Summary: We are drowning in a sea of impurity. Everywhere we look we find temptation to lead impure lives. The psalmist asked a question that troubles us all: how do we stay pure and holy in a filthy environment? Where can we find that strength and wisdom?
Opening illustration: Charlie Riggs has been called “the man behind Billy Graham.” For nearly 40 years, Riggs was the director of counseling and follow-up for Mr. Graham’s evangelistic meetings. In his counselor training classes, Charlie taught thousands of people the basic principles of how to live for Christ and share their faith with others.
At Charlie’s 90th birthday celebration, many tributes mentioned his lifelong practice of memorizing Scripture. His goal was not merely to know the Bible, but to know Christ and live by His Word.
Charlie followed Psalm 119: 9 - 11, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word. . . . Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” He likened the Scriptures to “plumb bobs” for his heart. Like the weight that holds a builder’s plumb line straight and true, these divine principles never change, no matter what the circumstances. He sought to measure his own thoughts, feelings, and behavior by God’s Word, not the other way around.
Charlie Riggs’ life was quiet and steady behind the scenes. His example challenges us today to hide God’s Word in our hearts and let it guide our lives. Charlie demonstrated what it means to live according to plumb.
Let us look into God’s Word and see what it tells us about living a life according to God’s ways and guidelines.
Introduction: This is both the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. Though some may credit this Psalm to David, but it may have been written by Ezra after the temple was rebuilt [Ezra 6: 14 & 15] as a repetitive meditation on the beauty of God’s Word and how it helps us to stay pure and grow in faith. Psalm 119 has 22 carefully constructed sections, each corresponding to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse beginning with the letter of its section. Almost every verse mentions God’s Word. Such repetition was common in the Hebrew culture. People did not have personal copies of the scriptures to read as we do, so God’s people memorized His Word and passed it along orally. The structure of this Psalm allowed for easy memorization. Remember God’s Word, the Bible, is the only sure guide for living a holy, pure and God-pleasing life.
How to live a life according to the PLUMB?
Before we jump into answering the psalmist’s question, let us see how differently men and women would perceive this passage. [Details given in the PowerPoint]
1. Attentive [listening, reading, observing …] to God’s Word [v. 9]:
We are drowning in a sea of impurity. Everywhere we look we find temptation to lead impure lives. The psalmist asked a question that troubles us all: how do we stay pure and holy in a filthy environment? We cannot do this on our own, but must have counsel and strength more dynamic than the tempting influences around us. Where can we find that strength and wisdom? By listening, reading and being attentive to God’s Word and doing what it says.
2. Desiring [seeking, hunting ….] God [v. 10a]:
(a) What does it mean to seek God with all your heart?
• It means to desire Him, want Him, need Him above any and every other desire, want, or need.
• The heart is the seat of emotions, of desire (Rom. 10:1); Love (Mark 12:30, 33); Reason (Mark 2:8); belief (Rom. 10:10); trust (Proverbs 3:5); and it is from the heart that you are to do God’s will (Eph. 6:6), etc.
• It is with all of what you are that you are to seek God. With your entire being.
(b) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37).
• Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15).
• It is the psalmist’s love for God that motivates Him to obey what God commands. That is why He says in the second part of verse 10...
3. Abiding [remaining, steadfast …] by God’s Commandments [v. 10b]:
It is pleasant to see how the writer’s heart turns distinctly and directly to God. He had been considering an important truth in the preceding verse, but here he so powerfully feels the presence of his God that he speaks to him, and prays to him as to one who is near. A true heart cannot long live without fellowship with God. It is curious again to note how the second part of the Psalm keeps step with the first; for where Psalm 119: 2 pronounces that man to be blessed who seeks the Lord with his whole heart, the present verse claims the blessing by pleading the character: “With my whole heart have I sought thee.”