************ Sermon on Psalm 119:97-112 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 20, 2016
I want to start with a quiz. You girls tell me whether the statement I make is true or false.
1. True or False. George Washington cut down a cherry tree.
2. True or False. Albert Einstein, the genius who discovered the theory of relativity, failed math in highschool.
3. True or False. The devil does not exist.
4. True or False. Joseph Smith talked to a real angel as he wrote the book of Mormon.
5. True or False. The terrorist acts of 9/11 were a conspiracy by the Jews.
6. True or False. Man did not really land on the moon.
7. True or False. The earth is flat because the Bible talks about the four corners of the earth.
8. True or False. President Trump will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it.
You can go on the internet and find websites that declare every one of these statements to be true. But we know better.
Your theme this year is "Choose Truth." The text it is based on comes from Psalm 119.
If you turn to Psalm 119 you will see 22 sections. Each of them has a strange symbol and name at the top. Any idea what the symbols and names are? They are the letters of 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," and so on.
Why did the author arrange his material this way? What is he telling us? Well, the theme of Psalm 119 is the Word of God. From beginning to end, from A-Z, from Aleph the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet to Taw the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Psalm 119 expresses the wonder of the Word of God. Everything about the Word of God is delightful. Therefore, we should value it.
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."
Two major themes run through this psalm: First, why we should value the Word of God; second, how we should value the Word of God.
I Why We Value the Word of God
A First, we value the Word of God for what it is. Psalm 119 uses six different names for the Word of God just in our Bible reading this evening:
-vs 97 - law
-vs 98 - commands
-vs 99 - statutes
-vs 100 - precepts
-vs 101 - word
-vs 112 - decrees
It uses other words in other parts of the psalm ("way of truth" in vs 30 and "promise" in vs 38).
Why so many different words for the Word of God? Because the Word of God is more precious than any one word can convey. Because the Word of God is more valuable than any one word can say. Because the Word of God is more wonderful than any one word can describe.
B It is important to notice that every word that is used has a pronoun in front. Every word is prefaced by "your." Your law. Your commands. Your statutes. Your precepts. Your word. Your decrees. Who is the psalmist speaking about? He is speaking about God. The Bible is God's law, God's commands, God's statutes, God's precepts, God's word, God's decrees. It is God speaking in the Bible. It is the very Word of God Himself. As Paul writes in 2 Timothy, "All Scripture is God-breathed ..." (2 Tim 3:16).
The Bible is God's Word. It is God testifying about Himself. We value the Word of God because it belongs to God and comes from God.
C The importance and value of the Word of God is also seen in the pictures, the illustrations, used by the psalmist:
-vs 103 - the Word of God is sweeter than honey (hold up jar of honey); they didn't have sugar back then; honey was used as a sweetener
-vs 105 - the Word is God is a lamp and a light (hold up flashlight); they didn't have electricity back then; the only indoor light at night came from a lamp
-vs 111 - the Word of God is a heritage (hold up last will & testament)
-vs 72 - the Word of God is more precious than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (cf vs 127)(hold up silver bars and gold coins)
-vs 24 - the Word of God is my counselor; guides me, leads me
-vs 54 - the Word of God is my song
Think about these things: honey, lamp, heritage, gold, counselor, song. What would life be like without these? Life would be infinitely poorer. Boring. Yet, all of these are only faint glimmers of the value of the Word of God!
D The importance and value of the Word of God is also seen in what it does. Our Bible reading starts with a comparison to enemies, teachers, and elders (that is, elderly):
(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 teachers and 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 the old age of elders 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.
In contrast to these, the importance and value of the Word of God is seen in the wisdom, insight, and understanding that it brings.
What is wisdom? Wisdom means the ability to apply the Word of God to the joys and difficulties of today. It is your guide for day-to-day life. It guides your decisions and your morals.
What is insight? Insight means the ability to see difficulties and problems of life 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. I see the 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.
Those who spend time with the Word gain wisdom, insight, and understanding. Those who spend time with the Word gain light and truth. This means that we come to know a person for the New Testament tells us that Christ is "the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24). The Bible tells us Jesus is the light of the world (Jn 8:12). The Bible tells us Jesus is truth (Jn 14:6).
We meet Jesus, our Lord and Savior, when we open Scripture. He is there. From beginning to end, from Aleph to Taw, from Alpha to Omega, it all points to Jesus.
GEMS, have you met Jesus? Do you know Him as Savior and Lord? Do you believe in Him Who died for you? Do you serve Him as the risen Lord?
If you do not know Jesus, then there is nothing especially valuable or noteworthy about the Bible. If you do not know Jesus, then the Bible is just another book. But when you seek Christ and meet Christ, you seek truth.
II How We Value the Word of God
A The Word of God has value. The Word of God is precious. Now, do you show this in your life?
Take a look at what the Psalmist exclaims. He says, "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long" (Ps 119:97). 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. How many organ pipes do we have? One lady told me that she counts organ pipes when the sermon is boring or repetitious. 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.
Do you love the Word of God? Do you love to hear it read? Do you get excited when you hear the story of Jesus?
B If you love the Word of God, then the following five things are true for your life:
Firstly, we will study it diligently. God’s purpose in giving His Word is to point us to Himself. We are, therefore, to seek him through his Word (vs 2), and this seeking is to be done wholeheartedly (vs 2–10).
Secondly, we will obey its commands. We will walk -- that is, live -- according to the law of the Lord (vs 1). We will keep His statutes (vs 2).
Thirdly, we will hide it in our hearts. This means we are to store it in our minds so we can meditate on it and think about it (vs 11).
Fourthly, we will declare it to others (vs 13). Knowing the Word of God will cause our hearts to burn within us (Luke 24:32) in such a way that we won’t be able to keep it to ourselves. We’ll be anxious to share the Bible's message of salvation with those who don’t know Christ and to discuss its teachings with fellow Christians.
Finally, we will constantly rejoice over the Word of God and delight in it (vs 14–16).
A number 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 few Christians know the Bible.
I am going to stick my neck out. I am going to declare that this is not the case in our church. This is not the case with our GEMS. To prove that, let me end with another pop quiz:
-Who is the Good Samaritan?
-Who is the fourth man in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace?
-Who had a thorn in his flesh?
-Who was the first high priest of Israel?
-What is the last book of the Old Testament?
-How many Psalms are there?
-What is the root of all evil?
Do you know why you girls can answer these questions? Because you hear the Bible in church, home, and school. Because you spend time with the Word of God. Because God's Word is a lamp to your feet and a light for your path.
Continue to love the Word. Spend time with the Word. Meet Jesus. And serve Him Who is your Savior and Lord. When you do this, you choose truth.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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