(A). What the Bible Is:
• (1). Water for cleansing (vs 9).
• (2). Wealth and treasure (vs 14, 72, 127, 162).
• (3). A companion and friend (vs 24).
• (4). A song to sing (vs 54).
• (5). Honey (vs 103).
(B). What the Bible Does:
• (1). It blesses (vs 1-2).
• (2). It gives life (vs 25, 37, 40, 50, 88, 93).
• (3). It gives strength (vs 28).
• (4). It gives freedom (vs 45).
• (5). It imparts wisdom (vs 66, 97-104).
• (6). It gives comfort (vs 50, 76, 82, 92).
• (7). It gives direction (vs 133).
(C) What We Must Do with the Bible:
• (1). Love it (vs 97, 159).
• (2). Prize it (vs 72, 128).
• (3). Study it (vs 7, 12, 26-27).
• (4). Memorize it (vs 11).
• (5). Meditate on it (vs 15, 23, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148).
• (6). Trust it (vs 42).
• (7). Obey it (vs 1-8).
• (8). Declare it (verses 13, 26).
• Joke: A Church invited a preacher to come and ‘preach with a view’,
• They sat and listened and the best thing they liked about his sermon;
• Was that it was only 10 minutes long.
• They had a quick vote among themselves;
• And they immediately called him as their new Pastor.
• When it came to his first week in the new church;
• To their surprise he preached a 30 minute sermon.
• The following week his sermon was almost 2 hours long.
• So the leaders of the Church decided to meet with him and asked him to explain.
• Why his sermons have been getting longer and longer and longer!
The Pastors response was:
• The first time the committee heard him preach,
• He had a new set of dentures in his mouth that hurt him terribly,
• So he could barely preach 10 minutes and had to stop talking because of the pain.
• The second time he preached, he said that his dentures felt fine;
• And so he preached a normal 30 minute sermon.
• The Church leaders said,
• “Well that explains those 2 sermons,
• But please explain to us this last sermon that was 2 hours long”.
• He said that's easy, when I got up that particular morning;
• I accidentally put My Wife's Dentures in my mouth by mistake;
• And when I started talking I just couldn't shut up!
• Joke: I guess you know what an optimist is:
• It is someone who thinks the preacher is about to finish when he says; “and finally”
• Other preachers say; “And lastly”,
• And boy don’t they last!
• Now Psalm 119 is of course a long psalm;
• The longest psalm in the 150 collection of psalms
• And it is the longest chapter in the whole of the Bible.
• David Livingstone, the intrepid explorer & missionary to Africa;
• Memorised this entire Psalm when he was 9 years old,
• His reward was a New Testament from his Sunday School teacher.
• Another who memorised this psalm was William Wilberforce;
• Who as a politician played a major role;
• For the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire;
• Wrote these words in his diary (1819):
• “Walked to day from Hyde Park Corner repeating the 119th Psalm in great comfort”.
• Another who memorised the entire Psalm was John Ruskin;
• Ruskin was a brilliant writer and art critic of the nineteenth century.
• Later he admitted;
• “It is strange that of all the pieces of the Bible that my mother taught me,
• That which cost me most to learn,
• And which was to my child’s mind most repulsive, the 119th Psalm.
• Has now become, of all, the most precious to me”
If we are honest:
• Many of us have the same sentiment as the seventeenth-century;
• British minister Thomas Fuller, who confessed:
“Lord, I discover an errant laziness in my soul. For when I read a chapter in the Bible, before I begin it, I look where it endeth, and if it endeth not on the same side, I cannot keep my hand from turning over the leaf to measure the length thereof……”
A Special psalm:
• As mentioned already;
• It is the longest Psalm (176 verses),
• And so it is not surprising to find that it is the longest chapter in the Bible.
• It is also an acrostic Psalm;
• That means it follows the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
• If it were written in English each section would start ‘A, B, C, D…..etc until Z.’
• Because it is Hebrew it reads ‘Aleph, Beth, Gimel…..until Taw’.
• In most editions of the English Bible,
• The twenty-two sections (each section consists of eight verses) of this psalm
• Are headed by the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet;
• e.g. ‘Aleph, Beth, Gimel, etc’.
