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PSALM 119

WHAT DOES IT TEACH?

 A Preacher in his Study

LESSON 1, ALEPH AND BETH:

It's called an "alphabet" Psalm.

In fact, it is the most fully developed of them all!

Psalm 119.

Yet not only are there spiritual lessons to be learned from these Hebrew ABC's ... there are certain themes woven into this great Bible chapter as well.

It seems to me that the opening sections of the Psalm focus on the child of God's "thinking" habits!

By that I mean our thought patterns.

Watch!

The opening eight verses, the "aleph" section, begin like this: "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways." Psalm 119:1-3

But, how does one arrive at that place?

The place where he or she is undefiled and walks in the Law of the Lord and keeps His Testimonies and whole heartedly seeks Him and does no iniquity? 

By the way, to live like that is already to have been "blessed!"

Here's how to arrive in that situation!

A "hint" of the solution is in the paragraph we are reading, the "aleph" or "a" grouping of verses.  "Aleph" to the ancient Jews pictured an "ox." A sacrificial ox!  A clean animal! One which was soon to shed blood!  And this view is an uncontested fact among those who study the Semitic languages.  An ox!

I believe such an Ox is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ!  Mark in His Gospel pictures Jesus as a lowly Calf, humbly doing His Father's Will.  Ministering to the lost, dying on the Cross!

The first taste of blessedness any man has is being "saved!"

Meeting Jesus our risen Sacrifice in the free pardon of sin!

And then the next experience of blessedness comes from living a godly separated life! Just read the "aleph" verses.  You will see what I mean.

Living a godly life!

That immediately leads us to the "beth" or "b" paragraph, verses nine through sixteen!  The Psalm has twenty two eight-verse sections, one for each Hebrew letter available to the Psalmist.  That's right, their alphabet has only twenty two letters, all consonants.

"Beth" suggests to us the answer!

How does one attain the "blessed" life!

Of course, through the power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit ... but also by "meditating" and "loving" the Word of God!

Read with me:  "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word."  Psalm 119:9-16

Obviously the words "taking heed" and "seeking" and "not wandering" and "hiding"  and "rejoicing" and "meditating" and "respecting" and "delighting" and "not forgetting" have as their objects terms that all mean the Word of God!

That's where the power is!

There's the "secret" to blessedness!

And godly living!

And let me tell you this.

"Beth" in Hebrew means "house," just a "house!"

The place where one lives!

Get it?

If we literally "live" in the place of love for the Word of God, if we "dwell" in the Scriptures, all these blessings will be ours!

Paul says: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." Colossians 3:16

That's the idea!

Friend, where do YOU live?

Maybe you should move!

Move more into God's precious Word ... as a lifestyle!

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, BETH:

I trust this Bible Study Lesson will not be "boring" to you.

It's just necessary to study the "words" of Scripture.

Since the Bible is verbally inspired, each noun or verb or preposition is important, God chosen! 

The second paragraph of Psalm 119, being verses 9 through 16, seem to particularly emphasize an eagerness to learn the Word of God!

Let's quickly notice its key verbs.

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word."  Psalm 119:9-16

We shall discuss them in order.

The verb "cleanse" is "zakah" and means something like "translucent."  That means light can pass right through it!  Transparent!  Then ... clean! In Job 15:14 the word is used as a parallel to the term "righteous." It is one of God's traits in Psalm 51:4.  The eight times this word is used in Scripture forms a veritable lexicon for the Bible student!

Now the rest of our paragraph, the "beth" paragraph of Psalm 119 ... verses 9-16, answers that question!

"Taking heed" to God's Word ("shamar" in Hebrew) means "to hedge about" or "to guard" something!  It's first use in the Bible was when God told Adam to dress and "keep" the Garden of Eden, to tend it carefully! It's second use is when God, having expelled Adam and Eve from the garden due to their sin, places angels there to "keep" the way of the tree of life!

To "seek" the Lord is in Hebrew "darash" and has the idea of treading or frequenting a place.  To go there often!  Usually for pursuit or search!  This is the "root" of the oft used Old Testament expression "to enquire of the Lord!"

Then to "wander" ("shagah") means to stray, to err, to swerve, to meander or even to stagger (as intoxicated)!  Its first occurrence in Scripture, Leviticus 4:13, translates it "sin through ignorance."  It is also used of a blind man "wandering" out of the way in Deuteronomy 27:18.

To have "hidden" God's Word in one's heart ("tzspan") is "to have treasured it" or "to have stored it as valuable!" It original idea, to hide something by covering it, is certainly a beautiful word picture! In Job 23:12 our verb here is translated "esteemed" in the King James Bible.  "Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." And in Song of Solomon 7:13 the Shulamite has "laid up" certain pleasantries for her Bridegroom! 

To "sin" against God means "to miss the way" He has designed for one to walk! "Chata" is the Hebrew word.

"Blessed" is "barak" and basically means to kneel before One!  "Teach" is "lamad" and means "to goad" or to incite someone with knowledge. The Psalmist has such a love for the Word of God, he wants to learn it ... even at the expense of discomfort if necessary! Every time this exact verb (as a piel imperative) is used in the Bible, all 11 times, it is when the writer is praying to God!  Eight of those eleven times are found in Psalm 119 too! 

To "declare" God's Word is to "saphar" it.  This means "to number, to count or to reckon!" To tally with a mark!  The Psalmist is just telling us that he enjoys talking about Scripture, specifically God's great acts of judgment! In Genesis 15:5 God invites Abraham to "tell" (to count) the stars!  That's how numerous the Jewish people, Abraham's descendants, would become!

And to "rejoice" (Hebrew = "sus") in God's Word is "to be bright" or "to be cheerful!"  In Deuteronomy 28:63 (the word's first mention) God is rejoicing over His people!  It is an Old Testament verb of victory, heavily used in both the Psalms and Isaiah ... 15 of 27 times!

To "meditate" means "to ponder" then "to talk aloud with oneself!" "Siyach" in the King James Bible is rendered in these ways: meditate, talk, speak, complain, pray, commune, muse and declare!  Look at Psalm 55:17. "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." Both Psalm 77 (verses 4, 7 and 13) and Psalm 119 (verses 15, 27 and 48) use this verb three times each!

