Heartbeat (Psalm 119)

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Some stories are worth repeating…

Last week’s message emphasized the importance that we cannot grow spiritually without gathering with other believers. We need to be meaningfully connected to the local church. Today’s message is about the centrality of God’s word in our life and spiritual community.

EXAMINE           Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is longest chapter in Bible with 176 verses. We will not cover the whole psalm (preached on large opening section previously[1]) but just its purpose to emphasize the value of God’s word in our life.

Psalm 119 has 22 stanzas with 8 verses each. Every stanza is represented by a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with each verse in every stanza starting with that same letter as well. This was likely done for poetic reasons but also practical reasons in that of making it easier for persons to memorize. The entire psalm focuses on the word of God, except three verses (cf. vv. 84, 90, 149). The various synonyms are torah (24x), precepts (20x), statutes (19x), commandments (22x), judgments/decisions/appointments (22x), word (22x) and promise (20x). The idea is that God’s word is like observing a diamond with multiple reflections of beauty and complexion. Matthew Henry said Psalm 119 shines the brightest in the constellation of all the Psalms.[2]

In all, we are reminded that having life in God stems from having a love for God’s word. To love God is to obey His word and ways.

The author of Psalm 119 is unnamed, which means many automatically attribute to be David. Others suggest the prophet Jeremiah,[3] or possibly Ezra the priest. Regardless, this psalm is written with intention and eloquence.

Today we will focus on the 17th stanza and its letter Pe. The Hebrew letters have background meaning, and this letter represents the mouth and expression of God.[4] God’s spoken word has power to create, heal, establish peace, and provide salvation.

Read Psalm 119:129-136 to understand two purposes of God’s word:

We must be saturated in Scripture to help us wonder.

The psalmist describes God’s word with four qualities:

  1. In v.129 it’s “wonderful” (full of wonder / miraculous or supernatural).[5] The Psalms, like every book of the Bible, reveal to us God. As Christians, we do not worship the Bible but the One to whom the Bible points – the word of God leading us to know the God of the word. The psalmist is saturated in the presence of God by reflecting on His testimonies – the wonderful covenant works of God from the past that serve was wonder and warning (cf. Ex 32:15-16; Deut 31:26).
  • In v.130 God’s words give light. Notice there is an unfolding, or literally an opening – like a doorway entrance into a beautiful room or a new path with meaningful purpose (cf. Lk 24:32; Ac 17:3). This should be the aim of every preacher and teacher of God’s word. More personally, it is the motivation of every individual who reads the Scriptures.
    Like the prayer of Ps 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
    Like Ps 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  • In v.131 God’s commandments quench thirst. The psalmist pants and longs for truth and direction. Looking out, we see a world without a foundation, without absolutes but moral relativism, without guidance or leadership, without protection and safety of God’s good and wise boundaries. Yet, God’s commandments satisfy our deepest and greatest needs.
  • In v.132 The way of God is gracious. Those who love the Lord want to obey God’s way and when they fall short, they seek His grace. The wonderful good news of the Scripture is that God is merciful to repentant sinners, gracious toward the humble, and operates in steadfast love with all His children.

Ways we can renew the wonder of God 

  • > Spend time with children. Kids offer a joyful spirit and fresh perspective. They treasure the simplest experiences and the smallest deeds. A simple action step could be to sit near children during worship gathering. You say, “But they’re loud and distracting.” Perhaps so, but you’ll be amazed at what they pickup and how they participate. Ex. K- singing with her hands up… My kids discussions at home.
  • > Spend time in creation. The colors, complexity, and beauty of nature and animals and people are helpful ways to renew the wonder of our Creator. A simple action step could be to prayer walk around your home, or take a hike at a local park, or even trips around the area. Get near water to receive the waves of God’s love; drive near mountains to reminisce the faithfulness of God in the hills and valleys of your life, and that He alone is your rock (cf Ps 121).
  • >Spend time in spiritual community. We need the support, comfort, encouragement, and accountability of others that remind each other of God’s promises and purposes for life.

