************ Sermon on Psalm 119:97-100 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 22, 2002
"I Love Your Law"
Psalm 119 reminds us of the importance of the Bible in the lives of God's children.
(Ps 119:9) How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.To live for God, to serve God, then, I need to spend time with the Word of God.
(Ps 119:11) I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Today we wish to mark the start of another church year for Trinity United Reformed Church. Church School, Cadets, GEMS, ETM, Bible Study groups, Young Peoples, Catechism, Choir, Coffee Break, Story Hour – in fact, all of our programs have started up again.
I want to ask if you will be studying God's Word with fellow Christians during this church year? Will you fellowship with believers around the Word of God? Will you spend time with the Word of the Lord?
I The Word of God
A Psalm 119 is divided into 22 sections of 8 verses each. Each section has a title, such as "Aleph," "Beth," "Gimel," "Daleth," and so on. These titles are actually not words; rather, they are the letters that make up the Hebrew alphabet. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters which explains why Psalm 119 has 22 sections. Every verse of each section of this song begins with the same Hebrew letter. In other words, all 8 verses of the "Aleph" section begin with "Aleph," and all 8 verses of the "Daleth" section begin with "Daleth."
From beginning to end, Psalm 119 is about the Word of God. There are only a few verses in the entire psalm that fail to mention the Bible. The psalmist may not use the word Bible but he uses many other words that mean the same thing: word, law, ways, paths, precepts, testimonies, judgments, statues, commandments, decrees, and ordinances.
An old German version of the Bible places the following description at the beginning of Psalm 119: "This is the Christian's Golden ABCs of the praise, love, power, and use of the Word of God."
B Those who attended SERVE were on a spiritual high when it finished. Those who attend the Coffee Break Convention usually come back with a spiritual high. When the Young People attend the Youth Unlimited Convention they come back with a spiritual high. It is wonderful we can have experiences like this. Yet, the excitement and enthusiasm generated by a convention or a meeting or a rally eventually dies away and many are left with an emotional hangover. When it comes right down to it, all that we need is the Word. Coupled with the Holy Spirit's power, God's Word is all that we need to stay on a spiritual plateau.
Please ... please, listen to me here! All other attempts to gain spiritual growth, to reach and stay on a spiritual plateau lead to frustration. Only a daily dose of the Word of God can keep us excited and enthusiastic in the faith.
Subtopic: Loved By The Saints
Title: He Read It With His Tongue
A man in Kansas City was severely injured in an explosion. Evangelist Robert L. Summer tells about him in his book "The Wonder of the Word of God." The victim's face was badly disfigured, and he lost his eyesight as well as both hands. He was just a new Christian, and one of his greatest disappointments was that he could no longer read the Bible. Then he heard about a lady in England who read Braille with her lips.
Hoping to do the same, he sent for some books of the Bible in Braille. Much to his dismay, however, he discovered that the nerve endings in his lips had been destroyed by the explosion. One day, as he brought one of the Braille pages to his lips, his tongue happened to touch a few of the raised characters and he could feel them. Like a flash he thought, I can read the Bible using my tongue. At the time Robert Sumner wrote his book, the man had "read" through the entire Bible four times.
Like this man, believers need to get back to the basics. They need to get back to Bible study. That's the message of Psalm 119. We must be willing to spend time with the Word. Pour over it. Pray over it. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate upon it. Let if fill our thoughts. Use it when problems arise. Filter our decisions through it. We are not to let a day go by without spending time alone with the Word.
Topic: BibleIf you really want to enjoy your Bible, you should "cut your own wood" by studying things for yourself. Check the cross references, look up the meaning of key words, and ask God to show you how the passage on which you are meditating applies to your life. Don't be content with having a preacher or a teacher spoon-feed you. Boys and girls, young people, dads and moms, when it comes to the Bible have you tried to "cut your own wood?"
Title: Warm Yourself Twice
Henry Ford is credited with saying, "Cut your own wood and you warm yourself twice." What he meant was that the man who chops his own firewood not only enjoys the heat from the logs burning in his fireplace, but he also gets physically warmed from the exercise involved in his labor.
C It is evident that the Psalmist spent time with the Word of God:
(Ps 119:15-16) I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. (16) I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word ... (97) Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
He exclaims, "I delight in your decrees ... I love your law." He declares his affection for what God has said and has written in the Bible. Contrast this with what usually happens in our homes or even in worship when the Bible is read: eyes begin to glaze over, attention begins to wander, and a spider or a fly on the wall suddenly becomes a fascinating object of attention. It seems the psalmist had no such problem; he delights in God's Word; he loves God's law; he meditates on the Word; he does not neglect the Word.