To "have respect" to God's Word and His Ways is "to look at" or "to pay attention to" Such! "Nabat" is found 69 times in the Bible. It's the verb for "behold" in Psalm 119:18. "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." And in Genesis 19:17, it's the verb used to tell Lot and his family not to LOOK back at Sodom, lest they be consumed!

To "delight oneself" in God's Statutes is "to please or amuse oneself" or even "to fondle" or "to be smeared over" with something!  This lovely verb ("shaa") is also used two other times in Psalm 119, verses 47 and 70.  In Isaiah 11:8 this verb is translated "play."  Amazing!

To "forget," which the Psalmist will NOT do to God's Word, is "shakach" and means "to ignore" or "to allow to wither!" One source says it also means "to mislay!"  Look what happens to those who forget God's Word! "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 4:6) Now that's an aid to Bible memory!

A complex set of verbs?

Maybe!

But when obediently taken in order ... just as the Holy Spirit has given them ... they surely would produce holy living!  A real state of blessedness!

We should by now be able to easily see that the Psalmist, early in this great chapter, is displaying a passion for God's Word!

So should we!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3; GIMEL, DALETH AND HE:

I have recently noticed something about Psalm 119, the longest Chapter in all the Bible.

As the great Chapter develops, its 176 verses gradually shift from one godly emphasis to another!

It opened with a strong focus on "meditation." Not the kind the world does, mind you! But meditation on the precious Word of God, thinking about it and memorizing it and talking of it all day long! As a lifestyle!

Next it appears that the Psalmist, being so "in love" with the Scripture, develops an even greater "hunger" for the Written Word!

This "longing" for God's Thoughts permeates three whole paragraphs of the Psalm too!

The "gimel" and the "daleth" and the "he" sections of the Chapter have, like all the other paragraphs do, 8 verses each.

In this "Alphabet Psalm" we have nearly been forced to study the little letters with which the Jewish people wrote.

"Gimel" corresponds to our English "G."

While "daleth" is the letter "D."

And "he" (pronounced "hay") is parallel to one of our "H" sounds.

But each of these letters has a meaning behind it too, a "word picture" really.

The "Gimel" is a camel, on a journey ... traveling to a far place!

The "Daleth" is a door.

And the "He" is a window, one through which light descends!

Why go into these truths?

Because the Holy Spirit uses them it seems!

He employs these little letters as He builds this Psalm!

For example, if "Gimel" is a camel on a journey, then maybe something in its paragraph (verses 17-24) will illustrate this fact!

Look!

Verse 19 depicts a person who is on a journey!  He is not home ... yet!  "I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me."  The noun "stranger" is spelled ... with a "gimel," of course! 

It's a prayer!  "Lord, I am just a temporary dweller on earth! But I am coming home! On the way, please do not conceal Thy Word from me!  It's my map!  I must have it!"  That's the essence of this verse!

Then ... the "daleth" verses begin, verses 25-32.  But is there any "hint" in this section that a "door" might be involved?

One goes out a "door" to begin a trip!  Maybe to the mailbox or maybe to the next county!  Doors demand decisions! 

Now read verse 29. "Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously." Then verse 30 says: "I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me."  Plus verse 32: "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart."

"Lord, I shall use the 'door' that leads ... not to lying, but to truth, Thy truth! I will use the door that opens into Thy Commandments!" So promises the Psalmist!

Lastly, the "he" ("hay") verses might imply a "window," some source of light and warmth!  Of course a "window" is that opening through which we look to see the world around us!  There is here an implied danger, too! Through some "windows" one might see some forbidden things!

Hence the prayer of verse 37, which says: "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way."

"Lord, I ask that Thou wouldest not allow me to see through windows of sin and vanity and spiritual emptiness, but may I look upon and stare at the very paths of righteousness, the still waters and green pastures of Thy leading!

I do trust that you see the correlation of each of these segments of Scripture to their alphabetic roots!

But ... even more so, now notice this!

In each case, gimel and daleth and he, the inspired Poet expresses a growing "hunger" for God and His Word!

Lord, I am a stranger on earth ... I need Thy Word!  (Gimel paragraph)

Lord, I want to enter the Door of Scripture, not the door of worldliness! (Dateth paragraph)

And Lord, help me to look through the window of "Thy Way" or Thy Word, not sinfulness and vanity! (He paragraph)

Here's my point today: These three 8-verse-each paragraphs contain the Psalm's greatest collection of prayers and statements about longing for Scripture! Hungering for God's Word! Eagerness to learn! A passion for God's Book!

And that's exactly how we best make our earthly journey, follow the right paths, and look in the proper direction ... all the way Home!

This is Sunday, the Lord's Day.

Is anybody "hungry" for the dear Word of God?

Tell your Preacher before he speaks this morning!

It will excite him to know!

Better yet, let's allow the Psalmist here to express this hunger as a prayer: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Psalm 119:18

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, HUNGER FOR THE WORD OF GOD:

Although Psalm 119 contains a number of prayers and statements that reflect the Psalmist's strong hunger and yearning for the Word of God, there is a three paragraph section where such longings are predominant.

Let me show you what I mean.

In the section between verses 17 and 40 one can observe such great statements as:

"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. " (Psalm 119:18) See the "hunger" for God's Word here?

The verb "open" ("galah" in Hebrew) means "to uncover!"  It is an intensive verb (Piel stem) and is framed as an imperative!  These properties show extreme desire on the part of the Psalmist.  To "behold" ("nabat" in Hebrew) means "to consider" or "to pay attention to" something.  And "wondrous" ("pala") means marvelous or surpassing or extraordinary!

Then immediately comes the corresponding short prayer: "Hide not thy commandments from me."  (Psalm 119:19b) This verb means "to make secret" or "to conceal!"  This mans wants to know the Word of God!

Then verse 20 amplifies his feelings.  "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times."  "Breaketh" ("garas") means "to be crushed!"  "Longing" indicates strong emotion, whether love or hate!  Here obviously it is a passionate craving for God's Truth! 

