Print this article


  ‘An Island Within’ Psalm 119:137-152: “I anticipated the dawning of the morning and cried [in childlike prayer]; I hoped in Your word.” (v147)

We continue meditating on the phrase, ‘He leads me beside still waters’. Some Bible teachers maintain that Spirit-filled Christians don’t need to cultivate a Quiet Time. They say: ‘If you are filled with the Spirit, then you can draw from God’s resources, not just at the beginning of the day, but every second, minute and hour of the day. Better a fountain in the heart than a fountain by the way.’ This, however, confuses two quite separate issues. It is perfectly true that by reason of the Spirit’s indwelling, we can draw upon His resources moment by moment, but that does not do away with the importance of a daily Quiet Time. One writer puts it like this, ‘Those who say they can live in a state of prayer without stated times for prayer will probably find themselves without both. It is as futile as thinking that you can live in a state of physical nourishment without stated times of nourishment. The fact remains that when hunger strikes or need arises, the need for something to satisfy it must also arise and so it is with being with the Lord’s Holy Spirit; the requirement of the moment must drive you to be with Him whether you want it or not! I believe with all my heart that the divine Shepherd seeks daily to lead His sheep to the ‘still waters’ of His Word, and how sad it is that so many Christians prefer to drink from polluted pools of the world. The poet Lascelles Abercrombie says: What a frail soul He gave me, and a heart Lame and unlikely for the large events. I wonder if, more often, we haven’t given ourselves ‘a heart lame and unlikely for the large events’. God has given us infinite resources which are always available to us through prayer and the reading of the Scriptures. They are ours for the asking and the taking. The Quiet Time creates an Island of quiet within us, and that becomes an atmosphere of the day. But today so much noise has engulfed the environment that creating quiet time for many appears impossible.

  The Mirror of Hope that the Word of God is True Psalm 119:137-152:

Now let us read Psalm 119:137-152; 137 [Rigidly] righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments and all expressions of Your will. 138 You have commanded and appointed Your testimonies in righteousness and in great faithfulness. 139 My zeal has consumed me and cut me off, because my adversaries have forgotten Your words. 140 Your word is very pure (tried and well refined); therefore Your servant loves it. 141 I am small (insignificant) and despised, but I do not forget Your precepts. 142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth. [Ps. 19:9; John 17:17.] 143 Trouble and anguish have found and taken hold on me, yet Your commandments are my delight. 144 Your righteous testimonies are everlasting and Your decrees are binding to eternity; give me understanding and I shall live [give me discernment and comprehension and I shall not die]. 145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord; I will keep Your statutes [I will hear, receive, love, and obey them]. 146 I cried to You; save me, that I may keep Your testimonies [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them]. 147 I anticipated the dawning of the morning and cried [in childlike prayer]; I hoped in Your word. 148 My eyes anticipate the night watches and I am awake before the cry of the watchman, that I may meditate on Your word. 149 Hear my voice according to Your steadfast love; O Lord, quicken me and give me life according to Your [righteous] decrees. 150 They draw near who follow after wrong thinking and persecute me with wickedness; they are far from Your law. 151 You are near, O Lord [nearer to me than my foes], and all Your commandments are truth. 152 Of old have I known Your testimonies, and for a long time, [therefore it is a thoroughly established conviction] that You have founded them forever. [Luke 21:33.]

  Introduction:

