Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Psalm 119 is one of the greatest examples of Hebrew poetry in the Bible, unfortunately some of this beauty has been lost in the translation to English. You may notice in your Bible that each set of eight verses is preceded by one of the letters from the Hebrew alphabet. This is because in the Hebrew, each of the eight verses in a set all begin with the same Hebrew letter that precedes the set. It is truly a masterpiece, but this is not the only aspect of its poetry - there is a common theme that runs through every verse.
You will have to look very carefully to find a verse that does not deal with the Word of God. All but three verses contain something about His precepts, statutes, law, words, or commandments. The whole psalm seems to be dedicated to God's Word. If the normal Christian believes that the Bible is the Word if God, then Psalm 119 would have to be the normal attitude of a Christian toward the Bible. In this lesson, we shall take a walk through this wonderful psalm and notice some things that must be true in the life of the normal Christian.
Consider first verse 151, "all thy commandments are truth"; and verse 160 "thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever". If the Bible is the Word of God and God cannot lie, the Bible must be completely true. There cannot be a single word that is false, nor has there ever been a time when it could have been wrong.
A normal Christian is going to accept what the Bible says about science over what a scientist says. He is going to accept what the Bible says about history over what a historian says. He will accept what the Bible says rather than listen to a psychologist. He will accept what the Bible says about raising children rather than listening to what a pediatrician has to say.
Many churches today hold their traditions above the Bible. If their tradition says one thing and the Bible says the opposite, they will follow the tradition. During the middle ages, it was believed that the Bible had to be adapted to the traditions and doctrine of the church. It was even said, "Learn first what you should believe, and then go to the Bible to find it there." One of the distinctives that sets the Baptists apart from many other denominations is the belief that the Bible is the final rule for all faith and practice. The normal Christian accepts what the Bible says about Christianity over any other book or source of information. It should be the final rule for what we believe and what we practice.
Notice verse 128, "therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right". If the Bible is the Word of God, we must accept all of it and not just the parts we like.
When we begin to question this verse or that verse, we have drifted back to believing that the Bible is written by inspired men. By this we are saying that we have the intelligence and understanding to determine which verses are true and which are not. Brethren, if we do not believe every word to be "God-breathed", we might as well throw the whole thing away. If every word is not the truth, we have no foundation for salvation or Christian living. Just look at the difference between the churches that only accept certain parts and those that hold to every word as truth. The normal Christian believes that every word in the Bible is the Word of God.
Psalm 119 contains an abundance of verses dealing with obedience to the commandments of God. For example, verses 102, 112, and 115; but especially verse 105, "thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path".
If the Bible says do this and don't do that, we ought to obey it because it is as good as if God had told us those things with His own breath. We ought to determine in out hearts now that whatever the Bible says, we will do. Let our testimony be like that in verse 34, "I shall observe it with my whole heart"; and verse 60, "I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments". Paul said the Scripture was good for doctrine (that is teaching), reproof, correction, and instruction (2 Timothy 3:16). The normal Christian believes that the Bible is the Word of God and therefore accepts the Bible as an authority over his life.
Notice verse 128, "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way"; and verse 140, "thy word is very pure". If the Bible contains the words of a holy God, then everything it says must be pure and just.
One of the strangest statements in the Bible is found in 1 John 5:3, "his commandments are not grievous". Why is it that so many Christians complain about what the Bible says as if God was trying to be cruel to us? If the Bible says not to do something, we ought to be content about not doing it since whatever it is must not be good for us (verses 9 and 11). On the other hand, if the Bible commands us to do something, we ought to be happy about doing it since it must be right (verses 98 and 129-130). The normal Christian believes that the Bible is the Word of God and therefore must be pure and righteous.
Notice verse 165, "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them".
If the Bible is the Word of God, then those who preach from the Bible are simply declaring what God has said. It would be as foolish to get upset with the preacher for preaching the Bible as it would be to get mad at the weather man for forecasting bad weather. Both men are merely reporting about something of which God is in control. Yet, how many Christians leave church upset with the preacher for something he has said? If it is in the Bible, why get mad at the preacher? (see 1 Kings 13:1-6).
What did the Psalmist say in verse 11? One of the things that Paul said the Scripture was good for was reproof (2 Timothy 3:16). To reprove means to tell someone they're in sin (to rebuke is to tell them how sorry they are for their sin). Paul also says the Bible is good for correction - that is to tell someone how to correct their problem with sin. The normal Christian cannot be offended by Bible preaching because they know that it comes from God and not man for the purpose of living and doing right.
Notice verse 103, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"; and verse 127, "Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold". If the Bible is the Word of God, then stop and consider what a treasure we have. Think about what you are able to hold in your hands - the very words of the God of heaven.
Most people who treasure a thing are going to give it a preeminence in their lives. Those who treasure fishing are going to go fishing as often as they can and enjoy every minute of it. The normal Christian, who treasures God's Word will likewise spend as much time as he can in it and enjoy every word. He will read it often and meditate upon it. It won't be on the bookshelf collecting dust or under a pile of newspapers or magazines. It will be in a place of importance where he won't lose sight of it because he treasures it. Its position won't be usurped by the television or newspaper - it will be read above those things. Just take a look at how the Psalmist was affected by this thought in verses 55, 62, 97, 147, and 148.
Does Psalm 119 accurately reflect your attitude toward the Word of God? As we study the normal Christian Life, let's try to remember these things. We should study all that the Bible has said and consider it to be the truth. We should determine now that we will obey it, because it has a claim of authority over our lives. We should remember that what the Bible says is pure and just and is useful for helping us to live right. Finally, we should treasure God's Word by reading and meditating upon what it says.
1 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
9 BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
17 GIMEL. 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.
25 DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
26 I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
28 My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
29 Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
30 I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.