And even verse 24 continues the theme: "Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors." The noun "delight" ("shashua") means that which is "pleasant" or "enjoyable."  Then the term "counsellors" is a two-fold Hebrew expression meaning "men of my advisement!"  God's Word constitutes his "cabinet" of advisers for godly living!

Then ... "Quicken Thou me according to Thy Word." (Psalm 119:25b)  "Chayah" ("quicken") means to make alive!  Again, it's a prayer to God for sensitivity concerning the Scriptures!

Verse 26 ... "Teach me Thy statutes." This verb "teach" is a beautiful one! "Lamed" means "to goad" someone!  "Prod me, Lord, until I understand and obey Thy Word!"  That's what is being prayed here!

There are nearly too many to count!

"Make me to understand the way of Thy precepts." (Verse 27) Here to "understand" (in Hebrew = "biyn") means "to distinguish" or "to see levels of meaning" in the Word of God!

"Strengthen Thou me according to Thy Word."  (Verse 28)  "Strengthen" ("qum") just means "to arise" or "to stand up" or even "to become powerful!" It conveys the idea of being established or rooted or confirmed!

"Grant me Thy Law graciously." (Verse 29) To "grant" here (in Hebrew = "chanan") means to bend down and stoop low to help someone!  Someone big (God) helping someone little (you and me)!

Then, as if he had not sufficiently expressed his astounding "hunger" for the Word of God ... he repeats himself! 

"Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end." Psalm 119:33

"Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law." Verse 34

"Make me to go in the path of thy commandments." (Verse 35)  Both the verb "to go" and the noun "path" suggest well-trodden walkways!  These require frequency of travel!  Habitual presence!

"Incline my heart unto thy testimonies."  (Psalm 119:36) The verb "natah" ("incline") literally means "to stretch out" or "to extend" something.  Here's a heart "reaching out" to the Word of God!

And, finally, in verse 40 our Psalmist clearly states: "Behold, I have longed after thy precepts." See his desire?  We have had this verb, "taah," earlier in this lesson.  It represents a passionate deeply felt love!

Today's point is this.

The first genuine emotion and resolve the Psalmist experienced was expressed in verses 1-16, the two opening paragraphs of this chapter, the Bible's longest!  It is that of "meditation" and concentration on the Word of God!

But ... surprisingly ... the more the writer meditates ... instead of getting "bored" or "saturated" with Scripture ... he longs for it and hungers after it more and more!

Maybe I could put it this way:  The more Scripture you learn, the more you will want to learn!

The more you absorb, the more you will want to absorb! 

A growing Christian just can't get enough of God's Word!

Job once testified of the Lord God: "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food." Job 23:12

Then Jeremiah said this to the Lord:  "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." Jeremiah 15:16

But, best of all, Jesus said to the devil: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4

And the godly Psalmist, for 24 verses now, has said a fervent "amen!"

Yes, a valid theme developed in Psalm 119 is ... "hunger" for the Word of God!

Do we have it?

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, THE WORD OF GOD AND SUFFERING, THE "KOPH" PARAGRAPH:

After a growing Christian learns to meditate in the precious Word of God, he or she sets in motion a whole cascade of "good things."

Meditation (Psalm 119, Paragraphs 1 and 2) leads to an even greater Hunger for the Scriptures of Truth!  This Hunger is emphasized in Psalm 119, Paragraphs 3 and 4 and 5.  An insatiable hunger!

But, before too long, another new "Lesson" is learned.

Along with Meditation and that ever deepening Hunger for the Word ... eventually come problems and pressures and trials from many directions!

The Psalmist may have best described such an experience when he wrote: "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." Psalm 119:71

This phenomenon can be viewed in one of two ways. The devil might be said to "fight" us furiously as we get deeper and deeper into God's Word!  Or the Lord Himself might be "allowing" such trials to come ... to drive us further and further into His Word!

Either way, with more dedicated focus on Scripture ... comes more severe spiritual battles and difficulties.

It seems that Psalm 119 has a whole Paragraph that highlights this Truth.

It carefully and accurately describes the godly Bible-loving Psalmists' experience ... heartaches and all!

The Section of Psalm 119 that does so is the "Koph" Paragraph, verses 81-88.

In this short eight verse section, the inspired writer notes that his soul is fainting (verse 81) and his eyes failing (verse 82) and severe persecution rages (verse 84). Furthermore, pits are dug for his downfall (verse 85) and help is badly needed (verse 86) and he is nearly consumed (verse 87). In other words, he is about dead, needing to be "quickened" (verse 88).

But why does he voice so many "complaints" to the Lord?

He is obeying in advance Peter's advice: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." 1st Peter 5:7

Or Jesus' invitation in Matthew 11:29-30. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

And let me tell you this too.  Here's one of the reasons why his problems are so acute in the Koph Paragraph.  In Hebrew "koph," the eleventh letter of their alphabet, means "hand," or the "palm" of the hand.

It is believed to picture an open hand, one predisposed to give whatever is needed to a weary soul!

Do you see?

Meditate!

Meditate in the Word of God!

And, as your hunger for the Scriptures increases, becoming more and more passionate, get ready!

Trials will come your way!

But ... when they do ... God is able!

He will meet your needs!

He will, with open Hand, shower upon you blessing after blessing!

That's the emphasis of Psalm 119:81-88.

Thank God for His almighty Hand!

Job reminds us how we receive good things at "the Hand of God!"  Job 2:10

Also, at times anyway, we can receive difficult things from the hand of God! Again, see Job 2:10.

Either way, His Hand is sufficient!

And, remember, we are the "sheep of His Hand!"  Psalm 95:7

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, SUFFERING SAINTS, A CATALOGUE:

The closer one gets to the Lord, the more familiar he becomes with God's Word ... the more the devil will fight him!

This truth is clearly illustrated in one of the paragraphs of Psalm 119.  To be more precise, verses 81 through 88.

You must read them to see what I mean.

"My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes. How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law. All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me. They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts. Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth."

Nearly every verse introduces a new trial.

Look!