Because the Psalmist spends time with the Word of God, he knows that Word. Contrast that with the great ignorance of the Bible that exists today.
Many people don't know what the Bible really says. It's good to check up on our knowledge. For example, which of the following are biblical quotations?
1. "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
2. "God helps those who help themselves."
3. "An honest confession is good for the soul."
4. "We are as prone to sin as sparks fly upward."
5. "Money is the root of all evil."
6. "Honesty is the best policy."
The answer? While some of these statements are truisms, none of them, as quoted, are found in the Bible! So before you quote the Bible, make sure it is in the Bible.
A couple of years ago "Christianity Today" had a fascinating article entitled, "The Greatest Story Never Read." We all realize that the Bible is neglected in popular culture and secular education. The result is that most of our non-church going neighbors are illiterate when it comes to the Bible. But, things are not much better in most churches. The article makes the case that Christians use the Bible regularly but – curiously – few genuinely know its stories. The Bible has become a springboard for personal piety and meditation, not a book to be read.
II The Benefits of the Word
A In our text the psalmist gives us three reasons why we should read and study the Word:
(Ps 119:98-100) Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. (99) I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. (100) I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
A man's enemies love to gloat and mock and dismiss him as being foolish and dumb. But one who spends time with the Word is far wiser than all his godless enemies put together.
The world emphasizes education. But it says church and state must be separate so no religion, no morals, and no Christian principles can be taught; there is no room for prayer and Bible reading. Education, says the world, must be neutral and value free. The Lord tells us that the person who knows the Word of God has far more insight than all his or her teachers who try to separate religion and learning. Here is a reminder that a value-free education is a valueless education.
In many cultures old age is given enormous respect. The world claims that old age equals understanding. But the psalmist tells us that the person who obeys God's laws has more understanding than the elderly who don't know God.
The Psalmist reminds us, then, that a reading and a studying of the Word of God makes us better equipped for life than our enemies, our teachers, or the aged who don't know the Word.
B When we look at our text again, we notice that those who spend time with the Word gain three things: wisdom, insight, and understanding.
What is wisdom? Wisdom means the ability to look at life – its joys, its difficulties – from God's viewpoint. When I spend time with the Word of God I gain wisdom. I begin to realize God is developing and training me as His vessel. There are times, for instance, we become discouraged. We face sickness, or setback after setback, or personal attacks, or personal disappointment. Wisdom means you recognize God is working on you personally, that you are His project, that His plan is to make you into a mature, stable person. Wisdom means you recognize there are no accidents or coincidences in life. Wisdom means you recognize the truth of what Paul and James writes:
(Rom 5:3-4) ... but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; (4) perseverance, character; and character, hope.Wisdom means you recognize God is at work for your good. As Paul puts it:
(James 1:2-4) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(Rom 8:28} And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Wisdom means you recognize that God is at work improving you. In spite of the situation or circumstances, you begin to anticipate each day as another opportunity to grow in grace.
What is insight? Insight means the ability to see through life and its difficulties from God's viewpoint. When I spend time with the Word of God I gain insight. I begin to realize the real causes of situations. When you are under attack you see through the surface to the deeper problem of sin and evil and the need for God.
What is understanding? Understanding means the ability to respond to life's situations from God's viewpoint. When I spend time with the Word of God I gain understanding. I discover how to react when things don't turn out the way I want them to. I watch what I say and how I say it so I don't create offense. I am quick to apologize and slow to anger. I am quick to support and slow to judge.
C Those who spend time with the Word gain wisdom, insight, and understanding. This means that we come to know a person for the New Testament tells us that Christ is "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24,30) – a wisdom that is "foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor 1:18).
Topic: BibleThe same thing can happen in our study of God's Word. We can analyze, organize, and classify the Scriptures, yet miss the Christ of the Scriptures. The Scriptures, says Paul, are to make us "wise for salvation" (2 Tim 3:15). So, unless we meet Jesus, our Scripture study and meditation and reading counts for nothing, means nothing, and results in nothing.
Subtopic: Study of Commanded
There is a story about a teenage boy who was deeply interested in scientific subjects, especially astronomy. So his father bought him a very expensive telescope. Since the young fellow had studied the principles of optics, he found the instrument to be most intriguing. He took it apart, examined the lenses, and made detailed calculations on the distance of its point of focus. The youth became so absorbed in gaining a technical knowledge of the telescope itself that he never got around to looking at the stars. He knew a lot about that fine instrument, but he missed seeing the wonders of the heavens.
Listen again to the words of our text, and make them your words:
(Ps 119:97-100) Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (98) Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. (99) I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. (100) I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
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