Beginning with Psalm 113, you have what are known as the hallel psalms, meaning the psalms of praise. Hallel meaning praise in Hebrew, and hallelujah, the hallelujah praise to Yahweh. So these are the psalms of praise, 113 through 118. And they are the songs that were traditionally sung at their holidays or at the feast days. The Feast of Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Pentecost, there were traditional psalms that were sung for each of these feasts. And so as we get into these psalms, 113 through 118, these are no doubt psalms that Jesus sang with His disciples. And it’s only a shame that cassettes were invented so late. I think it would be absolutely classic to be able to hear Jesus singing with His disciples these hallel songs.
Now we do read on the night that Jesus was betrayed, when He celebrated the Passover supper with the disciples, it said, “And after they had sung a psalm, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30). The psalm that they sang was probably Psalm 118, because that is the traditional psalm that is sung at the conclusion of the Passover feast. That, of course, is very interesting because Psalm 118 is a prophetic psalm of Jesus Christ that was to have its fulfillment that very day, or actually did have its fulfillment that week, just before this took place. And thus, as Jesus was talking to them just before the Passover of the one-hundred-and-eighteenth psalm, it was one that was very uppermost in their mind, because this is one that was always sung at the Passover feast. So it is interesting as you read it to imagine and picture Jesus singing this particular psalm with His disciples.
Tonight we begin with Psalm 117, which is the shortest of all the psalms. It is a psalm in which there is celebrated the universal reign of Jesus Christ, who shall come to reign over all the earth.
O Praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people (117:1).
So this is the calling forth of universal praise unto Him. Let everyone; it’s not just for the nation Israel now, it’s for the world, for all people, and the reason for our praise.
For his merciful kindness is great towards us (117:2):
Oh, how thankful I am for the kindness with which the Lord deals with me when I am so often wrong. The merciful kindness with which He deals with me. How often I find myself praising the Lord for His merciful kindness, for He has not rewarded us according to our iniquities. But, “As high as the heaven is above the earth, so high is His mercy over them that reverence Him” (Psalm 103:11). Oh, the merciful kindness with which God deals with me in my weaknesses, in my flaws, in my faults. “His merciful kindness is great towards us.”
and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD (117:2).
So the hallel psalm, beautiful little psalm calling forth for universal praise unto Him.
As we get into Psalm 118, the last of the hallel psalms.
O give thanks unto the LORD (118:1);
Again, the exhortation, praise and thanks, “O give thanks unto the Lord.”
for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever (118:1).
Again, the cause of thanksgiving is the goodness of God and the mercy of God. How often in the psalms we are called upon to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His mercy.
Let Israel now say, his mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say, let his mercy endureth for ever. Let them now that fear the LORD say, his mercy endureth for ever. Now I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what man can do unto me? (118:2-6)
Paul the apostle, in Romans the eighth chapter, takes up much the same thing as he declares, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who has justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yea rather, is risen again, and he’s even at the right hand of the Father, making intercession” (Romans 8:33-34). Paul exclaims, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Now growing up as a child and growing up in church, somehow I did not always receive the concept that God was for me. I felt that God was against me many times. That He was just sort of waiting for me to make a mistake so He could punish me. That He was ready to cancel me out of the kingdom. In fact, I felt that I was cancelled out of the kingdom all the time. And I could hardly wait for Sunday night to come around so I could go forward and get saved again and get back into the kingdom, because I really wanted to be a Christian. I really didn’t want to go to hell. And in my heart I really loved the Lord and my spirit indeed was willing to serve the Lord, but my flesh was weak. And somehow a concept developed in my mind that God was against me.
Oh, what Romans 8 did for my own personal Christian experience is hard to describe. When I discovered that God wasn’t against me but that God was for me. And that God wasn’t laying anything to my charge. God wasn’t charging my account with all of my failures and all of my weaknesses and failings. That God had stamped irrevocably on my account, “Justified!” He wasn’t finding fault, nor was Jesus Christ condemning me. Far be it from condemning me, He was interceding for me.
Now if I were good and perfect, He wouldn’t have to intercede. I could stand before God in my own perfection. And I could say, “Here I am, Lord, perfect little me.” The fact that He is interceding takes into account my weaknesses and my failures. The necessity for intercession. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yea, rather, is risen again and even at the right hand of the Father making intercession. What shall we say to these things? Oh, if God be for us, who can be against us?”
