Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Psalm 119|
Passage: Psalm 119:121-128
A. Find Out:
1. What does the psalmist feel about the present time? v.126
2. With whom was he having difficulty? v.121b,122b
3. What is he looking for? v.123a
4. So what 3 things does he ask for, for himself? v.121b,122
5. Why does he hate every wrong path? v.127,128
6. So what further does he ask? v.124,125
1. How would you sum up what he feels about the present time?
2. How has he sought to overcome?
3. Yet what more does he ask for?
The psalmist reiterates what he says in most of the stanzas, that he is suffering from opposition, but here he indicates he feels it has almost reached a crisis point where it needs the Lord to act (v.126)
Yes, again he speaks about oppressors (v.121b) and the arrogant who come against him (v.122b), and he also declares that thus far he has sought to do everything that is righteous and just (v.121a), but he is aware that he needs help to overcome the activities of those who break God's law (v.126b) and come against him. He asks that the Lord (a) will not just leave him in the hands of those who come against him (v.121,122), and (b) will ensure his (spiritual) well-being, and (c) will deal with him in whatever way is necessary (implied) and teach him His laws (v.124), so He d) gives him discernment to understand God's heart behind His decreed laws (v.125).
He sets his heart on God's laws because he hates every wrong path (v.128b) that goes contrary to those laws which explain God's will for His people, because he has come to value them more than anything else (v.127) and realises everything God has said is right (v.128a). That is his starting place: he has a measure of understanding about what is wrong – going contrary to God's laws – and he knows that all God's rules are right. He sees them being broken, he feels opposition, and so now he calls God to act.
1. Are we aware of the rightness of God's declared will?
2. Are we aware of how it is being disregarded around us?
Passage: Psalm 119:129-136
A. Find Out:
1. What does he feel about God's laws, and what do they do? v.129,130
2. What does he say about his desire? v.131
3. So what does he ask the Lord to do? v.132,133
4. From what does he ask the Lord to take him, and why? v.134
5. What does he ask the Lord to do? v.135
6. Over what is he anguishing? v.136
1. What emotional aspects come out in this psalm?
2. How does what he feels about God's laws affect everything else?
This is a stanza full of emotional force. He starts out with the declaration that God's laws are wonderful (v.129a). He's come to that understanding and the consequence of feeling that is all else that follows. First of all he wants to obey them (v.129b) – because they are wonderful! He realises that when you get into God's word it comes alive, sheds light and understanding (v.130) and you realise it is wonderful! This awareness creates a yearning in him; he pants (v.131) like a dog panting for water, yearning for more of these laws.
But then, as so often comes over in this psalm, he recognises his need of the Lord to help him. We can't just do it on our own. Turn to me, he says, (v.132), I need your personal attention in class. Guide me as I walk out this life (v.133) so that I don't go wrong. Draw me back from men who would seek to oppress me and hinder my walk with you, so that I can continue to obey your words (v.134). Please come close so that your glory falls on me (v.135a) and teach me these things, for as I look on the world (implied) I see that your law is not obeyed (v.136b) and my heart is in anguish and tears pour down my face.
There is wonder over God's word, His laws, His will, call it what you will, but it thrills the psalmist. He wants more of it; he wants his understanding to be increased because it is so good, but he realises that he can only have it if the Lord Himself will teach him.
1. Have you realised the wonder of God's word, His expressed will?
2. Do you realise you need His help every time you come to it?
Passage: Psalm 119:137-144
A. Find Out:
1. Who and what are righteous? v.137,138
2. What difficulty does the psalmist face? v.139,143
3. What does he feel about himself? v.141
4. What has the psalmist done and found? v.140,142
5. What has he found out? v.144a
6. Yet what does he ask? v.144b
1. What sense is there here of ‘me versus them'?
2. Through these difficulties, what has the psalmist learnt?
Some times we have to go through difficulties to learn truths about life. Yet again the psalmist hints at the difficulties of life that he has been coping with. He has clearly been seeking to stand for the Lord (v.139a) while his enemies reject God's laws (v.139b) just as today we live in a society that has largely rejected the Lord. He speaks about trouble and distress that he has experienced (v.143a) and he is left feeling lowly and despised (v.141a). It has obviously been an effort from which he's left feeling exhausted (v.139a), yet through this trial he has had to lean about the things God has promised and he has found them true (v.140a). He is left with a feeling of love and delight for God's laws (v.140b, 143b), but there is an even deeper feeling that he has which is to do with righteousness.
