41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD –
Your salvation according to Your word.
42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I have hoped in Your ordinances.
44 So shall I keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.
45 And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
46 I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings,
And will not be ashamed.
47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments,
Which I love.
48 My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
Which I love,
And I will meditate on Your statutes.
It sometimes amazes me how quickly some folks are willing to give up on the Bible. When I listen to people talking about social issues, they occasionally invoke the name of God, but seldom His holy Word. Some folks who lay claim to the label “Christian” still ignore the plain teaching of the Bible, saying instead they seek “social justice” and “equality.” Those are nice ideas. But whose “justice” do we seek? And to what are we all to be “equal”? More importantly, how and why did we lose sight of the Author of truth and justice, the One who has given us all (equally) the best standards by which to live?
In today’s verses from Psalms 119, the psalmist speaks about his hope that he will always have God’s Word with him. It reminds me of Paul’s second letter to Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:2-5
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Paul is exhorting his protégé to be watchful of unsound doctrine and to hold fast to the Scriptures he was taught, so that he will have an answer for all who oppose the gospel. In the same way, the psalmist wants to see the promise of salvation come to pass, so he will have an answer for those who reproach him. The psalmist is prepared to speak boldly of his God, to share the truth of God’s Word with any and all – even kings! That’s real courage – a courage seldom seen among Christians today. Instead, too many Christians cower and hide their faith, seeking favor from men rather than proclaiming the righteousness of God.
The psalmist says he does not want God to take His Word away from his mouth. He “will not be ashamed” to speak of God’s testimonies. He will delight and openly praise God for His commandments – which he loves! Do we love God’s commandments, or do we just accept them as a necessary “burden” in the life of a Christian?
God’s Word is not a burden! God’s statutes and ordinances, His testimonies and law, are to be embraced and loved and known, not shoved into a dark corner and ignored. God has given us His holy Word to set us free from the bondage of sin. Look at what the psalmist reminds us:
And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
God’s Word gives us liberty to literally “walk in a wide place,” unfettered and unrestricted by the philosophies and “political correctness” of men. God’s holy Word is an answer for the scoffers, a corrective for the wayward, and freedom for the believer. When Jesus told us to “believe in the gospel,” He was telling us to believe in the “good news,” the “good report” – i.e. the testimony of God’s grace! Believe in the Word!
But how can we believe in the Word if we don’t know it? And how can we follow the Word if we ignore it? It’s no wonder so many nominal “Christians” follow after strange teachings and unholy doctrines: they don’t bother to look at God’s Word for themselves. They follow the “company line” of their denomination or a popular teacher, or they hear a non-Biblical teaching that soothes their itching ear, and they never once come back to the Bible to see what God has to say. They cleave to human standards of morality and bind themselves ever closer to the waywardness of men, rather than seeking God’s precepts, God’s law, God’s freedom.
Do you trust in God’s Word? Do you want it always ready in your mouth to answer the scoffers and the wicked? Do you seek His teaching so you can be free from the bondage of sin?
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
19 “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Yes, we live under the grace of God given us through the death of His Son on the Cross, but we are nonetheless beholden to know and understand God’s Word, and to live lives of fruitfulness in faith. Jesus called us not only to DO the commandments, but also to TEACH them. How can we teach God’s Word if we don’t know it? How can His Word be on our tongues if it is not upon our hearts and minds?
Love God’s Word, love His Bible. When we love someone or something, we seek to know all we can about them. And the more we know, we often find even more to love, reinforcing the bond between us. If you love something, you will not be ashamed of it, you will speak of it openly and even proudly. If God is your first love, why would you not seek His voice in your life? His voice is right there, in the Bible, speaking to us through His commandments, His testimonies, His statutes and precepts. Listen to that Voice, that still, small voice speaking across the ages.
30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
I know we don’t feel like we’re in any sort of bondage now – nor did the Jews who listened to Jesus that day – but we are bound to any idea or philosophy or law which we accept and which goes against the teachings of God’s Word. We can only find freedom in the truth of the Word of God. If we do not, then we may find ourselves “liberated” from one human idea only to be enslaved by another.
Today, seek God’s Word. Read it, listen to it, and most of all, love it. Seek His truth, His laws, His idea of holiness and grace, His concepts of freedom and forgiveness. I think you will be surprised what you find there. In my own experience, the more I read and study the Bible, the more I love it. And because I love God’s Word, I am not afraid to speak it, to share it, and to live my life by it. Believe in the truth of God’s Word, and the truth shall set you free.
Gracious Lord God, I thank You for sharing Your heart with us through Your written Word. I thank You, too, for the freedom I have found in loving and believing in You. I rejoice at Your Word! I praise Your Son! I happily and freely admit to loving Your Word, and I will seek You while You may be found. I will draw near to You, O Lord. Please, always be near to me through Your Spirit and Your Word. Amen.