• In the Hebrew Bible, not the English;
• Each verse in each section also begins with the same Hebrew letter.
• e.g. All the verses in the "aleph" section (vs 1-8);
• Also begin with the Hebrew letter "aleph."
• This was probably done to help the readers memorize and meditate on God's Word.
• e.g. Preachers today often use alliteration (i.e. person, place & problem).
(c). All but five verses mention the Word of God in one way or another.
• So if you get bored you can scan the passage and try to figure them out.
• Although if you really want know see me afterwards (84, 90, 121, 122, and 132)
• In fact ten different words are used to describe the word of God;
• ‘Word, law, saying, statutes, way, commandments, path, testimonies, precepts, judgements’
• Each of those ten names indicates what the word is;
• And how we should respond to it.
(d). God is referred to in every verse.
• If you scan the psalm just note how many times the words ‘you’ or ‘your’ are used.
• And also note how many personnel references are recorded; such as ‘I’ and ‘me’.
• The main point of the this Psalm is not just about the ‘word’;
• But the relationship between people and God through the word!
• The very last verse of the Psalm is a good illustration of this.
• Verse 176:
“I have wondered away like a lost sheep;
come and find me,
for I have not forgotten your commands”.
• The aim of the Bible (and therefore this Psalm):
• Is not just that you may know about God i.e. information.
• It is that you may know God i.e. relational.
Obviously we are not going to look at the Psalm verse by verse:
• Time will not allow;
• Old joke.
• The long winded preacher who went on and on and on.
• One person at the back of the Church started pointing to his watch;
• But it made no difference.
• So the person took off their watch and stared waving it to draw attention to it;
• But again it made no difference.
• Eventually being frustrated he threw the watch at the preacher;
• But unfortunately it fell short and hit one of the congregation on the head.
• That person turned around and said; ‘Hit me again, I can still hear him!’
• I want this talk to divide this psalm under three headings;
• And just pull out a few selective verses to illustrate a particular point.
• But of course at home you can read it through in its entirety!
(A). What the Bible Is.
(1). Water for cleansing (vs 9).
”How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word”.
• This whole section (vs 9-16) deals with victory over sin.
• As you read the Word of God and meditate on it,
• It cleanses your inner being,
• Just as water cleanses the body.
• Christian boy who said to his dad;
• “Dad, I cannot remember the Bible, why try to learn it? What’s the point?”
• His dad sent him into the garden to fill up his paddling pool;
• Only he gave him an old cracked plastic bucket;
• As the boy tried filling up the paddling pool;
• He soon became aware that the old plastic bucket was split and so very, very leaky.
• It took the boy ages just to fill the pool a little;
• Eventually he went to his dad and said; “What’s the point, when all it does is leak?”
• The dad picked up the dirty old bucket and showed him the inside and said;
• “It might not retain any water, but just look at how clean the inside is!”
Quote: John Bunyan:
“This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book”.
(2). Wealth and treasure (vs 14, 72, 127, 162).
“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches”
“The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”.
• It was reported that eleven millionaires went down on the Titanic.
• Major A. H. Peuchen left;
• $300,000.00 in money, jewellery and securities in a box in his cabin.
• “The money seemed a mockery at that time,”
• He later said. “I picked up three oranges instead.”
• Until we truly value this book; and realise it is our greatest treasure;
• Then we will not have the desire to read it, learn it, study it or meditate upon it.
• Our society knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing!
• This book shapes our lives regarding what and what not is important.
(3). A companion and friend (vs 24).
“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors”
• A troublesome teenager Once said to his dad:
• ‘Nobody likes me.’
• He dad replied: ‘Don’t say that—everybody hasn’t met you yet”.
Notice how the writer of the psalm describes himself:
• Verse 19: as ‘a stranger’ or ‘a foreigner’.
• Verse 21: as someone ‘rejected by the proud’
• Verse 23: as someone ‘rejected by princes’
• But he always had one companion and friend;
• The word of God was to be his counsellor.
• Charlie Brown cartoon strip:
• Peppermint Patty said to Marcie:
• “I’d like to read this book, Marcie, but I’m kind of afraid.
• I had a grandfather who didn’t think much of reading.”
• She continued by saying,
• “He always said that if you read too many books, your head would fall off.”