We must be saturated in Scripture to avoid wandering.

The psalmist describes God’s word with four benefits:

  1. In v.133a God’s promises steadies our steps. As the hymn writer says, our hearts are prone to wander and leave the God we profess to believe and love. When our feet are steady, not only walk but run in the way of His commandments (Ps 119:32). We can see how many are running away from God, but how many do we see running hard after God?

  2. In v.133b and 134 God’s promises protect us from being dominated by sin and redeems us from oppression. When we store up God’s word in our heart, we are protected from swerving too far to the left or right and we keep our feet from evil (Ps 119:11; Prov 4:27; etc.). We pray with Ps 119:37 “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things and give me life in your ways.” John Bunyan, author of the classic Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote in the cover of his Bible, “Either this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” Like Batman without his belt, Captain America without his shield, Black Panther without his vibranium suit, or a pilot without GPS, a soldier without his gun, are like a Christian without the sword of the Spirit – the word of God. Our greatest weapon to win the war is often left on the shelf collecting dust.
     
  3. In v.135 God’s statutes show us the face of God. The psalmist prays, “Make your face shine upon your servant” (cf also Numbers 6:24-26). The shining and smiling face of God represents acceptance and approval – that God is with us and fighting our battles. A number of places in the Bible people pray for God not to hide His face (Job 13:24; Ps 27:9; 44:24; 69:17; 88:14; 102:2; 143:7). When we are seeking the face of God, then we are not distracted by fleeting pleasures or divided over foolish politics.
    > I’m afraid too many today are seeking attention on Facebook than awareness of the Father’s face.

  4. In v.136 God’s law causes us to be heartbroken for the brokenness of those who don’t know God. “My eyes shed streams of tears because people do not keep your law.” What makes you cry? What makes you angry? What moves you to action? Many shed tears when their name is maligned, or their preferences are mocked, but how many shed tears over things that break the heart of God? How often do you pray for your lost family members and friends? How frequently do you pray for lost people to get saved at our church? How consistently are mirroring God’s law to those who are eagerly ready to label the charge of hypocrisy against Christianity?

Ways we avoid wandering away from God:

  • Invite evaluation. The psalmist says, “I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law” (119:109). In another place, he says, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (90:12). We need times to pause and reflect if we are going in the direction we truly desire, and God demands.
  • Invest in meaningful Christian friendships and small group spiritual growth.

APPLY/THINK

SPBC Pathway for Disciplemaking: Start – See – Select & Shape – Send

Illus. Pilot Henry Dempsey and co-pilot Paul Boucher were flying a commuter 15 passenger Beechcraft 99 plane from Portland, ME to Boston, MA. During flight, the pilot heard a rattling noise and left to go check the problem. In a moment the plane hit turbulence and co-pilot Boucher heard a loud noise and saw the warning light that a door was open. He immediately took control of the plane to communicate 1) his immediate landing, and 2) need coast guard to locate body at his coordinates. When plane landed they found the pilot Henry Dempsey clinging to the stair railing that popped out of the door.[9] The plane flew at 190mph at 4k feet above ground and upon landing had his face 12” above the runway. His hands were clenched so tightly to the stairs he had to be pried off.

119:25, 31 “My soul clings to the dust, give me life according to your word… I will cling to your testimonies O Lord”

Cling to God’s word as if your life depended on it.


[1] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2014/01/14/living-on-the-path-psalm-119/

[2] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 134). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (2004). Be exultant (1st ed., p. 102). Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries.

[4] https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Pey/pey.html https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/137089/jewish/Pey-Fey.htm

[5] https://biblehub.com/hebrew/6382.htm

[6] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2021/03/01/9-arts-of-gospel-neighboring-series-links/

[7] Dave Ferguson, 5 Everyday Ways To Love Your Neighbor And Change Your World

[8] https://growinggodlygenerations.files.wordpress.com/2021/08/biblical-community-family-and-formation-groups-2021-launch.pdf

[9] Pilot https://apnews.com/article/dd7d66a1bb87e90829058469c1279f5f

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