Psalm 119

Psalm 119

Keeping God’s Law is the best thing in our lives.

I met a homeless person. She had $2,400 cash and her belongings in a shopping cart. She still put a can in front of her, hoping people could throw a coin in there. I asked her if she wanted to go to a homeless shelter. She said no. She said she did not like to keep the rules. Keeping the laws and regulations are not her specialty. Whether we want to keep God’s laws or not also draw clear lines between God’s people and people of the world. If we love observing God’s laws we are God’s people. If we want to challenge God’s laws, we are not (diverse interpretations are fine.).

“Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the <law> of the Lord. Happy are those who keep his <decrees>, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his <ways>.  You have commanded your <precepts> to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your <statutes>! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your <commandments>. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous <ordinances>.”

7 different words but the same concept: Listen to God!

In this psalm, we have read so far 7 different words that refer to the laws of God. However, it means the same thing: Listen to God and you will be prosperous!

“I will observe your <statutes>; do not utterly forsake me. How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your <word>. With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your <commandments>. I treasure your <word> in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your <statutes>.With my lips I declare all the <ordinances> of your mouth. I delight in the way of your <decrees> as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your <precepts>,and fix my eyes on your <ways>. I will delight in your <statutes>; I will not forget your <word>. Deal bountifully with your servant, so that I may live and observe your <word>.

Benefit one: Young people can keep their ways pure!

I am not sure whether young people think this as a benefit. Sometimes they want to be dirty. Young ones have the privilege to make all kinds mistakes and mess in their lives. However, many of them regret later in their lives. So, this would be a benefit when they look back their lives in reflection.

“Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your <law>. I live as an alien in the land; do not hide your <commandments> from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your <ordinances> at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your <commandments>; take away from me their scorn and contempt, for I have kept your <decrees>. Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your <statutes>.Your <decrees> are my delight, they are my counselors. My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to your <word>. When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your <statutes>. Make me understand the way of your <precepts>, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your <word>. Put false ways far from me; and graciously teach me your <law>. I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your <ordinances> before me. I cling to your decrees, O Lord; let me not be put to shame. I run the way of your <commandments>, for you enlarge my understanding. Teach me, O Lord, the way of your <statutes>, and I will observe it to the end.

Benefit two: We can enlarge our understanding of the world!

God created the world with words. God works through words. So, when we understand the words, we can understand the world.  We can tell what is going on in the world and have peace knowing that God is in control.

“Give me understanding, that I may keep your <law> and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your <commandments>, for I delight in it. Turn my heart to your <decrees>, and not to selfish gain. Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your <ways>. Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you. Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your <ordinances> are good. See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life. Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise. Then I shall have an answer for those who taunt me, for I trust in your <word>. Do not take the <word> of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your <ordinances>. I will keep your <law> continually, forever and ever.”

Benefit three: We can keep hope for future.

When we read the words of God, we find that God is faithful and keeps His promises. Once we have strong foundation like that, we can keep our hope for the future. No matter what happens today, there will be tomorrow and God is faithful to His promises. Without hope, life is doomed.

“I shall walk at liberty, for I have sought your <precepts>. I will also speak of your <decrees> before kings,    and shall not be put to shame; I find my delight in your <commandments>, because I love them. I revere your <commandments>, which I love, and I will meditate on your <statutes>. Remember your <word> to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my distress, that your promise gives me life. The arrogant utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your <law>. When I think of your <ordinances> from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,   those who forsake your <law>.Your <statutes> have been my songs wherever I make my home. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your <law>. This blessing has fallen to me, for I have kept your <precepts>. The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your <words>.I implore your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think of your <ways>, I turn my feet to your <decrees>; I hurry and do not delay to keep your <commandments>. Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your <law>. At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous <ordinances>. I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your <precepts>.

Benefit four: We will be comforted. We will have peace that the world cannot give.    

Things happen in lives. People are crying, shouting, “Why me?” “Why now?” When we reflect on God’s words, we know God’s will and understand why things happen and have hope for the future. So, we are comforted. We can say, “Yes, Lord, Thy will be done in this way on earth as it is in heaven.” We can have peace that the world cannot give to us.

“The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your <statutes>. You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your <word>. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your <commandments>. Before I was humbled I went astray, but now I keep your <word>. You are good and do good; teach me your <statutes>. The arrogant smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your <precepts>. Their hearts are fat and gross, but I delight in your <law>. It is good for me that I was humbled, so that I might learn your <statutes>. The <law> of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your <commandments>. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your <word>. I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have humbled me. Let your steadfast love become my comfort according to your promise to your servant.  Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your <law> is my delight. Let the arrogant be put to shame, because they have subverted me with guile; as for me, I will meditate on your <precepts>.Let those who fear you turn to me, so that they may know your <decrees>. May my heart be blameless in your <statutes>, so that I may not be put to shame.  My soul languishes for your salvation; I hope in your <word>.”

