Summary: Treasuring or loving God's Word develops a stabilized life. Those like the psalmist, who love God's Word & obey its directions find the hope of their salvation & enjoy great peace. .
PSALM 119: 161-168 [The Ministry of The Word Series]
IN AWE OF THE WORD
In this section [Shin the 21st letter in the Hebrew alphabet] the psalmist stood in awe of God's Word and had come to love it. Because God through His Word directs him he could not be misdirected even by the rulers of this world. Thus he rejoiced in the worth of God's Word, repeatedly praised God for His Word (vv.162-164). Those like himself, who love God's Word and follow its directions find the hope of their salvation and enjoy great peace (CIT).
Treasuring or loving God's Word develops a stabilized life. The stabilizing safeguard for the heart is love for the Lord's teaching (163). A consequence of loving the Lord's teaching is a stabilized life which enjoys peace (165). The constant keeper is motivated by love of what the Lord has testified of himself (167).
The life that is determined to be constant—under pressure and in devotion—finds enrichment and peace. Yet constant devotion also encounters moral conflict, for there is no such thing as unchallenged stability. The choice is between what to love and what to hate in the battle for perseverance until the Lord acts. But it is obedience that is the hallmark of love and it is by obedience we please the Lord (168).
I. THE CONSTANT HEART (what it fears, what it treasures, what it loves), 161–163.
II. THE CONSTANT LIFE (praiseful, unstumbling, obedient), 164–166.
III. THE CONSTANT KEEPER (keep-obey what springs from love, obeying-keeping that aims to please), 167–168.
[This outline follows the distribution of the initial letters Sin and Shin -treated as the same Hebrew letter. Love occurs in each division (vv. 163, 165, 167).]
Who calls the shots in your life? For the psalmist it was not the rulers of this world. Even their persecution does not deter him. God's Word alone directs him as we learn in verse 161. "Princes persecute me without cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your words."
The psalmist affirmed that though princes hated him without a cause he trembled in awe at God's Word (v.120). Princes are appointed to protect the innocent and avenge the oppressed, so it is great evil when they themselves become the assailants of the righteous. This man of God found himself attacked by the judges of the earth, for eminent position added weight and venom to their hostility. This sufferer could truthfully assert that their persecution was without cause. He had not broken their laws, he had not injured them, he had not even desired to see them injured, he had not been an advocate of rebellion or anarchy, nor had he openly nor secretly slandered them. and though his right behavior made their oppression inexcusable, it took away a part of its sting, and helped this servant of God to bear up. [Spurgeon, Charles. The Treasury of David. Vol. 3. McLean, VA: MacDonald Publishing. p. 423.]
How could the writer stand up under such powerful pressure? He could stand up under such powerful pressure because his "heart" stood "in awe of God's Word." [The word pachad translated awe in NASV can also mean "shiver," "tremble," or "be terrified."]
This awe is because of the great and mighty God who brought into being. He is also in awe of it because of the just demand that we will be measured against in day of judgment.
There is a great treasure here that we should not loss. Since the psalmist is in awe of God, he is not in awe of anyone else. He might have been overcome by fear of the princes had it not been that a greater awe drove out the less, and he was swayed by awe of God's Word. This is our true freedom in this world. Luther puts it this way: "Let goods and kindred go. This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still; His Kingdom is forever." May the word of God continually hold supreme power over our hearts also.
The Word that awakens awe also brings the freedom to rejoice the psalmist confesses in verse 162. "I rejoice at Your Word, as one who finds great spoil."
Awe of the Word elicits rejoicing in the Word. The verb [ptc] tense indicates constant or habitual rejoicing. The Psalmist rejoices because he found God's Word to be "great treasure" or, "much spoil." [The word shalal means "plundered goods" or "hidden treasure."] When he finds great treasure in the God's Word he experience the joy of a warrior returning with booty from battle. Yet the Word is a better kind of treasure for God's promise never loss their value.
The psalmist found great treasure could be taken away from God's Word. Many times I have had a similar joy as I have heard the Lord speak to me in His Word. [A part of this joy is that in the Word of God we find eternal truth.]