The Eternal Rock
INTRODUCTION: We have passed the midpoint of Psalm 119 and the darkest moment in the psalmist’s life. In our last stanza, the psalmist was in the midst of his darkness. He was “fainting,” his eyes were failing, and he was like a “wineskin in the smoke.” He was still waiting and looking and hoping for the deliverance that he knew would come because he had put his hope in God’s Word.
Now, he has been delivered. He is out of the pit. He has experienced what Jesus promised when He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:16-18). It is one thing to say I believe. It is another thing to choose to act on that belief in the face of great loss. But, when we have made our choice and taken our stand on God’s Word, we come to know by experience what we formerly believed by faith. A song from the Selection of Hymns by Rippon says it like this:
How firm a foundation, you saints in the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.
You will notice that the psalmist is addressing God. We are listening to his words of thanks in praise to God for the unchanging reliability of His Word. Again, he is living on the other side of God’s promise. Remember what we learned from Psalm 50:15? God said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” The psalmist did call and God delivered him. Now, on the other side, after the pain and the struggle, after God’s grace was sufficient, he honors God in the declaration of this psalm. Let us turn to it now and see what God would say to us about “The Eternal Rock.”
89 Your word, O LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
94 Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
95 The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
96 To all perfection I see a limit;
but your commands are boundless.
Verse 89: God’s Word set down in writing is God’s mind opened and His thoughts declared for our instruction. It is eternal truth that is given for application in our historical setting, but it was first in God’s mind and will before the world was created. Someone has said that “what our Scriptures have set down and written, is all but extracts and copies taken out of the Scriptures in God’s own heart, in which they were written from everlasting.” I like that.
My Old Testament seminary professor was wrong! These are not man’s words about God but God’s eternal words to men. They do not have their origins in pre-scientific men trying to come to grips with unseen forces, or superstitious attempts to handle the fear of death. Scriptures are the thoughts of the eternal God that existed before the first man and will exist eternally when this world is no more. God’s Word is just as vital, just as relevant, to a post-modern world, as it was to the men of the pre-modern world. So we can say with Thomas Watson, “Think in every line you read that God is speaking to you.”
Verse 90: “God is speaking to you.” That is such an awesome truth to grasp. In the Scripture, God is personally addressing you. A friend of mine recently told me of a group of women in his church who regularly came together to share what “God is saying to them.” But they were not discussing what God was saying to them in the Word. They were discussing what “God was saying to them” through their impressions and feelings. I weary of such shallow and even dangerous activities. I want to say to these ladies: “Stop it! S-t-o-p. New word: i-t! STOP IT! Ladies, open the Bible. Ask the Lord to open your eyes so that you may see and hear the wonderful things in His Word. Then, you will discover life giving, life transforming truth that will be worth sharing. What you discover there will not be faulty feelings, but clear and eternal truth coming directly from the mind of God.”
That belief made all the difference in the psalmist’s life. He knew that the words of Scripture come from a faithful God. When He speaks He not only creates, He establishes! What He begins, endures. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). That is the confidence of a man or woman who trusts in God’s Word. They may be in the pit. They may be fainting and they may be like a “wineskin in the smoke,” but they have an absolute certainty that God will see them through. He is a faithful God in all that He says and does.
Verse 91: Christ reigns supreme over all things. I think it was Spurgeon who said, “I do not believe that a particle of dust moves unless God says ‘move.’ ” That, my friend, is confidence in the sovereignty of God. If we really believed like that, what would we do for Him? God’s law rules. Even the devil is God’s devil. He is on a leash. We may think it is too long, but God is in control of all things. There is no “wild law” that operates in our universe. It may appear to be so, like in the death of the innocent Son of God at the hands of sinners and rebels. But even the greatest tragedy that ever took place, happened “by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23). So, like the psalmist we can be at rest in whatever circumstance we find ourselves because “All things serve you.”
