Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
The psalms are a collection of Spirit inspired hymns for the worship of God- they were sung publicly by God’s people, the Jews. The music made the words of these songs penetrate the hearts and minds of the people. The early Christian church sang and prayed the psalms as well (Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:26). The Psalms:
- are the most quoted book of the Bible by Jesus.
- give an accurate portrayal of life with God in a broken world.
- lead us to do what the psalmists do – to commit ourselves to God.
- help us to see God beyond human understanding.
- lead us to Jesus – He sung them but they are also about Him (Luke 24:44).
- inform our intellect, stimulate our imagination, arouse our emotions, and stir us to holy thoughts and actions.
Our focus from now through this fall will be Psalm 119. Here’s what we need to know about this particular psalm:
- It is the longest Psalm in the psalter.
- The author is unknown.
- It is an alphabetical acrostic: 22 stanzas with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet – each containing 8 verses.
- It is a great teaching on God’s word – the law but it is also a psalm of love.
- Eight words are used as synonyms for what we would call the Bible: law, word, statute, commands, decrees, precepts, word, and promise.
- The first three verses and verse 115 are the only ones not addressed to the Lord as either praise or prayer.
My prayer is that this psalm becomes a mirror to our souls and causes us to adopt the writer’s absolute devotion to God. Open your eyes to the beauty of the relationship of the psalmist and His God.
WHAT IS GOD’S WORD?
The key to knowing God is delight in God’s Word according to Psalm 1. God’s Word is His law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, decrees, commandments, and righteous rules. For the psalmist, God’s written revealed Word would have been the books of Moses. Today, we would say that His Word is the Bible in its entirety. He is not talking about the subjective impressions, but rather the objective teachings of God in Scripture.
The best way to describe God’s Word is, “his ways” (verse 3). The Bible can be trusted. It is not random nor is it abstract. His Word is authoritative and must be obeyed (verse 5). Jesus affirmed this in John 14:15. His Word is wisdom and His requirements perfectly fit our needs. When God divinely inspired His Word – He gave it to fit our nature (made in His image but shattered). God’s Word is “his ways” because it is an expression of His nature and character.
When we walk in His ways – in His nature and character – we are blessed, happy, and content (verse 1). This blessing – happiness – is lavished upon us as His character is formed in us (blameless – without blemish). This same concept is described in Ephesians 1:3-14.
Sometimes in modern day Christianity there seems to be a thought that there are Spirit people and Bible people. This should not be separated. Some see the Spirit as freedom and the Word as law – like a book of rules and inspirational stories. The Bible is the way – through the Spirit – that God is active in our lives. Do you want to know God? You will know Him through His Word!
HOW SHOULD WE USE GOD’S WORD?
The author of this psalm does not live in an altered world from what we know – He knows the oppression of evil like we do. Most likely He is living as a minority in exile. He has been surrounded by wickedness. He starts this section using a teaching method that is similar to Proverbs – with “young man” (verse 9). The Bible is the guidebook to purity and we are invited into God’s purity through living according to His Word.
We are to store up God’s Word in our hearts – inside of us – not just outside of us on pages and screens (verse 11). The psalmist doesn’t just keep them outside of himself for consulting, but stores them like treasures inside of him. One way to keep us from sinning – one way to attain the ultimate reason for living – is to store up the Word of God in our hearts as something very precious.
We should see God’s Word as riches and wealth (verse 14). The delight and joy of life is not in material acquisition but God Himself. Engaging in scripture is a necessity to follow Jesus. In a survey, the question was recently asked, “What is the reason that people give for not picking up and reading the Bible?” Here are the top four answers:
Reason #4: The Bible is not interesting.
Reason #3: I forget.
Reason #2: I don’t understand it.
Reason #1: I’m too busy.
We should meditate on God’s Word long and hard (verse 15). We ought to work the truths of the Bible into our lives until they shape our loves, hopes, and imagination. In Jesus’ darkest moments (forsaken, betrayed, and killed) He quoted scripture (Matthew 26-27). His heart was so shaped by Scripture that it came to mind when He was in need. Colossians 3:16 is great instruction for us:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
WALK IN HIS WAYS!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Talk about a season of your life when you found yourself delighting in God’s Word (try to articulate your motivating forces during this time).
When you consider saturating yourself in God’s Word, what practices have you found most helpful?
Read the portion of the text for this week, reflect on the following questions: What is the posture of the Psalmist? How do you find yourself encouraged by him?
Why is it unhelpful to separate “spirit people” (freedom-driven) from “bible people” (law-driven)? How is this separation not only unhelpful, but false?
Discuss how being led by the Spirit involves the Word of God.