Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Psalm 119|
This psalm is all about the Law of the Lord. The Law of Moses was all covenant law, rules given for working out this agreed relationship with the Lord. Because it is such a long psalm we make it the sole basis for this series of studies
Eight Hebrew terms supplied him by OT traditions:
In ordinary life we might use some of these words as follows:
Put all these together and we simply have a variety of different aspects of God's ‘design-for-living' rules given to Israel to cover all aspect of their lives as the people of God. Now this psalm, as all psalms, is an expression of the feelings of a psalmist about a particular situation or issue; in this case the Law of the Lord. The psalm doesn't try to explain the variety of laws, rules or whatever else you want to call them, just what he feels about them as a result of his experience of them.
Passage: Psalm 119:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. List the six expressions of the person who is blessed.v.1-3
2. What has God done? v.4
3. What does the psalmist wish? v.5
4. What would that avoid? v.6
5. What will he do anyway? v.7
6. So what does he determine to do, and ask? v.8
1. What do you think ‘walking' with God means?
2. How many different words are used here for God's ‘rules'?
3. What is the psalmist's aim?
The first of these eight line stanzas starts off, rather like psalm 1, with a recognition that to keep God's rules means you will be blessed. The life with God is referred to as a walk in the ways or paths of life of the Lord (v.1,3). But it is more than that, it is ensuring that that walk is blameless (v.1) and the measure of that is how you keep God's law (v.1b,3). But it's not only keeping these established rules (v.2a), it is having a heart after God (v.2b). The truth is that, for the psalmist at least, he was part of the covenant community and lived as the people of God who had been given God's rules for life and God expected them to be kept (v.5).
Honesty required the psalmist to acknowledge that that was not always easy (v.5) with the implication that sometimes he fell short. (That of course was why part of the Law was the sacrificial law, to deal with our shortcomings!). If he could only keep all of it, then he would have a clear conscience when faced with all the laws (v.6), but he isn't in a state of gloom and doom; he obviously understands something of God's grace and intent, because he determines that he will praise the Lord as (or ‘while') he learns. He purposes, even as a learner, to obey all he comes across (v.7) and so asks the Lord to be patient with him (implied) and not leave him (v.8); he is, after all, learning with a heart for God!
1. We have a goal – to be obedient to the Lord, but we often fall short.
2. Jesus died to take the guilt of our ‘falling short'.
Passage: Psalm 119:9-16
A. Find Out:
1. What question does the psalmist ask & what is his answer? v.9
2. In seeking God, what does he fear? v.10
3. What has he done with God's word to ensure what? v.11
4. What does he ask the Lord to do? v.12
5. What does he do with his lips? v.13,14
6. And what does he spend his time doing? v.15,16
1. What are the psalmist's guidelines for life?
2. How does he ensure he won't drift from them?
In this psalm we are going to find a certain measure of repetition, but we probably need it because it will take time to really take in the thrust of the psalm. Initially in the first part we saw the psalmist as a learner. That continues here, but with even more resolve.
He starts out here wondering how he can keep his life pure, and his answer, naturally for a Jew (& a Christian), is by living according to God's word (v.9). As his goal is to be whole-hearted in following God (v.10a) that will mean ensuring he keeps to the commands God has given in the Law (v.10b). Now to ensure he has done that he has filled himself (v.11a) with God's word. He meditates on it (v.15) and delights in it (v.16) which speaks of him spending time in God's word. You don't get God's word in your heart without spending purposeful time in it. Christians who don't read and study their Bible don't do it. Christians who read notes that just give one verse a day don't do it.
It is only as you spend time in God's word that you take it in. Meditating means you spend time chewing over God's word, digesting it, so it becomes part of you. He has a teachable heart (v.12), he wants to learn. He speaks out loud God's word (v.13) [that's a good way to help it get into your heart]. He sees great value in following what God has said (v.14), it's a pleasurable thing. To be righteous is to follow God and what He's said – but we have to know what He's said first.