"My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word."  Verse 81 ... His soul is fainting!  "Kalah" means to be spent or consumed or finished! Wasted! Even destroyed!   But it has both a negative and a positive sense too.  It is translated "consumed" 57 times in the Bible, pretty negative for sure!  But in its first mention in Scripture, Genesis 2:1, "the heavens and the earth "were finished."  That's a good sense!

"Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?" Verse 82 ... His eyes are failing!  Again, the same verb is used, "kalah!"  The wise and inspired poet/psalmist is using alliteration and repetition for emphasis here.

In the first two verses here, the godly man is falling apart (soul, eyes, etc.). Under the extreme pressure of difficult situations and hateful men!

"For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes." Verse 83 ... He is like "a bottle in the smoke!"  What does this word picture mean and how does it relate to the trials of life? Some teachers explain it as a "bottle" or "skin bottle" (bottles then not being made of glass) that had been blackened and made ugly by the billowing dark smoke of a nearby fire. Others say it pictures a skin that has been shriveled and dried by such hot smoke. Either way, the moisture is gone and its future usefulness is in question.

"How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?" Verse 84 ... He is being "persecuted!"  Now he plainly says it! "Radaph" means to be followed, run after, chased then ... persecuted!  Relentless pursuit!  Never ending pressure!

"The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law." Verse 85 ... The enemies have dug pits to capture the godly Psalmist! This is a common Old Testament word picture.  See Psalm 7:15 and 35:7 and Jeremiah 18:20.  

"All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me." Verse 86 ... He is "wrongly" treated! Wrongly, "sheqer" in Hebrew, means falsely or filled with lies. Deceitful! But, praise the Lord, the word also means "vain" or empty!  Being falsely accused ... bad as that is ... is not as terrible as being justly accused!

"They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts." Verse 87 ... Then, for a third time, back to "kalah." The Psalmist is "consumed," well ... almost consumed!  "Almost" ("meat" in Hebrew) does mean small or little or few!  The Psalmist was down ... but not out! 

The threefold repetition of this "double meaning" verb is significant! The Lord is telling us something about suffering and heartache.

The devil means it for evil!  ("kalah" meaning failure or coming to an end or wasting away)

God means it for good! ("kalah" meaning finished or accomplished or brought to the goal)

And, after describing such victory in the face of hardship ... what can the Psalmist say but ... "Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth." (Psalm 119:88) He just prays!

Even in the "smoke" of suffering ... he dwells on God's great "lovingkindness!"

"If God be for us, who can be against us?"

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, "KOPH," HOW TO HANDLE ADVERSITY:

The 119th Psalm is great!

It details the progression each Believer in Christ makes as he or she matures in his or her faith.

First we must learn to be "in" the Word of God!  To "meditate" in it and study it and delight in it!

Then we must seek the Lord for an even greater hunger for the Book, the Scripture Itself.  This is partly a prayer ... and partly just an automatic consequence of meditating in the Word in the first place.

Thirdly, we must expect and prepare for difficulty!  Trials come to those who put God first!  Paul said this: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2nd Timothy 3:12

That's where the "Koph" stanza of Psalm 119 fulfills such a key role. This includes verses 81-88.

It tells us what to do when heartaches and difficulties arise. Eight things are enumerated for us to pursue, one per verse.

1. When one has such pressure upon himself that he is about to faint ... we are to "hope" in God's Word!  Read it: "My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word." Psalm 119:81

To "hope" (in Hebrew = "yachal") means "to wait," or "to be patient" or even "to expect." 

When troubles come ... wait them out!  God will keep His Word!  Be patient! Trust the Lord!  Then to be specific, according to Psalm 119 here, wait on the promises and truths of Scripture to be fulfilled in front of your very eyes!  They will!  Don't give up!

2. And when one's eyes (faith) begin to fail ... look for "comfort" from Scripture! The word is "nacham" This is very close to the Prophet Nahum's name, which means "comfort" too!  It means "to console, to show pity, to have compassion!" Its first Bible occurrence is in Genesis 5 where we meet "Noah" (meaning "rest") who would be a "comfort" to mankind! "Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?" (Psalm 119:82) Paul mentions the "comfort of the Scriptures" in Romans 15:4 also.

3. And when things get "really" dark ... do not forget the Word of God!  "For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes." Psalm 119:83

Not to "forget" (in Hebrew = "shakach") means primarily "to ignore." It can mean "to wither" also.  In Genesis 40:23 we read: "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him."  Do not do that to the Bible!

4. When persecution really arises, and you feel you are nearing the end of your days ... trust God to execute judgment on the wicked!  "How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?" Psalm 119:84

God will some day judge iniquity!  "For it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Romans 12:19

In a spiritual sense, such judgment will bring joy and peace to the offended party!

Also notice that God will "execute" judgment.  The verb ("asah") means "to make or manufacture or fashion or create or artistically design" it!  God can poetically design judgment just for your situation! 

5. Next, be aware of the enemies' strategy!  "The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law." Psalm 119:85 

Do not be ignorant of their wicked devices! "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." 2nd Corinthians 2:11

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Ephesians 6:11) That noun "wiles" is the Greek word "methodeia" and is obviously our English word "methods!" Know the enemies' methods!

But where can I find the "plans" of the wicked?  Why, the Bible tells me all I need to know about them!  For example, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." 1st John 2:16

6. Then when persecution rises in intensity and increases in iniquity ... ask for God's Help!  Declare the faithfulness of His Word! "All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me." Psalm 119:86

Help me, Lord!  This verb, "azar," means "to support" or "to succour." The "root" idea here is that of surrounding a person, protecting him and aiding him in time of need!

Read the great "rescues" of the Bible!  They are faithful accounts of the power of God, delivering His people!

7. And when you are at "the end of your rope," nearly "consumed" by the trials ... forsake not the Word of God! Let the problems drive you INTO the Word ... not AWAY from it!  "They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts." Psalm 119:87

Elsewhere the Psalmist announced: "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." Psalm 119:71

To "forsake" (in Hebrew = "azab") means "to loose" from something!  "To leave" it. To abandon, depart or neglect it! To desert it!

