God’s Word is Your Help

“God’s Word is Your Help”

Psalm 119:169-176

Dependence upon God and His Word reveals reverence for God.

Training in Righteousness

Training in Judgments

Training in Righteousness

Psalm 119:169-172, NKJV

169 Let my cry come before You, O Lord;

Give me understanding according to Your word.

170 Let my supplication come before You;

Deliver me according to Your word.

171 My lips shall utter praise,

For You teach me Your statutes.

172 My tongue shall speak of Your word,

For all Your commandments are righteousness.           

            Training is something that people have to do when the activity that needs to be performed by them does not come naturally to them. The things of God and doing the will of God is a perfect example of this because it is opposite of what our human, sinful nature desires to do. Therefore, transformation of a life lived for self to a life lived for God takes training, strength that is beyond human determination, and wisdom which must come from outside of the person being transformed from someone who was once dead but now lives.

            This final portion of Psalm 119 consists of eight sentences that all begin with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet “Tau.” In these verses the writer petitions God to keep him close to Him that he would continue growing in his knowledge of God and His Word. Knowing God or His righteousness is to first recognize that righteousness is something mankind is missing if they have not received it from God.

            The psalmist begins by acknowledging that he is doing more than simply asking for God’s help, but is crying out in desperation for God’s help. The Hebrew word translated “cry” is “Rinnâh” indicating glad shouting, joyful singing, crying out. The writer understands the difference between the character of God and his character, and views the Word of God as his help and hope of being transformed to take on God’s character in his life.

            It is recorded in Proverbs 1:7, “7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,

But fools despise wisdom and instruction” (NKJV). No one cries out to something where there is no hope of receiving what is needed. Children cry out to their parents when in need of things in expectation they can satisfy the need. Students cry out to administrators since they have authority over the teaching faculty when a grievance against a teacher develops. However, many will cry out to anyone who will listen whenever they think they will be ignored by authority.

            The writer calls out to God rather than anyone else for understanding in and through God’s Word since he has seen righteousness in the commands from God. This is a cry of excitement as much as it is need. There is an anticipation of impending satisfaction and wonder of change that brings peace and joy which the writer knows is missing from his life. The commandments and law of God instructs people on what it means to be righteous by providing through the Word of God a clear image of God. Therefore, through the adherence to God’s Word a person can be trained to take on the righteousness of God. Earlier on in the first part of this acrostic with is alluded to by the writer when he was inspired to ask, “9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9, NKJV).

            The opposite of keeping God’s Word is to forsake understanding of anything, and suffer from a depraved mind and heart. Moses warned the Israelites just before his death,

26 “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; 27 for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord, then how much more after my death? 28 Gather to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.” (Deuteronomy 31:26-29, NKJV)

            Righteousness is one of those things unnatural to people. If people were capable of righteousness, then falling God’s commandments would be something people could do without having to turn to the Bible; first of all to understand what righteousness is and secondly to recognize the filthiness of their righteousness in comparison to God’s righteousness. God gives a graphic illustration of the righteousness of mankind in comparison to His righteousness when He inspired Isaiah to write,

6 But we are all like an unclean thing,

And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;

We all fade as a leaf,

And our iniquities, like the wind,

Have taken us away.

7 And there is no one who calls on Your name,

Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;

For You have hidden Your face from us,

And have consumed us because of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:6-7, NKJV)

            Training is vital to life even when something comes naturally for someone. When a person does not have a talent for something there needs to be intense and continue training in order to continue growing and simply maintain whatever level of ability a person has achieved either naturally or through much hard work. Professional athletes still have to practice their skills. Engineers have to continually be learning about new developments in the materials which they work with to build and design things. Teachers must continue growing in their ability to connect with each new generation even though their curriculum such as mathematics is a constant they teach.

            God’s people need to continually be reading, studying, and exploring God’s Word to further transform their lifestyle and ability to grasp and apply more and more of the Bible to share it to a world that changes by the day. The psalmist turns to the unchanging, eternal Word of God which transcends time, technology, and culture. God’s commands are recognized as righteousness revealed and capable of delivering and teaching all about how to live righteously before God.

            The supplication is for deliverance from his own sinfulness by bringing his life into accordance with the Word of God. It is through God’s Word revealing the righteousness of the Lord which will bring praises to the lips of those who discover the life God offers through the living Word of God, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus alluded to this life the psalmist references here in Psalm 119 when He quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 responding to Satan’s challenge to make food for Himself, “3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (NKJV).

            The life the psalmist is referring to, that Jesus spoke about, and God reveals through His Word is more than physical life; it is spiritual life that makes physical life greater than merely surviving from day to day for as many days as possible. The survival mentality most people live in is void of hope for tomorrow. Everyone witnesses the decay of the physical in the changes their bodies go through over time and how appearance and abilities slowly wither away with each passing day. Yet, the writer is able to praise God in spite of the reality of the decay taking place day by day.

            Deliverance according to God’s Word is the praise for which the psalmist gives to God for the lessons and understanding he has learned through the statutes and commandments of God. The physical decay due to the curse of sin upon all creation cannot be stopped or slowed down regardless of how much people attempt to hinder the consequences of rebelling against God. However, a person can be transformed from death to life in spite of the physical decline that is so prevalent in and around them.

