A Study of Psalm 119:33-40
Psalm 119 is an amazing chapter in the Bible. It is the longest chapter in the Bible by far, containing 176 verses. People have speculated who the person was who wrote this Psalm. Some say it was David, and some say it was Ezra. But God has hidden this information from us, so that we would not give glory to man but only to God. Only God could have dictated such a beautiful Psalm and someone wrote it down.
There are three important features of Psalm 119.
First of all, this Psalm is written as an acrostic. Psalm 119 is divided into 22 stanzas, each of them 8 verses long. The 22 stanzas correspond with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each set of 8 verses begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. For example, the first 8 verses all start with the Hebrew letter A, or Aleph, because Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet.
The next 8 verses start with the letter B, or Beth, and so on. You should try to compose poetry this way and you will see you don’t get very far. Here is one more sign from which you can see that only God could have written the Bible.
Did you know there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and most of them are consonants?
That is how the Hebrew text was written 2000 years ago. Most of the vowels are not divinely inspired, because they have been added later. 22 letters X 8 verses = 176 verses. That is why this Psalm has 176 verses.
Secondly, at least 171 of the 176 verses refer to the Word of God.
Is it not amazing that the Word of God is referred to almost in every verse?
And that is because this entire Psalm expresses the love of a child of God for the Word of God, the Bible. Not only do we respect this Bible, we also love this Bible and we realize that this Bible is the “Daily Bread” for our souls.
Thirdly, the Word of God is given eight Hebrew synonyms throughout this Psalm, and they are used again and again. Those eight synonyms have been translated:
7) Word (dabar)
8) Word (imra)
Every time we see in Psalm 119 one of these words, they refer to the Word of God, the Bible. When this Psalm was written, these eight synonyms referred to the Old Testament. But the Bible, God’s Word was not completed at that time. When God gave the Apostle John the last of His revelations, the Bible was completed at the end of Revelation 22. Today, when we read in Psalm 119 the words: Law, Judgments, Testimonies, Commandments, Statutes, Precepts and Word, we know that these words refer to the whole Bible. This Psalm does not only reflect the love of an Old Testament saint for the Word of God. This Psalm also reflects the love of a New Testament saint for the Word of God. These verses are lessons of heavenly wisdom and comfort for the saints of all times. It is a fountain, which can never be exhausted. Let us now read verses 33-36.
Teach Me, O Lord (Psalm 119:33-36, John 6:44)
Verses 33-40 are eight verses where each verse starts with the fifth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which is the letter H, or in Hebrew it is pronounced HE. God instructs us to pray this way:
(HE.) Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
“Teach me, O Lord, what is the way of thy statutes.”
Does God need to teach us?
Can we not read it for ourselves?
The fact is, no one can understand the Word of God unless God opens our spiritual eyes. We have all been infected with sin so that we are all spiritually born blind. That is why we need to ask God to guide us every time we open the Word Of God.
Moreover, children of God need instruction from above, to know how we must conduct ourselves in this world. And the more we know, the more we shall desire to know. Not only do we beg for a portion of our spiritual daily Bread, but we also beg for a daily supply of grace so that we “shall keep thy statutes unto the end”, to the end of our life. Let us go on now to the next verse:
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
First we pleaded with God to teach us His Word. But much learning can make us proud. Therefore we ask God to give us understanding, so that the affections of our heart may be directed by a correct understanding of the Word of God. The commandments of God cannot be observed unless they are understood. And if His commandments are not observed, then they are understood in vain.
Pray that we may avoid the snares that lay before us in the way of our duties. We can become so busy doing things for the Lord, that we may become proud of our accomplishments. But pray that we give all the glory to God. Let us go on now to the next verse:
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
Lord, teach me the way of Thy statutes, and give me understanding, but also “make me to go in the path of Thy commandments”. Give me the grace and make me do it, Lord. I am still living in this sinful flesh and I am inclined to go another way. But make me to go Your way, because in my soul I delight to go Your way. Let us go on now to the next verse:
Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Our heart is inclined to covetousness. That is how we were born. We were born in the likeness of our father Adam after the fall. We were born as haters of the Word of God, because the Word of God points out our covetousness. The greatest need of every human being is to receive a new heart from God, so that God would “incline our heart to His testimonies”.