Stick with the Bible ... more than ever!

8. Then, lastly, reinforce the whole pressure-filled issue with ... a request for God's lovingkindness and mercy!  "Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth." Psalm 119:88

The noun here is "hesed" and means so much!  It's a GRACE word, just one of several found in the Old Testament!

Revive me with Thy Love, Lord!  Pray with David: "Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me." Psalm 86:17

Then, as if to hit the devil right between the eyes one more time, the Psalmist vows ... "so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth."

Lord, whatever happens, I will be true to Thee and Thy Word!

Amazing!

And that, no doubt, is one of the Bible's greatest Lessons on "How to Handle Adversity!"

Each of us should master Psalm 119:81-88.

There, in the "Koph" stanza, God opens wide His great Hands of Goodness and drops upon us one blessing after another ... as we endure trials and hardships for His Name's Sake!

By the way, in case you do not remember, in Hebrew "koph" means the hand, the open hand, the palm of the hand!

What Hands God must have!

Yes!

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10:27-29

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, THE "MEM" PARAGRAPH, THE "WATER" OF THE WORD:

The letter called "mem" in the Hebrew alphabet means "water."  It is even written with a resemblance of a distinct rippling effect, "water-like." Here it is: m

I have often associated it with something Paul said in Ephesians 5:26 where he talks about "the washing of water by the word."  He likens the Word of God to water, cleansing water!

"Mem" in some ways depicts the precious Word of God.

And it is not accidental that the Mem Paragraph in Psalm 119 is quite distinctive too!

It highlights, more an any other section of this long Psalm, the "blessings" or the "fruits" of being "in" the Word of God!

Let me show you. "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." Psalm 119:97-104

Count the times the Psalmist says "I" in this section!  There are nine of them. Add the times he says "me" or "my" or "mine" to that total, ten more!  Nineteen total personal pronouns ... in just eight divinely inspired verses!

I would say that we have surely come across a list of "blessings" associated with God's Word!

Let's count these "benefits"

1. More wisdom than one's enemies!

2. More understanding than one's very teachers!

3. More knowledge than the ancients!

4. Personal instruction from the Lord God Himself! "For Thou hast taught me!" Verse 102b

5. Sweetness of taste, regarding Scripture!

6. And ... hatred of evil!

So far now, Psalm 119 has developed several key emphases of the successful Christian life.

Truth number one ... A growing Believer must learn to MEDITATE in the Word of God!

Number two ... He must realize that such meditation will only lead to greater depths and a much more intense longing for the Scriptures!

Number three ... He then faces manifold trials and pressures!  But the Word teaches him how to identify and catalogue them.  Then he is instructed Biblically how to handle them, how to gain victory over them all!

Now, number four ... He begins to really experience some of the multiple BLESSINGS of living "in" God's Word!

This last point, number four, is highlighted in the Mem section!

But, just a minute.

Before we go "wild" about all those blessings; more wisdom than one's enemies, teachers and forefathers ... plus a fresh apprehension of the "sweetness" of Scripture ... culminating in victory over sin ... notice this. The first thing God's Word does is to inculcate even more LOVE for itself within the Believer's heart!

In other words, stay in Scripture! And the more you do so ... the more you will LOVE God's Book, the Bible!

And the greatest benefit of doing so is not simply more wisdom and understanding than all those groups listed ... or even sweetness of life and disposition ... or conquering all those sins ... BUT a love, a deep love for the Bible, the holy Word of God!

That's why the first verse in Mem says: "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97

The greatest blessing of all is to know the Scriptures ... and to fellowship with the Triune God Who wrote them!

All these other things are merely "bonuses."

Praise His Name!

In this sense, a good sense, the Scriptures are "addictive!"

Job was an addict.  "Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food." Job 23:12

So was Jeremiah.  "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." Jeremiah 15:16

And, the greatest of all, Jesus! "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Amen!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, "MEM," VICTORY THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD:

The Lord Jesus gained victory over Satan by three times quoting the Word of God!  "It is written" thrice said our Lord!

"He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."  Matthew 4:4

"Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."  Matthew 4:7

"Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."  Matthew 4:10

Psalm 119, in its great "Mem" paragraph ... verses 97-104 ... reveals for us the great overcoming power of Scripture!

Let me show you what I mean.

1. First is the assurance of victory over wrong thoughts!  The Psalmist has by now, after 96 verses of living "in" the Word of God, gained control of his very thinking!  The Bible has consumed him!  Read it: "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97 

To "meditate" (in Hebrew = "siychah") means to first think ... then talk about a subject incessantly!  One just cannot have bad thoughts if he or she is living in the Scriptures!

2. Then comes victory over one's enemies"Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me." Verse 98

An "enemy" ("oyeb") is one who hates you, who is your foe.  The grammar of the verse reveals that it's the Commandments of God that are ever with us, not the enemies!  God's Word outlasts the wicked ones! 

3. Then is granted victory over false information! He is wiser than any potential teacher who would lead him astray! Even in David's day, false teachers had risen, misleading God's people. "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation."  Verse 99

One meaning for the particular noun "understanding" here is "circumspection." It's meaning: carefully looking all around as one travels down life's roadway!

4. Then one is granted victory over old and historic things. These are things of the past! "I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts." Verse 100

Archaeology, paleontology, geology, evolution and other false applications of science are trying to undermine the faith of thousands!  But the Bible, God's Word is ahead of them all! "In the beginning God created ....!" Genesis 1:1

And now, in "postmodern" America, even the history books are being "corrected" to reflect more "politically correct" views!  I'll have none of it! For me ... God's Word is Truth!

Our word "ancients" here ("zaqen") is translated elders (115 times) and old (23 times) and even senators (1 time) in the King James Bible.  Wiser than the senators? Just imagine!

5. Then the man or woman of the Word is blessed with victory over sin!  It is just a fact; the Bible in one's life eventually expels wicked tendencies! "I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word." Verse 101

To "refrain" (Hebrew = "kala") is to withhold or restrict or shut up or keep back or forbid.

And the adjective "evil" is "ra" ... strong malignant wickedness, active and spreading day by day!

