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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Psalm 119:89-96 - The Permanence of God's Word

There are many things in life that change. We are reminded of that reality whenever a year comes to a close and a new one begins. Nothing remains the same as far as we are concerned. Yet it is different with God and the psalmist reflects on that great reality.

He begins by telling God that his word is firmly fixed in the heavens (v. 89). Why does he tell this to the Lord, especially since it is obvious to anyone who reads God’s Word, whether in the shorter version that the psalmist had or in the complete version that we have? The answer is that such details must compose the praise we offer. When we praise God, we must use the information that he has revealed about himself rather than using our own ideas. It is not vain repetition to say to God what he has said about himself.

The psalmist realises that God rules over the starry hosts (v. 89). The planets and stars follow the map laid out for them by the Lord. The same is true of the earth; it is as fixed today as it was when the psalmist walked on it, and will remain so until God decides to fold it all up at the second coming of Jesus. The stability of the universe speaks loudly about the faithfulness of God, and we should listen to it every day and night (vv. 90-91).

Why did the psalmist need to hear this reminder every day? The reason was that he lived in circumstances in which many were against him (v. 95). This is the experience of those who want to serve God even as the psalmist did. The reason why they were against him is because he wanted to serve the Lord, to read, to reflect on and to obey his Word.

Unlike the planets, the consideration given by the psalmist to God’s Word was voluntary and intelligent. He mentions several spiritual benefits that he received from listening to it. First, it helped him cope with troubles (v. 92). The Bible does this by reminding us that God will take us through dark times and even use them for our own spiritual benefit.

Second, God’s Word gave him life (v.93); its contents, whether in the form of promises, or of guidance, or of commands, or whatever form of instruction it contains, come with divine power because they are conveyed into the believer’s soul by the Holy Spirit and so give life to him.

Third, God’s Word informed the psalmist of the relationship he had with the Lord – he belonged to God (v. 94). Because that was the case, he could pray for ongoing deliverance. The proof that he was the Lord’s was displayed clearly in a determination to search for God’s will. A true believer is never content with his attainments and makes an improvement in every area of life his goal, no matter what his opponents do to him (v. 95).

The psalmist observed that all good things in life have their limitations except for God’s Word. There is not a situation in life which it does not cover, sometimes by a direct statement, at other times by a correct deduction or a clear general principle. This too is proof of the permanence of God’s Word. We cannot find ourselves in a situation about which the Bible is silent.

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