Psalm 119:89-92 — Established

Firmly Fixed

Psalms 119:89 ESV  Lamedh Forever, O Yahweh, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.

It is hard to believe we are starting the second half of Psalm 119. It has taken over 6 months and anyone involved in this devotion or memorizing this psalm has undergone several changes already. But while we change, God’s Word does not. The psalmist is happy to proclaim that God’s word is firmly fixed. We get the impression that it is settled and unchanging. In fact, God’s Word never changes because God never changes and never makes mistakes. God cannot change His word because He cannot ever speak anything which requires correction since He is ever-perfect. And His Word is always perfect as the result.

Richard Gatley

And what comfort this is during times of affliction (Psalm 119:85,95)! The Hebrew word translated “word” in this verse is also translated as “manner” or “matter” elsewhere. So it is possible to read this verse as referring to the whole of God’s ways having been settled from eternity past. And is not this what we read in the rest of the Bible? God has decreed all that shall come to pass (Psalm 2:7) and no purpose of His will be thwarted (Job 42:2). Psalm 119:50 tells us “This is [our] comfort in [our] affliction, that your promise gives [us] life,” and we see this to be true for us as for the Psalmist. Our comfort comes from God’s promises, promises that were made in the mind of God, according to the perfect counsel of His will, from eternity past. Promises settled in the heavens. Firmly fixed are they! And when we face persecution, nakedness, famine, sword, and various trials, we can assuredly count it all joy because of our promised deliverance which is firmly fixed and can never be changed.

An Example For Us

Psalms 119:90 ESV  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.

If the Bible says it, we ought to believe it. God’s Word is sure enough that we have no reason to question any of His decrees or promises, no matter how bleak the outlook may be. But our God is a compassionate and understanding God. Our God, Jesus, became a man! This is what separates Christianity from false religions. Ours is the only religion where our God retained His divinity while taking on human form. So we have a great high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). God in Heaven does many things for our benefit. One of those things being that He teaches us truths in ways we can understand them. So we should believe that God will make good on His promises that we cannot see (for such is faith, Hebrews 11:1), but God has given us ample reason to trust in Him by providing examples for us to cling to when we lose faith and struggle with doubt.

His faithfulness endures to all generations, yes, and this is evidenced by the fact that he established the earth which still stands today! In Genesis 8:22 ESV, it is written, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” And it is no wonder that this is followed shortly by another covenant:

Genesis 9:11 ESV  I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Ana Filipa Neves

God has given us tangible experiences (we can see the day and night, sense cold and heat, and observe seedtime and harvest continue) which establishes in our minds that He will make good on His promises in order to build up our faith that He will do things we don’t perceive. In other words, God has continually made good on promises regarding the physical world and its cycles so that we will know that He is faithful—and therefore, will remain faithful to promises which appear most difficult to fulfill.

In human terms, we call it trust-building. We give someone an opportunity to be faithful and as they come through we trust them more and more. Although God doesn’t need to prove His faithfulness, we need to see it established. It is our lack of faith and our inability to take God at His Word that requires trust-building. And God is kind to do so for our benefit. Blessed is the man who believes without seeing (John 20:29)! May we all cling to the promises of God and, when we begin to doubt, remember His faithfulness to generations past and present. All of God’s promises come true (Joshua 21:43-45; Jeremiah 29:11; Philippians 1:6) and we need to be patient to wait upon the Lord.

God is Supreme

Psalms 119:91 ESV  By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.

We continue in this wonderful doxology about God’s sovereignty and supremacy. I find this verse to be really difficult because it is hard to tell what “they” refers back to. If you look through other translations there appears to be division in the opinions of translators. Either “they” stand this day because God has appointed “them” to stand OR it is God’s ordinances or laws that stand this day. I will take the approach of the former (“they” is what is standing) and it is by God’s divine appointment that “they” stand. But who or what is “they?” I submit to you “they” are the words or matters referred to in Psalm 119:89 “your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.”

Now I’m no Hebrew scholar, but let’s look at the flow of things here. In verse 89, David declares that God’s word, (or ways or matters) has been firmly fixed in the heavens forever. Then in verse 90, he gives a physical illustration of God’s faithfulness which endures. The only plural term in verse 90 is generations…which certainly doesn’t appear to be a viable referent for who or what “stands” this day in verse 91. But if we take verse 89 to be a proclamation that God’s decrees are firmly fixed in the heavens (and that word can certainly be plural it seems), then verse 91 flows nicely and says that it is by God’s divine appointment that His decrees or words stand this day. And isn’t that just a typical repetition of the previous thought? We can be sure that God’s decrees stand this day because God has appointed that they ought! This means that God’s ways are His servants. That is, God’s decrees exist in service to Him, bringing Him glory by proclaiming His faithfulness to all generations.

It also occurred to me that the they that stand this day could be the “heavens and earth” referred to in the previous two verses. That is also true and they are also His servants. The earth and the heavens are created things, existing ultimately to bring glory to our Father who is in Heaven. Whichever way you look at it, the fact remains that whatever stands today stands by God’s decree or appointment and all things exist to serve Him. There is no one greater, and everything is under his power and dominion.

How to Endure

Psalms 119:92 ESV  If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

And now we return to some focus on the psalmist himself. He has spent three verses extolling the greatness of God and His Word and now we see a very practical application of meditating on God’s law and making it our delight: perseverance through affliction. Blessed is the man…who meditates on God’s law day and night (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 119:97). God’s law is weak to save us, but it is a powerful salve for the ailments of the child of God. For the circumcised of heart, God’s law is a reminder of His virtue, and thus, the virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ. By delighting in God’s law we experience a few tangible graces.

First, we experience the sheer delight in getting to know our Lord and Savior. God is not subject* to His law, but His law is a reflection of His character. So when we meditate on God’s perfect moral law, we see God. You can get to know a man by observing the company he keeps. The same could be said about the rules He keeps and values. Drink from the fountain of God’s law and get to know the character of the perfect son of God, Jesus Christ, who obeyed it willingly and delighted in it from His youth!

Second, when we meditate on God’s ceremonial law, in particular, we see the prefiguring of the Christ who would come. We are reminded of God’s promise to send a messiah and all the pictures he drew for us in the Old Testament (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:6).

Third, we see how needy we are for forgiveness. When we meditate on God’s law and delight in it, we see how far short we fall from fulfilling it. Yet Jesus fulfilled it on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21) and so we ought to receive grace in the form of more dependence upon Him and more gratitude for Him. When we sin against God (break His law), we should recognize the beauty that Christ never did. When we are tempted to make excuses or consider that our sin could not have been avoided, delighting in God’s law will quickly break us of this selfish and foolish mindset and remind us that Jesus fulfilled all righteousness even under the most difficult circumstances. This is not to make us feel bad, per se, but rather to bring us to our knees in worship of the One who died in our place and rose again victorious.

* God is not subject to His law in the sense that God is not subordinate to anything at all. He is supreme. But that is not to say that God would ever act contrary to His law, either. Although not subject to His law, God’s character, perfectly reflected by His law would never violate His law. In other words, God cannot nor would not break His law because to do so would go against His nature.

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