Elsewhere this truth is illustrated in Psalm 119 also. For example, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11

6. Add to the list victory over faithlessness.  God loves faithfulness! And the Word is the Christian's premier source of faith! "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17

Read verse 102 with me: "I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me."  To "not depart" ("lo sur") means not to turn aside or avoid or stray or reject or retract!  It pictures steady regularity!   Just being steadfast and immoveable! Always "in" the Book!  Our faithful God teaches such behavior to His Own children!

The noun "judgments" here may contain a hint of the "fear of the Lord" also. That expels careless living!

7. The one who meditates in Scripture also experiences victory over bitterness!  He or she will be sweet in his or her spirit!  Notice: "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Verse 103

If one is spiritually and habitually "chewing" on God's Word, he will not become angry or hateful in the issues of life. And this word for "sweet" ("malatzs") is only used this one time in the whole Bible!  That makes this a very unique and special sweetness!  A sweetness that passes all understanding!

8. Lastly, one gets victory over spiritual stagnation! Victory over lethargy, spiritual laziness! He or she, if constantly thinking in the Word of God, will always be growing in the Lord!  Back in verse 101 the Psalmist had refrained from sin, but now ... by verse 104 ... he hates it!  "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."

The verb "hate" ("sane") means to see one as an enemy! And the adjective "false" ("sheqer") means deceptive or fraudulent or vain.  Psalm 101 is nearly a commentary on this last verse of the Mem paragraph.

Victory!

Victory through the Word of God!

Surely, just like Paul says hundreds of years after Psalm 119 was penned, God's Word is all sufficient!  "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2nd Timothy 3:16-17

Praise the Lord!

And stay in the Scriptures!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, The "Tsade" Paragraph:

The "tsade" is the letter of the Hebrew alphabet that depicts a "fishhook!" Actually "tsade" is their word for a fishhook!

The tsade paragraph of Psalm 119 includes verses 137-144.

Later the letter came to be known as the "tsadik," the noun for "righteousness."

It looks like this:

As a picture of a "righteous" man, see how the letter appears to be a person on his knees, as if praying!  Humble!

Now let's take these two alphabetical implications and apply them to our eight verse section of Psalm 119. 

"Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful. My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words. Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live." Psalm 119:137-144

Let's make two critical observations today.

First, the "fishhook" paragraph depicts a man who is "hooked" on the Word of God! He can't say enough good things about it!

God's Word ... flowing from God's Lips ... is "upright" and "righteous" and "very faithful." Also God's Decrees are "very pure" and "truth" and "everlasting" and "delightful" and life giving!

Is he addicted to Scripture, or not?

Secondly, the "tsadik" section, as a poem of righteousness, declares God to be exactly That, the Holy God who stands behind His Word!

A God Who is, like His Utterances, righteous and upright and faithful and very pure and everlasting and true and delightful and filled with Life!

And the man who, repenting and turning from his sins, loves this God and passionately follows His Word will also be righteous, through the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!

He will be a man of great zeal for the Lord, and great love for the Bible, and delighted and truly alive! 

Note that in verse 141 he is "small and despised" and that in verse 143 he is "troubled and in anguish" ... yet he is happy in God and His Word!

A perfect emphasis for the man who is described in Psalm 119:137-144, the "tsade" paragraph!  A "godly" man "hooked" on the Scriptures of Truth!

And if you are one of those folks who has trouble with people praising the Word of God, read Psalm 138:2 "For thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy Name."

And now the "development" of Psalm 119 looks like this ... so far:

     *  Meditate in God's Word!

     * Increase in love and devotion to Scripture!  Greater and greater hunger!

     * Expect trials to come.  They will!

     * But lean on God and His Word ... through them deliverance will come!

     * Then, as one continues to love the Bible ... blessings innumerable will fall!

     * Victories never before experienced will be enjoyed regularly!  And ...

     * The Believer's respect for God's Word will accelerate!

What a chapter, this longest one in the whole Bible!  And it fits together so beautifully!

Praise the Lord!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11, THE EXCELLENCY OF THE WORD OF GOD:

The more one is introduced to the Word of God, the more he or she loves it!

At least that's true if the student is a born-aqain Believer in Christ Jesus.

And the "tsade" paragraph of Psalm 119 (verses 137-144) highlights such godly obsession!

Let's examine the Psalmist's testimony regarding Scripture.

Verse 137 says: "Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments." The love affair has begun! God, the Author behind His Own Word, is "righteous."  The word "tzsaddiyq,"  meaning just or lawful, is first used in Genesis 6:8-9. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." What a blend of righteousness and grace! Gathered around the Ark, too!

So, if God is righteous, His Word must be "upright!"  And "yashar" means straight or correct, first being used in Exodus 15:26.  Read this! "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee." Do right ... and "none of these diseases" will come your way! Again, holiness and love are mixed! But only to those who have been "under" the Blood of the Lamb!

What a high regard for the Bible!

Verse 138 continues: "Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful." Here "righteous" is a noun, not an adjective. This slightly different form ("tzsedeq") is initially used in Genesis 38:26 where Judah has to answer for his part in the Tamar event! "And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more." A "harlot" more righteous than Judah? Only through Jesus can such a thing happen!

And "faithful?" In Hebrew "emunah" means that which is stable or steady!  Here's the first use of the word, Exodus 17:12. "But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun." God's Word will never be shaken either!

Now to Verse 139. Here the Holy Spirit uses some beautiful forms of "linkage" to later verses in the paragraph. "My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words." The Word of God is said to have two more glorious properties in this great verse!  It is not easily forgotten!  In fact, a true Believer cannot forget His Words!  The "enemies" have done so, however. This noun for "enemies" is "tszar" and means those who place you in a tight squeezed cramped place, those who add pressure to your life! That crowd, always busily shuttling from one place to another has "forgotten" the Scriptures! To "forget" ("shakach") here means "to ignore!" It's the verb that means "to mislay" something!  But look at verse 141 where the Psalmist promises "I do not forget Thy precepts." The unforgettable Scriptures!

