Psalm 119:97-104

Mem
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way
(ESV).

The opening line of this stanza exclaims, “oh how I love Your Law!” (v 97a). What is really amazing me about this psalm is how personal, heartfelt and worshipful it is. Because the psalmist loves the Law, he mediates on it all the day (v 97b).

This psalm and especially the above verse humbles me with how much he loves the Lord’s Law. “In Psalm 119 the psalmist does not just learn God’s word, but he loves it. His love for God’s instruction causes him to meditate on it continually (cf. Ps 1:2); and as he contemplates God’s truth, it is assimilated into his life so that he learns it, loves it, and lives it” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 423).

Dr. Michael Heiser makes an excellent point when he says, “We tend to think of the law as though every one of its 613 commandments [this includes the 10 commandments given in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21] were an oppressive lynchpin in a relationship to Yahweh. We tend to view the law negatively, as though it were given to produce feelings of guilt or to frustrate Israelites with the impossibility of pleasing God. This is misguided…An Israelite would have known that believing was at the heart of right relationship with Yahweh, not mere mechanical observance of a list of do’s and don’ts. For sure some Israelites would have lapsed into this mistaken thinking, particularly after the shock of the exile, but that wasn’t what the law was about” (The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, 2015, p. 163).

The commitment that the psalmist has to the Lord’s commandments makes him wiser than his enemies (v 98a). “Obviously, people attacking the psalmist without reason and/or with deceit ignore both the content of Yhwh’s commands and the promises attached to them. They are stupid. They are ultimately bound to fail” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 418).

Because the Lord’s Word is always with him (v 98b) he has more wisdom (understanding) than all his teachers (v 99a). The psalmist here has caused himself more wisdom because the Lord’s testimonies are his meditation (v 99b). The Word of God NEVER fails to make wise a person who is open, receptive and willing to obey what He says!

In verse 100a the psalmist compares himself to the aged. While it is widely assumed that older individuals have more discernment (understanding) than the young, the psalmist here flips this, stating that he has more discernment than the aged because he keeps the Lord’s precepts (v 100b).

The psalmist holds back his feet from every evil way so that he may keep the Lord’s Word (v 101). He also does not turn to the right or to the left from the rules that the Lord has taught him (v 102). “[The psalmist] always keeps in mind that he is a student in the Lord’s school, and his chief purpose is to stay true to what the Lord has taught him” (Estes, p. 424).

The Lord’s Words are a sweet taste to his mouth, sweeter than honey (v 103). “In biblical times honey was a highly valued delicacy and a rare sweetener, so it is a fitting image for how delectable God’s word is to him. As frequently throughout Psalm 119, God’s word is viewed in terms of delight and enjoyment because to the psalmist it is a sweet delight, not a bitter duty” (Estes, p. 424). Believers today also know how sweet His Words taste in their mouths, which is why they can say along with David, “o taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps 34:8).

The psalmist concludes this stanza restating that it is through the Lord’s precepts that he gets discernment; as such, he hates every false way (v 104). The psalmist is able to discern false ways because he knows what the Lord his God requires both from the Law and because of having a personal relationship with Him. “In the light of God’s word, he can see through sin for what it is and where it leads, and this understanding enables him to reject every false way (cf. v. 163). God’s word guards him against making wrong turns that lead to bad consequences” (Estes, p. 424).

Lord God, thank You and praise You for Your Law! Lord God, may we love Your Law like the psalmist. Lord God, may we seek to read and practice Your Word so that we will be wise people! Lord God, wise people seek wise people. May we seek to do life with the wise and not the popular. Lord God, Your Word will cause us to grow if we are actively reading and putting it into practice. Help us to desire Your Word so that we will know how to discern truth from error. Lord God, there is so much error in our world today, help us to be grounded and guarded in Your Truth!

Lord God, help us to keep our feet from moving toward evil. May we stay focused on You and what You have taught us rather than looking to our right and to our left. Lord God, Your Words have the sweetness of life. May we never forget to taste and see that You are good, even in the midst of pain, hardship and suffering. Thank You Lord that You cause Your people who are earnestly seeking You to have wisdom and discernment. Lord God, may we practice common sense; helping us to hate every false way! Lord God, thank You for this reader! May this reader grow in their desire for You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:89-96

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Lamedh

89  Forever, O Lord, your word 

is firmly fixed in the heavens. 

90  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; 

you have established the earth, and it stands fast. 

91  By your appointment they stand this day, 

for all things are your servants. 

92  If your law had not been my delight, 

I would have perished in my affliction. 

93  I will never forget your precepts, 

for by them you have given me life. 

94  I am yours; save me, 

for I have sought your precepts. 

95  The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, 

but I consider your testimonies. 

96  I have seen a limit to all perfection, 

but your commandment is exceedingly broad (ESV).

