Tried and Proven

“Even today I live every moment with the Bible.  It is my constant companion.  As a believer for fifty-six years, I have tested God’s Word and found it true.  In more than five decades I have not encountered one situation on which I have not been able to turn to God’s Word for comfort, wisdom, guidance, joy and blessing.  At eighty-one years of age, I would rather have the Bible on my shelf and in my heart than any other book written in history because it contains the message of God.  It is a love letter to me and to all other human beings, who are created in His image.  Not only have I been transformed and enriched through reading the Bible, but I have also seen it change the lives of multitudes of people.” — Dr. Bill Bright (Quoted from the book he was writing when he went to be with the Lord.)


It seems strange to hear someone delight in commands.  We love our freedom.  Freedom is often seen as doing anything you want.  But that is not the psalmist’s view.  He knew that in the law of God were blessings, not burdens.  It is even more astonishing to attach love to obedience of commands.  But that is exactly what John’s epistle affirms.  “This is love for God:  to obey his commands” (1 John 5:2-3).  However, when we do obey our Lord we also find that “his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:4).  They are wisdom which enables us to overcome the forces in the world that seek to rob us of our joy.  Our faith in the goodness and greatness of Jesus and our obedience to His commands enables us to be victorious in any situation.  May God speak to us again and reveal His awesome glory to us as we meditate upon God’s precious Word. 

137 Righteous are you, O LORD,
and your laws are right. 
138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy. 
139 My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words. 
140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them. 
141 Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts. 
142 Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true. 
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands are my delight. 
144 Your statutes are forever right;
give me understanding that I may live. 
Psalm 119:137-144


Verse 137:  Righteous are you, O LORD, and your laws are right — You cannot separate the Word of God from the person and presence of God.  Although Psalm 119 continually focuses upon the written Word, the psalmist addresses the Lord in a personal manner.  God’s law is God speaking.  By the Spirit, He is speaking in the written Word just as surely and clearly as when He moved upon the authors of Scripture to write what He was saying.  So, when we open His Book with prayer, the Spirit opens our eyes so that we can hear and understand the wonderful things He is revealing about Christ (Psalm 119:18).  And, when we hear God speak, it is reason to rejoice.  He is present.  He speaks truth.  He invites our response.  So, as you read the passage, listen for the words of God to come alive in your soul.  That is God speaking.  Enjoy yourself. 

Verse138:  The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy — At the center of all God does is promise.  God lays down statutes and there is no confusion as to what they are saying.  But, they lay conditions upon us that cost up front.  There is the possibility that we might lose something of value to us.  That is why Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  Following Jesus means leaving every other security for the joy of following Him.  That is why we call this walk the walk of faith.  God commands and promises but there still is an apparent risk.  Faith says “I will follow because God has demonstrated in history (in Jesus and His cross) His incomparable power and incomprehensible goodness.”  Faith says “I will follow because God has worked in me a change of heart so that I want Jesus more than anything else this world has to offer.”  So, as we get up and pursue Jesus with all of our heart, we do not lose ourselves but we find our true selves.  “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24-25).  When we take Jesus at His word and dare to risk all in obedience to His demands, we find great wealth and worth.  His statutes not only make us righteous in God’s eyes, but they are proven to be trustworthy in ours.

Verse 139:  My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words — When we have our eyes opened so that we can see the incomparable riches that are in Christ, we become a radical.  Playing it safe and looking churchy just doesn’t fly.  But, it isn’t long before our zealousness for Christ meets opposition.  I am not talking about opposition from the world.  I am talking about opposition from the Church.  We may be surprised that other believers are not as excited about God’s truth as we are.  In fact, it is too often the mission of the lukewarm to try to cool off the zealous because they make the lukewarm look bad.  But for those who have seen the beauty of Christ in His Word, mediocre religion just doesn’t cut it.  In one of my many letter-writing discussions with a religious leadership, I suggested that we needed to make some changes that would cause a U-turn in the direction our church was going.  It would be controversial to be sure.  But I thought the Bible demanded it and our church and our world needed it.  In his response, he graciously expressed his “general” agreement with my position.  However, he had one reservation.  He said that we still needed to maintain a “balance.”  He may have been right, but I think the church has tried too hard to be balanced and relevant to the detriment of the spread of the gospel.  If our world needs to see one thing, I think it needs to see a people who are totally convinced and gripped with a passion that brings glory to Christ and joy to the soul.  Others may not agree, but I think it is very appropriate that we ask for a new and radical passion for Jesus Christ that smacks “radicalism” rather than balance.  Would you join me in that kind of prayer to be answered in our lives? 