So here the psalmist, “The Lord is on my side.” How comforting that is. How reassuring that is. God is for me. God is for my part. God is on my side. Therefore, I will not fear what man shall do.
Now, man condemns me. Man finds fault with me. I often find fault with myself and condemn myself. But I need not fear what man will do because the Lord is on my side.
The LORD taketh the part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me (118:7).
In other words, God is for me. He takes the part with those that help me. He becomes a part of those that are helping me. And therefore, we shall surely have victory over the enemy.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man (118:8).
Now as I read that, I immediately, in my heart that strikes a responsive kind of an accord. I say, “Yeah, that’s sure true.” Man has let me down so many times. The Lord has never let me down. Yes, that’s so true. It’s better to put my trust in the Lord than my confidence in man. And yet when I’m in trouble, I’m always looking for the help of man, the arm of flesh. And yet I realize that it’s better to put my trust in the Lord than my confidence in man. How many times have I been discouraged and defeated though I had the promises of God. And then some man comes along, he says, “Oh, I’ll take care of that for you.” Oh, all right, praise the Lord. Glory to God! You know, it’s all taken care of.” And I’ve put my confidence now in the word of some man that he’s going to take care of it.
There are certain people who have a penchant for making great promises that they are really not capable of fulfilling. Now there are some who are just pathological liars and they’ll make all kinds of promises and they, you know, they didn’t even know they made the promise. I mean, it’s just quirk of their own nature. But there are other people who have sort of a quirk that they do make promises that when they make them, they really intend to fulfill them. But they just don’t have the capacity to fulfill them. We’ve all met these kind of people, too. And it’s amazing how many people and how many times we put our confidence in man and have been let down.
Better to put your trust in the LORD than your confidence in princes. Now all nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I’ll destroy them (118:9-10).
And then he just sort of amplifies on that.
They compassed me about; yes, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. They compassed me about like bees (118:11-12);
Swarm of bees.
they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation (118:12-14).
I love that verse. “The LORD is my strength.” I’ve learned to rely upon His strength. It doesn’t say the Lord will give me strength. It says, “The Lord is my strength.” He’s my song. How many times I find myself whistling or humming, or even singing when I’m not even aware of it. And when I become aware of it, I realize it’s a song of worship or praise unto the Lord. And it’s just thrilling to realize that it’s just so woven into the warp and the woof of my own being that it’s just a part of even the subconscious of my own life. The Lord is my song. “I have no song to sing but that of Christ my King. To Him my praise I’ll bring forevermore. I have no other…” Let’s see. “I have no delight in other songs, my melody of love to Him belongs.” And how glorious when we sing our praises unto Him. He’s become my salvation.
The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous (118:15):
Or in the tents of the righteous. So, you don’t live in tents anymore. So, in the houses of the righteous.
There should be the voice of rejoicing in your home. I think that music has a tremendous influence and part in our lives. And I do feel that it is important that we surround ourselves in a spiritual environment. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. If you sow to the flesh, you’re going to reap of the flesh; if you sow to the Spirit, you’ll reap of the Spirit” (Galatians 6:7-8). I think that it’s valuable to have good music around the house. If you have a record player, I think that you should have the praise albums and just good, Christ-centered music. Keep it in the atmosphere of your home, because it’s planting into your spirit constantly. And what you sow, you’re going to reap. If you’re constantly listening to, “My baby left me, and is gone,” and all this kind of stuff of the flesh, then you’re going to be reaping that kind of stuff. But if we're sowing to the Spirit, it just has, it’s just planting it into our hearts and into our lives. It’s important that we do it.
The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly (118:16).
The right hand of the Lord…
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death (118:17-18).
We are told in the Scriptures we’re “not to despise the chastening of the Lord, for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” (Proverbs 3:11-12). Now there is a vast difference between correction and punishment. God has ordained punishment upon the wicked, but He has ordained correction for His children. The correction comes in the form of chastisement. “It was good for me that I was afflicted” (Psalm 119:71), we’ll read in the next psalm, 119. Good that God corrected me. It’s a sign that I am His child. It’s a sign that He does care about me. The chastening of the Lord. It is not penal. It is for the purpose of correction.
Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation (118:19-21).
