Introduction
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 119, which is the longest psalm in the book of Psalms and is the longest chapter in the entire Bible, numbering 176 verses. Perhaps you have already discovered something else about it. It is of interest, though it may not be particularly significant, that it is the middle chapter of your Bible. If you open your Bible to Psalm 119, you will be right in the middle of your Bible.

After the first three verses, God is addressed in every single verse in the Psalm with the exception of one, and there He is referred to. That should indicate the importance of the Psalm. The Word of God is mentioned in every verse of Psalm 119 with the exception of two, and that makes it essentially the Psalm of the Word of God .

I am sure that you have already noticed that Psalm 119, though it is divided into 176 verses, is divided into 22 paragraphs. Each of those paragraphs is preceded by a strange looking symbol and a foreign looking word which is not familiar to the average individual. That strange looking symbol is a Hebrew letter and the foreign looking word beside it is the name of that Hebrew letter. There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, twenty-two paragraphs in Psalm 119.

Perchance you are wondering why the translators have indicated this particular thing in this fashion. The answer would be evident if you were reading this in the original Hebrew because you would discover that every line begins with the letter which is at the beginning of the paragraph. Notice I said every line, not every verse because the verse system related to translations is not in the original text, but every line in the first paragraph would begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet which is the letter Aleph. The translators wanted you to know that and divided up the Psalm in that particular fashion—twenty-two sections.

Another thing that will be of interest to you is that these twenty-two paragraphs are divided up into three major divisions numbering seven and one. That is, there are seven paragraphs and then another seven paragraphs and then another seven paragraphs and then one paragraph. The thing that holds the seven together is that the first paragraph in the first seven divisions corresponds in subject matter to the first paragraph in the second seven division, and in the third seven division. The very last paragraph represents an appendix.

I suggest these things to you because I hope you do more than just come here and listen to the messages. I hope you spend some time in individual study and meditations and some of these things that I am suggesting to you, you more or less have to accept by faith because we are not even proving it to you. We are just telling you about it, but if you do spend some time in private study, you will come across these things for yourself, and they will represent a double blessing.

I would like for you to notice verses 1-11:

Psalm 119:

1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

My purpose in reading these eleven verses is that we might find in them nine terms which are used for God's Word in Psalm 119, and I would like for you to get used to those terms because you are going to find them all through the Psalm. When we talk about the Word of God, if we use the phrases, the Word of God, the Word, the Bible, you know what we are talking about, but in this Psalm such will not be the case. There are nine terms which are used to describe God's Word, and as I say, I would like for you to be familiar with them so that when you find them even towards the end of the Psalm, you will know that we are talking about the Word of God. God is gracious in that in these first eleven verses, He gives us these nine terms.

Then another reason we are reading these eleven verses and only these eleven is that there are seven requirements related to the Word of God given in these first eleven verses, and though those seven requirements will be expressed in various fashion throughout the Psalm, these are the seven basic reactions to the Word of God that every individual ought to have, for what we are saying to you is somewhat of an introduction to get you familiar with the Psalm that you might be able to glean from it everything that God would have you know. Look at verse 1:

Summation of God's Will

Psalm 119:

1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Notice that word law. That is the first word to describe the Word of God. It comes from the Hebrew word Torah . It means “precept.” The ancient Hebrews translated it Decalogue , and let it refer primarily to the commandments that you commonly recognize as the Ten Commandments. They said that in the Decalogue is summed up all of God's will for the human race. So we would remind you that the word law is used in the Bible as a representative summation of God's will because God's Word is of value to us only as it tells us God's will. When you see the word law, you will recognize that it is a term for the Word of God which declares the complete summary of God's will for the human race. You are not going to find it anywhere except here. You are not going to find it in the opinions of men. You are not going to find it in Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy's Key to the Scriptures ; you are going to find it here. You are not going to find it in the Book of Mormon ; you are going to find it right here. This is the summary of God's will for the human race. Look at verse 2:

Repetition of God's Will

Psalm 119:

2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

Look at the word testimonies . It comes from the word edah , which sometimes is translated by the word witness , and sometimes by the word repetition , which leads me to suggest to you that the Word of God is the repetition of God's will. If you wonder why we need the repetition of God's will, look into your own life. Why do you have to be told and retold what God's will is for your life and for your experience? Because we are prone to failure, because we are prone to forgetfulness. God has said, “It is line upon line and precept upon precept.” The fact that God refers to His Word as His testimony indicates the need for repetition. Look at verse 3:

The Application of God's Will for Your Life

Psalm 119:

3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

Notice the word ways . It comes from the Hebrew word derek , which describes a road or a very definite course of life or a mode of action. We might say to you that it represents the application of God's will for your life, for you know it is one thing to know the will of God; it is quite another thing to walk in the will of God, so the Word of God is referred to as His ways because it gives you a prescribed course of action. Look at verse 4:

The Affirmation of God's Will

Psalm 119:

4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

The word precepts is from the Hebrew word piqquwd , which describes a mandate or an appointed order. I say that it describes the Word of God as being the affirmation of God's will. When I say, the affirmation of God's will , I am referring to the fact that this is the final word on everything, and you and I have no right to say, “Well, I know that the Bible says so and so, but I think so and so.” It doesn't matter what you think. This is the final affirmation of God's will, and that is the reason the word precept is used. Look at verse 5:

The Continuation of God's Will

Psalm 119:

5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Look at the word statutes . Notice it repeated again in verse 8:

Psalm 119:

8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

Let me remind you that this word statutes is a translation of the Hebrew word choq , which refers to an engraving, something that is related to permanence. I suggest to you that the Word of God represents the continuation of God's will. Times and customs change, but the Word of God endures forever. Churches, in the age in which we live, are making new pronouncements about various things about which they have had stands or convictions a long time. They say they have to rethink these things in the light of the twentieth century. Beloved, this Bible is the continuation of God's will. It is an engraving. It will last forever, and if you take your stand on the Word of God, you will never have to change in the light of the twentieth century or in the light of the twenty-first century. Your stand will always be the same for that is the meaning of statutes . Look at verse 6:

The Authorization of God's Will

Psalm 119:

6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

Look at the word commandments . It is the translation of the Hebrew word mitsvah , which speaks of an order issued with due authority. So we might say that the Word of God is the authorization of the will of God, or if you want to use the term inspiration of the will of God , you may; for I believe, as this indicates, this book that I hold in my hand is the inspiration of the will of God. The final authority for matters related to all of our lives is not found in the church; it is not found in the Pope at Rome; it is not found in what some individual thinks in whom you have confidence. The authorization of God's will is found in the Word of God and in no other place. Look at verse 7:

The Definition of God's Will

Psalm 119:

7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

Notice the word judgments . It comes from the Hebrew word mishpat , which speaks of a judicial ruling. It speaks of a decision which is handed down by a higher court. You hardly ever pick up your paper in this age without reading where the Supreme Court has handed down a ruling on a certain subject. That ruling is final. Lesser courts may have their rulings appealed to higher courts, but when the Supreme Court hands down a ruling on a certain subject, it must be obeyed until the law to which it is related is changed. That is the idea related to this word judgments , which leads me to suggest to you that the Bible is the definition of God's will. If you want to find out what God's will is, it is defined very clearly and very plainly for you in the Word of God. Go down to verse 9, and read:

The Communication of God's Will

Psalm 119:

9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Then look at verse 11:

Psalm 119:

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

May I suggest to you that we are talking about two different things. In verse 9, even though the English word word is used, we are talking about one thing; in verse 11, though the English word word is used, we are talking about another thing. Glance at verse 9 again. Look at the word word there as I remind you that it comes from the Hebrew term dabar , which refers to something that is spoken. On that basis, I say to you that this Bible is the communication of God's will. Yes, God spoke to men, and they wrote down His will in this Book. God's Word speaks to the hearts of men today.

