non-existent points of infinite. Forever, the Hebrew word in this context being ‘owlam’ is rooted in the word "to veil or conceal from sight’ an apt root for a word we find impossible to truly comprehend.

I may sound as though I am labouring the point, and yes, I am taking ‘forever’ to get to the point! But, this is the bottom line – God’s Word is FOREVER "settled in heaven". How well can we trust in something. We need to look at the foundations, where it is (built for example), on what is it built, who did the work, with what is the foundation made from? And so forth.

God’s Word was settled in heaven forever! Settled – not travelled to, or made in, but settled. Another interesting word to use as a link to that of forever. Stationed (to use another word that the Hebrew points to) forever in heaven is God’s Word. It came from nowhere else, it goes no-where else. The Word is with God at all times. No better foundation for sure. As Matthew 24:35 states: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away."

The Psalmist then links directly into this thought: that for the impossible measure of infinite (in either direction you wish to look) God’s Word is, as is God’s faithfulness [which] endures to all generations;[that is, God’s faithfulness to us, His people] The Psalmist then moves the thought from us the people, to the earth on which we live in the next line You established the earth, and it abides. All is founded by God, in a timeframe that is beyond us, in a place that is His – heaven, and the place in which we live, and as this is all under God’s sovereignty – God’s Word, His people, and our current place, what have we to worry about? As McDonald and Farstad remind us: " Heaven and earth obey His laws. Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night are all God’s servants. And all are regulated and sustained by His word of power "[1].

More importantly, what can be more perfect than God’s infinite Word. Established forever, it can guide us, and provide for us the foundation for life, that we can walk. As we move on, we read: They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants. Here we see the word ‘they’ being used to cover all that is in the preceding lines – Gods Word, His faithfulness, the place He has placed us, all there because of the ordinances of God.

In the next verses, the Psalmist links the faithfulness, and strength, of God’s Word to that of our own strength, or more to the point, our own afflictions. 92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction. 93 I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.

As we see in another too familiar Psalm: "He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (23:3,4) or in the New Testament, the place we often go to see instruction for today’s Christian, the same thought is echoed: 2 Cor 8:1 "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality." Here we see the word Grace being used that has helped the people overcome affliction with joy, affliction is seen in Psalm 23 as the "valley of the shadow of death", and Gods rod and staff comforting the author, all echoing the same truth: God’s law, rod, staff, and grace stops us perishing in our own sin, in a variety of different ways as we will see. The writer of Psalm 119 can state with confidence that if they live by God’s precepts, life will be given.

We live in a world of great liberality (as the world would like to term it) the self centred generation where it is all about me. We had the Attorney General the other night bemoaning the need to put laws into place prohibiting association with illegal motor cycle gang members as the gangs as such are connected to crime, violence and drugs. On the other hand the moral code that once was the foundation for Western Civilisation is disappearing, sexual immorality abounds, loving one’s neighbour stops at the boundary fence and enter the court room, and covetousness is clearly defined by the burden of debt of the ordinary family. Where are God’s precepts in all of this? What example do we give of obeying, or never forgetting God’s precepts?

We talk of not being caught up in legalism, yet we seem to forget this very important point, set in stone, quite literally, through the precepts of God we have life. All the rest is but straw and wood, to be burned, to leave nothing but ashes to present to God when we see Him face to face.

The final three verses of Lamed provide the clincher in the lesson for all who reads it: 94 I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your precepts. 95 The wicked wait for me to destroy me, But I will consider Your testimonies. 96 I have seen the consummation of all perfection, But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

If we seek, consider and follow the precepts of God, it will not matter who waits to destroy us. We are God’s and He will save us, though not always our idea of saving. No matter what – as Paul wrote to Timothy: 2Tim 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory". Here we see Paul, and this Psalm’s author both indicating that life has current and present dangers, life is not a smooth pathway. Both know that God provides all things to perfection, his commandments cover everything. Our world and puny existence will always fall short. Both recognise that the pathway is full of enemies, both literal – physical, and spiritual. God does not give the believer a bed of roses as it were, as Peter reminds us: you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7). Through salvation, for us, through the perfect sacrifice of the Lamb, who knew no sin, who lived the law, precepts, and commandments of God perfectly, we can cry out to the Lord at any time, and with absolute conviction state "I am Yours".

