by Mike Ratliff
41 May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Yahweh,
Your salvation according to Your word;
42 So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.
43 And do not take away the word of truth utterly from my mouth,
For I wait for Your judgments.
44 So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.
45 And I will walk in a wide place,
For I seek Your precepts.
46 I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And I shall not be ashamed.
47 I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love.
48 And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will muse on Your statutes.Psalms 119:40-48 (LSB)
The more I study doctrine and research the incredible variances of those held by theologians and denominations the more I realize there are really only two types. One type is focused solely on God’s Glory and is dynamically linked to His sovereignty. The other type (which includes all but God-focused Christianity) is Man based. This type either elevates man above or equal to God in responsibility and glory. The latter type will be those doctrines which “seem right” to most people. When the former are presented, they will cause those espousing their man-glorifying doctrines to be seized by apoplexy when they hear them. The type which is God focused is not politically correct. Why? Those who hold to the second type of doctrines have a false view of God and a false view of Man. Those who hold to the first type of doctrines have the view that God is sovereign and Man, without God’s grace, is completely dead in trespasses and sins. This view says Man is Totally Depraved in his natural state and can do nothing to gain salvation. The “man based” doctrines say Man does have the ability to seek God and can do so if he desires. The “God based” doctrines say God must extend His Grace to save Man from spiritual death. By now, I am sure you know which one I hold. Well you should as well. Why?
12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 (LSB)
What that means is we must look closely at the doctrines of salvation we hold in our hearts. If they are based on the ways that seem right to the natural man then they are based on the doctrines of men. However, if they are based solely on God’s glory as they depend on Him extending His grace to save us then we have the right ones. What difference does it make? The doctrines of men end up in leading their followers to death. They are the way to death. That death is eternal spiritual death.
Let us look at the sixth stanza of Psalms 119. It is entitled “Vav.” The first line in this stanza says, “May Your loving kindnesses also come to me, O Yahweh,Your salvation according to Your word;” The word translated as “loving kindnesses” in this verse is one of the most important words in the Old Testament. It is often translated as “lovingkindness” or “mercy.” This word carries with it the idea of an act of kindness, love, or mercy shown to someone. This act of lovingkindness is at the level where it was not deserved and could not be reciprocated. An example would be a King showing mercy to someone who had every expectation of receiving wrath or even worse.
The psalmist was crying out to God to extend His mercy to him. Why? He was asking God to show mercy to Him by saving him. The last word in this line, “promise,” is speaking of the Word of God. He was making it clear he knew that the Word of God showed salvation was from God and God alone and He had to be merciful to extend it to him. Lovingkindness is the Old Testament word for grace. Yes, grace is found all through the Old Testament. Do not listen to those who say the Old Testament was strictly Law based while the New Testament is strictly grace based. Those who teach that are guilty of treating scripture eisegetically. That means they read or put things into scripture that are not there. They are trying to back up a faulty view of scripture by creating a manmade doctrine. The opposite is to study and expound scripture exegetically. That means reading and study scripture without adding anything. This method lets scripture interpret itself. Proper exegesis results in the right interpretation of scripture because it does not get in the way of the Holy Spirit indwelling it and empowering it in our hearts as we study. Improper handling of the Word of God results in the creation of the doctrines of men that weaken the gospel and do not glorify God.
The second line in this stanza says, “So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.” Who taunts believers? Satan and his seed do that. Who are Satan’s seed? They are the unregenerate people who are not part of the elect. If Jesus Himself were to stand before them to present the gospel to them, they would not believe. Their hearts would only become harder. They are in the Natural Man state so they hate God and His ways. They are under God’s wrath. Carefully read the following passage. Meditate on it. Absorb it.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, both His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the likeness of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions; for their females exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the males abandoned the natural function of the female and burned in their desire toward one another, males with males committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to an unfit mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 having been filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, violent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the righteous requirement of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:18-32 (LSB)
Who taunts believers? These people are under God’s wrath. They will not repent. We must not become discouraged when this happens. It is to be expected. How do we respond? We must trust in the promises of God and remain faithful. Yes, respond with the truth when attacked. Love the attacker and pray for them, but do not strike back. Answer them, but do not stoop to their level. Do not become discouraged when this happens.
10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12 (LSB)
Is this natural? No, it is not. No one I know of likes to be mistreated or persecuted. However, it is a sign we are on the right track.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:18-20 (LSB)
If we are not experiencing anything-resembling taunts and persecution there are two possible reasons. Either godly people surround us or we appear just like all those ungodly people around us. The latter is a wrong. We must be salt and light to the lost and dying world around us.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out to be trampled under foot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16 (LSB)
Being Christ’s disciple carries with it the responsibility to live this Christian walk in full view of the world. Yes, it can bring persecution, but if we obediently endure it, by God’s grace, He is glorified and we grow more Christ-like.