Will God do that for everyone who pleads with Him to “incline my heart unto Thy testimonies”?
But will everyone of the human race realize that they are born in sin, subject to the wrath of God, and plead with God for a change of heart?
Only those people will plead with God whom God has prompted in their heart to plead with Him. Only those will plead with God whom the Father has drawn to Jesus. (John 6:44)
If God teaches us, then we can in turn:
Teach Our Children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Proverbs 21:4)
God speaks about that in Deuteronomy, chapter 6. Immediately after giving us a summary of the Law in chapter 5 God teaches us how to teach the Word of God to our children. God says in Deuteronomy 6:4,
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
The Lord Jesus Christ said:
“This is the first and the greatest of all the commandments”.
Therefore what is the greatest sin?
To violate this first commandment is the greatest sin. If we do not love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might, we are committing the greatest sin.
Can we do that every minute of the day?
Can we desire to do that every minute of the day?
And will those who are unsaved desire to do that every minute of the day?
That is why God says that even “the plowing of the wicked is sin”. (Proverbs 21:4)
How do we show our love for God?
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
How often must we teach our children the Word of God?
“When thou sittest, when thou walkest, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up”, which means: All the time!
We do that if we love our children. If we do not raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, then we actually do not love our children and we have thrown them in the clutches of Satan. It is in their nature to be inclined to evil. Therefore, if you do not teach them the right way, they will go astray. Then God says:
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
The Jews have taken this command literally. They write a Scripture verse on a piece of paper, roll it up and bind it on their hand, and another one on their forehead, and another one on the post of their front door. But God is not interested in an outward show. God looks upon the heart.
Is the Word of God there in our heart?
Do we have a love for the Word of God?
Is that required?
Are we actively pursuing to have the Word of God in our heart?
Do we read and study the Bible at home?
Is that required?
YES! It is the daily Bread for our souls. One of the signs that we spiritually have been made alive, is that we have a daily hunger for the food for our souls. We are hungry for this food.
Also When Thou Art Full (Deuteronomy 6:10-13, Ephesians 1:3-4)
Continuing in Deuteronomy 6:10 we read,
And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
What is God saying in these two verses?
Historically, God refers to the children of Israel coming into the land of Canaan where they took possession of cities, and houses, and wells, and vineyards, and olive trees. They could physically eat and be full. God gave all that to them.
But God wrote these historical events down in words that give us the deeper spiritual meaning of these events. Is it not clear that God gave these things to them as a gift? They did not have to do any work for it. Likewise, God gives us salvation, and the abundant life after salvation, as a free gift. We do not have to do any work for it. In fact if we wanted to do any work toward our salvation, we would never receive it, because we would have insulted God by rejecting the free gift from God.
Salvation is entirely by the grace of God. We cannot earn it or deserve it. Now, most people know that the definition of grace is “unmerited favor”. But if God’s grace unto salvation really means that we cannot do any work for it, we cannot merit it like the Bible says, then it really means that God must save whom He wants to save, because it cannot be based on anything we do, or it cannot be based on any decision we make, or it cannot be based on the faith we conjure up in our minds, and so on. And that is exactly what the Bible says. God decides whom He wants to save. God says that:
He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:3-4)
This we must teach our children.
So why do people come up with a doctrine that we must accept the Lord Jesus as our Savior?
He must accept us. His acceptance of us was from before the foundation of the world.
No work from us!
Then God says in the next verse: When you have eaten and be full,
Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
When we are comfortable, watch out that we do not forget the Lord, which saved us out of the house of bondage. Don’t let our material wealth overshadow our gratitude for our salvation.
Turn Away Mine Eyes (Psalm 119:37-39)
Let’s turn back to Psalm 119. We have come to verse 37,
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
When we are comfortable and be full, we are inclined to behold vanity. We look at our material things as something that is valuable. But God says in Ecclesiastes that it is all vanity.
What is vanity?
Something that is vain, or empty, or valueless, such as a fashionable trifle or a knickknack is called vanity. Someone who is inflated with pride is called vain, because he is empty.