But to cry out as such, do we not have the same responsibility to the law as Christ did? It should remain our precept. It is the building blocks of living a holy, humble life, diligent to God’s Word, with Christ as the cornerstone and headstone as we read: " The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone" (1 Peter 2:7) and "Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it! (Zechariah 4:6-7). The old and new bind together. The point is this – the law that was not undone by God in the New Testament (for example stoning of people) still requires our attention. It will enable us to live the two commandments clearly stated by Christ in Matthew 22: 37 Jesus said to him, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 "This is the first and great commandment. 39 "And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

I am not stating here that we gain salvation, or become right with God through the Law. We become right with God through salvation, given freely to us through the Grace of God, by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as the perfect sacrifice. Once saved, we ought to live according to God’s Word, which includes the law, though in a completely different context, a context where faith is the way to God, not the law. This is clearly stated in Galatians 3 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." The law is no longer the tutor as in verse 24 "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ", rather we see in verse 25 "But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" rather, The Holy Spirit now is our tutor, and the law becomes an indicator of God’s requirement of a holy life. The Old Testament gives us an object lesson in how living by the law fails, but now living by faith will enable us to be right with God, and as such, obeying God’s precepts are part of life, because of our relationship with God. The closer we get to God, the more we will find ourselves closer to life that fits within the boundaries of the Law. We won’t covert, our mouths will be truthful, we will love the Lord our God. We will take this Psalm’s term "law" and expand it to "God’s Word" and as such read it within the new context of the Christian’s relationship with God.

If we take this to heart (God’s Word taught to us through the Holy Spirit) we can then can read in first person the lines that begin the next section with full understanding of how they apply to the Christian, the person saved through the blood of the Lamb, made right with God through His sacrifice –

Mem. 97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts.

101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.

102 I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself 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.

This brings me to the next point of this small summary, that of meditation. To sit cross legged and hum is not the type of meditation outlined here. True meditation for the Christian may be to sit cross legged, or on a comfortable chair, even facing an empty chair as one of our brother’s does, and contemplate God’s Word, in all its depth and glory that is revealed to us as the Holy Spirit gives us. It is time where you, God and His Word come together for a time of personal communion.

What though is the point of meditation? Meditation on God’s law, commandments, testimonies, and, precepts will bring wisdom. Verses 97 and 98 tells us - Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. God will allow us greater wisdom than those that are out to get us, people against God. I do not see this as being an insurance policy against enemies we make when doing our own thing. The whole context is the enemies that one will meet when ones banner is out there for all to read – we are a child of God.

The next verse we read indicates that we can have more understanding than teachers - I have more understanding than all my teachers. We can see a New Testament verse that also extols learning in 2 Timothy 3: "14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Here Paul shares with Timothy the need for wisdom. Note that there is nothing in it for you (or me) as a personal gain as such, rather, to enable the Christian to understand, hold and teach the correct doctrine, to enable the believer to offer correction to another believer when they fall by the wayside, and finally, to enable the Christian to instruct a learner in the ways of God, or as put here, the right way of God.

We can go even further than being wiser than our teacher (Note though, that all wisdom is tempered with humbleness and holiness) ! Look at verse 100 - I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts. What a claim! And how does the author claim this? Because of verse 97- Oh, how I love Your law! [keep your precepts] It is my meditation all the day. Verse 97 is a verse that needs to be on every fridge, every computer, where we can see it to remind us, to get wisdom, knowledge, to know more than the ancients, is through the art of meditation. This is not a new concept, even if it was written by Ezra. For many hundreds of years earlier we note that the same instruction is provided to Joshua:

Joshua 1:8 tells us "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it."