• Marcie responds,
• “You start the first chapter, and I’ll hold onto your head!”
• Friend, hold on to friends;
• They stand by us and support us and encourage us!
• Though rejected by his people for following the true and living God.
• The psalmist had a friend who would ‘stand by him, support him and encourage him’.
(4). A song to sing (vs 54).
“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge”.
“Your principles have been the music of my life
throughout the years of my pilgrimage.”
• A few years ago I was listening to the great footballer George Best on Talk Sport;
• In fact when I was a kid the banner you saw at games read:
• “Pele Good, Maradona Better, George Best!”
They played two songs that he requested:
• ‘Positively 4th street’ by Bob Dylan.
• Is a song about betrayal, lack of true friends,
• Basically saying can’t trust anyone.
• ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean.
• Vincent van Gogh, the genius who committed suicide.
• The next day as the radio hosts reviewed the show;
• His good friend and co-presenter of the show ex-footballer Rodney Marsh.
• Said how tragic it was that those songs were the theme tune to his life!
In total contrast the psalmist says there is a song that is the theme of his life:
• That song is God’s decrees,
• Imagine making a song out of statutes - laws!
• Most people dislike laws;
• They resent them.
• Question: What makes the Psalmist feel this way?
• Answer: A right attitude towards them.
• “Two men look out the same bars, one sees the dirt the other the stars”.
• The psalmist realised that the law of God is not restrictive negative regulations.
• It is sensible practical advice, for the way we live our lives.
(5). Honey (vs 103).
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
• Kathy and sweets story.
• Getting to grips with God’s word is meant to be a pleasant experience;
• Not a grind.
• A sign of a healthy person is they have a good appetite!
• There is a spiritual parallel.
3 TYPES OF BIBLE READERS:
• (a). Cod liver oil types.
• The readers know it’s good for them;
• But it is not a pleasant experience!
• (b). Shredded wheat types.
• To them the Bible is nourishing, but dry.
• It’s like eating a pile of hay.
• (c). Strawberries and cream types.
• These folks just can’t get enough of the stuff!
• It is a treat, a pleasure, an enjoyable experience.
• Note: This Psalm is full of word pictures like the 5 we have looked at;
• But I will be disciplined and move on to question 2.
(B). What the Bible Does.
(1). It blesses (vs 1-2).
“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”
Psalm 119 is a book with a blessing (see that in at least four different ways):
• We are blessed (happy many times over) in reading the Word,
• We are blessed (happy many times over) understanding the Word,
• We are blessed (happy many times over) when we obey the Word.
• We are blessed (happy many times over) when we share the Word with others.
“Show me an unhappy Christian and I will show you an unread Bible”.
(2). It gives life (vs 25, 37, 40, 50, 88, 93).
25”I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.”
37”Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”
40”How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.”
God’s word preserves:
• To preserve something meant you ‘kept it from going rotten’.
• ill: Too many raspberries to eat, you can preserve them by freezing them.
• The word of God safeguards us from going rotten in life.
• It keeps us fresh and healthy, it continues to give us life!
(3). It gives strength (vs 28).
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”
• A stag was drinking at a pool,
• He looked at his reflection in the water;
• And was admiring his splendid antlers, but feeling ashamed of his spindly legs.
• Suddenly he heard a lion creeping up behind him;
• He knew that the lion was about to attack.
• It was the stags spindly legs that propelled him into the safety of the forest,
• But it was his antlers that became caught in the underbrush;
• And allowed the lion to overwhelm him.
• TRANSITION: Our strength is a bit like those antlers;
• If we rely on it we will find it hinders us in our time of need.
• But when we rely on God, if with weak ‘spindly’ faith;
• We will find the ability to survive.
(4). It gives freedom (vs 45).
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”
• I mentioned earlier that most of us naturally don’t like laws;
• We would all soon change many of them.
• e.g. the speed limit on certain roads.
• e.g. Football: getting booked for celebrating a goal!
• Notice: here is a law that gives freedom;
• The opposite of what we usually assume or think.
• Think of a kite;
• The freedom to fly is related to the string.
• The very thing that holds the kite to earth is what keeps it in the sky.
• Cut the string, and what will happen to the kite? It will fall.
• But the string, which seems to bind it,
• Actually allows it to fly.