Secondly verse 139 speaks of the Psalmist's "zeal" ... "qinah" ... having consumed him! The word simply means "jealousy, a holy jealousy!" Our writer is jealous over the things of God!  He is possessive of the Word of God!  He does not want it to be slandered or ignored or belittled at all!  And to be "consumed" is "tzsamath" and means "to be destroyed!" To be "cut off" or "exterminated!"  He is about to die over the mistreatment of God's Word! Yet he says by verse 144 that by God's Word and the understanding it imparts, he shall "live" forever!  It is through the Bible that we learn of eternal life!  James also said that: "Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls." That's amazing and is found in James 1:21.

Verse 140 declares that God's Word is pure! "Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it." The Psalmist has been so transformed by the Word of God that he now only loves pure things!  The Bible produces love in the Believer's heart!  It is a catalyst for such love!  It breeds that kind of devotion. To know it is to love it! This truth is seen again and again in the whole Poem!

It is very "pure." This participle, "tzsaraph," means to melt, refine, test or smelt as does the goldsmith when refining his precious metal! God's Word has been tested ... and it gloriously met all the requirements!

Using the same word, Scripture claims: "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." Proverbs 30:5

And ... "As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him." Psalm 18:30 and 2nd Samuel 22:31 both say this.

Using a different verb, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Psalm 12:6

Now, look with me at verse 141 please. I believe this verse is teaching us that the Bible, when rightly apprehended, produces within its obedient readers a spirit of humility! "I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts." The adjective "small" is "tzsaiyr" and means insignificant or little or least or young. "Despised" (Hebrew = "bazah") just means disdained or held in contempt.  The world yet today belittles and mocks the man or woman who believes the Bible and who seriously follows its commands!

If one loves the Bible, meditating in it daily, he can expect humility (within) and conflict (without) all his days!

And when we get to Heaven, we shall learn that both were real blessings from God!

Such a powerful Book will never be "mislaid" ("forgotten") by its students!  You will treasure your copy!

Then verse 142 adds a "hint" that we should not miss! "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth." Building upon the foundation of previously taught truth, God is again said to be "righteous," but this time everlastingly so!  The word "olam" means "vanishing point!" To the extremes! It implies both antiquity and futurity!  One Who is the Beginning and the End is in view here!  The Aleph and the Tau, the Alpha and the Omega!

And since Righteousness can't lie, God always speaks the Truth!  His Word is "the truth!" This Hebrew noun, "emeth," is spelled tm,a/ and means firm or faithful as well as truthful. Furthermore, its first letter, the aleph is the beginning of the Hebrew alphabet and its last letter tau is the end!  Truth in Hebrew is the first and the last! It's a "hint" of Jesus, Who is The Truth according to John 14:6. Titus 1:2 thunders: "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." And Hebrews 6:18 quickly adds: "It was impossible for God to lie."

Now to verse 143 and another powerful attribute of the Bible. It can bring delight to one's life, even in the midst of many trials. "Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights." Both nouns for trouble and anguish ("tzsar" and "matzsoq") imply enclosing "tight" places! Times of pressure! But God's Word can penetrate the problems and give sheer spiritual ecstasy!

The noun "delights" ("shaashua") means enjoyment or pleasure! Five of the nine times this word is used in the Bible, it is located in Psalm 119! Five times herein he called God's Word delightful! See verses 22 and 77 and 92 and 143 here and 174.

Verse 144 concludes the paragraph with these words: "The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live." Here is a prayer. Scripture, lastly, promotes prayer.  This is the first prayer in our whole "tsade" paragraph too! It is the culmination, the final result, of what has gone before us.

If I realize and experience all that the Bible truly is ... I will burst into prayer!  It's automatic! It can't be helped! There is a "spirit" of prayer and He is closely associated with the Word of God!  He wrote it in fact.  "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications ...." Zechariah 12:10

If you really want to pray ... study God's Word! It will set you to seeking His sweet Face!

Guaranteed!

Is anybody here "hooked" ("tsade") on God's precious Word?

I hope so!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12, "Shiyn" and Tav," The Last Two Paragraphs:

There is no doubt about this fact. Psalm 119 ends with a grand note of praise! Praise to our great God! He is praised both for Who and What He is ... and for the good Word He has given us, the Bible!

Both verses 161-168, the "shiyn"paragraph, and verses 169-176, the "tav" section, highlight this grand theme, adoration!

The letter "sheen" in Hebrew (actually spelled "shiyn") means a "tooth!" It can also mean something like a point of a rock or a peak! It looks like this: v

See the peak?

Or the "tooth" shape?

As a "tooth" it implies attack ... and victory!

And as a "peak" it implies about the same thing, the pinnacle of glory!

Little wonder he begins (verse 161) with a comment about the enemies! "Princes" is spelled in Hebrew "sar."

But the enemies of God have long since become a "non-issue" in this Bible Psalm!

We are now dealing with Godís overcoming His enemies! Like the Prince of the Power of the air, the devil!

Itís Godís "teeth" that are about to go into action!

Now, with final victory already on the horizon, watch the Psalmist praise His wonderful God!

In Verse 162 he rejoices at Godís Word! Thatís a form of praise!

In Verse 163 he loves it! Praise again!

In Verse 164 he literally praises God seven times a day!

In 165 he enjoys great peace and never stumbles!

In 166 finds great hope in the Word! Praise God for such living hope!

In 167 his love for the Scriptures has grown to the point of overflowing! This is bubbling abundant praise!

And in Verse 168 he is at an altar somewhere ... committing himself to further godly living. Itís like the "invitation" at the end of a service! Real praise always leads to obedience and worship!

But ... wait a minute!

What is the source of Godís great victory?

How are these "teeth" so powerful?

Enter the "tav" paragraph please!

This final letter of the Hebrew alphabet defines a "cross." That is, a "mark" or a "sign."

It was used in ancient days to seal a contract or covenant! To show ownership! To join two things together!

Our victory is in salvation!

In the Cross!

In our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, through His precious shed Blood!

Is that ground for praise?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Hence Verse 171 ... "My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes."

Or Verse 175 ... "Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me."