I feel quite confident in assuming that everyone reading this Psalm 119:137-152 owns a mirror of some description. We use a mirror to see what we look like, to shave the right portion of our beard, or to make sure our hair lies in the right direction. It’s all about the reflection we see. In Psalm 119:137–152, the Psalmist looks into the word, using it as a mirror to see God’s righteous character. Looking into the mirror of the word, seeing God’s righteous character, he naturally sees his own reflection and considers his own life and how God’s righteous character affects his life. The meaning of this Psalm seems to be a collection of observations on the word of God and its precepts, the usefulness and excellency of it, the Psalmist had made in the course of his life; interspersed with various petitions for the grace of God, to enable him to observe it. The Word of God is trustworthy no matter what people do as seen in vv. 137-139. Though the intellectual giants may attack it and ridicule it, the Word of God stands and will be here long after these people are dead and their writings have been forgotten. God never alters with time; we can meditate upon His righteous nature because that nature never changes. The Word of God is trustworthy no matter what people say as seen in vv. 140-141. God’s Word has proven itself to be tried, refined, and purified like gold in the furnace, and also absolutely perfect, inerrant, and infallible. The world may look upon God’s people as “small and despised,” as seen in v. 141 but when you stand on God’s promises, you are a giant. The Word of God is trustworthy no matter how you feel as seen in vv. 142-143. Our feelings change but God’s Word never changes. God’s Word is not only true, but it is truth as seen in v. 142. The Word of God is trustworthy no matter how long you live as seen in v. 144. It is not the length of life but the depth of life that counts, and depth comes from laying hold of God’s Word and obeying it. The Psalmist prayer is that God will give him full understanding of His commandments as seen in v. 144. We need to balance the Word and prayer in our devotional life and ministry, for all Bible and no prayer can produce a life that is cold and sterile, but all prayer and no Bible could result in zeal without knowledge. (1) Pray wholeheartedly as seen in vv. 145-146. Before we can pray as we ought, we must pray for ourselves that God will give us a heart that is on fire for the Lord. Do you know what it means to have a heart that is on divine fire for God? (2) Pray without ceasing as seen in vv. 147-148. We should cultivate an attitude of prayer in the morning and at night. Apart from God’s Word, we cannot know God’s will. (3) Pray as an act of love as seen in v. 149. It is easy to think of prayer as an emergency measure, rushing into God’s presence and crying for help. Prayer is more than asking; prayer is loving. If we love the Word of God, we must also love the God of the Word and express our love to Him. Do you really love God? (4) Pray with intelligence and alertness as seen in vv. 150-152. Even when there are those who would threaten the Psalmist, he is confident that there is one nearer him than his adversaries. Through testing and adversity, he had learned that the Word of God is true. Let’s consider three truths from these verses as we consider the mirror of God’s word. Acknowledging God’s Righteousness: The Psalmist begins by acknowledging God’s righteousness: “137 [Rigidly] righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments and all expressions of Your will. 138 You have commanded and appointed Your testimonies in righteousness and in great faithfulness. (vv. 137–138). The Psalmist here sings the Lord’s praises because the Lord is without fault, blameless, honest, sinless, just and always right. It’s because He is righteous, that His rules and the way He judges is right. The Psalmist continues by acknowledging that, because the Lord is righteous, the witness of His righteousness—the proof that God gave us to show us that He is without any defect—is clothed in truth and steadfastness. The word of God—the revelation, the mirror revealing who He is—can be trusted because the one without fault spoke it Himself. The word of God is God’s own words, and that is why we can trust it: because God never changes. He is forever righteous and faithful and the word mirrors who He is. Our acknowledgement of who God is, is from our worship of Him. The second commandment says forbids us from making idols as seen in Exodus 20:4–6. There is no place for just going through rituals, unless we want to simply accommodate pagan standards and practices. It’s idol worship when we give glory to anyone other than God. God the Son freed us through His righteousness. When we give thanks and glory to anyone or anything else with the freedom we received from Him, we are worshipping idols. It would be something like a regift, which I’m sure we all do. How would you feel if you attend a birthday party and saw someone giving the birthday person the present you gave them on their birthday? I’m sure that would sting. And that is what we do when we don’t affirm God for who He is and for what He did for us. Because God is the source of your freedom, it is appropriate for you to dedicate all your freedom to Him alone. Acknowledging, and so worshipping, God must not be an end in itself. True worship must give God His proper place and cannot be self-serving. That goes for individuals, but also as we gather corporately.

  Appreciating God’s Righteousness:

Acknowledging God’s righteousness flows into appreciating His righteousness. The Psalmist writes, “139 My zeal has consumed me and cut me off, because my adversaries have forgotten Your words. 140 Your word is very pure (tried and well refined); therefore Your servant loves it. 141 I am small (insignificant) and despised, but I do not forget Your precepts. (Psalm 119:139–141). The conviction in the Psalmist’s heart of the Lord’s righteousness and faithfulness produces a response of ceaseless devotion. As the difficulties increase, so his zeal increases. He knows that God’s word is righteous. The knowledge that he gets from the Word drives him and takes over his life. It consumes him. He is saying, when the opposition increases my zeal increases for God’s truth. Verse 140 is beautiful. The Psalmist says speaks of God’s word “promise … well tried,” which has stood the test of time. The NKJV reads, “Your word is very pure.” Even though there are hindrances, persecution or opposition to the truth, it doesn’t make the writer doubt, but drives him to another level of love and zeal. The word is pure, tried and proven to be right. It’s like a diamond put under pressure, which becomes stronger with more pressure. It gives him more confidence. And this confidence in the word creates a love for the word. The love he talks about is a hunger for more—like a meal you simply cannot get enough of and keep going back for more especially when the meal is thirsty. The Psalmist says that the word of God has this effect on him. Because of the righteousness, the nature, and the strength of God’s word, he can’t get enough of it, especially during difficult times, because it reflects who He is. The word gives him confidence because it secures him through the truth. It’s the mirror, the Bible, that shows us God’s character and truth. The word will change people. It’s through the honest study of the Bible that we will start appreciating God for who He is. Keep looking to increase your knowledge of God. Know Him, and as your knowledge increases, your love and zeal for God will increase. As the writer says, it consumes him. Think of this: If the word of God totally consumes you and your love for Him increases, there will be no place for sin, fear, or anxiety. Only the truth that brings strength and comfort will stay. Appreciate the word because it helps us fight sin, helps us with our fears, and directs us. The mirror has been reflecting God up to now. In v. 141, we see the mirror reflecting who the Psalmist is. Through his appreciation of who God is—the righteous Creator of heaven and earth—he realizes how small he is. Isaiah wrote similarly of how big God is compared to him: 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, marked off the heavens with a [nine-inch] span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him? 14 With whom did He take counsel, that instruction might be given Him? Who taught Him the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding? 15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are counted as small dust on the scales; behold, He takes up the isles like a very little thing. (Isaiah 40:12¬–15) But this thought doesn’t make the Psalmist shrink away. He appreciates the fact that, even though he was small and worthless, he has the Almighty’s law and regulations to help him with his relationship with God. Through God’s word, he finds his identity not in the world or himself, but in God. He might be unimportant, but he can stand strong by knowing that he is known by the only true God. The reason that he can sing about God’s law, acknowledge and appreciate the Lord, is because he humbled himself and see God through His word for who He is. It’s because he knows truth that he feels safe and alive. The writer, seeing who God is, is driven to feel small like an ant—and that’s why he loves God so much and finds comfort in Him. The word of God should humble us into submitting to Him and His word. The natural outflow of submitting to His everlasting truth, is that you will be strengthened, comforted and bring glory to Him.

