Opening illustration: As an adolescent I read the word of God daily as a routine without really understanding it and kept it under my pillow assuming that it would give me a peaceful sleep and protect me from all harm. When I became a teenager, I still kept doing the same thing except that the Bible was not under my pillow (made my sleep uncomfortable) anymore but in my locker and I would only open it only when in need. This went on till I became 16 and really understood what it was all about. The minute I came to the knowledge of Christ in a personal way, everything just turned around.
Christians, however, should never be satisfied with a lack of understanding of Scripture. In Psalm 119 we are told several times that we can understand God’s Word (vv.27, 34, 73, 125). And we should read it because it’s filled with practical wisdom for us. Here are just a few examples from Psalm 119:105-112 that show us how an understanding of the Bible can help us.
When you read the Bible, ask God for wisdom to understand and apply it to your daily life. His Holy Spirit will help you make sense of it.
Let us turn to Psalm 119:105 and seek Godly instruction on how does the word of God help us.
Introduction: Psalm 119 is divided by 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabets, each having 8 verses dedicated to it. The letter NUN is denoted from verses 105-112. The Word illuminates our way in this world. It shows us what we need to know to live as His people. There are four things specifically that the Word of God illuminates: (i) temptation and sin. The Word exposes the sins of our hearts and lives. It also shows us the way in which we must not go. (ii) The word illuminates the only way of deliverance from sin, which is Jesus Christ. This is true because the central message of the Word is Jesus Christ, Who is the Light of the world. (iii) The word illuminates the right way for us to live, which is the way of thankful obedience to God. (iv) The word leads in our times of suffering and affliction, showing to us that God has a purpose for this affliction.
How does the understanding of God’s Word help us?
1. It lights our path (v.105)
We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into its darkness; let us never venture there without the light giving word, lest we slip with our feet. Each man should use the word of God personally, practically, and habitually, that he may see his way and see what lies in it. When darkness settles down upon all around me, the word of the Lord, like a flaming torch, reveals my way. Having no fixed lamps in eastern towns, in old time each passenger carried a lantern with him that he might not fall into the open sewer, or stumble over the heaps of ordure which defiled the road. This is a true picture of our path through this dark world: we should not know the way, or how to walk in it, if Scripture, like a blazing flambeau, did not reveal it. One of the most practical benefits of Holy Writ is guidance in the acts of daily life: it is not sent to astound us with its brilliance, but to guide us by its instruction. It is true the head needs illumination, but even more the feet need direction, else head and feet may both fall into a ditch. Happy is the man who personally appropriates God's word, and practically uses it as his comfort and counselor, — a lamp to his own feet.
It is a lamp by night, a light by day, and a delight at all times. David guided his own steps by it, and also saw the difficulties of his road by its beams. He who walks in darkness is sure, sooner or later, to stumble; while he who walks by the light of day, or by the lamp of night, stumbles not, but keeps his uprightness. Ignorance is painful upon practical subjects; it breeds indecision and suspense, and these are uncomfortable: the word of God, by imparting heavenly knowledge, leads to decision, and when that is followed by determined resolution, as in this case, it brings with it great restfulness of heart.
2. It teaches us how to please God (vv.106, 108, 112)
The Word of God gives us a glimpse on how to please God and according to the psalmist it is by keeping His judgments (laws) and statutes. There it becomes imperative for us to be obedient to the whole counsel of God. In verses 106, 108 and 112 the Psalmist showed his faith, and his joy which came thereof; now he shows that here in this joy he will keep the commandments; whereby he shows that this was a true joy, because it wrought a care to do good. For if we believe the promises truly, then we also love the commandments, otherwise faith is vain; a care to live a godly life nourishes faith in God's promises. Here is the cause then why many regard not the word and sacraments; or if they do a little, it is to no purpose, because they labor not to keep the commandments. For unless they have care to do this, the word of God to them cannot be profitable, nor the sacraments sacred.
David tells us how he did; he inclined his heart to God's commandments, both to keep them and to meditate on them. He took and bent his heart, as a thing bending too much to other things; set his mind on musing on it. He found his heart and the law of God too far asunder, and so would continue, unless he brought them together and made them one. If he had not brought his heart to the word, he had never meditated: the object cannot apply itself to the mind, but the mind must bring itself to the object. No holy duties will come to us, we must come to them.
3. It encourages us in affliction (v.107)
According to the last verse he had been sworn in as a soldier of the Lord, and in this next verse he is called to suffer hardness in that capacity. Our service of the Lord does not screen us from trial, but rather secures it for us. The Psalmist was a consecrated man, and yet a chastened man; nor were his chastisements light; for it seemed as if the more he was obedient the more he was afflicted. He evidently felt the rod to be cutting deep, and this he pleads before the Lord. He speaks not by way of murmuring, but by way of pleading; from the very much affliction he argues for very much quickening.
This is the best remedy for tribulation; the soul is raised above the thought of present distress, and is filled with that holy joy which attends all vigorous spiritual life, and so the affliction grows light. Jehovah alone can quicken: he has life in himself, and therefore can communicate it readily; he can give us life at any moment, yea, at this present instant; for it is of the nature of quickening to be quick in its operation. The Lord has promised, prepared, and provided this blessing of renewed life for all his waiting servants: it is a covenant blessing, and it is as obtainable as it is needful. Frequently the affliction is made the means of the quickening, even as the stirring of a fire promotes the heat of the flame. In their affliction some desire death, let us pray for life. Our foreboding under trial are often very gloomy, let us entreat the Lord to deal with us, not according to our fears, but according to his own word. David had but few promises to quote, and probably these were in his own psalms, yet he pleads the word of the Lord; how much more should we do so, since to us so many holy men have spoken by the Spirit of the Lord in that wonderful library which is now our Bible. Seeing we have more promises, let us offer more prayers.