It is not just an Old Testament concept for Israelites! Matthew 6:5-6 tells us how one should pray (wait one moment and I will connect prayer with meditation), and it is in the form of meditation: "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place"

We know Jesus got up early in the morning to pray. The Bible does not explain anymore than this. But each of these examples gives us the basic idea of how one would meditate. For meditation and prayer are both communication with God, and as such they should be interchangeable words, two halves of the whole concept. Paul states in Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy––meditate on these things." Paul writes to Timothy: 1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all." And you may ask, what are these things Paul is mentioning to Timothy? We can go back to Timothy, though we have just had a list as seen in Philippians: 13 "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership." Meditation therefore will bring about for Timothy progress in his reading, exhortation, and doctrine. And how can this come about if meditation is not in its form, prayer.

So, to conclude this section, I believe that one must assume then that meditation includes reading God’s Word, prayer, and doctrinal study. Interestingly, the New Testament uses only the word meditate, meditation is a Psalmic expression, an action built into daily practices of writers of the Psalms. Meditate in the New Testament is used as an instructive word.

This leads us to our final part of this short exercise, that of the section Nun.

NUN. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

106 I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments.

107 I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

108 Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your judgments.

109 My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law. 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.

111 Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart.

112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end.

We have seen that God’s Word is forever, eternal, and a foundation that is not eclipsed by any other. We see that we too need to build upon the foundation of God’s Word, and the only way to do this is through constant meditation. Meditation brings wisdom, but as with Solomon, wisdom may not always lead to walking with God. Therefore, wisdom, is intricately fixed to meditation on God’s word, lose the latter and you will loose the former.

The reason therefore, I have chosen to end with this stanza, though it is not the end of the Psalm, nor as such a conclusion for the Psalm, it does offer a very practical application for the Word and its wisdom in our lives. In this passage, the ‘Word’ is being seen as the ‘Light’ or as we read – lamp for the feet. The word ‘light’ has many New Testament references, as well as Old Testament references. In our passage we note that the Word as light will guide our pathway. This is reiterated many many times within the New Testament. We see aspects of the Light mentioned in the gospels, the Acts, the great doctrinal books such as Romans, and throughout the various epistles. Revelations ends with an amazing description of the new heavens and new earth needing no other light but God, which we will come to in a minute.

The eight verses representing Nun bounce between man’s failings and God’s faithfulness, each part having a link between us and God through his Word, aspects such as the Word reviving us, giving us the means of offering to the Lord, as protection from enemies, taking away the influence of the circumstances through upholding God’s sovereignty not matter what, all the way to the heritage we hold, and as the catalyst for ensuring our attitude is right with God to the very end. The Light in this section has some parallels we can easily associate with in the New Testament:

Verse 105 Your word is … a light to my path can be matched with, for example: John 12:35 Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going."

Verse 106, I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments - these words to me connect and assist in understanding the bottom line of John 3: 20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." God’s judgement is not nearly so frightening when deeds are being done by the light of God’s Word. We accept righteous judgement when we are walking with God, however, if not walking with God, the Word offers a different context, that of exposing evil deeds.

As a final example of applying this Psalm to our current lives (amongst so many examples we could delve into), what better than looking at the heritage of verse 111 we have the privilege of tasting through the writing of John, writings the Psalmist did not have to meditate on:

Revelations 22: 1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

These verses open to us the real meaning of the last line within this section: verse 112 that says I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, to the very end. In the description in Revelation we see that we are back to forever, as we began, and as God reigns, His Word, His statutes will be performed forever and forever. God’s Word, our foundation without flaw, our guide, and lamp, on which we must meditate day and night in order to truly do His will, His way, despite out circumstances.

This brings me to the conclusion, and I offer five character traits that we can take away with us: prayerfulness and meditation, with all holiness, humbleness and diligence. And as the standard: God’s Word – this is where we find our measuring points, our examples, and our guidance. I leave you in Hebrews to continue your meditation, and through the work of Christ in you, to come to a greater understanding of these passages in Psalm 119:

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," {#De 32:35} says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." {#De 32:36} 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith;"

[1] MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997, c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

Stephen B Simon (May 2008 CCC)
\Psalms\Psalm 119 89 to 112 (SBS)