The psalmist knows the Lord’s Word is fixed forever in the heavens (v 89). As tumultuous as life here on earth can be, the psalmist knows that the Lord’s Word is secure. “There will never be a time or a place when the Lord’s authoritative word is silenced or thwarted, and this truth is the strong and enduring grounds for the psalmist’s confidence” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 421).

The psalmist is confident that the Lord’s faithfulness will endure to all generations. And that He has securely established the earth so that it stands fast (v 90). This harkens to God’s people to pray earnestly for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt 6:10).

Verse 91 is the most difficult Hebrew verse thus far to translate. “The general sense is that everything in the Lord’s domain is upheld by his authoritative word. In the Lord’s ordered world, everything ultimately serves his purposes, even though the intentions of the actors (such as the wicked who have afflicted the psalmist) may be evil” (Estes, p. 422). Nothing on this earth exists that is not under the Sovereign Hand of God. “All of creation exists because of obedience to God’s word; all of creation, therefore, exists to do his will” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 541).

The psalmist delighted in the Lord’s law, had he not, he would have perished in his affliction (v 92). “The psalmist confesses that he, too, wants to be included among those who serve the Lord by keeping his “law.” He has found “delight” (see vv. 16, 24, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174) in the “law” (tôrâ “instruction) of the Lord, and this has given him a desire to align his life with the revealed will of the Lord. If he had not found meaning in his experience of “affliction,” he feels that he would have perished. He would have been like a falling star” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 876).

The psalmist declares that he will never forget the Lord’s precepts because they are what give him life (v 93). The Lord’s people are always at risk of forgetting His precepts. The psalmist knows “God’s word does him little good if he fails to remember it” (Estes, p. 422). Remember (or not forgetting) God’s Word is a biblical principle that runs from Genesis to Revelation. May the people of God continue to feast on the Word of God so that in times of famine they will know how the Lord instructs them to live.

Since the psalmist is the Lord’s he petitions Him to save him (hiphil, imperative 2ms with 1cs suffix). “‘I am yours’ (lĕkā-ʾănî) indicates that the psalmist accepted a servant’s responsibility and Yhwh accepted a master’s responsibility. Verse 94 appeals for that to continue to be true. One who belongs to Yhwh can appeal to Yhwh to deliver. The line again emphasizes Yhwh’s direct involvement in our lives. Yhwh is not just the deist clockmaker. But part of the basis for expecting Yhwh to behave as if we belong to Yhwh is that we have so behaved” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament; Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 416).

In verse 94b the psalmist has sought God’s Word. In verse 95a the wicked lie in wait to destroy the psalmist. Estes notes this form of the verb for wait “often speaks of the righteous waiting for the Lord to intervene in their lives, but here the verb refers to the wicked waiting to do an intentional act of evil (p. 422). God’s people are not immune from the intentional evil acts of the world, the flesh and the devil. As such God’s people need to consider His testimonies (95b).

The psalmist ends this stanza in confidence. All human speech, efforts and achievements have a limit; however, the Lord’s Word has no limit because it is exceedingly broad (v 96). “[T]o live for anything other than what the Lord commands is to invite disappointment and defeat” (Estes, p. 423).

Lord God, thank You and praise You that Your Word is firmly fixed and exceedingly broad! Thank You and praise You Lord that You are perfect! In a world that is turning darker and more evil by the day, thank You that You have put a limit on what Your people will suffer. Thank You and praise You Lord that Your Word has no end and that it will not return void. Lord God, You are faithful to Your people. May we never cease to remember how You have been in our midst in the past, so we can live for You in the present, being bold and fearless when facing the future.

Lord God, You truly hold the whole world in Your Hands. Lord God, You have created all people for eternity. Lord, may today be the day of salvation for the reader who is far from You. Lord, as all things are Your servants, may we be instruments for good and not instruments of evil.

Lord, make our desires Your desires so that we will endure in our afflictions. Lord God, thank You that for those of us who are in Christ we can come boldly before Your Throne seeking Your grace, mercy and help when we need it most. Lord God, may we not be surprised by how unbelievers act. May we not be surprised that the world, the flesh and the devil seek to harm us. May our desire for You increase and the things of this world decrease! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

.

Psalm 119:81-88

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Kaph

81  My soul longs for your salvation; 

I hope in your word. 

82  My eyes long for your promise; 

I ask, “When will you comfort me?” 

83  For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, 

yet I have not forgotten your statutes. 

84  How long must your servant endure?7 

When will you judge those who persecute me? 

85  The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; 

they do not live according to your law. 

86  All your commandments are sure; 

they persecute me with falsehood; help me! 

87  They have almost made an end of me on earth, 

but I have not forsaken your precepts. 

88  In your steadfast love give me life, 

that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth. 

