Summary: Wisdom Psalms give concrete examples of how God wants us to live our life. If you live a certain way then this and this will happen. If you live a different way then something else will happen instead. Wisdom Psalms explain the consequences.
Introduction to Reading
As we continue our series of sermons which focus on the Psalms we are going to turn our attention to last of the seven genres. Those who have been here for most of the series will, by now, be very familiar with the genres.
Last on our list is the Wisdom Psalms. The purpose of these Psalms is to give us concrete examples of how God wants us to live our life. Often these Psalms focus on consequences.
If you live a certain way then this and this will happen.
If you live a different way then something else will happen instead.
Wisdom Psalms call us to remember our responsibilities as we seek to serve God and they help us to take our knowledge of God and turn it into a relationship with God.
Some of the Wisdom Psalms include:-
Altogether there are 25 Wisdom Psalms. Our focus is going to be on Psalm 119 ... just the opening section. It is the longest Psalm in the Bible ... 176 verses in total ... it has 22 sections of 8 verses each. There are two very special features about the Psalm.
It is an “acrostic” Psalm. Each section of 8 verses starts with the same letter of the alphabet. The next 8 verses all start with the next letter. You can see the pattern really clearly on the screen.
In the Psalm there are eight key words. One of these eight words appears in every verse. The eight words are:- law, decrees, statutes, commandments, ordinances, precepts, ways and word.
When you put these eight words together you are given a comprehensive description of all the different ways God can instruct us. Psalm 119 is a lesson on living life for God.
So that’s a bit of background and introduction to the structure of the Psalm. Now let’s read the opening verses.
Series: Responding to God
Learning How To Live Wisely
A sermon on Psalm 119:1-8
In order to understand this Psalm, or any wisdom Psalm for that matter, we need to realise that there is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom.
Knowledge is telling someone that when they are under the water they need to keep their mouths closed.
Wisdom is discovering what happens when you open your mouth under water.
That is how it works in life. It is also how it works in the Scriptures. The Scriptures contain much knowledge.
They talk about the history of Israel and God’s connection with the people.
They contain commandments and directives to help us know how we ought to live.
They tell us how Jesus died and why.
In fact the Scriptures can tell us a whole lot of things. But that does not mean we automatically are wise enough to allow the knowledge to impact our lives. Let me read you James 2:19.
In the context of that verse James is challenging the readers to actively live out their faith by doing deeds of service.
Having faith is an issue of knowledge.
Doing deeds is an issue of wisdom.
James then goes on and says You believe there is one God (that is the knowledge part). You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.
Demons have knowledge ... they are not wise.
For us to be wise we need to take the knowledge and apply it to our lives.
That is what the wisdom Psalms do ... they help answer the question, “How can I be wise?” Let’s have a closer look at our text and see what it teaches us.
Wise people have the right Godly attitude (vss. 1-3)
Now when you first read these words something very significant stands out. Let’s read them again.
Read verses 1-3
When I read a verse like this I think ... how arrogant!!
To say that you are blameless ... as he does in verse 1.
To say that he is doing nothing wrong ... that is in verse 3.
How can you possibly make that claim without having some measure of arrogance? And it isn’t just a one off event. A number of Psalms talk about the same thing.
This is what Psalm 15 ... which is also a wisdom Psalm ... says:-
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
From these words you would almost have to assume that nobody goes to the sanctuary ... or it is just those who are completely fooling themselves.
But that is not the case. What is going on here is that the Psalmist understands what it really means to be in a relationship with God.