Now I do not know but what the prophetic part of this psalm may begin with the nineteenth verse, “Open to me the gates of righteousness. I will go into them, and will praise the Lord.” For there is in Scripture other prophecies that relate to the east gate and the entering in of the Lord into the east gate. When Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He no doubt entered from the east gate, because He came down from the descent of the Mount of Olives and went into the temple precincts. And the gate that went from the Mount of Olives to the temple mount was the east gate. It was the one that entered right into the temple mount. So no doubt the gate through which Jesus entered when He went in on this triumphant entry. And in the forty-third chapter of Ezekiel, he said, “I was taken by the Spirit to the gate that is toward the east and it was shut. No people were going in or out by it.” For the Lord, He went in and out by this gate and therefore it is shut and actually it won’t be open until the Messiah comes again, and He will enter in through the east gate and He will eat bread with His people there in the porch of that gate.
So the reference here to the gate could be the reference to the triumphant entry by which He came in to the temple mount through the east gate. There is another Psalm, twenty-seven, about the opening of the gates and the King of glory shall come in. “Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8). And the psalm of opening the gates in Psalm 27 which, again, seems to be sort of a prophetic. It’s not twenty-seven either, but seems to be a prophetic type of a psalm. I’ll take just a moment and see if I can find which psalm that is for you—twenty-four? Yes, it surely is.
“Lift up your head, O ye gates, and be ye lifted, ye everlasting doors. The King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates. Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors. The King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” So the gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter, no doubt a reference to the east gate.
Now when we come again with Jesus Christ in His coming in power and glory, according to the Scripture He will set His foot on that day on the Mount of Olives. And the Mount of Olives will split with a big valley that will be formed by the splitting of the Mount of Olives. And Jesus will come on in through the east gate into the city or into the city of Jerusalem, the old city of Jerusalem, the temple mount. And we will be coming with Him when He comes. So the gate will be open and the righteous shall enter in. So inasmuch as we go then into,
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner (118:22).
This is, of course, a prophecy of the rejection of Jesus Christ by Israel, the builders; the stone that was refused by the builders. Christ came according to the promise of God to the nation Israel to be the Messiah, not to be the Messiah, as the Messiah. And they refused Him. But the same has become the head of the corner, or the chief cornerstone. The chief cornerstone now upon which the church is built. “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
This Scripture is referred to in the New Testament. It is referred to by Jesus Himself the day after He was rejected by the rulers. In Matthew 21 Jesus spake to them a parable about the householder who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, build a winepress or pit for the winepress in it. Turned it over to the servants as he went to a far country. And how that when he sought to gather the fruit, sent servants back to receive the fruit, how that they beat some, how they mistreated others, how they killed some. And finally, he said, “I will send my only son. Surely they will respect him.” But when they saw his son, they said, “Oh, here’s the heir. Let’s kill him and then the vineyard will be ours.” And Jesus said, “What will that lord do when he comes?” And the Pharisees answered, He will utterly destroy those wretches. And Jesus said, “That is true. Have you never read, ‘The stone which was set at nought by the builders, the same has become the headstone of the corner or the chief cornerstone.’” And He said, “Whosoever falls upon this stone will be broken, but upon whomsoever this stone shall fall shall be crushed into powder.”
So Jesus made reference to this psalm, making the application to Himself; making the application to the rejection of Him by the Jewish leaders. And yet the vineyard, He said, He will take away. He’ll destroy these people, set them aside and He will give the vineyard unto others. And so to nations, He said, who will bring forth fruit. So the glorious Gospel and the church coming from actually among the Gentile nations. The Lord has created the church for the purpose that we might bring forth fruit unto Him.
So then Peter makes reference to it in the fourth chapter of the book of Acts when he was called before the council for the healing of the lame man and asked by what name he did it, he said, “By the name of Jesus does this man stand here before you whole. And He is the stone which was set of nought by you builders. But the same has become the chief cornerstone. Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” And then Peter in his first epistle, chapter 2 makes the final reference to this stone that was set of nought by the builders.
Now there is an interesting story that is told of the building of Solomon’s temple. It is declared that all of the stones for Solomon’s temple were cut and quarried and carved away from the temple site. But each stone was perfectly hewn out and marked for the place in which it went into the wall. Now Solomon’s quarries were up on the sort of northwest side of the city of Jerusalem near what is presently the Herod’s Gate. And you can go into those quarries today and see where these stones, these massive stones were cut out for Solomon’s temple. Also you can see the quarry, the area of the quarry for the temple that is now an Arab bus station and you can see where the stone was quarried out there.
