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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, 9 January 2015

Living Under the Word of God (Psalm 119:161-168)

In this section of the psalm, the author begins by telling God about the opposition he endured from powerful people. It is inevitable that we will fear the most powerful persons we know. In the psalmist’s case, he saw the princes as pygmies because his heart already feared God. Fear of man has led many a person to disobey God whereas fear of God has led many a person to stand up for him and his Word.

Sometimes people who previously had a taste for God’s Word no longer find it interesting and stop reading it. In contrast the psalmist happily still finds treasures in God’s Word (v. 162). Feeding our souls on God’s Word and enjoying thinking about it is one of the surest signs of true conversion. At the same time, such a person will loathe false ways (v. 163). As has been said, sin will keep us from God’s Word or God’s Word will keep us from sin.

The psalmist then states his method of personal devotion in verse 164: ‘Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.’ Perhaps he spent ten or fifteen minutes each time speaking to God. Maybe he did this because he daily discovered numerous ways by which God’s commandments had helped him make right decisions or prevented him going into dangerous places. Or the reason might be that he loved speaking to God because of his many promises connected to obedience.

Those who love God’s law have a double blessing: ‘Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble’ (v. 165). One blessing is extensive (peace) and the other is comprehensive (they will not fall). The peace comes from thinking about God’s provision and the safety comes from God’s faithfulness.

As we can see, genuine spirituality is very personal. In verses 166 to 168, the psalmist mentions three personal aspects of his discipleship. First, he obeyed God because he was looking forward (hope) to full salvation (v. 166). He did not expect to receive salvation because of his obedience. Instead obedience was his way (and the primary way) of expressing gratitude for saving mercy.

Second, he highlights that his obedience was the result of inner desire (love) and not external pressure: ‘My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly’ (v. 167).

Third, his obedience was motivated by the fact that he knew God’s eye was on him continually: ‘I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you’ (v. 168).  These are three marks of true discipleship.

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