  Announcing God’s Righteousness:

As you acknowledge God for who He is, this knowledge will drive you to appreciate Him and the appreciation will drive you to announce it: “142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth. [Ps. 19:9; John 17:17.] 143 Trouble and anguish have found and taken hold on me, yet Your commandments are my delight. 144 Your righteous testimonies are everlasting and Your decrees are binding to eternity; give me understanding and I shall live [give me discernment and comprehension and I shall not die].” (vv. 142–144). The Psalmist closes by announcing God’s righteousness as he started. “I acknowledged Your righteousness in the beginning, but I can’t help it, I have to announce it and say: You are righteous and You have stood the test of time and You will stay righteous forever. Because of this, Your law is righteous, true and never-ending.” Now, in v. 143, we find the reason why he can find delight during affliction and rejoice in hard times: It’s because he is finding his rest in the Almighty, the one that controls all things in righteousness. Even though he finds himself in trouble, the trouble doesn’t make him fall away, but pushes him towards truth even more. Though he doesn’t yet see the outcome of his present troubles, the Psalmist knows the Lord God is righteous, His Word is righteous and faithful, and His promises have been tested repeatedly in the redemptive history so that they still stand as the same truth as seen in v. 144. He knows the one in whom he puts His trust. He doesn’t challenge the Lord’s integrity but prays humbly that he may understand more of His righteous word. He is saying, “Because the word is righteous forever, I want You to help me understand more of Your word, so that I can live forever.” He knows that understanding the Lord’s testimonies will give him life and courage. It will revive him when he feels dead. This will enable him to stand strong in these challenging times. We know God and His testimonies are righteous forever. We know we can ask Him to increase in us. He will never fail us. When He increases in our lives, our joy increases. So, when you are confronted to live righteously, there’s only one source that stood the test of time: the word of God, which can help. It’s the only trustworthy source that reveals righteous living and it’s the only trustworthy source that brings comfort, relief and freedom from your sin. On the flipside, it also reveals the unrighteous living—a side with which sadly we are more familiar. We know we can’t live righteous lives because of our sin. We can only find the insight of righteous living because of Lord Jesus. Lord Jesus, the God man is the true reflection of God. If you don’t have the living Word (Lord Jesus Christ) in you, you are wasting away. Without the honest, healthy relationship with Lord Jesus you can’t live a righteous life. You need to look to the word, to Lord Jesus, to convert you into a righteous being. This only happens because Lord Jesus lived a perfect life, died a perfect death and was, and still is, victorious over the eternal death. That’s why, just like the Psalmist, we can strive for a holy and righteous life: because Lord Jesus is righteous. We can therefore put our faith in Him. It’s because of God the Holy Spirit helping us that we can grow in the knowledge of Him and live forever. As we draw to a close, let me encourage you: It’s the truthful, passionate commitment to grow in knowledge of the word that stirs up the hunger for more. Look into the mirror and see our Almighty Savior, acknowledge Him for who He is: the righteous one. Look into the mirror and see your need for Him, because you’re dead without Him. Commit to growing in your appreciation of Him and let that grow into announcing this wonderful comforting truth to others. And may you then “18 But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and [a]recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him [be] glory (honor, majesty, and splendor) both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (so be it)! (2 Peter 3:18).
Dear loving Father and my God, teach me how to make the best use of my daily Quiet Time, and help me to saturate my thinking with Your thinking so that I cannot tell where my mind ends and where Yours begins. Help me to live my life in accordance with Your Word. In Your name Lord Jesus Christ I ask it. Amen!