Now according to the story, a stone was sent for the temple that was not marked and the builders didn’t have any idea where it went. They concluded that it was just sent by mistake from the quarry. You see, the temple was put together without the sound of a hammer or a trowel. Every stone was cut away from the site and brought. And each stone just was fit in perfectly without even mortar. Just interlocking stones without the use of mortar. And so this one stone, they didn’t know where it went; it didn’t seem to fall in the sequence of their building. They cast it aside in the bushes and a few years later as they were completing the temple, they sent the message to the quarry, “We’re all set for dedication. Where is the chief cornerstone?” And they sent back the message, “We’ve already sent it a long time ago. What did you do with it?” And the messages went back and forth from the quarry to the builders and finally, someone found over in the bushes, overgrown with shrubs the chief cornerstone which had been rejected by the builders but now was brought out and put in its place, the chief cornerstone of the building. That’s the story that is told of the building of Solomon’s temple. Whether or not that is so is not really a provable thing. But at any rate, here is the prophecy, and whether or not this related to the incident then, it does relate to Jesus Christ.
This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes (118:23).
Jesus quoted this to the Pharisees.
Now referring to the day of His triumphant entry.
This is the day that the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (118:24).
And as He began His descent towards Jerusalem, the multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise the Lord saying, “Hosanna,” or
Save now, O LORD. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD (118:25-26).
So this whole portion has to do with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, plus the stone being rejected as He came into Jerusalem was rejected by the Jews, the official coming of the Messiah, the official rejection of the Messiah here prophesied in Psalm 118.
God is the LORD, which hath showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar (118:27).
And Jesus who came to be the Messiah became the sacrifice for us.
Thou art my God, I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good (118:28-29):
Now this being the traditional psalm that they sang at the Passover feast, it is interesting that as Jesus sang it with His disciples, they were actually already singing a psalm that had had its fulfillment a few days earlier. For a few days earlier they were crying, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” A few days earlier, the stone was rejected by the builders. And so they were singing of that the night before His crucifixion. “Bind the sacrifice with cords to the altar.” Very interesting indeed.
Now as we get to Psalm 119, it is an extremely difficult psalm for exposition, because each section seems to be more or less independent of in itself, and each verse, many times, almost independent within itself.
There are many psalms that are called acrostic psalms because the first letter of each line is a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And so it’s sort of like a crossword puzzle in a sense, wherein writing it, each line that they would write would begin with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So the first line would begin with Aleph, the second line would begin with Beth. The third line with Gimel, and Daleth, and so forth through their alphabet. Usually those psalms had twenty-two verses in them. Many of them had eleven verses, but they had twenty-two lines. So when we divided them we divided, or when men divided them they divided them into verses. But there are twenty-two lines. And so each succeeding line and some with each succeeding verse is successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Now this every eight verses, all of the lines in the first eight verses begin with the Hebrew letter Aleph or A. In the next eight verses, all of the lines begin with the Hebrew letter, Beth, B. All of the verses in the next psalm begin with Gimel, and so on through the whole Hebrew alphabet is here in this psalm, eight verses devoted to each letter. Each verse of the eight beginning with that letter.
Now the Hebrew children in learning their alphabet were required to memorize this one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm. It would probably be a little easier for them to memorize it because of the fact of it being an acrostic. Because of the A’s and the B’s and the C’s. And it would be extremely difficult for us to memorize it because we would not have the same ability to relate it to the A and the B and the C as they did. But it is, of course, the longest what they call chapter in the Bible. It really…psalms really aren’t chapters. They are each one psalms. So with that as a background, let’s jump in to Psalm 119.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD (119:1).
Now, in these psalms, it is a psalm that is dedicated to God’s Word. And in each verse, with the exception of two, the verse declares something about the Word of God. And so all the way through, you’ll find, “Thy law,” “Thy statutes,” “Thy judgments,” “Thy words,” “Thy truth,” “Thy ways,” all of them making reference unto God’s Word, with the exception of just two of these verses.
So in understanding this psalm, of course, you need to understand, or you need to underline where the Word of God is referred to in each of the passages. And, of course, in the first verse, “Who walk in the law of the Lord.” “Undefiled, who walk in the law of the LORD.”
Blessed are they which keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: forsake me not utterly (119:2-8).
So the law, the testimonies, the ways, the precepts, the statutes, the commandments, the judgments, and statutes are mentioned in the first eight verses.
Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? (119:9)
Good question. How can a young man keep clean? How can he cleanse his way?
by taking heed thereto according to thy word (119:9).
Jesus said, “Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). We will find another psalm down in the one hundred nineteenth, it said, “Thy word, O Lord, have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” (119:11). The Word of God is a power in your life, God’s power in your life against sin. God has purposed that you hide His Word away in your heart. It is a power to keep you clean. It is the power against temptation. If someone comes and is complaining because they’re constantly stumbling and falling, it’s because they’re not really into the Word sufficiently. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By giving heed, taking heed according to Thy Word.”
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness and on the high mountain and at the temple pinnacle, in each case Jesus answered the temptation of Satan with, “It is written.” He used the Word of God to answer every temptation that the enemy threw in His path. We need to have the Word of God in our hearts that we might be able to withstand every temptation that Satan throws in our path. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Thy Word.”
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments (119:10).
The Lord said in the day that you seek Me with your whole heart, in that day I will be found of you. There are many people who have a half-hearted seeking after God. “In the day that you seek Me with your whole heart,” God said. And so the psalmist, “With my whole heart I’ve sought Thee.”
Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee (119:11).
So going back with verse 9, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? Thy Word have I hid in my heart.”
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes (119:12).
Now we’ve been dealing a lot with the blessed man, and now, “Blessed art Thou, O LORD.”
With my lips I have declared all of the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches (119:13-14).
There’s an interesting verse. How valuable do you consider the Word of God in your life? Here he said, “Hey, I count it as much as…I rejoice in it as much as I do in riches.”
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word (119:15-16).
Now we enter into the third section, the Gimel.
Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (119:17-18).
O God, open my eyes. Open my heart to Your Word. Open my eyes that I might see and understand Your truth.
This is, I think, a prayer that we need to always pray before we begin reading the Scriptures, because, “The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14). So if I am going to have any understanding at all, it is important that God open my eyes that I might be able to see the truth. That I might be able to understand. That I might come to that spiritual dimension where I can really understand.
A lot of people read the Bible and say, “I don’t, you know. I read it but I don’t get anything out of it. Or I tried to read it, but man, it just didn’t make sense to me.” Well, yes, that is quite true, and it is quite logically true because the natural mind of man cannot understand. You have to have that work of the Spirit in opening your eyes. And so the prayer, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.”
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me. My soul breaks forth for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times. But thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments. Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies. Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors (119:19-24).
How many times I look to the Word of God for counseling. I look to the Word of God for guidance. I want God to guide my life. I turn to the Word and the Word becomes my counselor.
Moving into the next section, the Daleth.
My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. I have declared my ways, and you heard me: teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of your precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen me with thy word (119:25-28).
Oh, what strength the Word of God is to our lives. When we’re just about ready to give in and roll over and play dead, and the Word comes and just is such strength to us.
Remove me from the way of lying: grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame. I will run the way of the commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart (119:29-32).
Now the interesting thing about this is that each of these is talking about the Word of God. Each of them, remember, is beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet. And really, he is not repeating himself. Now it would be an interesting venture on your part to try to write eight verses about the Word of God all beginning with A, and not repeating yourself. And then write eight more beginning with the letter B, about different aspects of the Word of God and not repeat yourself. And going through the alphabet, you’ll find that this is indeed quite a remarkable feat of this psalm. As all of these things are written about the Word of God, really no repetitions, saying different things about God’s Word and going through the whole alphabet.
In the next section, he speaks of the statutes.
Teach me, LORD, the way of your statutes; I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, I will keep thy law; I shall observe it with a whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein I delight. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me according to thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy reverence. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness (119:33-40).
And then in the next section,
Thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word (119:41).
And so the mercy of God and God’s salvation—the knowledge of these things come to us through the Word of God. “How can they hear, how can they believe in whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14) So the necessity of the Word, for me to know the mercy of God and the salvation that God has provided.
So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproaches me: for I trust in thy word (119:42).
And so within the Word, the answer to those that bring reproach.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before the kings, and not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes (119:43-48).
Thy commandments, Thy statutes, Thy testimonies, Thy precepts, Thy Word, Thy judgments. All of these in the particular letter in the Hebrew alphabet here.
Now the next section. The Word.
Remember the word unto your servant. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me (119:49, 50).
So God’s Word, the comfort to me when I am afflicted.
The proud had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy precepts (119:51-56).
I kept Your law. I kept Your precepts.