Turn away mine eyes. In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus said that the eye is the window to the soul. Here in verse 37 is a prayer that God would give us the grace to prevent us from setting our love on material things instead of on Christ.
Quicken Thou me in Thy way. Not my way Lord, but turn us in Thy way. Let us turn our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; Jesus, the Word of God, our Daily Bread. Make us live in those things that are of value to Christ, which are of lasting value, such as reading and studying the Bible, which is our Daily Bread necessary for spiritual growth. Then the next verse:
Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
Lord, teach us Thy Word and establish Thy Word in our heart. Lord, we are committed to give Thee all the glory and honor for everything that we receive and in everything that we think and do.
Turn away my reproach, which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
What was that?
What is my reproach?
Reproach is a big word. It means utter disgrace in the eyes of God. And why do we read: “my reproach, which I fear”.
Why do I fear that which is mine?
And if I have become a child of God why is there still reproach clinging to me?
But God is not speaking about reproach still clinging to me. Reproach has to do with the guilt of sins. The prayer of verse 39 is this: Lord, please turn away the guilt of my sins, and Lord, please forgive me my sins that I commit even now. The payment for my sins is so big it is scary.
And is it not wonderful that God hears this prayer?
There was only one time in history when sins were paid for. There was only one time in history when our sins were put away, this was when the Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross, being judged and paying for our sins. And He had to pay the full price, which was the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. There is no other way a righteous God can forgive sins.
Which sins did the Lord Jesus Christ pay for on the cross?
Well, He certainly did not suffer the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for those who themselves go to Hell. Everyone who dies unrepentant has died unsaved and will on the Last Day be cast into Hell. The Lord Jesus did not suffer and die for their sins. But He did suffer and die for the sins of all those who repent of their sins and receive a new soul at the time they were saved. The Father drew them to Jesus because Jesus paid for their sins the full payment that had to be made. To all those who are drawn to Jesus God says:
Submit Yourselves (James 4:5-7, John 8:44)
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The Lord Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews around Him:
“Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.”
The Bible teaches that there are only two kingdoms here on this earth: The kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. When God gives us a new soul God takes us out of the kingdom of Satan and places us in the kingdom of Christ. All the unsaved are still in the kingdom of Satan; they are still owned by Satan. All the unsaved cannot resist Satan, because their desire is to do what Satan wants them to do. We need to read James 4:7 within the context. God says there:
“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Therefore (God is speaking now to the humble)submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.
Only those who have become saved can resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. That is a promise.
How do we resist the Devil?
We turn to the Scriptures. Either we open the Bible, or we recite a verse from memory.
Do we have such a love for the Word of God that we can draw verses from memory?
Is this required?
How else can we resist the Devil when we are at a place where we do not have a ready access to our Bible?
Can we say we have submitted ourselves to God, if we do not have such a love for the Word of God?
It is our Daily Bread. Therefore:
We Look Unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2, Philippians 1:6)
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Verse 1 shows us the picture of running a race.
Who is running the race?
The unsaved are not running this race, but everyone who is saved is running the race. Everyone running the race will receive the prize. The prize is eternal life with Christ. We are not running in competition with each other, but we are running in competition with ourselves. We have our eyes on the finish line. We are running to Jesus and we are running as best as we can. But there are some hindrances in this race.
Verse 1 says: “Let us lay aside every weight”.
What are those weights that hinder us in the race?
God says, it is “the sin which doth so easily beset us”. It is the sin that besets us when we take our eyes away from Jesus.
How do we keep our eyes on Jesus?
Don’t look up in the sky, but look down where you walk. We keep our eyes on Jesus when we read the Bible. God tells us that we must keep our eyes in the Bible.
How can we do that when we are driving a car, or when we are somewhere where there is no Bible?
Then we may recite some Scriptures from memory, but we must keep our eyes on Jesus. This also means that we are obligated to train our entire household to keep our eyes on Jesus. According to the Bible, the father is the spiritual head of the household. God has given to us fathers the responsibility to guide and direct our households. This means that we must arrange to be in the Word together, and to be praying together. This is something that needs to be worked out.