Glory to God!

A life spent in Godís Word ... trusting Jesus as Saviour ... will assuredly lead to praise, eternal praise!

Why?

The last Verse, 176, talks about our going astray "like a lost sheep." Well, that is so true. But Jesus came and found those little lost sheep, dying in their stead and saving them from eternal destruction!

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6

Therein rejoice, brethren!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 13, PRAISE:

We shall, Lord willing, take three of the distinctive "praise" verses of Psalm 119ís last two paragraphs (where "praise is most dominant) and examine them briefly.

"Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments." Psalm 119:164

In the Bible the expression "seven times" surfaces occasionally! On the Jewish Day of Atonement the High Priest sprinkled the Blood seven times before the Altar! Leviticus 16:14 and 19

God promised to punish erring Israel seven times for her sins of rebellion! Leviticus 26:21 and 24 and 28

Remember too the seven times the Army circled Jericho under Joshuaís command and with Godís Guidance! Joshua 6:4 and 15

Elijah looked seven times for any signs of rain ... then the cloud came! 1 Kings 18:43

The Bible is like silver tried in the fire, purified seven times! Psalm 12:6

The just man may fall seven times, but he always gets up and goes forward again! Proverbs 24:16

And Nebuchadnezzarís furnace was heated seven times hotter than before ... to persecute the Hebrew young men! Daniel 3:19

And God forgives and wants us to forgive not only seven times ... but seventy times seven times! Matthew 18:21

Each of these "seven times" events is cause for praise to God!

Psalm 119:171 says: "My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes."

The verb "utter" translates "naba," meaning "to flow, to gust, to pour forth, to spring or to bubble up!" In a crude sense Palm as "belch out," speaking of the wicked and their ungodly words! But here it is in a good sense: "They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness." Psalm 145:7

And here it is three more times in the King James Old Testament:

"Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." Proverbs 1:23

"The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness." Proverbs 15:2

And ... "The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook." Proverbs 18:4

Even Ecclesiastes 10:1 uses it. "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour."

The noun "praise" means adoration or thanksgiving too!

Lastly, the Psalmist makes a promise to continue praising the Lord! "Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me." Psalm 119:175

This verb "praise," which is "halal" in Hebrew, merans "to shine" or "to boast or brag" or even "to commend."

He just said that as long as he lived ... he would praise God!

This verb is in the Piel stem, indicating intensive and aggressive praise!

Praise here is forthcoming ... even when Godís Judgments are all around!

Yes, even in times of chastening and hardship ... we can praise God that He counts us as His children! For, you see, he disciplines only His sons and daughters!

One clear-cut "proof" you are saved is just that! "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Hebrews 12:6

Furthermore, "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." Hebrews 12:7-8

Godís Word has led the Psalmist to this high plateau spiritually, to the mountain top of praise!

What a way to end a Psalm!

It is indeed a grand finale!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 14 ... A FINAL REVIEW:

Brielfy letís recap the six different themes Psalm 119 has emphasized. They are easy to locate.

The Psalmist begins with the twin concepts of "blessedness" and "holiness." Verse 1-3: "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways." But the only way to enjoy Godís maximum blessings and live purely, apart from known habitual sin, is to develop a growing relationship with God and His Word!

Therefore, the following "progression" is developed.

Focus number one: A Believer must learn to meditate in Godís Word! Thatís the subject of the Psalmís opening two paragraphs. Let me quickly show you. "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways." Psalm 119:15

Focus number two: The next three paragraphs center on a hunger, a craving, nearly an obsession with the Word of God! In fact, the following maxim is true. The more a man or woman meditates in Scripture ... automatically, the more and more he or she will learn to love it and treasure it and cherish it! Read with me: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight." (I have used a selection of verses from the gimel, daleth and he paragraphs.) Hereafter eight more times in this longest Psalm does our inspired writer talk about his growing love for Godís Word. And it all began in these early paragraphs as he meditated in Godís Book! See verses 97, 113, 119, 127, 132, 159, 164, 165 and 167. This "hungering" for Bible truth never ends either!

Focus number three: The "koph"paragraph introduces a somber theme, suffering and trials and hearaches! And even there, the Bible is a constant and comforting companion! "My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes. The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law. All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me. They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts. Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth." (Selected from Verses 82-88) To this godly Christian ... Godís Word is essential when trials come!

Focus number four: After trials, comes victory ... at least for the Believer in Christ. If not victory on earth, then certainly in Heaven! The "mem" paragraph centers on the victories Scripture provides us! Here are some samples: victory over oneís enemies, false teachers, revisions of history, sinful habits, bitter reactions and spiritual stagnation! Read verses 97-104 and count them!

Focus number five: By this time in the Christianís maturing process, he or she has entered into a state of deep respect, reverence, even holy awe of the faithfulness of God and His Word! An ever deepening esteem for things divine! This is the "tsade" section. "Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful. Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live." (All these are "tsade" verses, which came ot be called "tsadik," the Hebrew word for righteousness!) Having seen God consistently grant victory in battle after battle, all according to His Word ... the Believer is just overwhelmed with Godís faithfulness and holiness!

Then, lastly, the final two paragraphs ("shiyn" and "tav") focus on praise! What else could they highlight? Praise to God for His Word! For the Word that is "profitable" according to Paul. That will develop in us "all good works!" Psalm 119 ends in a grand finale of praise! For that matter, so does the whole Book of Psalms! Read the last five, especially 150! Psalm 119:164. "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments." Or Psalm 119:171 ... "My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes." And then verse 175, which says: "Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me." Praise! Praise! Praise!

These six categories provide us with a synopsis of the whole Christian life ... all the way from Salvation to Glory!

     1. Meditation upon Scripture!

     2. An ever deepening Hunger for the Word!

     3. Trials and heartaches!

     4. Subsequent Victory!

     6. A keen Awareness of the Reliability of Scripture!

     7. Praise, Praise to God ... springing from His Word!

Glory to His Name!

Thank God for Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible!

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

WE HAVE ENJOYED YOUR STUDYING PSALM 119 WITH US!

 

 

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