And the next section, Thy words, Thy Word, Thy testimonies, Thy commandments, Thy law, Thy righteous judgments, Thy precepts, and Thy statutes. All of these are spoken of.
In the next section, again, Thy Word, Thy commandment. And in verse 67,
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word (119:67).
The Bible says, “Is any man afflicted? Let him pray. Is there any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of the Lord will save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he has committed any sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:13-15). But notice a distinction is made between the affliction and sicknesses.
It would seem that afflictions are something that are placed upon us by God and they come as a chastisement, a punishment. Well, not a correctional exigency of God in my life. The afflictions. Now if I’m afflicted, I’m not told to call for the elders of the church. I’m to work that out between myself and God. It’s something that God has allowed in order that He might teach me. God allows afflictions, and when they come, then I am to pray and work that out with God.
If I’m sick, that’s something different. Then I’m to call for the elders of the church and they can pray over me in the name of the Lord, anointing me with oil and the prayer of faith will save the sick. The Lord will raise him up. But there’s a distinction made between the afflictions and sickness in the New Testament. “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” So the purpose of the affliction is to get him back on the path. He had gone astray, but now have I kept Thy Word.
Thou art good, you do good: teach me your statutes. The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep your precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease: but I delight in thy law. Now it is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes (119:68-71).
Now going back, “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” “It’s good for me that I was afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
For the law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold or silver (119:72).
The Word of God is more valuable to me than all the wealth of the world. “What should it profit a man, if he would gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) The value of God’s Word in our lives is worth more to me than all of the gold or silver.
Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me (119:73-75).
“I know, Lord, that Your judgments are right and that the afflictions that I have were just the faithfulness of God.” God is so faithful and good to me. I have people that come in and they’re into all kinds of trouble because they were messing around. “Everybody’s doing it.” Yeah? But you can’t. Because you see, inasmuch as you are a child of God, He’s not going to let you get away with it. They may all be able to cheat and get by with it, but you can’t. You’re going to get caught. God’s not going to let you get by with it because you’re His child. God loves you too much to let you get by with those things. And so, “God, You are faithful. When you afflicted me, Lord, for Your judgments are right. What You’ve done, God, is right. In faithfulness You’ve afflicted me.”
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies. Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. My eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes (119:76-83).
And now one of those two verses in which there is no mention to the Word.
How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment upon them that persecute me? The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law. All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help me. Thou had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not your precepts. Quicken me after thy loving-kindness; so shall I keep thy testimony the testimony of thy mouth (119:84-88).
Then verse 89:
For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven (119:89).
You have nothing more permanent than the Word of God. This building is not permanent at all. The sidewalks and the asphalt out there are not permanent at all. This earth is not permanent. The sun is not permanent. Someday it will probably go up into a supernova and burn out. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). One thing that God has established forever is His Word. “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven.”
That is why it is so wrong for us to talk about the Word of God applying to a particular culture. “Oh, they wrote according to the understanding of their own culture of those times.” And that is why it is so wrong for us to challenge the Word of God or seek to change the Word of God because God has forever settled His Word in heaven. It’s something that…God said it; that settles it. There’s no disputing of it. There’s no arguing of it. There’s no challenging of it. It’s the Word of God. It’s forever settled in heaven.
It doesn’t change with the mores of a society. God’s commandments and laws don’t change because the mores of our society are so changed. The truth of God is absolute. The law of God is absolute. It is not relative to a situation. It is not relative to a society. It is not relative to the mores of a society. God has established the absolute law. His Word is forever settled in heaven. If you find yourself arguing with the Word, you’re wrong. God’s Word is a settled issue.
Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abides. They continue this day according to thine ordinances (119:90-91):
That is, the earth and all are continuing just according to the ordinances that God has established.
for all are thy servants (119:91).
The whole universe serves Him.
Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in my affliction (119:92).
I would have been wiped out unless Your law was there.
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them you have made me alive. I am yours, save me; for I have sought your precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider your testimonies. I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad. [How I love,] O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day (119:93-97).
That’s beautiful, isn’t it? “Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But whose delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:1-2). “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation.” “And in His law does he meditate both day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
Thou through thy commandments have made me wiser than mine enemies: for my enemies are ever with me (119:98).
You’ll never escape enemies as long as you live on this earth.
I have more understanding than all of my teachers: for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way (119:99-104).