The third line in this stanza is, “…And do not take away the word of truth utterly from my mouth,
For I wait for Your judgments.” This is the psalmist’s prayer to be given the words to both teach and rebuke. Notice he knew his own words would be inadequate. He is trusting in God’s words alone to have the power to accomplish God’s will. His own would be worthless. This is the proper attitude we must take on. He understood that we are flawed. Outside of God’s grace, we are totally sinful and incapable of doing anything good. Only by living within God’s Grace all for His glory, can we do good and speak the godly words God uses. In addition, when we are taunted and persecuted we must not speak our own words. We are also not to worry about what to speak.
17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given to you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Matthew 10:17-20 (LSB)
The last part of v43 in this line uses the word “judgments.” What does that have to do with God putting His words in our mouths? The words God will put our mouths and we speak “in that hour” will be for judgment against our detractors. We must speak those words and not be concerned about the rest. Praise the Lord!
The fourth and fifth lines in this stanza are, “So I will keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. And I will walk in a wide place, For I seek Your precepts. These verses give us cause and effect. The last part of v45 says, “…For I seek Your precepts.” This is the cause. The word translated “sought” means to ask or inquire as an act of worship. This is the very thing my Lord uses in my own walk to draw me into His rest where He teaches me all about Himself as I am yoked up with Him.
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (LSB)
He teaches us when we are there with Him like this. This is the cause. What is the effect? He says, “I will keep your law continually, forever and ever, and I shall walk in a wide place…” What is the only condition our hearts can be in which keeps us from sinning? We must be walking in the Spirit. We must be standing, wearing the full armor of God. Then and only then do we walk “keeping the law continually.”
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (LSB)
How do we get to this level of spirituality? It starts with drawing near to our Lord. We must learn to walk yoked up with our Lord. This is a picture of walking in the Spirit. It is all by His grace and according to His will.
The statement, “…and I shall walk in a wide place” in v 45 is better translated, “I will walk in liberty.” This is talking about the wonderful truth that the regenerate believer has grace empowered will. This will does not consist of the right to choose what we want to do, but has the ability to choose to not sin. It is a wonderful liberty to be a slave to sin no longer. Only the Born Again has this regenerate will. The unregenerate are in bondage to sin and that includes their will. That will is not free and everything it chooses is sin.
The sixth and seventh lines in this stanza are, “I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And I shall not be ashamed, I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love..” Again, the psalmist is declaring to God the truth we can proclaim God’s truths as the Spirit gives us utterance with complete confidence even if we are before kings. God’s truths outweigh all others. No one can outdebate God. When He gives us His words to speak, we will confound all who attack us because we will be speaking the Lord’s wisdom.
The eighth line in this stanza is, “And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will muse on Your statutes.” God’s Word is mighty and unbeatable. When we revere His Word, we are actually worshipping Him not the Bible. We worship God and God alone. The word translated “muse” means “meditate”. It is telling us the veracity of getting God’s Word into us by thinking and considering what it says about all aspects of what God has laid on our hearts as we do this. This process changes us. Why? God’s Word is powerful and shaper than a surgeons scalpel. It cuts deep into our hearts as it does God’s good work there according to His will. This is all by His grace.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Great post Mike, well written.
“ The statement, “…and I shall walk in a wide place” in v 45 is better translated, “I will walk in liberty.” This is talking about the wonderful truth that the regenerate believer has grace empowered will.……”
I love my KJV version of that verse.
Psalms 119:45 And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
Old John Gill wrote…
And I will walk at liberty,…. Not in licentious way, but in Gospel liberty, under the influence of the free spirit; where is liberty, in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty. Or, “I will walk at large” (g); or, “in a broad way”, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi supply it: not in the broad road that leads to destruction, but in the law of God, which is exceeding broad, Psa 119:96; as the Targum,
“in the breadth of the law.”
So a man walks when he walks in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord: and who also may be said to walk at large when delivered out of straits and difficulties; when he is brought into a large place, and his steps are enlarged under him; and having his heart enlarged with the love of God, and fear of him, and with spiritual joy, and having every grace in exercise, he not only walks in, but runs the way of God’s commandments; see Psa 119:32; and See Gill on Psa 118:5;
for I seek thy precepts; out of love and affection to them, to know more of them, the mind and will of God in them, and to practise them.
(g) ברחבה “in latitudine”, Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, &c.
I know people tire of hearing me emphasize sovereign theology in Sunday school. I do believe it is central to Christian theology and should be the main hermeneutic in interpretation of scripture. However, it seems to me it is also a major issue in grammatical, historical interpretation. What can you do with scripture like John 6:65 “No one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father”, or Christ high priestly prayer in John 17:9 ” I do not pray for the world but for those You have given me.” When I first started reading the Bible, I would read things I did not understand, I would put them in a box, believing I would understand later. The problem with these passages is that I do understand them, so to not believe them is to deny the authority of scripture.
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