            It is vital that God’s Word is recognized as righteousness revealed in order to receive the life God promises when His commands are obeyed from a heart that is convinced it is truth. The Lord has made it clear to His people from the very beginning as Christ has reinforced this in the Incarnation. God consistently proclaims,

19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NKJV)

 Christ has confirmed this as well when He said,

19 “…Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:19-21, NKJV)

            There is much more understanding in the present age because of the fulfillment of Scripture in Christ than there was at the time God inspired this psalm to be written for revelation of Himself then, now, and as long as God allows time as it is known presently to endure. Therefore, it is God’s Word that will train those who turn to Him in faith to be reconciled to Him from their spiritual state of death and decay due to the consequences of sin and be transformed to being alive in the Son of God to live even though they die. This means what is done, seen, and received in life will be judged as worthy or worthless based upon righteousness rather than mankind’s best understanding.

Training in Judgments

Psalm 119:173-176, NKJV

173 Let Your hand become my help,

For I have chosen Your precepts.

174 I long for Your salvation, O Lord,

And Your law is my delight.

175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;

And let Your judgments help me.

176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;

Seek Your servant,

For I do not forget Your commandments.           

            Training in righteousness must be lived out through the judgments made about everything externally and internally. The writer of Psalm 119 honestly seeks after God’s help to live out God’s righteousness in his day to day routine by applying the righteousness revealed in God’s Word. This is made evident in the last four verses of this incredible acrostic proclaiming the love he has for the Word of God and the Author who is God.

            “Let Your hand…” is something many presently express by saying “the hand of God”. The Hebrew word translated into English as “hand” in verse one hundred seventy-three is “yâd” meaning hand, strength, and metaphorically signifying strength or power. It is the power of God revealed in His Word which helped the psalmist to know that his choice of God’s precepts to live by was the correct decision to make.

            The power of God is what moves within people to bring about the will of God in the heart of people; it is what moves in the events of each day that brings about the will of God in a world in open rebellion of its Creator. The power of God is what brought about the desire in the psalmist’s heart to see the fulfillment of the salvation made clear through God’s relationship with His people Israel. The salvation of God seen in the law of God is what brings delight in God’s Word.

            Delight is more than happy or gracious thoughts about the Lord, but a strength that causes a person to cling to God in spite of the hardships that are encountered daily. Job understood this quite well in order to maintain his hope in God’s salvation despite the circumstances he endured.

2 “As God lives, who has taken away my justice,

And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,

3 As long as my breath is in me,

And the breath of God in my nostrils,

4 My lips will not speak wickedness,

Nor my tongue utter deceit.

5 Far be it from me

That I should say you are right;

Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.

6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go;

My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live. (Job 27:2-6, NKJV)

            There was a delight in Job’s heart that caused him to trust that his salvation was going to come through God regardless of what God allowed into his life which he was powerless to comprehend why it was happening. The psalmist praises in this same attitude of hope and strength of God working in and around him through the reading, understanding, and application of God’s commandments and precepts.

            God trains His people to make judgments upon and discernment of everything in life based upon the righteousness of God revealed by God’s laws and commandments. The Word of God gives the guidelines necessary to make trustworthy decisions of earthly and spiritual matters based in God’s training in righteousness through His Word. This judgment is for everything, including God and His Word.

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? 14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it… 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. 21 He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. (Deuteronomy 10:12-14, 17-21, NKJV)

            God is consistent in what He does and in what He says. The Lord’s requirements of His people are the same standards He adheres to Himself. It is why God has called people to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:13-16). God reveals His righteousness and the trustworthiness of His judgments in creation, through His Word, and especially by Christ who is the living Word of God who has fulfilled the law perfectly.

            The writer can confidently rely on the judgments of God to be the standard to guide judgments upon all aspects of life both internally and externally. God’s faithfulness and consistency provides safety for all who trust in Him for the salvation of their souls. God does not change and is consistent in all that He does, speaks, and commands (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Training in judgments is to use all that is learned about God and how He works in being trained in righteousness through His Word by His Spirit’s power over us and applying those principles and directives to the current circumstances that are being faced presently.

            The psalmist had been able to personally experience the accuracy of God’s wisdom and judgments by obediently acting upon all God had commanded, and imitating the way God worked in and around him. This knowledge all came from looking into God’s law for the writer of Psalm 119, but believers today can see the written Word of God modeled perfectly in the Son of God. Jesus made it clear that He was imitating and being obedient to all the Father did and said.

19 …“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. (John 5:19-21, NKJV)

            Jesus modeled how to live in the power of the Father through complete submission to the Father’s will in the manner the law of God described. The purpose of God sending His Son into the world was to provide for mankind what was impossible for them to do for themselves. It is humanly impossible to live in complete obedience to the law of God and submit to the will of the Father perfectly without fail. That is why, “14 …the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1;14, NKJV).

            The writer knew he was under the judgment of God because he had not walked in the law as God had commanded. He trusted that God would seek him due to his hopelessness of finding his way back into the grace of God on his own. The psalmist uses the image of a sheep that had been separated from the shepherd who provided everything it needed for life.

            The writer loved God and His Word. Remembering the commandments of God and keeping the commandments of God are two separate things. The writer knew what God required of him and could picture in part what was demanded of him in the way he was to live his life; yet he realized his life fell far short of the standard of God. He acknowledged his failure to live up to the commandments of God, but rested in the righteous judgments of God to provide him with what he needed. The psalmist knew from watching God work and reading His Word that God is trustworthy.

2 He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,

Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.

3 A bruised reed He will not break,

And smoking flax He will not quench;

He will bring forth justice for truth. (Isaiah 42:2-3, NKJV)

            God desires to reveal Himself through His people. This is done most effectively when the people of God take on the character of God to live as the Lord has modeled in Christ and commanded in His Word. This is only accomplished as the people of God understand that the Word of God is their help throughout all of life.

            May the people of God willingly choose to make the Word of God their treasure above all other things, and view it as the way by which God can help them know Him and live in a pleasing manner before Him.

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