In part 2 of our study of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, we are looking at verses 9-16 of the psalm:
9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying Your word.
10 I have tried hard to find you; don’t let me wander from Your commandments.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
12 I praise You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.
13 I have recited aloud all the regulations You have given us.
14 I have rejoiced in Your instructions as much as in riches.
15 I will study Your commandments and reflect on Your ways
16 I will delight in Your decrees and not forget Your word.
Each verse could yield pages of commentary and provide food for meditation for many days. Three of the verses in this second section of Psalm 119, however, strike me specifically.
I have tried hard to find You, the psalmist cries. Don’t let me wander from Your commandments.
How hard have I tried – really? It’s a valid question to ask ourselves. To put it another way, how much of an investment do I consistently make in my spiritual growth? Am I as consistent in seeking to grow closer to God as I am in going to work each day?
Something to ponder…..
In the next verse, we pray, I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
There are three key phrases within this verse:
- Your word – that is, the revelation of God in His written word. The psalmist proclaims that the path to living free of sin is to read, study, learn and commit to living by the revealed Word of the living God. So, when we read in the Torah, that ‘you shall not go about as a tale-bearer’ or as a modern translation renders it: ‘Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people,’ that verse, committed to memory is a restraining force designed to help us avoid the sin of gossiping. But it will only do so if we have been faithful to read, study and absorb the instructions of our heavenly Father.
- I have treasured – in the days before banks had vaults and safe deposit boxes for their customers, people hid their valued possessions in caves or holes in the ground. The more valuable the possession, the more carefully did they choose a secure hiding place, exerting every effort to prevent the treasure from being stolen. Compared to your bank account, your home or anything else of value you possess, your Bible is your MOST valuable earthly possession for man does not live by bread alone, but be EVERY WORD that comes from the mouth of God, says Deuteronomy. Do we treasure it enough that we make every effort to keep it ‘safe’? And where is that safe place? Within your heart and mind. In the West, we often take our Bibles for granted but in many countries of the world, even in the 21st century, a Bible is a rare possession. I’ll say it again – and urge you to ponder this truth: Your personal Bible is your MOST valuable possession for it gifts you with the opportunity to know God and His ways. Do we treasure it as David did?
- in my heart – Note: the phrase does not read ‘in my mind’ but ‘in my heart’. There are academicians who can quote the Bible backwards and forwards at the blink of an eye but it is not ‘hidden in their heart’. How can I say such a thing? Because by their own confession they consider the Bible a piece of literature, not the revealed Word of God. Intellectual knowledge of God’s Word is not enough; to translate His Word into our lifestyle requires that we plant it deep within our heart. If we indeed have done so, it will show in our daily life. Faith, kindness, gentleness, inner peace, patience and the like develop in the soul of the person hiding God’s Word in his heart. It behooves us to make sure that our knowledge of God’s Word is more than intellectual but is actual – having a direct effect on the way we live.
Finally, I have rejoiced in your instructions as much as in riches.(vs. 14) Wow – now there’s something to think about.
Imagine for a moment that you receive an unexpected inheritance of several million dollars. You would rejoice – and rightly so. You would probably consider it a gift from heaven and give thanks to God.
But…has it ever crossed your mind to hold your Bible in your hands and declare, “This is more valuable to me and brings me greater joy than an inheritance of several million dollars ever could”? Be honest with yourself: could you say that, right now, today?
May God grant to all of us a deeper appreciation for His revealed Word.
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