Now here the psalmist is declaring, “I have more understanding than my teachers. I’m wiser than the ancients.” Why? Because of the Word of God. To understand God’s Word is to have true knowledge. The unchanging truth of God. What wisdom. What understanding.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, it is a light unto my path (119:105).
It’s the guide for my life.
I have sworn, and I will perform it, I will keep your righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: make me alive, O LORD, according unto thy word. Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offering of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law. The wicked have laid a snare for me: I erred not from thy precepts. Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always, even unto the end. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word. Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God (119:106-115).
That’s a good Scripture for you to have on hand whenever you get an invitation to some of the parties and some of the events that are happening around. Just remember Psalm 119:115, “Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.”
Uphold me according to thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto your statutes continually. For thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood. You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments. I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to my oppressors. Be surety for thy servant for good: and let not the proud oppress me. Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. Deal with thy servant according to thy mercy, teach me your statutes. I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies. It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law (119:116-126).
“Time, O God, for You to work.” I look at the world today and I see how they have made void the law of God. I see how in our nation they’ve made void the law of God. It’s time for God to work. And God is going to work. And that very shortly.
Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way (119:127-128).
I esteem that every precept of God is right.
Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words give light; it gives understanding to the simple (119:129-130).
The entrance of God’s Word brings light to those that are in darkness. Understanding to those simple understanding.
I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments (119:131).
“I long for Your commandments, God.” David said, “As the deer thirsteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). Just panting after the Lord.
Look thou unto me upon me, and be merciful unto me, as you used to do unto those that love your name (119:132).
Another one that doesn’t mention the Word of God.
Order my steps in thy word: let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the oppression of man: so I will keep thy precepts. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; teach me thy statutes. Rivers of water run down my eyes, because they keep not thy law (119:133-136).
The grief that he felt because of the disobedience to God’s law by the people.
Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are your judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful. My zeal has consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten your words. Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loves it. I am small and despised: yet do I not forget your precepts. Thy righteousness is everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes. I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies. I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Hear my voice according to thy loving-kindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment. They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law. Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever (119:137-152).
So they are forever established and they have been forever founded. God’s Word is…it’s forever. It has always and shall always be.
Consider my affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law. Plead my cause, deliver me: quicken me according to thy word. Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes. Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments. Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies. I beheld the transgressors, I was grieved; because they kept not thy word. Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy loving-kindness. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart stands in awe of thy word. I rejoice at thy word, as one that finds great spoil (119:153-162).
Oh the rejoicing, have you ever just rejoiced over the Word of God? I get so excited as I read the Word of God. Sometimes I come across a promise or passage of Scripture and the Holy Spirit will just open it up to me and I just rejoice. I just have neat shouting fits of joy. When God just seems to open up the Word to my heart. Just, it’s like you found treasure or something. Just the glorious rejoicing and it’s just something that’s always thrilling to me when the Spirit of God just opens up a Scripture to my heart. This gives me a new insight, new understanding of its depth and all.
I hate and abhor lying: but thy law I love. Seven times a day do I praise thee, because of your righteous judgments. Great peace have they which love thy law (119:163-165):
Read that one. Underline that one. “Great peace have they who love thy law.”
and nothing shall offend them. LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. My soul hath kept thy testimonies; I love them exceedingly. I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me the understanding according to thy word. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all of thy commandments are righteous. Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts. I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep: seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments (119:165-176).
He surely had a lot to say about the Word of God.
There’s an interesting story about the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm that actually happened in England. There was a bishop that was about to be put to death because his patron had come into disfavor with the government and had been executed, and the bishop was waiting at the gallows. And according to the British law, he had the right to request that a psalm be sung. And so the wise bishop requested the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm. And because it was the law of the land, they started singing the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm before the gallows, before he was hanged on the gallows, and about halfway through the psalm, his pardon came. And thus, he was pardoned and missed his appointment on the gallows. Had he chosen Psalm 117, he’d have been wiped out. That actually happened. Spurgeon, in his Treasury of the Psalms speaks about that at the beginning of the one-hundred-and-nineteenth psalm. He names the bishop and so forth whose life was actually spared by his choice of this psalm to be sung prior to his execution on the gallows. Now may the Lord be with you and keep you in His love and grace, watching over you, guiding you, protecting you through this week. May you be enriched in Christ Jesus in all things. And may your understanding of God’s love be increased day by day as you begin to fathom the depth, experience the height of God’s love and grace and mercies towards you through Jesus our Lord.