Righteousness here can be equated with rightness. Everything the Lord does is right (v.137a) and so all His laws are right (v.137b,138a, 144a). Indeed he can fully trust them (v.138b) for they are true (to God's design of the world, so that His laws show us the best way to live (implied) v.142a). Because that is so, he realises yet again, that he needs to ask the Lord to teach him and give him understanding (v.144b) so that he can live, complying with all of God's design, declared in His laws. The big emphasis here is that God can be trusted for He has designed a good world and all His laws reflect that. They are good!
1. Have we realised that God's will reflects God's design for His world?
2. Do we live according to the way He has said?
Passage: Psalm 119:145-152
A. Find Out:
1. What does the psalmist do, and why? v.145,146
2. When does he do it? v.147
3. What had he done through the night, for what reason? v.148
4. What 2 things does he ask the Lord to do? v.149
5. Who is near him, and in what contrasting ways? v.150,151
6. What has he learned? v.152
1. What do v.145 to 147 show us him doing?
2. Why does he seem to be doing that?
As in most previous stanzas there is reference to the psalmist's enemies – those who devise wicked schemes (v.150a) – but little is said of them beyond the fact that “they are far from your law” (v.150b). The emphasis is on what he is doing about them. The first 3 verses speak of him calling out. He calls with all his heart (v.145a), he calls to the lord (v.146a) and he calls out from the very beginning of the day (v.147a), rather indicating the urgency of his cries. To cry out to the Lord like this indicates an unfulfilled need. In a sense, the law isn't enough. This stanza doesn't extol the law as many others in this psalm do. Yes, he will obey it (v.145b), keep it (v.146b) and put his hope in it (v.147b), but there is a twofold reason for him crying out.
The first is that he has a need in respect of his enemies, as we've already noted, but the second is that in his anguish as he has sought the Lord through His word, even pondering on it through the night (v.148), he has seen the promises of the Lord that are within the word of God and that they flow out of God's love (v.149) and promise that God will preserve the righteous. His enemies may be near, but so is the Lord (v.150a,151a) and all He has said is true and can be trusted (implied). Moreover, as he has considered God's laws over a long time, he has realised that they are always applicable (v.152) and so those promises apply just as much now as when they were first recorded.
1. Has God's word created assurance in us of God's love?
2. Is the basis of our petitions His word?
Passage: Psalm 119:153-160
A. Find Out:
1. What does he start by asking the Lord? v.153,154,
2. How else does he put this? 156b, 159b
3. What is happening to him? v.157a
4. Who does he speak about, who do what? v.155
5. How else does he describe them, and why? v.158
6. What does he feel about God's laws? v.160
1. In what different ways does he describe unbelievers?
2. What does he say about their behaviour?
3. What is he asking the Lord to do?
The emphases in these different stanzas swings backwards and forwards between focusing on the Law, on his love of it, of his need of help with it, and now, here as so often, on those who do not feel about the Lord and His Law as he does.
He describes those people as the wicked (v.155a), his foes (v.157), and faithless (v.158a). Each of those describes different aspects of those who are unlike him: they don't know anything of God's salvation and they are unconcerned with His will (v.155), they come against him (v.157a), and they do not obey God's word (v.158b). How many people do we know like that?
Thus it is that quite a lot of these verses are about the psalmist's sense of needing the Lord's help. Opposition often creates a feeling of helplessness, doesn't it? He asks the Lord to see what he is going through and to deliver him from it (v.153). He wants the Lord to stand up for him, and take him out of this situation, preserving his life as His law says He will do (v.154). God's compassion, he knows, is great and so he knows the Lord feels for him, so now all he wants is that compassion to work for him and preserve him (v.156). He loves God's word and through that word he knows that God loves him (v.159) and that is the basis of his prayer.
1. Do we understand through God's word, His love for us?
Passage: Psalm 119:161-168
A. Find Out:
1. Who oppose him? v.161a
2. Yet what makes him tremble? v.161b
3. What does he feel about God's law? v.163b,165a,167b
4. What does he make sure he does? v.167a,168a
5. What part do his lips play? v.162a,164a
6. What fruit comes for those who keep God's law? v.165
1. What is the point being made in v.161?
2. How are feelings, words and actions linked in this stanza?
Unlike many of the stanzas, in this one persecution or opposition is almost insignificant. In v.161 it is only mentioned to highlight a truth about God's word, and the mention of salvation in v.166 is fleeting. No, the main thrust of this particular stanza is not about the difficulties he experiences, but simply about his love for God's word.
