PSALM 119: 97-112
Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
Verse 105 is the anchor passage of this series “Light My Path”. It may be the most well known verse in Psalm 119 or the psalter – and for good reason. We love this verse. We feel the darkness of the broken and fallen world in which we live. The darkness of hate, greed, corruption, injustice, perversion, pride, addiction, violence, and selfishness have permeated God’s good creation and we feel it all around us. We cannot even imagine our world without it – although we try. We have grown accustomed to the darkness.
Our text talks of a lamp and a light. It gives us imagery of spiritual light dispelling spiritual darkness. The picture is one of a much-needed light for an individual. We all feel desperate to have a light and a lamp – some hope to walk without groping and stumbling.
Psalm 119 is a message to the people of God about the Word of God and the way of the godly as they live in a fallen world.
Three Ways To Live (With Regard To the Bible)
I have heard it said that there are two ways to live: God’s way (the Bible) or man’s way. I understand the heart of what is trying to be communicated, but I think it is more helpful to think of it as three ways to live.
THE IRRELIGIOUS WAY
This is a pagan, irreligious, and man-centered way of life with disregard to God’s rules, law, and Word. This is popular and has been the majority of people for the majority of history.
THE RELIGIOUS WAY
This is where you decide that God’s Word (law; rules) is best and you try to obey God’s rules and live a man-centered life living out God’s rules. This is the way of the legalist trying to meet up to every standard prescribed in Scripture and adding more rules for good measure.
THE GOSPEL WAY
This approach acknowledges that it is impossible to keep the law but you love it because it points to God and His love for you. This way of life trusts that Jesus covers us and lived the perfect life under the law for you and has claimed you as His. This means that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).
Both the irreligious way and the religious way are seen in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15). The younger son wanted nothing to do with laws and rules. He chose to go the opposite direction of his father’s desires. He disregarded all protocol and did his own thing regardless of the consequences. The older son wanted to make his father love him by being exactly what he thought his father wanted him to be – doing everything he thought his father wanted him to do – and he did it with all of his own strength. He became embittered towards his father. Both sons in the story live God-dishonoring lives.
When it comes to the Word of God, how we chose to look at it will set our lives on a trajectory. The prodigal life rejects it and lives with disregard to the truth of the Bible. The religious life has a natural tendency towards legalism and rule keeping trying to earn the favor of our Heavenly Father.
What The Bible Is Not
- The Bible is not the missing piece that will help you fill in the last little gap of your shortcomings.
- It is not your insurance policy for the few times you might accidentally slip up.
- It is not a booster shot injection for good measure to make sure you live up to God’s standards.
- The Scriptures are not a call to live a righteous life or a little bit of help for when we need it.
- God’s Word is not a flashlight or a nice guide lamp to get us through this life and get us on to a better one.
- God’s law is not provided so that we become successful legalist measuring our lives against others – and feeling disgust towards those that don’t live as well as we do.
What Does Verse 105 Mean?
Isaiah 9:2 declares that a child will be born, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Jesus is the light. The light that has shown is not a flashlight or a guidebook. His light coming into our darkness is a game changer! For those who live in the light, everything has changed. There is now light where there once was darkness.
When the psalmist says, “lamp and light” he is speaking of the presence of the Lord in his life being light. This light is grace. He is saying, “I have the light and love of my Father”. The following verses flow out of this thought.
Verse 106 he is saying, “I want to swear an oath because I never want to leave the light – I am in the light and I want to be here forever!” He is not stating that he is going to be a good rule follower. In verse 107, he is declaring, “Even when I am afflicted, the light has shown me that God hears my cries and my affliction is not the end of the story!” Verse 110 he is saying, “Even when others want me to fail or go back to the darkness, I am not alone!” Verse 111 the psalmist says, “This light has shown me that I am His forever – His story is my story forever!”
Psalm 119:105 has a broad application for us. It is not just trying to show us that the Bible is a really handy tool to have in our lives. Yes, it is a blessing to read, digest, and meditate upon it. It convicts soothes, and reveals the story of redemption to us. We know the value of Scripture. However, we do not return to it because it is a great collection of words, rather we return to it because of the One the words speak of.
Verse 105 is not talking about a collection of pages. It is talking about the person of Jesus. Unlike the psalmist, we can fully understand and conceptualize what this means because Jesus is the rest of the revelation. Who is the Word? Jesus is the Word and He became flesh (John 1:1-14).
Many have the Bible but are unchanged because they do not have the presence of the One that this book points to. Jesus is our righteousness. This psalm is not a call to be your own righteousness; it is a call to love what is righteous, because the One who loves you has given you His righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 1:26-27)
Jesus Is Our Lamp And Our Light!
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
Read: Psalm 119:97-112
In Tim Keller’s book Prodigal God, he says “Careful obedience to God’s law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God.” What are your thoughts on this quote and the implications of this reality in your life?
Share a time in your life when you tried to prove yourself to someone.
Religion says that the ‘gospel’ means “do” (this is what you do), the Bible declares that the Gospel means “done” (this is what God has done).
NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE: PSALM 119:113-128