As a child, I had a friend who promised me if I came over to his house to play, he would loan me his brand new “Jackson Five” album. When it was time to go home, I asked for the album and he changed his mind. He wouldn’t let me have it and his mom backed him up. Of course I protested and said, “but you gave your word.”
We all know what is meant by the phrase, “you gave your word.” It’s an understanding of a promise, an agreement of a truth we all agree to.
Psalm 119 gives a beautiful picture of the depth behind the phrase. There are eight synonyms used for Scripture in this Psalm; law or instruction, decrees, commands, promise, precepts, statues, and testimonies. However, the most comprehensive of all these terms is “word” because it embraces all of what God has revealed about Himself, whether in a promise or a story or a command.
Let me offer a few notes about this term. First of all, the word is eternal: “Your word O Lord, is eternal; it stand firm in the heavens”(Vs. 89).
The truths of God were not made up as we went along. Instead, they have always been, before time and space ever existed. They can be depended on, just as God himself can be depended on because His faithfulness is continuing through all generations (Vs. 90).
His word in creation and his word in revelation come from the same faithful heart. Chapter 1 of the book of John even uses this term as a synonym to the name of Jesus himself.
Secondly, these words of truth give real freedom. If our steps are following God’s path, there is freedom from sin and bondage (Vs. 133). Jesus said the truth will set you free in John 8:32.
A picture of a fish swimming in the water gives the idea of freedom, going wherever he wants in the water. If the fish could rebel against the “bondage” of being in the water all the time, then he would quit being free. Same with us, the words from God bring release to our souls.
Lastly, the word gives understanding of how to navigate life - it is very practical.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Vs. 9).
“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Vs. 11).
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Verse 11 is my daughter’s favorite verse).
One of the great themes of scripture is that God’s word makes wise the simple. This literally means God’s word teaches us how to live life in the right manner. To make good choices and gain amazing insights into the character of God himself, not simply attained through intellect. Good thing we have been investing ourselves into God’s word this year!
Tips for Reading- (Application tip # 15)
Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.
The second step in application is connected with the word Relate. The scriptures should be related back to every aspect of our lives.
They should relate to your relationship with God. In Christ, He is your heavenly Father. You have a personal and intimate relationship with Him. He’s given you new life through Jesus, and given you the Holy Spirit to help you grow and accomplish His purposes.
Do you see changes in this relationship as you grow? Psalm 119 is one of the best places for seeing your relationship with God and all the aspects of your life it should impact.
The Scriptures should relate to a new you. If the first part is true, then your life takes on a new meaning and purpose. How does that affect your self-esteem?
The Scriptures should relate to other people. You discover they are not the enemies, but many times victims of the enemy. You can see them as folks God has put in your life so you can treat them as Jesus would.
The Scriptures also relate back to the last nine questions we gave a few weeks ago; your sins, God’s promises and commands, and examples to follow. All of these are for life change.
Has anyone noticed a change lately? God wants to continually change us.
Notes from David’s Journal
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm/chapter in the Bible. It goes on and on and on. However, it is chocked full of beautiful verses like the Word being a lamp to my feet and others.
I've always loved the idea that God's Word gives us the next step, like a lamp to our feet in the night, only showing us the next step, not like a headlight that gives us the next 100 feet!
Please read the Psalm slowly and carefully. It is a magnificent expression of David's belief about God's law, the place and purpose of God's Word in our lives. When believed in and obeyed, it gives us life and light like nothing else on this side of eternity.
Read and enjoy!