ESV

The psalmist begins this stanza stating that his nefesh (soul) is more than just longing for the Lord’s salvation, he is literally wasting away. “Although the psalmist cannot resolve this situation, he is confident that the Lord can rescue him from his plight” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 420). Even though the psalmist’s strength is failing and he is wasting away he hopes in the Lord’s Word knowing who He is and what He has done before.

While the ESV supplies the word long in verse 82, this would be better translated, my eyes fail. “The eyes reflect his weariness in watching for a sign of God’s answer; so under a prolonged strain of waiting, the psalmist acknowledges that he is worn out” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 535). In his worn and weary state the psalmist asks the question, “when will you comfort me?”

The psalmist clarifies this question stating that he has become like a wineskin in the smoke (v 83a). Meaning that he is “useless, shriveled, and unattractive because of being blackened with soot” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 875). The psalmist here demonstrates that he lives by faith and not by feeling nor sight as he states he hasn’t forgotten His statutes (v 83b). Forgetting the Lord’s statues would only make the psalmist’s situation worse.

In verse 84, “The suffering psalmist asks another question; but his questions are essentially laments (so rhetorical questions). ‘How long must your servant endure?’ means ‘Your servant (I) has been enduring long enough.’ The first half of the verse laments his prolonged endurance. The second is concerned with the cause of his condition ‘When will you execute justice on those who persecute me?'” (Ross, p. 536).

Boice makes a profound observation, “It may be significant in this respect that verse 84 is the first in the psalm to fail to mention the Word of God by one of the [many] synonyms for it. When the psalmist was most down, did he lose sight of God’s Word temporarily?” (J. Boice, Psalms 107-150: An Expositional Commentary, 2005, pp. 1008-1009).

It is the opinion of this author that the psalmist did not lose sight of God’s Word temporarily. In this stanza, as well as in other areas of this psalm he states how when he forgot about the Lord and His Word, life did not go well for him. Rather, this lament (rhetorical questions) is from the depths of his affliction. How can we know this? Because in his next verse the he states how the insolent have dug pitfalls to trip him up and that they do not live according to the Lord’s torah (law, v 85). It is comforting to know “in the Lord’s moral order, [the insolent] will fall into the pits they have dug in their attempt to inflict harm on others” (Estes, p. 421).

Verse 86 makes it clear that “in contrast to the arrogant who are unfaithful to God’s instruction (v. 85), the Lord’s commands are true, or reliable. The arrogant speak lies, but the Lord speaks truth. By their lies the wicked do not fight fairly, but the psalmist is confident that the Lord can counter them, so he calls on the Lord to help him” (Estes, p. 421).

The plain meaning of almost made an end of me (v 87) “is that he is almost dead—finished, on this earth. However, to the very end if need be, he affirms his faith: ‘I have not forsaken your precepts'” (Ross, p. 537).

In the first part of verse 88 the psalmist makes an appeal to the Lord to renew his life by His covenant faithfulness (hesed, steadfast love ESV). Why does the psalmist make this appeal? So that he may keep His testimonies. “The purpose of the petition is likewise connected to the covenant: “that I may keep the testimony of your mouth.” The testimony refers to all of God’s instructions, the whole covenant law, which came by direct revelation from God. The psalmist wants to be revived, so that he would be able to keep the covenant fully, without weakness, suffering and distractions due to constant persecution” (Ross, p. 537).

Lord God, as our bodies waste away may we never stop hoping in Your Word. Lord, sometimes our eyes fail us as we wait for Your promise; comfort us by Your Spirit. Lord God, thank You that You have indwelled Your people who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You Lord that You live inside each believer, that You comfort us and that we can come before Your throne boldly receiving Your grace and mercy when we need it most. Lord God, help us to cling to the truth that for the person in Christ, they are not useless. No matter how bleak or grim the situation looks or as helpless as they feel, remind this believer Lord that they have worth and value to You. Use us Lord for Your glory!

Lord, You inspired the psalmist to ask how long he must endure as well as when will You judge those who persecute him. Lord God, give us Your strength to persevere and endure the challenges and trials that we will face. Lord God, prepare us to glorify You when we suffer from the pitfalls of the insolent. Lord, may we never forget Your commandments. May we never forget You desire our obedience. Lord, there are no shortages of lies and attacks from the insolent, help us to not forsake Your precepts. Lord God, may we NEVER forget Your covenant faithfulness. May we never forget that You will never violate Your Name and Covenant. You will never act contrary to who You are.

Lord God, renew our lives so that we may testify about Jesus in this dark, hostile and hurting world. Lord God, renew our minds that we may focus on the things above. Lord God, conform us to You and Your Word. Lord God, may we desire what You desire and not what this world desires. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May this reader be renewed and revived by Your Spirit today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Frost and Light

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn. 3 November 2021.

From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? (Job 38:29 ESV).