1. To know God's will for your life – spend time in His word.
2. Make His will and His word priorities for your life; all else follows.
Passage: Psalm 119:17-24
A. Find Out:
1. What threefold sequence does the psalmist see? v.17
2. What does he ask of the Lord? v.18
3. How does he see himself and what does he feel? v.19,20
4. What does he know, what does he ask, and why? v.21-23
5. What does he feel about God's laws? v.24
1. How many things does he says he DOES with God's laws?
2. What does he see as a danger?
3. How does he propose to overcome it?
The psalmist recognises his dependency on the Lord (Jesus taught us to ask for daily provision and protection – Mt 6:11 -13) as he asks the Lord to “do good” to him so he “will live” (v.17) and being granted life he will obey God's word. Provision, life, living; that is the order. Assuming life he asks for the Lord's help for the Law to come alive to him (v.18). Previously he had asked the Lord to teach him (v.12) and this is the same but with more of a motivational aspect to it.
He views himself as an alien on the earth (v.19) so the things of heaven are more real, so he wants to understand the Lord's will more and more. He finds his heart longs to know and to understand (v.20) all of God's will. He struggles with leaders who scorn him (v.22,23), presumably for keeping God's laws. He knows the Lord disciplines such people (v.21) and, by implication, he wants the Lord to deal with them. But in the meantime he will stick with God's laws, learning of and maintaining God's will in his life. Twice he declares his intention to obey God's laws (v.17b, 22b). His heart is set on God's laws (v.20), he meditates on them (v.23b) and they act as counsellors to him (v.24).
In the contrasting references to those who scorn him, and presumably scorn the Lord and His Law, his adhering to God's law is like an anchor that keeps him, that holds him and stops him from coming like them. All this is implied in his declarations.
1. Holding to God's word will prevent us becoming like the godless.
2. Let God's word be an anchor that holds you firm in resolve.
Passage: Psalm 119:25-32
A. Find Out:
1. What is the psalmist's situation now? v.25a, 28a
2. What had he done and what happened? v.26a
3. What 3 things does he first ask? v.25b,26b,27a
4. What does he say he will then do? v.27b
5. What three things does he next ask? v.28b,29a,29b
6. What is his fourfold testimony that follows? v.30-32
1. What is he obviously feeling to start with here?
2. What does he obviously see as the answer to that?
3. So what help does he ask for?
Different stanzas in this psalm seem to have different emphases. In the previous one he spoke about enemies. In this one there is no mention of enemies, simply what he feels, maybe because of them, maybe because of other things. He feels laid low (v.25a) like he's worn out (v.28a) He feels defeated and exhausted, so what is his answer.
Well first of all he had obviously shared with the Lord what had been going on (v.26a) and he had a sense of the Lord answering him. When he asks the Lord to preserve his life according to His word (v.25b), it suggests that he has in mind the Lord's covenant which promises blessing for those who obey the Lord. Possibly he feels that he has somehow failed on his side of the covenant and so asks the Lord to teach him (v.26b) and bring him understanding (v.27a) so that he can more fully meditate on the things of the Lord (v.27b).
He is aware of his need to be strengthened (v.28b) and he knows it's God's word that will bring that strength. He knows that when he feels weak the enemy can lead him astray so he prays against that (v.29a), asking for God's grace to flow to him through God's word (v.29b). Finally he testifies, he has set his heart on God's way (v.30), and he will hold fast to God's will (v.31a) and so he asks that God will honour him as he does that (v.31b). In this he has a tremendous sense of freedom (v.32)
1. God's word restores, strengthens and lifts us.
2. Our part is to set our heart on His will.
Passage: Psalm 119:33-40
A. Find Out:
1. What does the psalmist ask, to enable him to do what? v.33,34
2. Where does he ask Him to direct him and why? v.35
3. What does he ask Him to steer him away from? v.36,37
4. What does he also ask, for what end? v.38
5. What does he ask to be taken away? v.39
6. What does he finally ask? v.40
1. In how many ways does the psalmist express pleasure in the Law?
2. What ‘negative' things does he ask of the Lord?
3. What ‘positive' things does he ask of Him?
Initially this seems a stanza that pleads for help to know, understand and keep God's law, but as it progresses, we observe there are things the psalmist wants to avoid and so the law will help him do that, so that is the reasoning, it seems, behind the requests.
