The Man Who Sings One Note

Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in Your law.  Psalm 119:18

“I find him always singing one note.” — Stephen Vaughn on William Tyndale

INTRODUCTION:  William Tyndale had to flee England.  His crime?  He was committed to translating the Bible into the English language so that the common people could have the joy of reading God’s Word for themselves.  The Catholic Church and the King were set against it.  So, he fled to Europe where he continued his translation of the Bible while hiding from the authorities.  For political reasons, King Henry wanted Tyndale back in the country, but he had one stipulation.  He would have to agree to stop all of his work on the English Bible.  The King had sent an emissary, a merchant by the name of Stephen Vaughn, to negotiate Tyndale’s return.  However, each time Vaughn laid out the King’s demands, Tyndale refused to budge.  He would come home only if the King permitted him to complete the vernacular Bible.  Three times Vaughn met with Tyndale.  Three times William Tyndale refused to compromise.  So, in frustration, Vaughn sent back this message to King Henry:  “I find him always singing one note.”

William Tyndale so loved the glory of God, and so wanted his people to discover that glory for themselves, that he was willing to suffer exile, for twelve long years, and even his own death, to see that vision become a reality.  Eventually he was betrayed by trickery and turned over to the authorities.  He was tied to the stake and strangled to death.  His body was then burned and scattered.  Love for God and His Word so gripped his heart that he would not be moved.  He became one more martyr in a long line of saints who would rather die than lose their God glorifying joy.

113 I hate double-minded men,
but I love your law. 
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word. 
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God! 
116 Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed. 
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
I will always have regard for your decrees. 
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
for their deceitfulness is in vain. 
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
therefore I love your statutes. 
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws. 
Psalm 119:113-120


Verse 113:  “I hate double-minded men, but I love your law.”  In Samekh, the Psalmist makes the same kind of music as Tyndale.  The Word of God has settled in his heart and made him different from other men.  His love for God’s law made him a man of one note.  Others “go with the flow” and go whereever the popular wind is blowing.  Not the man of the Word.  He has one passion:  To please the Lord with his life.  And that only can happen when he loves God’s law and studies His precepts and obeys His commands.  He is willing to stand alone if need be because he is not moving. 

One of my favorite stories that reveal this same kind of courage comes not from the life of a man but from the life of a woman:  Joan of Arc.  She is reported to have ordered her troops to attack a larger and well entrenched enemy.  Her generals protested, saying it was a battle they could not win.  She responded, “I will lead the army.”  Her generals warned, “Not a soldier will follow you.”  She shot back, “I will not be looking back to see if they are.”  That is a single minded woman.  She knows what is right.  She will lead the way, even if she is the only one that will enter the battle.  God help us to have that same kind of love for our God and that same kind of unshakable courage to fight for the glory of His name in our lives and the lives of our community. 

Verse 114:  “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”  Something happens when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and softens our hearts.  The writings of Scripture come alive.  They speak to our hearts.  They grab hold of our imaginations.  They move us to take radical action.  God is speaking directly to us.  He is calling to us and challenging us to trust Him and follow Him.  We have no illusions about the walk of faith.  It is a battle.  We are soldiers.  The enemy is crafty and evil.  Every step we take for Christ and His glory will be met by opposition.  With Paul we may confess that we advance “in weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3), but we keep going.  We don’t waver in our walk for our hope is in His Word.  He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  He has promised to go with us to the ends of the earth.  “In the world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  We have a refuge.  He is our shield.  We run to Him and we are safe. 

Verse 115:  “Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!”  When people are going in different directions they cannot stay together.  Someone has said that “You cannot fly with the eagles and hang with the turkeys.”  There comes a time when a decision has to be made.  There must be a separation.  “Do not be misled:  ‘Bad company corrupts good character’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33).  Paul is not advocating no contact or relationships with the unbeliever.  How else could we show them the love of Christ.  He is referring to those who are opposed to the Gospel and going in another direction.  This “bad company” is not neutral.  They seek to “corrupt good character.”  I thank God for the godly men that He has given me as friends and partners in the ministry.  We are going in the same direction and they keep me on that strait and narrow way.  I need their love, encouragement, and prayers.  They are truly a gift to me from God.  They are the eagles in my life.  If you don’t have that kind of friend, find one. 