• So too the word of God, the book, that many seems to think it will only bind them,
• Actually allows people to fly and to be free!
(5). It imparts wisdom (vs 66, 97-104).
“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands”
I see the limits to everything human,
but the horizons can't contain your commands! 97Oh, how I love all you've revealed;
I reverently ponder it all the day long.
98Your commands give me an edge on my enemies;
they never become obsolete.
99I've even become smarter than my teachers
since I've pondered and absorbed your counsel.
100I've become wiser than the wise old sages
simply by doing what you tell me.
101I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil
so I can spend all my time keeping your Word.
102I never make detours from the route you laid out;
you gave me such good directions.
103Your words are so choice, so tasty;
I prefer them to the best home cooking.
104With your instruction, I understand life”.
• We may get information, knowledge and facts in other books,
• But true spiritual wisdom is found in the Bible.
Verses 97-104 remind us that there are various ways to discover truth;
• From your enemies,
• From your teachers,
• From your older friends,
• The psalmist is not saying that these are wrong sources of education.
• He is saying that on their own they are not enough!
• ill: Solomon – wisest man who ever lived,
• Just read the Bible book Ecclesiastes if you want proof!
• The Psalmist reminds us, that way above all earthly books is the Bible.
• After all, if this is God’s word, then it must contain God’s wisdom!
• And you cannot get greater wisdom than that - So read it!
(6). It gives comfort (vs 50, 76, 82, 92).
“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”
“May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.”
“My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, When will you comfort me?”
• More than sixty verses in this psalm mention trial and persecution;
• (Verses 22, 50-53, 95, 98, 115, etc.).
• The believer who obeys the Word will have trials in this world.
• A Christian woman who was going through a very hard and dark time;
• Was talking to an older, more experienced Christian regarding her struggles;
• And she said to her.
• “You keep on saying that God loves us. I used to think so too;
• But if He loves us, why did He make me as I am?”
• The older Christian kissed her gently, and said with the wisdom of years,
• “Dear, He hasn’t made you yet. He’s making you now!”
Quote: Hymn: ‘How Firm a Foundation‘
“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee;
I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”
To help us through those difficult times, we have the Bible!
• The Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God,
• Takes the Word of God and applies it to our hearts of God’s people to comfort us.
(7). It gives direction (vs 133).
“Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me”.
• An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea,
• So his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it.
• The next time he went out in his boat,
• He followed their advice and took the compass with him.
• But as usual he became hopelessly confused and was unable to find land.
• Finally he was rescued by his friends.
• Disgusted and impatient with him, they asked,
• “Why didn’t you use that compass we gave you? You could have saved us a lot of trouble!”
• The sailor responded, “I didn’t dare to! I wanted to go north, but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept on pointing southeast.”
Question: Do we really want God to guide us?
Answer: Yes, then get stuck into his word!
Two simple suggestions:
(a). Hear it:
• Attend Church on a regular basis.
• This is the simplest and easiest ways to learn.
• And when you are there don’t put your brain in neutral, use it!
• Have a pen and paper handy to take notes.
(2). Read it:
• Read systematically through a book;
• Paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter.
• Get some regular Q.T. notes or helps.
• So that each day God has the opportunity to speak to you.
(C) What We Must Do with the Bible
(1). Love it (vs 97, 159).
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long”.
“Remember how I love your laws, and show your love for me by keeping me safe”.
• A preacher was impressing upon his congregation;
• The difference between being ordered to love God’s word and actually doing it.
• He said suppose in England there is a law stating a woman must take care of her child.
• So, an inspector suddenly arrives one day at the home of a new mother.
• And he says “Are you taking care of your baby?
• The Law says you have to.”
• The woman, tenderly holding her baby, said,
• “I don’t need a law to make me take care of my baby.”
• Why? Because she loves her baby!
• She feeds him, holds him, changes him, all because she loves him.
In the same way:
• It should be a natural thing for the Christian to love God’s word;
• I would suggest the way we treat our Bible is a reflection of our love for him!
• To love Him is to love His Word.
• For the word reveals God to us.
(2). Prize it (vs 72, 128).
“The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
“I would rather obey you than to have a thousand pieces of silver and gold”.