I want to drop a word of caution here to the wives, that they be patient with their husbands to let him work it out. We all know that women are more intelligent than men, and that women show more initiative and have talent to organize. But God did not give this assignment to the most intelligent partners in the households. God gave this assignment to the men in the house. Wives, don’t take it out of his hands. Of course, if there are no men present, then the women ought to take the initiative.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
If Christ is the author of our faith, why do preachers say that we must accept the Lord Jesus?
According to this verse Christ is the one who decides to whom He is willing to give faith. Since Christ is the author of our faith, He will also give us the grace to persevere in that faith. This is altogether in harmony with what we read in Philippians 1:6,
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Let us look now at one more verse in Psalm 119.
I Have Longed After Thy Precepts (Psalm 119:40)
Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Is it really true that we have longed after the Word of God?
Can we face God and say these words without blinking an eye.
Do we love His appearing on the Last Day?
God is the searcher of hearts. God knows all about us.
Do we dare to speak these words to Him?
Or can we admit that we have fallen short in at least one area of the Word of God?
But if we have fallen short in one area, and Christ has forgiven us that sin, that would be no reason to continue in that sin, and it would be no reason to go on sinning in other areas of the Word of God. The evidence of our salvation shows in our repentance of sin. Repentance means that we make a 180 degrees turn around.
Does our life show that we repent of our sins?
Only if our life shows repentance, and only if we really have a love for the Word of God and desire to do His will, can we say:
“Behold, I have longed after Thy precepts”.
This is a longing that does not come out of ourselves. It is a desire that has been given to us by God. Not only a desire to believe and embrace His promises, but also a desire to observe His commandments and do them. Therefore, we can pray that God would finish the work that He has begun in us. We can pray that because we love the Word of God, and we love His appearing on the Last Day.
Allow me to ask another question:
Would We Miss It? (Isaiah 3:4-5, Isaiah 3:12)
Would we miss reading the Word of God every day?
Would we miss gathering our household every day and speaking to them from this Bible.
Would we miss memorizing Scriptures or memorizing where it exactly can be found?
The answer is simple. If we don’t love the Word, we don’t miss it. If we don’t love the Word of God then we do not intend to obey it in the first place, and then this Bible becomes an intellectual exercise, just like any other book. If we don’t believe that these words are spoken by God, then we do not believe that these words have to be obeyed. But the Bible says: If we do not love God, then we do not have a love for the Word of God, and then we do not have love for one another, and then we do not have love for our children either.
God gave us an example of what happens to a congregation that does not love Him.
In Isaiah 3:4-5 God gave the scenario of events before total destruction comes.
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
We can look at America today, and we can see that the great majority of Americans have pitted the mind of Dr Spock against the mind of God. Of course, you would say, that is no contest. God wins instantly.
But is that really so?
In reference to raising children most Americans prefer the philosophies of Dr Spock over the commands of God. And God says: Have it your way. “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them”. The children in America have become the parents, and the parents have become children, because the parents do what the children want of them.
Does that please God?
NO! That is not pleasing to God at all. God gave His people warning in:
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.
Do we obey our leaders, or do we obey the Word of God?
God has some definite things to say in the Bible about childrearing, but if people do not read the Word of God then they will never know what God says.
And then we hear the excuses: There is no time left in the day. We are exhausted. We cannot get everyone at the dinner table at the same time. And so on.
My answer is very simple: If you have time to watch TV, or if you have time for play and relaxation, or if you have time to kill on Saturday, or if you have time to go out for dinner once a week, or if you have time for sports, and so on, then all your excuses hold no water. If you really love the Word of God, then you would make time and reschedule your day, and reschedule your children’s schedule.
For those of us who have been accustomed to a life with the Word of God,
Would We Want It Any Other Way? (Psalm 119:105)
We do not want to live without our Bible. We have experienced what the Word of God says:
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
God’s Word gives us a clear perspective on our life, and on the life of people around us, and on
the life of our children. God’s Word gives us guidance on how to relate to other people around us. God’s Word guides us in how to love our neighbor as ourselves. God’s Word warns us concerning false gospels around us, and gives us discernment in recognizing what is false and what is true. God’s Word shows us clearly that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
That is why we don’t want it any other way. It is our Daily Bread.
By Alfred J. Chompff