Monthly Archives: June 2018

Testimonies, Precepts, Statues, Commandments and Ordinances

Psalms 119 Aleph -Zayin; We begin looking at the longest chapter in the Old Testament. Psalms 119 is divided into the Hebrew alphabet.

Note The writer, usually considered to be David, registers his delight in the Word of God in an unusual way. The psalm consists of twenty-two sections each of eight verses. Each of these twenty-two sections features a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. For instance, each of the eight verses in the first section begins with the Hebrew letter ‘Aleph’. Each of the verses in the next section begins with the Hebrew letter ‘Beth’. And so it goes through the entire Hebrew alphabet.
While this psalm deals with many aspects of the Word of God, two major themes emerge more forcefully than any others: why we should value the Word of God and how we show that we value the Word of God. [Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 23.]

Looking at the language the writer uses to describe the Word of God, indicates the multi-faceted way the scriptures are presented. A word of caution at the onset of Psalm 119, a person could easily look at the words and declare a “legalist” is writing. We cannot allow ourselves to skew the perspective as a religious fundamentalist. The writer is just trying to convey the manifold design and beauty of the Word of God in as many ways as he can.

Additionally, some important thoughts  from Logos research –

IT GIVES LIBERTY (v. 45). Sin always promises to bring freedom, but it only creates bondage (2 Peter 2:19). It is the truth of God that brings true and lasting freedom (John 8:32).
IT PROVIDES DIRECTION (v. 105). We live in a dark, perplexing world that offers us many paths. If we are careless about the paths we choose, we invite misery and ruin. The Word of God provides the direction we need. It is like a light shining in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19).
IT PRODUCES UNDERSTANDING (v. 130). Our walking and understanding are inseparably linked. In addition to shedding light on our path, the Word of God enlightens our minds so we can discern what we ought to do.

A second major emphasis in this psalm is this: how we show that we value the Word of God.

Studying it
Firstly, we will study it diligently. God’s purpose in giving his Word was to point us to himself. We are, therefore, to seek him through his Word (v. 2), and this seeking is to be done wholeheartedly (vv. 2–10). We are to ‘look’ into his Word (v. 6) and to learn its judgements (v. 7).

Obeying it
Secondly, we will obey its commands. The duty of obedience is set forth in these verses in several ways: walking in the law of the Lord and in his ways (vv. 1, 3), keeping his testimonies (vv. 2, 129), and taking heed to our ways to make sure they correspond to the teachings of God’s Word (v. 9).

Storing it
Thirdly, we will hide it in our hearts. This means we are to store it in our minds and treasure it in our affections with the confidence that it will fortify us against sin (v. 11). G. Campbell Morgan summarizes this verse in this way: ‘The best book, in the best place, for the best purpose.’

Declaring it
Fourthly, we will declare it to others (v. 13). Studying the Word of God will cause our hearts to burn within us (Luke 24:32) in such a way that we won’t be able to keep it to ourselves. We’ll be anxious to share its message of salvation with those who don’t know Christ and to discuss its teachings with fellow Christians.

Rejoicing over it
Finally, we will constantly rejoice over the Word of God and delight in it (vv. 14–16). We must not miss the connection the psalmist makes in these verses. The rejoicing of verse 14 and the delighting of verse 16 are connected by the meditating of verse 15. As we reflect on what the Word of God is and what it does, we will find the rejoicing and delighting to be inescapable. [Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 25–27.]

In our look at this Psalm, we will be confronted with many verses that compel us to embrace the Word of God as our own. Words like  meditate, hid, observe and others that tell us to make the Bible – God’s word to His people personal. People are not without instruction and knowledge of the Will of God. He has communicated to us through prophets OT/NT so we may have full revelation of His nature and work.

Statutes means laws, commands, decrees, directives – how we are to live

Ordinances means legislation; but can mean prohibitions and restrictions; think of the Mosaic Law and dietary laws

Precepts – general rules of behavior or thought; wisdom and doctrine could also be used

Testimonies – this is a direct reference to the work of the Lord, creation, deliverance, intercession, mercy and grace to mankind and specifically Israel and believers

 

 

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Call Upon the Lord

Psalm 116-118; the writer goes to get lengths to talk of his “conversations” with the Lord. Prayer as we know it seems to have a pendulum nature; we cry out in prayers to the Lord to deliver us in times of crisis and trouble; but seem to neglect talking with the Lord when things are calm or routine.  I have wondered if Prayer was called something else would people be more readily desiring to “talk with the Lord?” My D Min was on intercessory prayer to make an impact on a declining and dying church. People talk more about praying than doing. I have noticed even in Church meetings and services there is a reluctance to pray – or pray publicly; even over fellowship meals. We say we have prayer meetings, but in most cases very little praying goes on. Now I know that there are folks that have a deep private prayer life and intercede for others continually, but the Church would benefit greatly if they prayed more together. In Acts 1, we find that the church needed 10 days of continual praying for them to get “ready” for the Holy Spirit. Too often our praying is haphazard at best, we pray over the sick, hurting, medical conditions and the like; but rarely does the Church engage in serious conversation with the Lord corporately.