Verse 116:  “Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”  Notice again the way the Word and prayer go together.  They are the two tracks that take us home to glory.  We hear God’s Word and we want what God promises.  But, we know how weak we are and how unable we are to take hold of that which is offered.  So, we pray:  “God help me.  Sustain me.  Do not let my hopes be dashed.”  God hears and sends His grace and we are delivered.  We are so overjoyed at the provision that we return to the Word to dig out more treasures that we can pray for.  However, sometimes, we are thrown into the pits and deliverance is delayed.  Like Paul we ask three times for deliverance from the “thorn in the flesh.”  The first two times, silence.  The “messenger of Satan” twists the dagger of pain and suffering.  There are no quick answers.  No voice from heaven.  Again we pray.  “Sustain me.  Don’t let my hope be destroyed.”  With great vigor we open the Word and read.  There God answers by speaking to us in black and white.  The same God who spoke to Paul speaks to us.  “My grace is sufficient.”  God’s grace, the power to do what He commands, is all we need.  We just wanted out.  He just wanted in.  We want release from the pressure.  He wants to release in us His power.  We want to show our strength.  He wants to show us our weakness.  “My power is made perfect in weakness.”  Out of a very dark time we learn a very great lesson:  When I am weak that is when I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). 

Verse 117:  “Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.”  There is blessing in obedience.  It does no good to know God’s Word if we do not do God’s Word.  “Now that you know these things you will be blessed is you do them” (John 13:17).  A wise man hears the Word and puts it into practice.  Through constant obedience he builds a strong foundation of reliance upon the Word.  When the storms come he does what he has always done.  He trusts and obeys what Jesus has said.  He confidently stands upon a Rock that will not be moved.  But the fool, the church-going believer, who hears but never does, falls apart when the typhoon blows.  Why?  He has no confidence in the faithfulness of God.  He is left to himself.  But the doer of God’s Word has a regard for God’s decrees that are more than a little devotional in the morning to get his day going.  No, they are his life.  They are his faith sustaining, joy preserving, heart satisfying nourishment.  He eats or he dies!  He devours or he is defeated. 

Verse 118:  “You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is in vain.”  In every temptation there are two ways:  God’s ways or the ways of men.  God’s truth or man’s theories.  Behind the theories of men lies the deception of the evil one.  He is crafty.  He is a schemer.  He can come as an angel of light.  His theme from the beginning is, “Hath God said?”  He plants a doubt.  He offers an alternative.  He takes a little truth and wraps it around the destructive lie.  Many a believer has fallen for his tactics.  A counselor suggests a more “realistic” approach to divorce than what the Word declares.  The quick and easy way out seems the sure way to happiness.  The Word of God is set aside.  The lie is chosen.  And, the result is disappointment, despair and death.  “There is a way which seems right unto man but the end thereof is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).  The psalmist will have none of it.  Because the truth is hidden in his heart (Psalm 119:105), he can see the hook in the bait.  He wants God’s pleasure above all things.  He will not stray from His decrees. 

Verse 119:  “All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.”  One of the great tragedies of our day is the way we have let our passion for entertainment keep us from thinking about the seriousness of life.  The goal of amusement is to get us to not (“a”-not) think (“muse”).  Serious news programs are a thing of the past.  Instead we have sound bites and snippets and spins of the latest “hot topic” moderated by attractive and entertaining news celebrities.  The political campaigns are not about working though divisive issues but about shaping attractive images.  Serious reading is out and videos are in.  In other words, the devil is accomplishing his purpose.  He doesn’t want us to think carefully about those things that really matter.  We are entertaining ourselves to death.

The Bible teaches us that there is a God who is “holy, holy, holy.”  Each man will give an account of how he lived in his body.  Those who live by their feelings and not by the truth will be judged and discarded like dross.  It is a heart that is saturated in prayer and separated by truth that will enter into the joy of the Master.  No wonder the psalmist loves the statutes.  “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.”  They are a pathway to life.  Don’t waste your time.  Take the time to be sober and alert.  Pray and think about the eternal implications of what God has said in His Word. 

Verse 120:  “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.” “He is good, but He is not safe.”  When the glory of God is seen, fear, trembling, and awe are appropriate emotional responses.  Boredom, apathy, and disinterest are not!  When you think about God what is your response?  Do thoughts of Jesus stir you?  Or, Is He just a distant God who you hope will someday give you the break that you deserve.  Oh, my friend, don’t go there!  Repent of your hardness.  Cry out for mercy.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and soften your heart so that you might see Him in all of His glory and holiness.  When He does you will tremble, but you will also rejoice.  By the blood of Jesus Christ He has made a way for you to see His face and enjoy His beauty.  It will take an eternity to see all the wonders of His riches.  Take up the Word.  Ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.  And you will become like William Tyndale.  Knowing Him, pleasing Him, displaying Him and sharing Him will be the joy of your life.  The loss of position and power and friends and even your life will not compare to the gain of having Him.  You too will be a man or a woman who rejoices to “sing one note.”