He who Loved the Word (Part 1)
Psalm 119: 1-8
In the previous messages we have been dealing with a few of the teaching Psalms in the Book of the Psalms, and we have seen just what they have to teach us – the great truths that God wants to reveal to us. There are many more such Psalms, but I have been lead to end the series on the teaching Psalms, and, before starting another aspect on the Psalms, by bringing to you Psalm 119 which I believe is the Teaching Psalm to end all teaching Psalms. This Psalm is what is called an acrostic Psalm.
In its original form it is actually an acrostic poem and this made it easy for the people to memorize this long Psalm. By acrostic it means that the Psalm is divided into 22 parts with each successive part beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. The word Alphabet stems from the first two words of the Greek alphabet, namely, Alpha and Beta. Significantly, the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet is Alef and Beit. I see this as confirmation of both the Old and New Testament – the Old being written mostly in Hebrew and the New in Greek.
By studying this Psalm in its acrostic form will mean that we could be spending the next 22 messages studying this Psalm, each message under a letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. However that will take a long time to complete the whole of Psalm 119. We will only study the first 48 verses over the next couple of weeks. I sincerely pray that you will all follow me on this section of the Alphabet Road and in the walk with the Lord wants us to go, and that the Lord will bless you in your patience. Now, as we have a long road to walk, (excuse the pun) let us go directly into the first section, which is called “Aleph”, the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet.
(Read Psalm 119:1-8)
As this is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet it also stands to reason that what is taught here is the introduction and foundation of what the believer has to build his life on. Make sure that these are also first in your daily walk with the Lord.
- A GOLDEN HEART (verse 1)
Jesus said in Matth. 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Titus said in Titus 1:15, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and who do not believe nothing is pure.” The first truth that a Christian must know is that Christianity is a way of life it is not a religion in the strict sense of the word. It is NOT a philosophy on life, it is a WAY of life. The first Christians were known all over the then known world as People of the Way. They lived in a very corrupt and immoral world with its immoral heathen religions.
The early Christians LIVED out what Jesus had taught them. They were very sincere in their belief on the Lord Jesus Christ and did ALL in their power to obey Him. Because they stood out from the sinners of the world they were persecuted and ostracised in public life. They took the Lord’s commands as if their very life depended upon it, and in fact their everlasting life with Christ DID depend on it.
Unfortunately, today, most who call themselves Christians would not even stand the test against these early Christians. Why is that? It is because we have become lax and non-committal to Jesus. We want the profit without sharing in the effort that is needed. We sponge on the efforts of others. To be blameless before God we have to look after ourselves. We personally, have to walk the straight and narrow. This is a basic truth that most ignore to their later sorrow.
- WE MUST HAVE AN OBEDIENT HEART. (VERSE 2)
“Blessed are they who KEEP his statutes and seek him with all their HEART.” The Christian MUST be obedient. Disobedience is a sin before God’s eyes, just as disobedience by my own children was punished when they were all still under my authority at home. They have all left home and now they have to answer for themselves. Jesus was very serious when He warned His disciples in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”
I challenge you all this morning, including myself, to judge ourselves against this piece of Scripture, to see if we REALLY love Jesus. When we stand before Him one day, He is going to judge every believer against this verse. Write this verse down and memorize it and act on it. I give it to you again. It is John 14:21. Write down John 14:23 as well, where Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”
- RIGHTEOUS LIVING (verse 3)
They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways: Many have said to me in the past that they cannot help sinning, that they suddenly find themselves doing the wrong things. I always query their commitment to Jesus when they say this to me. If you have the Holy Spirit resident in you, the Spirit will ALWAYS convict you of sin, for that is the purpose of the Holy Spirit – to glorify Jesus, the sinless One. Listen carefully to what Paul told the Galatians in Gal. 5:16, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you WILL NOT gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” If you set your mind on things above, then you will automatically walk the way of holy living.
- WE MUST HAVE ABSOLUTE COMMITMENT (verse 4)
“You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” Listeners, absolute obedience will only come when there is absolute commitment on your part. If you are not totally committed to your partner in marriage, then you are easy prey to the temptations of the seducer or seductress. If you are not totally committed to Jesus, then you are open to all the temptations that Satan puts before you. If you want to stand firm then you MUST anchor yourself on the Rock of all Ages. You have to te cemented down, immovable. It is no good tying yourself down with thin cotton as some do. When you get swept away by the storms of life then they immediately blame God for it. They forget to look to themselves first. How is your commitment to Jesus? Does it need to be rectified?
- WE ARE TO BE UNSHAKABLE IN OUR OBEDIENCE. (verse 5)
“Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” read this verse carefully and you will notice that the writer was no different to you and I today. He indicates that he has trouble in always obeying these decrees, even if the spirit is willing. In spite of this, the writer of the Psalm shows that he is totally committed to his God Adonai. What lesson are we to learn from this fact? Several!
- He is a doer of the Word. He is always searching his heart to enable himself to reject what is not pleasing to God.
- He shows his love for God in the desire to keep His laws to the best of his ability.
- He shows that he knows what these decrees are. There is no guessing or excuses for not knowing them.
How are you and I in this respect?
- WE ARE NOT TO BE ASHAMED (verse 6)
“Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.” At times the Psalmist feels ashamed that he lets the Lord down in his disobedience. Whether this disobedience is great or small we are not told, but I am sure there were times when he let the Lord down badly. From the Psalm we will find out that he never let mistakes stand in his way between him and God. Like David he asked for forgiveness and then never let himself commit that sin again. That is how we are to react to sin in our life. Read the life story of the Apostle Paul and you will see that he was never ashamed to show others that he belonged and lived for his Saviour Jesus Christ. I trust that you are not one of the so-called “Secret” Christians!
- PRAISE AND LEARNING (verse 7)
“I will praise you with and upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.” This verse teaches two things about the Psalmist. Firstly that he is one who praises the Lord in difficult circumstances. He praises God with an upright heart, not with hypocricy or a tongue-in-cheek attitude, but with a very sincere heart. He is deeply in love with God and will do anything to please Him. Secondly, he is one who actively does his best to study and learn God’s laws and decrees.
What is of significance here is that he couples praise with learning. I personally believe that many have missed this basic and fundamental fact. It is almost impossible to learn God’s commands and exercise them without a genuine desire to do so. When the genuine desire to do is present, the learning process is coupled with praise for the Lord.
- DO NOT FORSAKE ME! (verse 8)
“I will obey you decrees; do not utterly forsake me.” This verse, and the subsequent cry from the heart confirms all the previous words he had written down. He is scared that God will suddenly desert him. We have the wonderful promises from the mouth of Jesus Himself in Matt. 28:20, “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Notice that the promise is coupled with teaching and obedience to Jesus’ commands. I wonder how we match up with this verse? Listener, these eight verses are vital to the Christian and his or her growth. Let us not ignore them but take them into our heart and cherish them as a pearl of great price.