Psalm 119:17-24 (AMSermon17/7/16)
17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
Please quickly open with me 2 Timothy 3:16-17- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Before we deal with these 8verses, let me first give you few reasons why the Word of God is of utmost importance.
Word. I believe that there would not be any better way to start this message than by hearing what God has to say about His Word.
1. God’s Word is what God Himself magnifies the most
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon David, he wrote in Psalm 138:2 I will worship …, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Bear in mind, there is nothing higher than our God.
We can easily see that what God wants us to understand here. He magnifies His Word above anything else. That’s God’s evaluation of the worth of His Word. For Him there is not anything worthier than His Word. If that is the case, we better give His Word our utmost diligence in keeping obeying.
2. God’s Word is food for our souls
Matthew 4:4 – “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Many people think that bread and generally physical food is the only thing they need to live. Though it is true that physical food is needed to survive and to satisfy the physical hunger, yet, according to Jesus Christ, what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, even the fattening or health of your physical body, and lost your own soul. God’s word is the food for our souls. And according to this passage, to make your life a real abundant life and not just a survival, you need “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
1 Peter 2:2 tells us: “as new-born babes, desire the sincere or pure milk of the WORD, that you may grow thereby.” New born babies cannot live without milk. They get up from their sleep and cry because they want milk. Similarly, as the new-born babes in the Lord, you cannot do without milk of the Word of God. As it is a fact that to physically survive we need to eat something, so it is A FACT, an unaltered reality, that in order to really live the Christian life we need the Word of God.
3. God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet Every Sunday, we recite our preamble found in Psalms 119:105 that God’s Word is the Lamp to our feet and a light unto our path. Apostle Peter also wrote in 2 Peter 1:19 -“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.”
We are living in this dark world. To walk in a dark path, light is necessary. Either the light is physical or artificial, the fact is that without it you cannot walk. The path of life is not an exception to this rule. To walk in this dark world you need light to lighten it. This light is to the Word of God. With this light, you will be like walking in a path full of light. 1John 1:5 says, “GOD IS LIGHT AND IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL.”
I can give you a lot more of the importance of the Word of God to us. But for now let’s go back to our text. Let me just say this, praise God for the Word of God, the Bible, for a lot of important reasons. The Bible is God’s open word and as the Psalmist said, that I may live and keep thy word. It is for us to keep. Are you thankful we have a church or churches of like faith, we have pastors and teachers to help us keep God’s word?
V17 brings us the understanding that God’s commands are meant to deal with us bountifully. God’s words are to bring blessings upon His children. They are not grievous! 1John 5:3 says, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
He gives us the Bible to open up our insight on Jesus and in order that we may not only know Him but also to obey Him. Don’t you know that we are just too blind to see without Jesus as the light? The riches of His Word do not only give us spiritual life but it will sustain us in our walk with Him, which, in turn, allows us to obey God more easily. It is because- obedience is the natural out-come of gratitude for the love, and the cares and blessings that God gives us daily.
If we truly are His disciples, (disciple is another word for Christian as we learned last Sunday) we need not only know God but keep His Word also. It is the Word of our Lord that gives us the direction for the work He purposed for each one of us to do. Look at the prayer of the Psalmist in v18 – Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. It’s one thing to understand; it’s quite another to behold wondrous things out of what God is saying to us.
There are a lot of people who understand and perhaps have head knowledge but are not enjoying the blessing of the wonders of what God is saying in a personal way. We know from Scripture the Word of God is not revealed to the unsaved or the natural man, as the Bible calls it in 1Cor. 2:14.
However, to us God’s children, the Holy Spirit now lives in us but He must see your desire for His Word. Your spirit will now start to understand few things as you eat well and regularly of the spiritual food. So, when you pray that God will open our eyes, wonderful things that He has for you will start to emerge for your enjoyment and not just head knowledge. I have head knowledge that about anything but it doesn’t necessarily give me enjoyment. Some people come to church but it’s not necessarily because they’re enjoying the wondrous things of God.
No doubt, as Christians, you can see many things when you read the Bible without God necessarily opening the eyes of your heart to see wondrous things for you to enjoy. Perhaps one can see the old English grammar constructions. One can see historical facts or you might say it’s reasonable.