It is said that when the famous missionary, Dr. David Livingstone,
• Started his trek across Africa he had 73 books in 3 packs, weighing 180 pounds.
• After the party had gone 300 miles,
• Livingstone was obliged to throw away some of the books;’
• Because of the fatigue of those carrying his baggage.
• As he continued on his journey his library grew less and less,
• Until he had but one book left—his Bible.
• To hold the Bible in high esteem is the mark of a true saint.
• It should be more precious to us than any earthly treasure.
(3). Study it (vs 7, 12, 26-27).
“I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.”
“Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees”.
“When I told my story, you responded;
train me well in your deep wisdom.
27Help me understand these things inside and out
so I can ponder your miracle-wonders”.
• At least twelve times the psalmist prays, "Teach me."
• The Christian who daily studies his Bible will be blessed of God.
• Bible study is not always easy, it will take effort and determination.
• But the rewards cannot be got any other way.
• ill: What daily training is to an athlete or soldier;
• So times of study are needed for the Christian.
Quote: D.L. Moody:
“I never saw a useful Christian who was not a student of the Bible”.
• Study it - visit your local bookshop and get a study guide to help you;
• Set some time apart to go deeper than casual reading.
(4). Memorize it (vs 11).
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”.
“I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won't sin myself bankrupt.”
• The great preacher G. Campbell Morgan explained this verse this way.
• "The best Book, in the best place, for the best purpose!"
• What a great outline of this verse:
• ‘The best book’ – The Bible.
• ‘The best place’ – In the heart of a believer.
• ‘The best result’ – A life of victory over sin.
Question: Do you memorise the word of God?
• All ages need to memorize the Word, not children and young people alone.
• Joshua was not a youth when God commanded him to memorize the Law (Josh. 1:8).
• Again and again Jesus was able to quote Scripture.
• That was not by accident – he too had to learn it!
• Remember learning Bible verses will:
• Help you when you are tempted.
• They will help you when you are feeling low.
• They will help you when you are witnessing!
(5). Meditate on it (vs 15, 23, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148).
• Meditation is to the soul what digestion is to the body.
• To meditate means to
• "turn over" God's Word in the mind and heart, to examine it, to compare Scripture with Scripture,.
• Biblical meditation is not mystical nonsense, it is conscience thought.
• ill: Dog with a bone.
Ask your readings questions:
• What have I read about:
• God the Father, Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit?
• Is there a command to obey?
• Is there a promise to believe?
• Is there a good example to follow?
• Is there a wrong thing to avoid?
• What have I learnt from my reading?
• What can I put into practice?
(6). Trust it (vs 42).
“Then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word.”
“Then I'll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word.”
• We trust the Bible about everything,
• Because it is right about everything.
• Remember we are not walking on eggshells;
• We are on the rock of ages – it will not fail!
• It is true and can be trusted wholly.
• We test every other book and whatever by what God says in His Word.
(7). Obey it (vs 1-8).
“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD”
• To keep the Word is to obey it, to walk in its commandments.
• If we know God's truth and fail to obey it, we are only fooling ourselves.
• D.L. Moody and a critic, who said to him:
• “I have been through the Bible 10 times, it hasn’t done much for me!”
• Moody replied:
• “If you allow it to go through you once, you will be a changed man!”
(8). Declare it (verses 13, 26).
“With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth”
26”When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom.”
• If we really believed this book was as good as we have thought about;
• Then we should all be keen to tell others about it!
• Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), the world-famous violinist,
• Earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions,
• But he generously gave most of it away.
• So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips,
• He wasn’t able to buy it.
• Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price,
• He returned to the seller, hoping to purchase that beautiful instrument.
• But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector.
• Kreisler made his way to the new owner’s home and offered to buy the violin.
• The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it.
• Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea.
• “Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?” he asked.
• Permission was granted,
• And the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music;
• That the collector’s emotions were deeply stirred.
• “I have no right to keep that to myself,” he exclaimed.
• “It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it.”
Psalm 119 underlines to us again and again and again the importance of God’s word:
• So this week let me challenge you to read at least once,
• Several times would be better!
• Psalm 119 all 176 verses!
• If you want to be really blessed have a note book and pen.
• And just write down one thing from each verse!
“This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.
Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.”