Lord God, help us to never stop marveling at Your Creation. Lord God, when the fears and worries of this life creep in, calm our weary souls with the reminder that the sun rises and sets on Your timetable. The seasons last on Your timetable. As the leaders of nations met to discuss climate change, may believers NEVER forget that Your Hand is in the climate. You are in control and sovereign over all. Whether it is in the form of judgement or consequences for sinful man’s disobedience in caring for Your creation, may we never remove Your Hand from working in and through Your Creation.

Lord, as man seeks to steal Your glory and power through cloud seeding, have mercy on us who know that this is wrong!

Lord God, as Your sun melts the frost, thank You for Your Son melting the frost off our hard hearts. Lord God, help us to shine Your Light in this cold, dark and hostile world. Lord God, thank You NO heart is too hard for Your Son’s Light to penetrate. Lord God, help our hearts to be prepared and guarded yet kind and loving as we live for You.

Thank You Lord that as autumn is here in the north that You are bringing new life to my brothers and sisters south of the equator. Lord God, thank You for this reader. May they feel Your Son shining on them today. Lord God, fill this reader with the Light of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn. 3 November 2021.

Authority of Scripture

IMG_0154.jpg
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

I was watching a video yesterday (15 June 2021) and the speaker made a good point that there was a time (at least in the States) while people wanted Jesus to return, they were hoping He would prolong His arrival so that they could get married, have children, graduate from whatever school, etc. People were comfortable living in this world. Since 2020, I do not hear people saying they want Jesus to prolong His return for their personal x,y and z.

In a world gone mad more and more people are seeking and asking, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 ESV), yet very few people are accepting the Authority and Truth of God’s Word. The Bible is being distorted, lambasted and outright rejected at record speed.

I have read time and time again that in the Last Days there will be a great falling away, that the Word of God will be traded for lies and that the apostate church and its false prophets will be considered true Christianity. Only now, I am starting to understand what that looks like in real time and place and it is horrifying.

From the time of Israel (Old Testament) until now (New Testament) the Lord has preserved His Word declaring that it will remain forever:

“The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 4:7-8). 

Peter cites Isaiah saying, “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

Jesus, God Himself says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt 24:35).

God is sovereign and He makes it clear, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa 55:10-11).

God will most certainly accomplish His Will and we can either be holy, faithful useful agents/servants of the Gospel or God will continue on with His plan without us by disciplining us, putting us on the shelf, etc.

Both the Old Testament and New Testament affirm that we are NOT to add or take away anything from God’s Word. God’s Word cannot mean, what it did not mean to the original author and audience. Context is indeed king! The Bible is being removed from its original context and this has serious consequences for individuals and for society.

Moses tells Israel in Deuteronomy, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you” (4:2) and “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (12:32).

While this refers to the prophecy in Revelation, John states, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (22:18-19). 

We alter God’s Word when we cherry-pick what we want to believe and apply. We alter God’s Word when we minimize the reality of hell and the wrath of God that John prophesies in Revelation. We alter God’s Word when we say, “love is love.” At no point in time has the Triune God ever changed His design for marriage. It has always been between one man and one woman. God has never ceased creating biological men and women in His image. We alter God’s Word when we interpret it based on our emotions, feelings and desires.

Peter states, “[N]o prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20-21). Sin and a low view of Scripture is what is altering God’s Word today in terms of marriage, sex, gender etc.

Let us never forget that sin began with a question, “Did God actually say…?” (Gen 3:1). From the beginning, “the most important strategy in Satan’s war against God, His Christ, and us is to undermine our confidence in God’s word. He does this by means of worldly wisdom. The wisdom of the age will always conflict with Scripture” (G. Cook, Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum, 2016, p. 57).

What is absolutely amazing about the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 is that “God does not intervene to defend his word” (p. 58). God gave His Word directly to Adam, Adam shared it with Eve. God has given His Word to us in written form, in many different languages and it is up to God’s people to rightly defend, interpret and share the Word.

Scoffers of God’s Word have always existed and will continue to exist. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is still as relevant today as when Paul wrote it: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the [messenger] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

God asks us to choose an authority. It can either be God and His Word or it can be sinful man armed with Satan’s deceptive, destructive and damning wisdom. Make no mistake every person who has lived, is living and will live will be examined by Scripture, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:12-13).

May God and His Word be our ultimate authority. I implore you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where Satan is seeking to undermine your confidence in Scripture.

Lord God, thank You for the preservation of Your Word. Lord God, I pray that for those who are being swayed and deceived by false teachers and teachings that You will open their eyes and ears to You and to Your Truth. Lord God, strengthen Your people who hold tightly to Your Word. Lord God, impress on us to know Your Word as we guard our hearts and minds. Lord God, may we never take Your Word for granted. May we never become bored or tired of hearing Your Word read, taught and preached. Lord God, thank You that for those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ that they can know You through nature/creation. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.