- Sermon Notes
Keeping Your Way According to God’s Word
As we turn to Psalm 119 we turn to the longest Psalm in the book of Psalms, and the longest chapter in all of the Bible. The Psalm contains 176 verses, and it was written as an acrostic poem using the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section, or stanza, has 8 verses, and each verse begins with that letter. If it were written in English, all eight verses in the first section would begin with a, then the second section “b,” and all the way to z.
The author of the Psalm is unnamed in the superscription. Throughout history, some commentators have expressed their belief that David wrote it over the course of his life. Others have suggested it was written later, coming from the days of Nehemiah or Ezra. Others see it fit the earlier circumstances of Joseph, or later circumstances of Daniel who were young men, holding up and holding onto God’s word.
While it is a unique and one of kind Psalm, we know that like all of Scripture, the truths declared are timeless and important for us. While we won’t cover every line and verse of the Psalm, the section we study this morning will display the theme, or through line that is displayed and defined throughout the lines of the Psalm.
The Psalm has a through line, or theme, and that is God’s word. It praises God for His word, the Bible, because He has given us the Bible that through it we can come to know who He is, His character, how to praise Him, and how to live for Him. Scholars have gone through this Psalm and noted that at a minimum, 171 of the 176 verses of this Psalm refer to His word. Throughout the Psalm you will see references to God’s word, laws, statutes, decrees, ordinances, ways, commandments, testimonies, and precepts; we will look at the definitions of some of these words as we look at the importance of keeping our way according to the word this morning. We will look at this because it is the answer to the question the Psalmist poses.
Psalm 119:9, How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
Illus. Is it pure?
The Psalmist asks about his way. How can I keep my way pure? The word pure, is clean, clear, or justified. The Psalmist asks the question about the clean and clear way. This desire is something we have looked at previously in our study through the book of Psalms.
In Psalm 51, David asked the Lord to purify him, to create in him a clean heart. Last week we studied Psalm 105, where we read that Joseph was refined by the word until God’s word came to pass in his life. We looked at the process of refining gold and silver, where the refiner heats up the fire so that impurities in the metals rise to the top and are removed.
We not only see this throughout the Psalms, but throughout Scripture:
1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Ephesians 1:7, In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
Paul wrote about the promises and provisions God has given those who are His and then wrote:
2 Corinthians 7:1, Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let’s cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The Lord cleanses you, Jesus cleanses you by His blood, mercy, and forgiveness of sin, but Paul says, we need to cleanse, or purify ourselves…What does this mean? It means, a person cooperates with His cleansing. God sanctifies and justifies those who are in Him, and we agree with Him by keeping ourselves away from the things that disagree with Him, and in the things that agree with Him and the freedom from sin He has given.
John 15:3-4, You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
As we look back to Psalm 119, it is that abiding place, remaining in the will and way of the Lord to which the writer seems he is referring…
Psalm 119:9, How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
The Psalmist desires the pure, clean, and clear way and asked how he can keep or maintain the pure way? Surely it was a challenging way to keep in ancient days, and it is a difficult way to keep in our day. However, the answer the Psalmist gives has not changed. One keeps their way pure, by keeping it according to God’s word. He is speaking of his way, his path, or road. It pictures a traveler on journey. That is, you and me, we are on a journey…How can we know that we are going in the clean and clear way?
From the verses that follow this statement in this second section of Psalm 119 where each verse leads with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, I have pulled four ways the Psalmist describes that will help in keeping your way according to God’s word and they all start with the letter “t”: Where you travel, what you treasure, what you tell of, and where you turn.
- Let His Truth Guide Your Travels
Psalm 119:10, With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments.
- In verse 10, the Psalmist declares that with all his heart he has sought the Lord, and he needed the Lord’s help so that he would not wander from God’s commandments.
- The word for commandments is as it is written, a commandment, or command; something that the Lord has instructed in His word.
- The Hebrew word for “commandments” referenced here is found 184 times in the Bible, it is certainly a word that refers to the 10 commandments but any of the instructions the Lord has given us.
- Regarding God’s commandments, the Psalmist asks the Lord to not let him wander from them.
- Lord, don’t let me wander away from them, don’t let me stray from them.
- It is a word applied to God’s people when they are without a shepherd, when they scatter, or stray.
Ezekiel 34:5-6, They scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every animal of the field and scattered. My flock strayed through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.
- The words of the Psalmist could be said this way, “don’t let me wander, don’t let me stray away like scattered sheep.”
Psalm 23:3, He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (NASB 95’)
Psalm 23:4, Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (NASB 95’)
- The rod and staff of the shepherd bring comfort to the sheep.
- The rod was a club or stick the shepherd would wear at his belt to fight off attacking animals.
- The staff was a long walking stick, with a hook or at one end. The staff was used to guide and pull back in straying sheep.
- The rod was for protecting, and the staff for directing.
- Find comfort in the fact that even in the dark of the valley, the Lord is protecting and directing. Those are the essential tools for the shepherd and the essential characteristics of a good shepherd.