Illustration: On May 17, 2008, Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his family suffered a devastating loss. Five-year-old adopted daughter, Maria, was struck and killed when Chapman's seventeen-year-old son was backing his SUV out of the family's driveway. After much prayer and counsel, Chapman recently returned to touring in promotion for his newest album. Elizabeth Diffin, a freelance reporter, attended one of Chapman's concerts and writes about the experience.
It's not often you leave a concert reflecting on the words of a song by a different artist. But as I exited the July 24, 2008, Steven Curtis Chapman event, the words of a Matt Redman worship song echoed through my head. Chapman opened the concert with "Blessed Be Your Name" just two months after the death of his 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue, in a tragic accident at the family's home.
"Blessed Be Your Name" was also the first song Chapman sang May 21, the day of Maria's death, when he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to sing again. Inspired by the story of Job, at one point the lyrics repeat, "He gives and takes away."
"As I sang this song ... it wasn't a song, it was a cry, a scream, a prayer," Chapman explained to the audience of nearly 5,000. "I found an amazing comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding."
Chapman also shared that after Maria's death, he'd reconsidered the words to all his songs and whether he could still sing—and believe—them. Instead, losing his little girl brought the meaning of some of those songs into sharper focus. One example was "Yours," which addresses how everything in the world belongs to God.
"In this song, in particular, I had to come to a new realization," he said. "There's not an inch of creation that God doesn't look at and say 'all of that's mine.'"
As a result of that realization in conjunction with Maria's death, Chapman added a new verse to "Yours":
I've walked the valley of death's shadow
so deep and dark that I could barely breathe.
I've had to let go of more than I could bear and
I've questioned everything that I believe.
Still even here in this great darkness
a comfort and a hope comes breaking through
as I can say in life or death
God we belong to you.
(Condensed from Today's Christian, © 2008 Christianity Today International. Elizabeth Diffin, "Still Blessing His Name," Today's-Christian.com)
Steven Curtis Chapman knows what it means to find hope that takes you to the end. He had buried God’s Word and God’s promises so deeply in his heart, that even the tragic death of his daughter could not rob him of his faith. Notice that her death made him question everything he believed in: was it true or not? Was the God he sang about and wrote songs about someone he still believed in? But even in that darkness, a comfort and a hope came breaking through. “I can say, in life or death, God we belong to you.” Perhaps the most important thing you can discover as you spend time immersed God’s Word is this: God loves you. You belong to him.
4. It helps us not to stray from God’s truth (v.110)
Spiritual life is the scene of constant danger: the believer lives with his life in his hand, and meanwhile all seem plotting to take it from him, by cunning if they cannot by violence. We shall not find it an easy thing to live the life of the faithful. Wicked spirits and wicked men will leave no stone unturned for our destruction. If all other devices fail, and even hidden pits do not succeed, the wicked still persevere in their treacherous endeavors, and, becoming craftier still, they set snares for the victim of their hate. The smaller species of game are usually taken by this method, by gin, or trap, or net, or noose. Wicked men are quite indifferent as to the manner in which they can destroy the good man— they think no more of him than if he were a rabbit or a rat: cunning and treachery are always the allies of malice, and everything like a generous or chivalrous feeling is unknown among the graceless, who treat the godly as if they were vermin to be exterminated. When a man knows that he is thus assailed, he is too apt to become timorous, and rush upon some hasty device for deliverance, not without sin in the endeavor; but David calmly kept his way, and was able to write, He was not snared, for he kept his eyes open, and kept near his God. He was not entrapped and robbed, for he followed the King's highway of holiness, where God secures safety to every traveler. He did not err from the right, and he was not deterred from following it, because he referred to the Lord for guidance, and obtained it. If we err from the precepts, we part with the promises; if we get away from God's presence, we wander into the wilds where the fowlers freely spread their nets. From this verse let us learn to be on our guard, for we, too, have enemies both crafty and wicked. Hunters set their traps in the animals’ usual runs, and our worst snares are laid in our own ways. By keeping to the ways of the Lord we shall escape the snares of our adversaries, for his ways are safe and free from treachery.
5. It gives us joy (v.111)
The gladness which had come to him through the word of the Lord had caused him to make an unalterable choice of it. All the parts of Scripture had been pleasing to David, and were so still and therefore he stuck to them, and meant to stick to them forever. That which rejoices the heart is sure to be chosen and treasured. It is not the head knowledge but the heart experience which brings the joy.
He said not that God's testimonies bring joy, but that they are joy; there is no other joy but the delight in the law of the Lord. For all other joy, the wise king said of laughter, "thou art mad, "and of joy, "what is it that thou dost?" as stated in Ecclesiastes 6. True joy is the earnest which we have of heaven, it is the treasure of the soul, and therefore should be laid up in a safe place; and nothing in this world is safe to place it in. And therefore with the spouse we say, "We will be glad in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine." Let others seek their joy in wine, in society, in conversation, in music; for me, thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. These indeed are the precious fruits of the earth, but they seal not up special favor; a man may have together with them, an empty, husky, and chaffy soul. And therefore these are not the joys of the saints; they must have God, or else they die for sorrow; his law is their life.
Application: To understand the Word of God, rely on the Spirit of God.