It's not opposition that makes him tremble, but God's word (v.161). The shear wonder of the promises of blessing in God's word thrills his heart (v.162). Lies and untruths he hates, but God's law which focuses on truth (implied comparison) he loves (v.163). So strong is his feeling for God's word that it seems it is ever before him and he praises the Lord seven times a day for it (v.164). Seven may not be literal but simply to show how perfectly it is before him and calling for his response. It is the strength of feeling that he has for God's word that provokes him to obey it (v.167). Love is the motivating force for the believer. It is love that evokes obedience.
For those who hold to God's word like this there is a threefold fruit. First of all they have peace (v.165) which keeps their hearts, then there is a security which prevents them stumbling morally (v.165), and then third, when there are difficulties there is the assurance that God will come and save us in accordance with His promises (v.166a), and that in itself is a further motivation to obedience (v.166b)
1. Does God's word maintain a peace in your heart?
2. Does God's word reassure you in the face of difficulties?
A. Find Out:
1. What do the first two ‘may's indicate? v.169.170
2. What are the second two about? v. 171,172
3. What is the fifth one about? v.173
4. What does he long for? v.174
5. What does he ask for? v.175
6. What does he acknowledge and ask for? v.176
1. How is this a combination of petition and praise?
2. What does he acknowledge is his state?
In this concluding stanza there are the usual assertions that God's word is good His commands are righteous (v.172b), the psalmist has chosen to follow them (v.173b) and they are his delight (v.174b). But far more than this, almost despite this, there is a strong plea for help.
The cry is, first of all, that the Lord will receive his cry (v.169a, 170a) so that he may receive understanding (v.169b) and be delivered (v.170b). He also wants to be able to praise God (v.171a) and sing of His will (v.172a). His continued cry is that the Lord will help him (v.173a) for he longs for God's salvation to come (v.174a), that the Lord would preserve his life and let him live (v.175a).
The reason for all this is that he has strayed from the Lord (v.176a) and from His word and he needs the Lord's help to draw him back. He hasn't forgotten God's word (v.176c) but obviously he feels weak and in need and asks the Lord to come looking for him, perhaps like a shepherd after a lost sheep (v.176b).
The tone of this last part of this long psalm perhaps is meant to give hope to the prodigals, those who have known the Lord but who have drifted away. There are echoes of the past and so a weak prayer of petition is uttered, with the desire to praise the Lord again. The things of the past have not utterly died. There is still a deep-down longing to know the Lord and walk with Him. Is that you?
As we come to the end of these twenty two stanzas a number of things stand out:
1. They are incredibly repetitious
There are a number of things that seem to be repeated again and again. This is a psalm which may put off many because of its repetition. You will only have worked your way through this psalm, stanza by stanza, if these things echo in your heart and, like the psalmist, your heart yearns for the Lord and for His word.
There is often the reference to enemies, those who oppress him or persecute him. Our walk with God is often characterised by hostility from those who do not walk with Him. That is a fact of godly life in this Fallen World. Perhaps linked with that is his own abhorrence of evil, of ungodliness and unrighteousness which are often linked with those people's disregard for God's will.
There are also constant acclamations of the laws of God. In every stanza there are between four and six different references to God's will expressed as His word, laws, statutes, precepts, commands, and promises. Yes, these are different words for the same thing: God's will expressed as the rules for living, God's design rules for humanity. The latter two descriptions distinguish between instructions from God and assurances from God. Those assurances within the Law are for those who are obedient, who keep the covenant and who follow after the Lord.
2. Our Need of this Repetition
The truth is we need to hear these things again and again. Paul said, “ It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” (Phil 3:1). In actually writing these notes, as I have gone through this psalm I have appreciated this repetition and have appreciated a little bit more each time, those things being repeated.
3. The truths conveyed
Like all other Scripture this psalm conveys truths about the Lord. If you have never read anything else in Scripture and knew nothing of the Lord, here you would find that He is righteous, loving, and trustworthy, and all He has spoken through His law given to Israel , is good! Yes, it was worth working our way through these studies!