- So too, in Psalm 119, do not let me wander, keep me on the right path.
- It seems that the Psalmist sees God as his travel guide. Lord, show me where to go, don’t let me wander the wrong way.
Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Illus. Yelp review.
Joshua 1:7, Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may achieve success wherever you go.
- So the first way to keep your way according to God’s word, is to let His word influence your travels, next we will look at what you treasure.
- Treasure His Word in Your Heart
Psalm 119:11, I have treasured Your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against You.
Psalm 119:14, I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
- These verses speak to the value the Psalmist has placed on God’s word and testimonies.
- His word is all that He has spoken, whether that was directly, or through the prophets and recorded in the Scriptures.
- His “testimonies” is a reference to that which bears witness to God, that which tells of Him.
- The Psalmist declares that he treasures God’s word, and he has treasured it in his heart.
- He seems to understand the connection between his heart and his treasure.
Matthew 6:21, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Jesus gave these words in a section of His sermon on the mount when he was talking about storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven, rather than treasures here on earth.
- For where your treasure is, there your heart will be. Jesus knew that your heart follows what you treasure.
- Some translations translate the word as “treasure” and others, as “hidden.” Your word I have hidden in my heart.
- It speaks of something a person stores up, hoards up, or protects in a secret place.
- So it is something a person highly values, and holds onto!
- The psalmist continued in verse 14 speaking of treasures, I have rejoiced in your testimonies, the word that tells of you, as much as in all riches!
Psalm 119:127, I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above pure gold.
- This leads me to the question, is God’s word a treasure to you? Is what is told of Him in and through it, is the way to Jesus and what is told of Him something you rejoice in as much as riches, are His commandments of greater value than gold?
- These verses speak to our treasure, what we place value on.
Illus. Not that one!
- The Psalmist says, I have treasured your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.
- The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12, wrote that it is sin that entangles.
- In Psalm 91, we looked at the Lord as the one who rescues us from the net of the trapper.
Psalm 91:3, It is He who rescues you from the net of the trapper…
- The trapper, quite literally, is a bait layer, one who is intending to trap you and trip you up.
- In Matthew 4, the trapper was trying to temp Jesus to sin, but what Jesus reveals to us there is that God’s word was treasured and hidden in His heart.
Illus. In Matthew 4:2-11, Jesus was tempted by satan and He showed that he had God’s word hidden in His heart and also treasured in His heart.
- Satan tried to temp Jesus to sin, to trust food over the Father, to put God to the test, and to worship him and indulge in all the world could offer Him…But Jesus had the Word treasured in His heart.
- In treasuring God’s word Jesus not only placed the highest value on God’s word, but He had it hidden in His heart, He had a treasury of God’s word stored up, and from that treasury He was able to draw.
Psalm 37:30-31, The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The Law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
- If your way is going to be kept according to God’s word it must be treasured and valued highly in your heart, and the next “t” has to do with what you talk about, or the story you tell!
- Tell of What He Has Taught You
Psalm 119:12-13, Blessed are You, Lord; teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth.
- In these verses, two more words are used to describe God’s word: statutes and ordinances…
- When the Psalmist says teach me your statutes, he is speaking of something engraved or inscribed, it is the written word, something set in stone, engraved in the rock for all time.
- Regarding what is written and set in stone, the Psalmist says teach me!
Psalm 119:18, Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law.
Psalm 119:33-34, Teach me, the way of Your statutes, Lord, and I shall comply with it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may comply with Your Law and keep it with all my heart.
- If we are going to be those who keep our way according to God’s word, that we must be willing to learn what His word has to say.
Illus. Learners permit.
Job 21:22, Can anyone teach God knowledge, in that He judges those on high?
- We, like the Psalmist, must take the posture of learner, teach me, Lord, open my eyes to your truth, I will comply with it!
- The Psalmist continues on to say that he then tells of what he has been taught.
- Specifically, he is going to tell of God’s ordinances, which is what God’s word has defined as right and wrong.
- Why would he do this? Because he believed that God’s word was the best way to go, and it was not just something that he would just know and keep to himself, rather, he knew that God’s way was the best way, and he would say so!
Illus. Fourth Child.
- Surely this is a good section to follow God’s word being hidden in a person’s heart.
Illus. Martin Luther Quote.
- So, in keeping your way according to God’s word, where you travel, what you treasure, what you tell are all important, and lastly, where you turn for truth!
- Continually Turn To His Word and His Ways
Psalm 119:15-16, I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
- In the final two verses we will cover today, the Psalmist wrote of God’s precepts, statutes, and word.
- The word “precepts” speaks to God’s instructions in the details of a person’s life…The way we are to apply God’s word to the little things in our lives.
- The Psalmist wrote, I will meditate on those things and regard (or look to) your ways, I will delight in your written word (Statutes) and will not forget the words you have spoken.
- He will continually turn to God’s word and His ways and regarding all that has been written and spoken as he lives out his days.
Joshua 1:8, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.
Illus. Word Picture.
John 17:17-19, Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
John 8:31-32, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Illus. Where do I look?
2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)
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