Or perhaps it can drive you to be emotional. But none of this requires that God open your eyes in a special spiritual way, where it makes you move or do something. These wondrous things that God will give you when you sincerely ask will make you a different person. It will change your perspective. You will start to see God’s infinite desire for your life. Let me give you an illustration. Your spouse could say to you he/she cares for you but it is not really the same as when you experience that care first hand.
If there is any hope of us seeing wonderful things in the Word of God, we will have to have a divine, supernatural capacity given to us by God to enable us to see His will for us. We must desire for it – “Open my eyes.” When the Psalmist says, “that I may behold the wondrous things,” it’s another way of saying, Lord, open my eyes that I may become what you want me to be. What are you becoming from Sunday after Sunday of listening to the Word of God?
This is important because being changed into the likeness of Jesus happens by seeing the beauty and worth and excellence of God and his Son through His words. Paul says in 2 Cor. 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Beholding is becoming.
ILLUS: Bro. Ray sent me a link the other night about a man with cerebral palsy. He cannot talk well but nothing stops him from preaching. Do you know why? He sees the wondrous things from the Word of God that he cannot keep it to himself but share it despite difficulty. May be I’d ask brother Ray to send it to all our men here. I want you see that there is no barrier or hindrance for anyone who loves God and His Word. I kid you not, if you’re honest, you’d say, if this man can do it, I can do it. Amen.
But the miracle that Jesus often performed was making the blind see. In Mark 8:24 we see how Jesus touched a blind man. When asked what he saw, he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. It was hazy and out of focus. In other words he’s saying, “I can see something but I can’t quite discern what it is.” So Jesus touched him again, clearing his perceptions, removing his limitations, and setting him free to become the man God called him to be.
There’s a lesson here for us. If you are saved this morning, you were blind but now you see. How clear you see, I’m pretty sure like when I was newly saved, it was hazy. I had a lot of doubts and questions in my mind. Praise God today, as I ask the Lord to open my eyes, I see wondrous things from His words for me. I began to see God’s purpose in my life. I began to become what He wants me to be.
Except for salvation free through the sacrifice of our Saviour, nothing comes easy unless we desire and ask of God. That’s why God says, Ask and it shall be given you. We must desire God’s touch to behold the wondrous things He had envisioned for you. Without that we’ll stumble through life, maybe no longer blind, but hazy in understanding who really God is, and what He can do for you. Maybe even hazy as to who you are, and what you can accomplish for Him.
The Israelites set foot in the Promised Land, but only few with Moses saw clearly the directions they were going. Moses, and few others saw the purpose as they lead the people. To others, they were struggling for forty years just following and not becoming. They ate manna and fowl and were complaining because they cannot see clearly the wondrous things God had for them.
Folks, God can be doing all sorts of wondrous things around you, yet you don’t see them because you don’t have the spiritual vision. In Luke 24, at Jesus resurrection, there were two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was only after Jesus had walked with them for 7 miles, explaining the Scriptures to them that we read in v31 that- … their eyes were opened, and they knew him.
How does God reveal Himself to you? God can reveal Himself through the lives of other people or sometimes through hard experiences, perhaps! But there is nothing better than God Himself, revealing to you personally the wondrous things on how you can become what He wants you to be.
We must desire to become what He says or we will start to doubt and question His words. There is a worrying trend that happened to many Christians, especially when they know there’s a sin in their lives that God hates and they continue to ignore God’s call for them to be holy.
First, they will try to put God into their own little box. They will say, my God is a loving God. He will understand. Despite seeing the obvious that God is not blessing them, they will not repent and surrender to God because of that wrong understanding of God.
Folks, I call that kind of a Christian- delusional. Do you know what is delusional? Maintaining fixed false beliefs even when confronted with facts. So, the next thing you know is they stop to be doing some of the good things they’ve already started to do right. Then they would start to be missing in church. Then it will now be a case of going, going, gone. If they were truly saved, I know they will come back; but only after so much pain and damage done in their lives.
So don’t only desire but plead for God in fervent prayers, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Word. Wonderful things are found in God’s Word. Verse 24 says, Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. The Word of God is so wondrous they become a delight to you. If only we have the clarity to see the wondrous things He envisioned for us to see!
Please go back to v19. This verse is asking for directions that the world cannot give. It says, I am a stranger in the earth. The psalmist says that he is a “stranger on earth,” and in need of guidance. Are you at home in this world or are you a stranger? And what a wonderful prayer the Psalmist prayed, hide not thy commandments from me. When he says, hide not, it is not really being hidden. God’s Word is an open Word. He’s simply is saying, I want to see wondrous things.