Benefit five: We can have strength and patience to withstand persecution.

For some people, this is not a benefit, either. It presupposes persecution. Many people want life without oppression and persecution. However, for the people of God, persecution is given. We try to live a holy life (separate life), we will be ridiculed and persecuted in one way or another. The issue to us is not whether we are going to be persecuted or not but whether we have strength to endure the persecution or not.

“My eyes fail with watching for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?’ For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your <statutes>. How long must your servant endure?   When will you judge those who persecute me? The arrogant have dug pitfalls for me; they flout your <law>. All your <commandments> are enduring; I am persecuted without cause; help me! They have almost made an end of me on earth; but I have not forsaken your <precepts>. In your steadfast love spare my life, so that I may keep the <decrees> of your mouth. The Lord exists forever;    your <word> is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand today, for all things are your servants. If your <law> had not been my delight, I would have perished in my misery. I will never forget your <precepts>, for by them you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your <precepts>. The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your <decrees>. I have seen a limit to all perfection,    but your <commandment> is exceedingly broad.

Benefit six: We become wiser and wiser every day.

The fear of God is the root of wisdom. When we read the words of God and meditate on them, we become wiser and avoid all kinds of evil things that our foolish action can bring into our ways.

“Oh, how I love your <law>! It is my meditation all day long. Your <commandment> makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is always with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your <decrees> are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your <precepts>. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your <word>. I do not turn away from your <ordinances>,   for you have taught me. How sweet are your <words> to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your <precepts> I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your< word> is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe your righteous <ordinances>. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your<word>. Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your ordinances. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes    forever, to the end.

Benefit seven: We will live a good life!

In the common sense of the meaning of the word, we will have a good life.  Our hearts will be filled with thanksgiving and joy, hope and love, peace and gratitude! What else do you want?

“I hate the double-minded, but I love your <law>. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your <word>. Go away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the <commandments> of my God. Uphold me according to your <promise>, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope. Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your <statutes> continually. You spurn all who go astray from your <statutes>; for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you count as dross; therefore I love your <decrees>. My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your <judgments>. I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. Guarantee your servant’s well-being; do not let the godless oppress me. My eyes fail from watching for your salvation, and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise. Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your <statutes> I am your servant; give me understanding, so that I may know your <decrees>. It is time for the Lord to act, for your <law> has been broken. Truly I love your <commandments> more than gold, more than fine gold. Truly I direct my steps by all your <precepts>; I hate every false way. Your <decrees> are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your <words> gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. With open mouth I pant, because I long for your <commandments>. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your custom toward those who love your name. Keep my steps steady according to your promise, and never let iniquity have dominion over me.

Benefit eight: We can enjoy the relationship with God

Life in God is our goal. It is achievable when we live according to the words of God, in the words of God, and by the words of God.

“Redeem me from human oppression, that I may keep your <precepts>. Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your <statutes>. My eyes shed streams of tears because your <law> is not kept. You are righteous, O Lord, and your judgments are right. You have appointed your <decrees> in righteousness and in all faithfulness. My zeal consumes me because my foes forget your <words>. Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it. I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your <precepts>. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your <law> is the truth. Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your <commandments> are my delight. Your <decrees> are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live. With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord. I will keep your <statutes>. I cry to you; save me, that I may observe your <decrees>. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your <words>. My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. In your steadfast love hear my voice; O Lord, in your justice preserve my life. Those who persecute me with evil purpose draw near; they are far from your law. Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your <commandments> are true. Long ago I learned from your <decrees> that you have established them forever. Look on my misery and rescue me, for I do not forget your <law>. Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise. Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your <statutes>. Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your justice. Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, yet I do not swerve from your <decrees>. I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your <commands>. Consider how I love your <precepts>;   preserve my life according to your steadfast love. The sum of your <word> is truth; and every one of your righteous <ordinances> endures forever. Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your <words>. I rejoice at your <word> like one who finds great spoil.  hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your <law>.

With all the benefits, let us praise God who gives us laws! Keeping laws is the best praise.

The psalmist praises God and calls us to praise Him also. The reasons are given in this psalm in many different forms but in one word, “God gives us Word!”

“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous <ordinances>. Great peace have those who love your <law>; nothing can make them stumble. I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I fulfill your <commandments>. My soul keeps your <decrees>; I love them exceedingly. I  keep your <precepts> and <decrees>, for all my ways are before you. Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your <word>. Let my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. My lips will pour forth praise, because you teach me your <statutes>. My tongue will sing of your promise, for all your <commandments> are right. Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your <precepts>. I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your <law> is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and let your <ordinances> help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your <commandments>.

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About biblepreacher

United Methodist Church Pastor. My wife, Hysung Hong Lee, is also a UMC pastor and my Son, Hozeh, and Daughter, Hoyon, are college students.
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