First these things he wants to avoid. First in the list is avoiding a life of selfish gain (v.36). Living in the most materialistic period of history this is a very real temptation to be avoided today. Second, he asks the Lord to turn his “eyes away from worthless things.”(v.37). There are echoes here of the apostle John's description of the godless world with its “cravings of sinful man, (and) the lust of his eyes”. We truly live in an age when these are very real and very obvious pitfalls for the Christian.
The third thing he speaks about is “the disgrace I dread” (v.39). In the context this seems not to be disgrace before enemies, but disgrace before heaven, of falling away from the Lord into a materialistic life. By comparison, his experience already has taught him that keeping God's laws brings delight (v.35), are good (v.39) and bring righteousness (v.40). He wants to keep them (v.33), and obey them (v.34) but he also recognises he needs the Lord's help; thus he asks to be taught (v.33), given understanding (v.34), given direction (v.35) to turn his heart (v.36) and eyes (v.37) to God's will.
1. Keeping God's directions brings life and blessing.
2. We need His help in learning and following. Ask for it.
Passage: Psalm 119:41-48
A. Find Out:
1. What does the Psalmist want to experience? v.41
2. What will that help him overcome? v.42
3. What doesn't he want to happen? v.43
4. What 3 things does he say he will do? v.44-46
5. Why? v.47
1. What particular need does he have in this stanza?
2. What way does he see of overcoming?
3. What path does he set himself?
There seem different needs being expressed in each of these eight-line stanzas. Yesterday it was need to overcome the disgrace of falling away. Today, we suggest, it is the need to overcome temptation. Temptation comes in many ways. Here there is someone (or perhaps the enemy himself) taunting him (v.42). When we are taunted, the truth is being challenged and we are being taunted to give up on the truth, give up on the path we are walking with the Lord.
The psalmist wants the Lord's help in overcoming this taunting and simply asks that he may experience the Lord's love and salvation that are part of the covenant promise (v.41). The enemy seeks to get him to surrender the truth but he determines to hold to the truth, the Lord's word (v.42b). He doesn't want the truth, that he so often speaks of, to be taken away from him, so it doesn't appear any more on his lips (v.43a). He's started out by setting his hope and his very life on following the Lord's will (v.43b) and so he makes a threefold declaration of intent. He will stick with God's word (v.44), he will walk in the freedom it brings from sin (v.45 & implied), and he will speak out the truth of God's will to the very highest rulers (v.46) and (implied) he will not stop doing that – but he does need God's help in overcoming the taunting one. He loves God's word (v.47) and will reach out for it (v.48a) as he sets himself to meditate on it (v.48).
1. Being tempted? Turn to God's word.
2. Declare God's word, speak it out, hold to it, meditate on it.
A. Find Out:
1. What had the Lord given the psalmist? v.49
2. What was his state? v.50a, 51a
3. What comfort does he take? 50b
4. Where also does he find comfort? v.52
5. What does he feel about the wicked? v.53
6. What does he affirm about God's laws? v.54-56
1. What, again, appears his present state?
2. In what two ways does he take comfort?
3. How does he persevere in life?
Yesterday we said there seem to be different needs expressed in each of these eight-verse stanzas. The need in the present stanza appears to be life threat from enemies. He speaks of ‘suffering' (v.50a) and the Lord preserving his life (v.50b) which is, therefore, under threat. Now whether that threat is ill-health or enemy attack is unclear, but the fact is that there are those who mock him (v.51) so whether they are the threat or ill-health is the threat, we'll just have to guess.
In his suffering he has been given hope by the Lord (v.51b). The Lord has obviously at some time promised him blessing and it is in that promise that he has the sure hope that his life will be preserved (v.50). I quite like the rebuke of the enemy I have heard, “Go away. You can't take my life. I have unfulfilled prophecy!”
But more than this particular promise, he also takes comfort in God's laws (v.52). He doesn't say which ones. Perhaps it is the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28 because within the blessings are promises of good to those who follow and obey the Lord.
As he looks in the Law he finds indignation rising within him against the wicked who reject the law (v.53). They should be dealt with (implied)! In the meantime, he will stick with the Lord and His word (v.54-56). Whatever they do, that's the basis for his life!
1. Remember God's promises to you. Be encouraged.
2. Dwell in His word. Take comfort.