Psalm 116 brings a joyful note to praying – the LORD hears me! My voice is heard, God listens, not just hears our words. He has inclined, stooped down to hear the groaning and laments of His child. Would that we would speak blessing and praise to His name more.

1 Timothy 2:1 admonishes us to pray for all, supplications, intercessions, praise, thanksgiving, confession and repentance to the Lord. ACTS -Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication acronym is a good way to start our prayers.  Too often we jump right in with all the things we want God to do for us. Not much of a conversation if it is all ” I want, I need you to do for me talking if we don’t cherish the right and privilege of entering into the presence of the Lord.

Three times in Psalm 116 – “And I called upon the name of the LORD.” emphasis, use His names because they are descriptive of His nature. Jesus our Savior, is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us. Why, because we have an accuser of the brethren!

I love the verses in Revelation 5:8 and 8:4 where the incense is described as the “Prayers of the Saints.” To know that our prayers are not wasted, but kept and made to be a sweet smelling fragrance to the LORD. The strength for daily living is found in our daily quiet times and public conversations in prayers to God on behave of others.

Out of our “conversations” comes the power and strength to face the daily stresses and trials of life on earth. We fail to recognize what the LORD does for us on a routine basis. His lovingkindness [mercy] is continually applied. He is longsuffering [patient] with us. How or why a holy righteous God wants to have intimacy with men is beyond my understanding – but Praise God He desires it so!

We must be cautious when praying, and to be careful to pray in the will of God; James 4:1-3 exposes some very selfish and carnal praying. We lust and want for ourselves to be satisfied. We have only our comfort in mind, not the Will of God for our life.  Life is difficult – it rains on the just and the unjust. We have an Advocate in Christ Jesus, He is pleading our case and defending us against the wiles of Satan! Let us rejoice in the Name of God and His Son Jesus Christ. He is For Me – Psalms 118:6-7!

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What’s in a name?

Psalms 113 emphasizes the “Praise to the name of the LORD.” I quickly found myself asking which name the writer was alluding to, since GOD has a manifold list of names. The names of God are a direct reflection to who He is and His righteous attributes and character. The Jewish writers and priest so revered the name of God, that they wouldn’t even say His name; The Name of Yahweh. We have what is known at a tetragrammaton word for Yahweh which is Jehovah. God, being trinitarian, represents Father, Son and Holy Ghost [Spirit]. When we say God, in our minds we think God as Father exclusively. In the Old Testament the LORD – is reference to the Father; Lord is referenced [especially in the New Testament] as reference to Jesus. It is very hard for our finite minds to conceive the “realm of God” and not separate the Trinity into separate, albeit equal persons. When trying to describe God in terms we can understand the one illustration that helps me is the use of an egg. An egg has three distinct parts – yoke, whites and shell. However, the egg cannot exist without any of the other elements. SO the egg is three distinct parts, yet dependent on all three parts functioning at the same time to make the greater whole. In any illustration to explain God will break down at some point, but I have found this egg illustration helps the most.

Okay, back to the praise of the name of the LORD. In Psalms 113 verse 5 it asks us “who is like our God? Immediately I think of Isaiah 40 which descriptively asks question to who we would compare God too. There isn’t anything on earth, or in heaven that we can really compare God to or with. His names are self descriptive of His nature. Our God is known by name for what He does. He has a covenant name – Exodus 3, in answer to Moses “I am that I am” which uses the verb “to Be” – which is a verb of Being or essence. YHWH – the Tetragrammaton, we get Jehovah. This is the same name Jesus used in his “I am” statements in the Gospel of John, which further gives a description of God by what He does/performs.

Elohim – the powerful God; which refers to His creative power; He created, spoke into existence everything we see from Ex Nihilo, from nothing.

One of my favorites is El Shaddai – Almighty God ; speaks of His blessing and love for us. I don’t have time nor space to go through all of the names of God, for further reference look at the book “the names of God” by Ken Hemphill.

A name use to be precious, for most people it was all they had; all you had to do is say a name and it brought to mind the character and reputation of the person. Even so this should happen to the believer as the Name of God evokes in our mind the wonderful attributes of how God expresses Himself to us His children. There is great power in his name, great reverence and awe. There is no other name under heaven whereby men must be saved. It is a glorious name, worthy of praise – hence every knee will bow, earth, under the earth, in heaven – at the mention of the name Jesus!

So in our praise we have an inexhaustible ability to praise continually the attributes of God – unceasing praise – Praise the LORD!

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