Psalm 119:105-108 — Freewill, Oaths, and More Affliction

God’s Word Lights The Way

Psalms 119:105 ESV  Nun Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

The 14th octet of this great psalm begins with this oft memorized declaration about God’s illuminating Word. The psalmist notes that God’s word is a lamp to his feet. David lives in a world dominated by darkness (as do we!). Thus, he needs a source of light even to see his own feet. This light enables him to observe his walk. Paul commanded the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they were of the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). It is by shining the light of God’s law and God’s gospel on our feet as we walk that we may do this with any accuracy.

Photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash

There is no source of truth in this world so trustworthy as God’s Word. In fact, every other source of truth our world offers must steal light from God to shed any light in the first place. We do not say that there are no helpful books or counselors in the world. But we do maintain that anything that isn’t in accord with God’s Word (which is Truth) is useless or even detrimental to our walks. Although many lamps are stationary, there are lamps that you carry with you to light the way. Similarly, we must not only shine the light of God’s law on our feet, but we must bring it with us everywhere we go so that we can keep shining it. Hide it in your heart (Psalm 119:11) and carry it with you that you may take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).

God’s Word not only shines on our feet, but it also lights our path. Dear sojourner, have you ever walked in darkness with a light for your path? Did you notice that the light only illumines so much? Much of the path remains in darkness, but by taking the next step you find you will arrive at your destination! So it is with God and His Word. The future is safely in God’s hands. Your responsibility is to take the next step of obedience. God’s Word always sufficiently lights our path that we may do so. We need not worry what is around the next corner or even five years down the road. If we light our paths with God’s Truth and step where the light indicates, we can trust we will reach our destination and our Lord will be with us as we travel.

Oaths And Such…

Psalms 119:106 ESV  I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.

Swearing oaths gets a bit of a bad rap sometimes. Our dear Lord Jesus said, “Do not take an oath at all,” (Matthew 5:34) and some people miss the point of that sermon. But we see here that our psalmist was not afraid to confirm that his words were sincere and commit himself to righteous living. And isn’t that what each of us is saying when we get saved? When we believe that Jesus is Lord, are we doing anything other than committing to obedience to Him? Why call Him Lord if you do not at least plan to do what He has said?

Luke 6:46 ESV  “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

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We should follow in the footsteps of the faithful saints of old who made commitments and kept them. There is nothing wrong with swearing an oath to keep God’s righteous rules. Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1) Do you not see the righteousness in making such a wise vow? To men who lack integrity, a vow is meaningless. But to the man of God who walks in his integrity (Psalm 26:11) a vow aids us daily. Temptations to sin surround us. A vow regarding some discipline is sure to be brought to mind more readily when temptations do come. We are told not to vow hastily or dishonestly, that is, without intending to keep it. But we are not prohibited from making promises to follow Jesus’ way (Psalm 119:8,16)!

And where else do we see the fulfillment of this than in the life of Jesus Christ? He is the One who kept God’s righteous rules. Every one of them! Praise Jesus! We know that He keeps his commitments and all that He does is righteous. Therefore, we know that we never need to fear keeping God’s rules—for they are righteous. There will be times that our flesh tries to tell us that it would be more righteous to do something other than what the Word commands. Mortify this thinking and follow our perfect example: Christ. Commit to your own sanctification and watch it work out with fear and trembling.

Yup: More Affliction

Psalms 119:107 ESV  I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Yahweh, according to your word!

If Psalm 119 is about God’s law, then its secondary topic is affliction. Verse after verse we see references to suffering and affliction. The health and wealth gospel folks would do well to give this chapter a thorough study! But to the saint of God, affliction is an odd comfort. God pulls his people through the fires of affliction to purify them and test them (1 Peter 1:7). Our affliction is a source of joy (James 1:2) when viewed through the lens of Scripture. This is because affliction is intended by God for several purposes which God regularly achieves.


First, affliction is provided to draw us nearer to God. We are rarely so prayerful as when we are afflicted. While suffering and feeling out-of-control we tend to rely on the Lord more than during times of peace. We forget to put on the whole armor of God when we don’t sense the war waging! But once a flaming dart of the evil one makes contact with our skin, we run to the Only One who we know that can help.

Secondly, hardship is meant to give us assurance of our faith. The testing of our faith through affliction gives us the assurance we need that God really loves us in Christ.

Finally, affliction is a gift to us so that we might receive grace to endure it and pass that onto others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

When fellow exiles in this foreign land are suffering and you are able to console them and give them understanding because you have been there too it is a good thing! How many hells would you pass through if it meant you could help your dear loved one who is struggling in theirs? We read that Jesus was afflicted, despised, and rejected by men yet he opened not His mouth. But His mouth is open now through His infallible Word which is able to give us comfort by allowing us to identify with the sufferings of Christ when we ourselves are afflicted.

Count it all joy, brothers and sisters!

Free what?

Psalms 119:108 ESV  Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Yahweh, and teach me your rules.

Haha 🙂

As we near the center of the “nun” octave, we find this strange and often misunderstood term: “freewill.” For the man who despises God’s sovereign plan of salvation, this verse is the ace in the hole! There it is, right there in the text: FREEWILL, right? Now I do not want to lead anyone away from accepting simple understandings from the Bible. God revealed His Word in such a way that most of the scripture is plain to the learned and unlearned through ordinary means (LBCF 1.7). Having said all that, there are portions of Scripture where we must shine the light of more clear scripture onto them in order to properly interpret them.

Freewill is an interesting term because no matter who uses it, they always mean it within some limitation or context. No one believes we have the freewill to defy gravity—no matter how much we will to do so. All concepts of freewill, (even God’s freewill), are governed by that being’s nature as well as any more powerful outside forces (if they exist). In other words, no person can do that which defies his nature. Even God doesn’t have the freewill, as it were, to lie (Titus 1:2 KJV). And as in the example of “defying gravity,” every being except God is limited in the exercise of their will because of more powerful outside forces. Gravity is more powerful than my will to fly. We are not omnipotent.

When the psalmist speaks of his freewill offerings, he is speaking of the Old Testament freewill offerings brought to God. This term refers to the heart of the person bringing the offering. The idea is that it is not by compulsion that the offering is brought, but by the desire of the heart of the offerer (Exodus 35:29). God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:5,7) and accepts praise from His children. When a person’s heart has been changed by God by the work of the Holy Spirit, they possess the will and power to freely offer praise to God Almighty for all His perfect works and wondrous rules! God is worthy to be praised and, rather than demand it by extortion or compulsion, He motivates His people by grace to freely offer praise to Him from their hearts. We call on Him by name (O Yahweh) and entreat that He would imprint on our new hearts His rules because our praise is acceptable to Him through Jesus our Lord.

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