Any long trip requires a map or a GPS guide. As we travel through life, the Bible should be our road map, pointing out safety routes, obstacles to avoid, and our final destination.
God’s Word would guide us to and cheer us in our heavenly journey. You can ignore it to your own peril. Every time dirty things are shown on TV, I feel like I am a stranger. It makes me uneasy. The Psalmist knew something of this experience of not belonging. And so, He desired that he might walk obediently, that his mind might be attuned to God’s Word, and that his heart might be filled with longing for fellowship with his Lord.
If you’re truly a child of God, you’ll be conscious of your pilgrim status here on earth. When you begin to see the wondrous things from His Word, you will be very quick to discern what is God’s and what is the world’s view even if they are popular. To true Christians, things that are happening in the world today can be so disturbing but not necessarily depressing because His wondrous words reveal to us that He’s in control.
So, keep in touch with the Lord by reading His Word, praying, attending church faithfully and obeying His commands. We might be strangers in this world, but we’ll also enjoy life as we walk with the Lord who gives us hope and peace. The true Christian can be right-side-up in an upside-down world because of God’s wondrous Word.
Verse 20 expresses the soul’s intense desire for the due course of His Word. His word will always deliver what it says. He said, “My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.” The word longing means “fervent desire.” True godliness lies in your continual desire for it. They know that the due process of His words can crush our weaknesses but it can also transform and mature us in Christ.
Great maturity requires great challenges. God would develop our character to match His assignment- be it here or there-in heaven. After telling Abraham, “I will. . . make your name great,” it took 25 more years of testing before God finally entrusted him with a son to establish the Jewish nation. So, let us continue to fervently desire and wait upon the Lord. If it’s taking longer, maybe God’s timing sees that your character needs more work?
V21- Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
This verse indicates that God will rebuke those who do not live in accordance to His Word. The proud are the arrogant, those who are a law unto themselves, meaning they decide for themselves what their own personal law should be (Ps. 10:2-11). We can be presumptuous and it can deceive and corrupt us when we do not desire for the wondrous things in His word.
Verse 22- The Psalmist says, Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies. This is humility before God, praying that God may take away contemptible things in our lives; but also reproach and contempt from other people. Btw, you cannot pray this when in reality you are doing reproach and contemptible things in your life. The Psalmist was sure that he was keeping God’s testimonies. He bases his request on the fact that he observes God’s Word.
When we are keeping God’s words, God has the power to clear us from man’s reproach. Before we meet any challenge or seek the Lord’s blessing on our lives, we should look first in His Book for His direction and guidance. When we neglect to heed the Bible we risk getting involved in relationships that He cannot bless and in activities that God does not approve.
V23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. This verse indicates that he does not follow what is popular in the worldly or counsel of wicked rulers but seeks God’s Word instead. We live in an evil time, but we servants of God must be meditating in His Word.
It won’t be long from now that the government will introduce laws contrary to God’s Word. Let us remain to be obedient to God’s word than the demands of this world. We must meditate upon God’s unchanging Word. Do you want to behold wondrous things God promised for those who seek? Then desire for it and ask God. Take the Bible seriously. Take what it says to you seriously. Until you are serious, the Word of God will remain hazy to you.
If you are not yet a member of God’s family, allow us to show in Scripture how to become one of God’s children. And if you are a Christian, let the Word of God bring radiance and victory into your life. For the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to change the people of God. Remember, beholding is becoming. Do not only make the instruction in God’s Word a delight but make them your counsellor.
V24 “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.” The writer needed wisdom to know how to handle difficult situations, so he turned to the counsel of God’s Word. Instead of listening to the reproach of the world it is best to meditate of God’s Word.
When the Word of God becomes a delight to you, you will begin to see wondrous things- full, complete enjoyment and happiness and blessing be yours. The greatest counsel we can ever receive is found in the pages of this Book. You don’t have to spend money for counselling elsewhere. There is no better counsel than the Spirit of God speaking through the Word of God.
Folks, as you face life today with its many demands, let the Bible be your counsellor. Face the Book first! It is the Word of God that reveals wondrous things. The riches of God’s Word are available to all who do not only desire to read but follow God’s will. How much do you value His Word? Let’s pray…