These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.
Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 23 ~ June 1-7
Psalm 119:89-176, Song of Solomon 1-8, Proverbs 1-15
Loving God’s Word: Psalm 119
Last week and this week, we read through Psalm 119, the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. Today, I thought we would go a little “old school” — “old” as in “Old Testament.” It was not uncommon at various times of worship in the temple or synagogue for the people to listen to lengthy portions of Scripture being read. (In fact, when we get to Nehemiah 8, you’ll have a completely new perspective on what constitutes a “lengthy” passage of Scripture or a “long” sermon!). But it’s an aspect of worship and teaching the church has lost as the years have gone by. So today, we’re going to start at verse 1 of Psalm 119 and see how far we can get. I have some brief notes on some of the verses/sections that I’ll share with you, and I encourage you to ask questions and comment as we read.
Note to blog readers: This is one of those “ya kinda had to be there” lessons. I’m happy to report that we ended up making it all the way through the chapter and even had some great discussion along the way!
1-8-The importance of obedience.
9-16- The importance of God’s word. We cannot be obedient to Him without His word, because His word tells us what He requires of us.
14, 16- The psalmist calls God’s word a “delight”. This was at a time when most of his “Bible” consisted of the Pentateuch, which was mostly law. He delighted in it, not primarily because of the do’s and dont’s, but because these were the words from the mouth of God. Also because the non-law portions reflected the greatness, power, mercy, and other attributes of God.
20 (John 1:1)- “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” The psalmist has a genuine love for, and godly obsession with, God’s rules/statutes/ordinances/commands. It is not just a love for the rules themselves; a desire to obey them is inextricably interwoven throughout that love. The reason the Christian has a natural love for, and obsession with, God’s word is that Christ IS that word (John 1:1)
25-32- The psalmist realizes that only God’s word gives life, strengthens the sorrowing soul, and transforms the heart and behavior, therefore, he “clings” to them. He asks God to teach him His ways and give him understanding of His word.
32 (John 8:34-37)- “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (for you set my heart free). Rather than seeing God’s law as confining or burdensome, the psalmist says they set his heart free. This is one of the core differences between the genuinely regenerated and those who are not. Christians, while we may struggle to understand and obey God’s word at times, know that it is His word that sets us free (if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed- John 8- This is, in fact, why we struggle to obey it instead of struggling against obeying it.). Lost people see God’s word as confining, enslaving, a prison. This is why, when coming face to face with God’s word, they rebel against it.
59- 60- “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to Your testimonies.” The solution for sin is found in God’s word. Our shame over our sin should drive us TO His word, not away from it.
63- We make our friendships with those who keep His law.65-72- This passage extols God’s goodness even in times of hardship and attack. God’s word is the psalmist’s comfort and reassurance. Even in difficult times, he values God’s word more than great riches.
75- “In faithfulness You have afflicted me” The psalmist isn’t blaming God or accusing Him of wrong. He knows that what God does, He does for our best. He has already, in the preceding passage shown that affliction was valuable in teaching him to keep God’s commands. He goes on to say in v. 92 that he would have perished in his affliction if it had not been for his delight in God’s word.
81-88- Even when we know God is good and He afflicts us in faithfulness, it gets old and wearisome. The psalmist (88) asks God to ease up, not for his own personal comfort or gain, but so that he will be better able to keep God’s word.
97-104 (Proverbs 1:7)- This passage echoes what we studied in Proverbs this week about wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1) The psalmist shows us that the knowledge of God’s word and the wisdom gained from it surpasses any other form of knowledge or wisdom: the craftiness of the enemy (98), academic knowledge (99), and the wisdom of age and experience (100).
129-136- The psalmist’s deep love for God and His word is palpable. It runs so deep he can scarcely convey it, even with so many descriptions in so many verses. He loves the Lord so much that it breaks his heart for others to continue in sin. This is the love that should fuel our evangelism. God’s testimonies are wonderful (129). They enlighten and give wisdom to even the simplest person (130), yet people throw them away in favor of their sin. It is incomprehensible to the psalmist.
137-144- God has laid down his precepts in righteousness. They are righteous and He is righteous.
158 (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)- We often look at “the faithless” (lost people) with disgust because they do not keep God’s commandments, but we must keep in mind that that’s what lost people do. (That’s what we did before we were saved!- 1 Corinthians 6) They are slaves to sin and need Jesus to set them free.
As we continue to study God’s word,
we will grow to love Christ more and love His word more.
Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18