Psalm 119:9-16 (18 March 2018)

Bellingen Uniting Church 18 March 2018

  • Did you know…

With 176 verses Psalm 119 is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law (usually meaning the first 5 books attributed to Moses). Employed in almost (but not quite) every verse of the psalm is a synonym for the Torah. Unlike most other psalms the author didn’t include his name in the text. Most scholars suspect it to be written by king David.

Psalm 119 is one of several acrostic poems found in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into 22 stanzas, one for each of the 22 characters that make up the Hebrew alphabet. In the Hebrew text, each of the eight verses of each stanza begins with the same Hebrew letter.

Psalm 119:9-16

9 How shall a young man cleanse his way?
By keeping to your words.

10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commandments.

11 I treasure your promise in my heart,
that I may not sin against you.

12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
instruct me in your statutes.

13 With my lips will I recite
all the judgments of your mouth.

14 I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees
than in all manner of riches.

15 I will meditate on your commandments
and give attention to your ways.

16 My delight is in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

  • Keeping the Law is very important to orthodox Jews

Deuteronomy 6: 4Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Seriously orthodox Jews wore and wear a phylactery or tefillin when praying.

Keeping the law was very important to Jews – any slip brought condemnation. -> regular rituals & sacrifices seeking forgiveness.

Talmud collected the detailed interpretation and application of the Law, the Torah.

e.g. No work on Sabbath – lift buttons disabled on Sabbath

  • What are Christians to make of the old laws?

Jesus was confronted about his approach to the Laws – can you heal someone on the Sabbath?
In the Sermon on the Mount he said…

Matthew 5: 17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.

Jesus fulfilled, completely satisfied the old law.

He fulfilled the Law because we can’t

Laws mean something important for us…

e.g. Speed zones – tell us we are guilty!

e.g. Wet paint – don’t touch

Laws at least tell us we are sinners

Romans 7:7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” 8 But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power.

Should we do without rules and laws – like trialled in a school

15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate…

25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Every now and then I say the right thing!

God has standards of absolute perfection that we can’t achieve by keeping the laws – we can’t keep them and can’t keep God happy by doing so.

What Jesus did for us

Galatians 3: 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our hearts and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no-one can boast.

10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

  • How we know what God wants us to do

2 Timothy 3:14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God, may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Jesus said,

John 14: 15 ‘If you love me, keep my commands. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – 17the Spirit of truth.

Psalm 119:9-16

9 How shall a young man cleanse his way?
By keeping to your words.

10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commandments.

11 I treasure your promise in my heart,
that I may not sin against you.

12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
instruct me in your statutes.

13 With my lips will I recite
all the judgments of your mouth.

14 I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees
than in all manner of riches.

15 I will meditate on your commandments
and give attention to your ways.

16 My delight is in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.