Psalms 119:93 ESV I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
One of the most depressing themes of scripture is the frequency and ease with which the people of God tend to forget what He has said. The Scripture is replete with reminders (1 Corinthians 15:1; Jude 1:5,17; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 13:7; 2 Peter 1:12). Our proclivity to sin is so deeply ingrained that our brains, affected by the fall, will even forget the very precepts of the God who saved us. For the weak and immature this creates an excuse to sin. “I did not know that God has said not to do this or that,” they may say, “for I had forgotten.” But ignorance and poor memory are no excuse. According to Psalm 119:93, we have been given life by God’s precepts, and that should be enough for us to remember them.
The term precepts is used interchangeably with statutes or commandments and represents God’s entire law. Strikingly, I only found three other chapters of the entire Bible (other than Psalm 119) where the term is used. Psalm 19:8 tells us that the precepts of Yahweh are right causing rejoicing in our hearts. Psalm 111:7 provides assurance that God’s precepts are sure and trustworthy. But Psalm 103:18 introduces us to the idea of remembering. Those who remember God’s precepts are those who have been granted salvation. Who else is described with the phrase “those who fear him” or have had his steadfast love “bestowed on them from all eternity?”
Psalms 103:17-18 ESV
17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
Beloved, none but Jesus could live out this commitment perfectly, for we will all forget from time to time this side of glory. But commit to the Lord that you will not forget His precepts because by them He has granted you life. In your heart, change your attitude from apathy to one of firm resolve to remember God’s precepts.
Psalms 119:94 ESV I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). The logical next step to committing to remember God’s precepts is that the child of God would seek them. How are you to recall that which you do not know? And how will you know it if you do not seek for it? Jesus, in Matthew 7:8, tells us that those who “seek” will “find.” And there is no doubt that seeking God’s precepts will be fruitful.
First, God’s precepts are readily available. God has written His law on our hearts (Romans 2:15) and has revealed it to us through His Word. Even the pagan has easy access to God’s law and can understand it plainly. Secondly, God is pleased to be sought after and thus, will satisfy that longing. There is none who seek after God (Romans 3:11) apart from regeneration, but once a man is changed by the Holy Spirit, seeking God is natural. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. A man or a woman who is parched and starving for righteousness will soon encounter those precepts which define it for us.
And finally, there is a sense of belonging we feel when we seek God’s precepts. The psalmist is assured of his own standing before God by the output of his new nature. “I am yours,” he says, “for I have sought your precepts. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:14).” And John wrote, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments,” (1 John 2:3). So if you are a child of God today, your adoption is manifested by an affection for righteousness which will exhibit itself in a desire to know what God wants you to do. And you thus have the right and privilege to approach God on the basis that you are His and implore His help in time of need, not only in the affliction of this life but for your ultimate glorification. When the psalmist says, “save me,” he isn’t praying a sinner’s prayer for salvation. It is the cry of a justified man to be delivered from his corruptible body of death and to be delivered from God’s enemies who lie in wait to destroy him.
Our Focus is Always God
Psalms 119:95 ESV The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
David and our Lord Jesus were no strangers to the devices of the wicked. They lie in wait to destroy me implies that these wicked men were not simply swept up by momentary emotions, but possessed a premeditated evil. Nor can they be considered good men who were somehow manipulated. No the wicked who waited upon David, our Lord Jesus and all of God’s people are pernicious enemies of God and His children. Think of the Jews in John 5:18 “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him,” or in Matthew 12:14 “But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” These are not men ignited by sudden passions temporarily losing self-control and making poor decisions as we all do. These are men with hearts that devise wicked plans (Proverbs 6:16,18) and are abominations to God.
But the saint of God is not so. As we follow in the footsteps of our Savior (2 Peter 2:21-23), our charge is never to be much concerned with what the wicked do. We are charged with faithfulness regardless of the circumstances. Even while princes sit plotting against a king (Psalm 119:23), the blessed man meditates on God’s law all day (Psalm 1:2;119:97). There is a contrast here that we must not miss. The wicked lie in wait. In the same sense as the blessed man, their goal is their meditation all the day. While the wicked are considering ways to stun or catch the righteous, the righteous are busy doing their Father’s work (Luke 2:49 KJV).
So often, we are instructed to avoid being anxious because that which makes us anxious isn’t even a reality. This is a good exhortation. But, dear child of God: be not anxious for the things of this world, even those things which you have a justified belief will come to pass or are coming to pass, such as a wicked man’s attempt to destroy you. Consider God’s testimonies. Meditate on His precepts. Contemplate His wondrous works. Fix your eyes on His commandments. God sees your labor of love and knows the deeds of the wicked and will have justice in His timing. It may even be that your testimony of meekness will be used to bring your very enemies to their conversion!
Psalms 119:96 ESV I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.
The theme of the lamedh octave has been that we can endure affliction by focusing on God’s law and attributes. Because God is perfect, we can have contentment and peace, even in the midst of suffering and injustice. And here we find an interesting phrase, “I have seen a limit to all perfection.” The perfection spoken of here are those things in this creation which are truly wonderful and splendid. The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork (Psalm 19:1). We are right to be in awe of the vastness of the universe and even the beauty of something so simple as lilies in a field (Matthew 6:28-29). We have no shortage of beauty to behold in our great God’s creation, but even the most perfect thing in all of creation is limited. Nothing in this world is truly perfect in the sense of total completeness. We all fall short of the glory of God, and so does every created thing.
“But God’s commandment is exceedingly broad,” we read. And here is where we find a place where we can truly rest our hope. Earthy perfection is limited. God is unlimited. Earthly perfection falls short. God’s perfection is the standard. And God’s law and commands are also sure and perfect. There is no higher authority to which our God appeals! He is the standard of righteousness by which all men will be judged and Jesus Christ, the God-man, was able to fully satisfy all the righteous demands of this exceedingly broad command. Jesus Christ has no limit, for He is God in the flesh and is able to obey the law perfectly. And so, when you consider where to place your hope, the God whose character is the standard of righteousness is the only logical conclusion.
Have you broken God’s commandment? Are there parts of God’s righteous law you aren’t even aware of and are likely guilty of? Have you ever truly been able to keep God’s law with your whole heart and soul and mind and strength? No son-of-Adam can, for we are all sinners. But Jesus kept the law on behalf of His people. Jesus fulfilled every righteous requirement and will come again to judge the living and the dead. He suffered the penalty guilty sinners deserve even though he knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and rose from the dead after three days in fulfillment of the Scriptures. Trust in Jesus today for your own righteousness instead of trusting in yourself, because you will never keep God’s commandment on your own strength, but Jesus carries that burden for His chosen people.
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