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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.

Friday, 2 January 2015

God's Word in Times of Danger (Psalm 119:105-112)

The psalmist realised that life is a pathway full of many pitfalls and sudden obstacles that can trip us up. He needed something that would reveal those dangers to him and he found it in the Bible, which is why he writes in verse 105, ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’ With the Bible in our heart, we are like a man carrying a torch in the dark. Unlike the torch, the Bible does not develop a flat battery. Like a torch, it has an off switch, and if we turn it off we will fall. We cannot keep ourselves.

Nevertheless, the psalmist realised the importance of strengthening his commitment and he chose to do so by means of an oath: ‘I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules’ (v. 106). He did this even although he was in trouble: ‘I am severely afflicted’ (v. 107). One reason that he did so was because the Bible promised that the Lord would give him spiritual energy in order to walk along life’s pathway: ‘give me life, O Lord, according to your word!’

Verse 108 indicates that he engaged in public dedication of himself to God: ‘Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your rules.’ When he asks God to teach him about the rules of God’s Word, the psalmist is not suggesting that he did not know the words that God used in his rules. Instead the psalmist is confessing that he needs to be taught how to apply God’s rules in different situations.

Some of these situations could be very dangerous for him: ‘I hold my life in my hand continually’ (v. 109). Yet, as Spurgeon noted, ‘while he carried his life in his hand, he also carried the law in his heart.’ Therefore the psalmist could also say with complete honesty: ‘but I do not forget your law.’ Even when the wicked sought to destroy him (he uses the imagery of an animal snare to describe their intention), he escaped their clever attempts by refusing to move an inch from God’s requirement (v. 110).

Some people’s inheritance is outside of them and no matter its size they are miserable. In contrast the psalmist’s inheritance was within him – he had the testimonies of God, that is, his doctrines, commands and promises in his heart – and his heart was full of joy (v. 111). And such an inheritance cannot be taken from him, unlike an inheritance that is measured in banknotes and square miles. 

Because that was the case, he would spend his whole life serving God. His decision to do so was the best evidence that he had received a new heart from God. Wherever others would see him, they would observe him serving God. His words in verse 112 are a good resolution: ‘I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.’

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