Verse 140:  Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them — Charles Spurgeon once wrote:  “A Bible which is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”  That confidence in the power and wisdom found in God’s Word moved Donald Barnhouse to assert that if he knew that Jesus was coming in three years he would spend two of those years studying the Bible and one year preaching it.  It is the person who delights in God’s Word, who meditates upon it day and night, that becomes a tree planted by streams of water.  It makes no difference if the storms blow or the droughts come.  Her leaf does not whither and she is prosperous in all that she does because her roots go down deep into the power and wisdom of God. 

Verse 141:  Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts — In Christ’s kingdom it is child-like faith that is considered great.  Fame, position, money, power have no bearing upon pleasing God.  David was a young man who took care of sheep.  He was not a warrior, nor was he a great leader.  But, when he faced Goliath he was prepared.  Someone once wrote, “When Israel saw Goliath, they thought to themselves, “He is too big that we can never kill him.”  When David saw Goliath, he thought to himself, “He is so big that I cannot miss.”  Not entirely accurate, but it does capture the crucial difference between the soldiers of Israel and the shepherd boy from the hills.  David had trusted in the Lord in the past and found Him faithful.  There was no reason to think that God had changed.  It was God’s battle.  It was God’s name at stake.  God would do what He has always done:  glorify Himself in the lives of His people by enabling them to defeat the enemies of His joy.  If we will trust Jesus with child like faith He will do mighty things in our lives. 

Verse 142:  Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true — One of the great struggles of our day is the battle over the meaning of the Constitution of the United States.  It is not that the sentences and the paragraphs are hard to understand.  They are as clear now as they were 200 years ago.  The confusion has come with a change in our culture.  A large segment of our society does not want to live under the provisions and the original intent of its authors.  So, our courts have developed a new approach to interpreting the Constitution.  Instead of looking at it through the eyes of our nation’s Fathers, they look at it through the eyes of our contemporary culture.  Important issues are too often settled not on the basis of original intent, but upon societal desires.  In other words, the Constitution is not righteous, nor is it everlasting, nor is it true.  Not so with God’s Word.  It is righteous, in that it correctly displays the character of God.  It is everlasting in that it cannot be revised by the desires of men.  It is true in that it correctly reveals what is ultimately real.  So, when we open God’s Word and we submit to its demands and trust it in every situation, we will stand in the midst of any storm.  Thank God we have His unchangeable written Word to build unshakable lives upon (Matthew 7:23-24). 

Verse 143:  Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight — Jesus does not try to trick us.  He is not the master of “bait and switch.”  He says it right up front.  “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matt 5:11-12).  Following Jesus means tribulation in the form of insults and persecution and slander.  They will actually think they are doing God a service by their actions.  But, Christ did not come to make our lives easy.  He did not come to give us perfect health and great wealth.  He was not the founder of the cult of “name it and claim it.”  Jesus did not suffer and die and be resurrected the third day so that we could live like spoiled “King’s kids” on earth.  No, Jesus came to free us from the false and deceptive rewards of this world.  He came to free us from anything that would keep us from finding our soul-satisfying joy in Him alone.  The awesome value of Jesus Christ is seen when “trouble and distress come upon” us.  Even then, especially then, we find that His commands are still our delight because He is our delight.  So, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Verse 144:  Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live — The wisdom of God will outlive the passing opinions of this world.  “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89).  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  Whether You are just turning on the TV or enrolling in Philosophy 101, you will hear other claims for truth.  They will be laid out carefully, rationally and even passionately.  But for those who have devoured God’s Word, their words will seem strange, shallow, and even silly.  We have heard the words of Jesus and He has spoken with an authority that no man has matched.  It makes no difference if they are famous or rich or smart.  “No man ever spoke like this man” (John 7:45-46).  Jesus calls to us and says, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand” (Mark 7:14).  “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).  It is the words of Jesus that we need to hear and understand.  So, we pray that the Holy Spirit will give us the spirit of wisdom and understanding so we can know Him better (Ephesians 1:17).  It is in knowing Jesus that we come to discover what abundant living is all about.  May this week be a week of discovery.  May you find increasing joy as you hear and obey what Christ is saying to you through His statutes.

“The Bible is an armory of heavenly weapons, a laboratory of infallible medicines, a mine of exhaustless wealth.  It is a guidebook for every road, a chart for every sea, a medicine for every malady, and a balm for every wound.  Rob us of our Bible and our sky has lost its sun.” — Thomas Cuthrie