Verse 92: To me, this is the heart of this passage. I speak from personal experience. I know what it is like to go through the darkest of night, as it seems that my most cherished dreams and desires appear to be dead. I know what it is like to lie on my living room couch, unable to sleep, and hear a voice whisper, “it is all over.” I know what it is like to be assailed by accusations like: “You are a dismal failure as a husband, a father, a pastor, and friend.” I know what it is like to “feel” like I was God-deserted and deservingly so. But, I had in my memory, Psalm 27. I did not know that the delight I once had in Bible memory would become my deliverance in the dark night of my soul. With that word of promise I fought off those evil and ungodly thoughts. Psalm 27 became like a sword in my hand to defeat the deceptive lies of the devil. And, like the psalmist, I now stand at the other side of the pit, praising the power of God’s eternal Word to deliver and restore. Delighting in God’s Word in the light enables me to be delivered by God’s Word in the darkness. “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”
Verse 93: That kind of experience not only induces a testimony. It brings forth a commitment. “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” It is not just an act of piety to remember the precepts. It is a necessity. There are new battles to fight. There will be more pits and schemes designed to depress and destroy. So, I will not only remember the weapons I have hid in my heart, I will add more to my arsenal. If we are to be God-honoring warriors for Christ, we have to prepare for war. And, the battle will be won or lost in our preparation.
“Blessed is the man …” whose
“… delight is in the law of God
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which brings forth fruit in its season …
Everything he does prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).
Verse 94: The bottom line is that we are not left out there on our own, to somehow muddle our way through. “I am yours,” says the psalmist. In other words, he is holy. He is God’s property and God protects His property. He will provide everything he needs to be victorious. That is the point of that great declaration of our security in Christ, made by the apostle Paul in Romans 8. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing! Why? “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). If the Father would give His most precious Son to die for us, if He would give us His most prized possession, won’t He give us everything else we need? Of course He will. The greatest gift guarantees all of the other less valuable provisions we need.
Verse 95: With that kind of confidence, we seek out His precepts. It doesn’t take very long in the way to discover there are those who are dead set against the things we love. We, by advocating Christ and by preaching His truth, will gain enemies. What are we to do when under attack for doing good. Here is what the psalmist did. He meditated and pondered on God’s directions. If you are wondering how to respond when attacked, go to the Word. There you will find both dynamic models and living principles to guide you.
ehemiah is a great model. He was doing a great thing for God but everyone didn’t think so. Tobiah and Sanballat did everything they could to prevent him from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. At one point, when the project was almost complete, they sent a message to Nehemiah. Under the threat of exposing him to the king as a rebel, they thought they could intimidate him into stopping the work to talk. Here is how he answered: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). That is what I am talking about. When you ponder God and ponder His Word, you gain a perspective on your calling. You are doing something great. There will always be adversaries if you are doing something significant for the Lord. But, you will not allow little people with big mouths to keep you from doing great things for God. What we are doing for Him is too great to take the time to stoop to their level.
Verse 96: Finally, this stanza ends by contrasting the “perfections” of man with the commandments of God. The best of man’s theories about life and its purposes are confusing, conflicting, and corrupting. They may give us a little light but they will not lead us to the Light. But the commandments of God are boundless. There is no limit to their power to knife through the complexities of this life in order for us to build strong on the rock bottom truth of God’s Word. Why would we toy with the limited theories of men when we possess the boundless truth of God? The psalmist has one goal so he has one resource. The boundless commandments of God. He is a zealous man with only one reason to be. J. C. Ryle describes such a man in these terms:
“A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares only for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives or dies; whether he has health, or whether he has sickness; whether he is rich or poor; whether he pleases men, or whether he gives offense; whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish; whether he gets honor, or whether he gets shame; for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that thing is, to please God, and to advance His glory.
God help us to be men and women like that. We can be by God’s grace if we build our lives on God’s Eternal Rock.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1045| La Quinta, CA 92247 USA | 619.829.2390
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