The Man who loved the Word (Part 2)
In the previous message we considered the first part of the longest Psalm in the Bible and I mentioned that the first 8 verses were very important for the Christian as these formed the basis or foundation for the Christian life and the Way. These fundamental principles are that we are to be blameless, we are to keep Jesus’ commands, we are to do nothing wrong, we are to be completely obedient, we have to lead a steady consistent life and not to be ashamed to let others know we belong to the Lord. Lastly we saw that praising and learning go hand and hand and also that when we trust ourselves in the Lord’s hand He will never forsake us. Now we come to the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, namely, Beth and pronounced as Beth (Beit in Hebrew). I might add, for interest sake, that each of the 22 sections in this Psalm consists of eight verse each, no doubt to fit into the melody.
Another interesting thing to observe in this Psalm is that all through to the end, each verse has two complementary thoughts or parts to it, yet they form one entity. Verse 9 is a very good example of this. Study each verse and see if you can recognize what I have just told you.
9. THE QUESTION AND THE ANSWER (verse 9)
After going through the first 8 verses and what they stand for, the writer suddenly asks the question. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” The Psalmist is most probable a man getting on in years, and has had a lot of experience of what happens in the world. He most probably is looking back over his own youth and wondering just how HE managed to keep the law of Moses. He remembers the temptations that were put in front of him and he most probably burnt his fingers a few times. Getting burnt if a sure way of getting to know that the fire is hot! If we DO burn our fingers, especially after being told not to touch the fire, then we have to sit with a sore and bandaged finger until it heals. There is no other way out of it.
There are many young people today asking that same old question, “How can THEY keep themselves pure” with all the peer pressure at school, as well as the enticement of the world at large. It is not an easy matter at all! Fortunately the Psalmist, through experience, has found the answer to the problem. He says that the only way to keep yourself pure is live by a norm or a set of high-quality standards. Those standards, he found, were only to be had in the set of instructions given by God Himself. Although these standards are very high, they are not unattainable. They can be gained by everyone on channel if we set our minds and our strength in doing them; they will not come on their own. Last week I was looking through a Weekly UK Engineering Magazine called “The Engineer” of 8/6/1989 I came across this small insert and I quote:
STANDARDS WILL NOT BE LOWERED. Admission standards for Engineering courses are not to be lowered despite the shortage of suitable qualified school leavers applying to take engineering courses, according to a guide to University admission issued by the UK’s University chiefs. Unquote.
There are many in the world who will not lower THEIR standards; why should God do so? To conform to God’s Standards will only make better people of us, if nothing else.
10. THE SEARCHER OF THE TRUTH (verse 10)
“I seek you with all my heart.” The Psalmist is doing something active here, he is SEEKING God with all his heart. Many times God has said that if we seek Him with all our heart He will be found of us. Sometimes God keeps Himself to the side for a while just to see if we are genuine in our searching. The expression “With all your heart” is one that suggests that a desire, deep down inside you, is urging you on. The heart is a description of an inner longing, or love, to be with someone, or to do something for that loved one. Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and if we are longing after the truth then there is only one place to look for it, and that is with Jesus. The reason for seeking God with all your heart is surely that you want to be with Him ALL the time? That is why the Psalmist says “Do not let me stray from your commands.”
11. THE HIDING PLACE (verse 11)
“I have hidden your word in my heart”. Normally, to hide something, is to put it away in a safe place, where no-one else can find it. The Psalmist is actually saying here that he has put God’s words in a VERY safe place where no one else can ever take it away from him – IN HIS HEART. There are also some people who say that too much knowledge is a dangerous thing. In fact they say that we, the believers are so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good. I want to dispute that statement, for we HAVE to heavenly minded to be of any earthly good. Let me repeat that slowly so that you can catch the subtle difference because this is how Satan very subtly twists the word of God. “We HAVE to be heavenly minded so that we can be of any earthly good!”
Don’t forget that it is the pure in heart only that will inherit the earth! In Acts 26:24, when Paul was imprisoned and was brought before King Agrippa and Festus, and he had explained about Jesus to them, Festus shouted that Paul was insane from too much learning. Listeners, do not let others put you off of learning God’s Word and then retaining it in your memory for use in helping others into the Kingdom of God. What is the main purpose, though, in retaining God’s Word in your heart? It is, as the Psalmist said, “That I might not sin against you.” Knowing God’s Word is the surest way of knowing whether you are disobeying His commands or not, and it is very important that we obey Him in ALL respects.
12. PRAISE AND TEACHING (verse 12)
“Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.” I am not going to go too much into this verse because we considered a similar verse (ie verse 7) the other morning. Then it was praise and learning, now it is praise and teaching. This sounds similar yet they are vastly different. Teaching and learning go together; the one teaches and the other learns. They are on two different sides of the table. In verse 7 the writer of the Psalm was the active person – he was hard at it learning and putting what he had learned to memory. In this verse, verse 12, God is the active person – He is busy, through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, teaching the Psalmist the right commands and instructions, the unadulterated word, separating the good from the worldly teaching. As we praise God so He knows that we are receptive to His Word. Therefore I continually encourage you to praise God in ALL your actions and circumstances.
13. THE SPOKEN WORD (verse 13)
“With my lips I recount all the laws that comes from my mouth.” I have always said in the past that we must voice our prayers to God, no to pray to God silently in your mind, although at times we need to do just that. Study the Scripture carefully and you will find out that it has always been the spoken word that has accomplished anything of value. Here the Psalmist is saying that he learns the laws by voicing them aloud, many times. This is the ONLY way to retain anything in the memory. Many have told me that they cannot witness about God because they do not know what to say. I say, even if you do not know what to say, GO OUT and open your mouth and start to witness. God will supply you with wisdom and words to say. I am often amazed at what I have come out with after a counselling session. God supplies abundantly to those who are not afraid to do His will in obedience.
14. BE HAPPY AND REJOICE ALWAYS (VERSE 14)
“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches” This reminds me of the time Jesus spoke to the crowd about the widow who had lost one of her gold coins, and when she had found it, she rushed to all her friends and asked them to rejoice with her in her find. In Matth. 13:44-46 Jesus gave the parable of the treasure in the field and how the man had sold everything to be able to buy that piece of land. Also he spoke of the kingdom of God as a pearl of great price. Listeners, to take Jesus as your Saviour and your Redeemer, as well as His commandments into your life is one of the greatest treasures you can ever possess, but when you combine this with OBEDIENCE AND LOVE for the Master, then you have something priceless, something that can NEVER EVER be bought! It is a free gift from God!
15. MEDITATION OF THE WORD (verse 15)
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” This meditation is not the eastern type where one is told to empty the mind or the transcendend, but the Christian way of meditating, which is to first fill our minds with the mind of Christ as the Scripture instructs us to do. Then, through the help of the Holy Spirit, are we able to reflect and consider and think on the Word of the Lord. Ask God to reveal to you what he wants for you.
16. NEGLIGENCE IS AN AWFUL WORD! (verse 16)
“I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” Blessed are those who delight to do the will of the Lord. To delight in means that it is highly pleasing to do what you are doing. In fact whatever you do for the Lord Jesus must be of such a pleasure to you that, if you stop, you feel as if you are lost and lonely. To delight in the Lord’s word and His presence should also bring an excitement in your heart; and excitement that stirs you into action; that God’s work is important and that the time is short. WE are not to neglect the study of God’s Word, and more importantly, we not to neglect in bringing Jesus, who is THE Word itself, to those who are hungry and who are lost. Listener, what are you doing to bring the Living Water to the lost and thirsty about you?