I never enter into discussions as to whether people see visions or hear voices because I think it is foolishness to argue with experience. If an individual has told me that he has seen a vision, then it is rather foolish of me to say that he hasn't. If an individual has told me that he has heard an audible voice, then it is foolish of me to waste my time convincing him that he hasn't because a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. I never enter into discussions along that line, but there is one thing about which I am adamant and that is, if the vision which the individual claims to have seen is contrary to the Word of God, then the vision didn't come from God. If the voice which the individual has claimed to have heard contradicts anything in this Word, then it did not come from God because the Bible says that this Book is the Word of God. It used the Hebrew word dabar , which means “something which is spoken representing the communication of God's will.”

The Revelation of God's Will

Look at verse 11 again and read there:

Psalm 119:

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Here the English word word comes from an entirely different Hebrew term. It comes from the Hebrew term imrah , and it refers to something that is brought to light, something which is in the darkness but is brought into the light. I suggest to you that this Bible is the revelation of God's will. There may be many things about which we are uncertain in the life in which we live today because confusion seems to be the order of the day, but this Book is the revelation of the will of God. Everything is brought to life by it. That is the reason a great many years ago I took my stand on the Word of God and said, “By God's grace I stand.”

I have lost friends as a result of it because I could not agree nor endorse what they did. I have made sacrifices because of it because I had to do some things that hurt me to the quick to do them, but I had no other choice because I stood upon the Word of God. This is God's Word and it is what will be discussed in Psalm 119 in a variety of ways, for each paragraph in Psalm 119 has a practical effect upon our lives. The Word of God wasn't meant to be used as some sort of trophy. It was meant to be used as a vital instrument in our lives, and each paragraph in the Psalm gives you some practical way that it can be used.

I want us to look at these eleven verses again and notice seven attitudes which are expected of us in relation to the Word of God. We have given you nine terms for the Word, now we have seven attitudes which are expected of us in relation to the Word of God. We will have time only to touch upon them and we trust that the Holy Spirit will minister the deeper truth to your heart. Look at verse 1 and notice the word walk :

Keep Apace of the Word

Psalm 119:

1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

The word walk in verse 1 comes from the Hebrew word halak , which means “to keep apace,” and I like that, It describes behavior. I ask you, are you keeping pace with the Word of God? I read somewhere that if the church did not keep apace of the age in which we live, it was going to lose its impact. That may be true of the church because it is a manmade thing, but it is not true of the Word of God. It isn't that the Word of God should keep apace of the age; it is that the age should keep apace of the Word of God. Your responsibility and mine is to keep apace of the Word. I ask you, are you keeping apace with the Word of God? I ask you, is your behavior in line with the Word of God?

Obey His Testimonies

Notice the word keep in verse 2, the word keep in verse 4, the word keep in verse 5, and the word keep in verse 8, as I suggest to you that this one English word keep , four times repeated, is the translation of two different Hebrew words. Look at verse 2, with me first, as we read:

Psalm 119:

2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

The word keep in verse 2 is the translation of the Hebrew term natsar and the simplest translation of that word I can give you is the word obey . That needs no comment, does it? “Blessed are they that obey his testimonies…” You either obey or you don't. That is what it amounts to.

Give Close Attention to the Word

In verses 4, 5, and 8, the word keep is the translation of the Hebrew word shamar . Look at those words again:

Psalm 119:

4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

That is the word shamar . What does this word mean? It means “to give very close attention to the Word of God.” As a matter of fact, if you will look at verse 9, you will read:

Psalm 119:

9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

If you will notice the phrase, taking heed , it is the translation of this same Hebrew word shamar . They could just as well used the word keep here and been consistent with the meaning of the Hebrew word.

What does it mean “to keep,” in the second sense? It means “to pay close attention.” It means “to take heed.” It means “to examine everything that you do very minutely in relation to the Word of God.”

Look at verse 6:

Psalm 119:

6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

Notice the word respect . It is a translation of the Hebrew word nabat , which means “to stand and to look intently at the Word of God.” You don't just read the Word of God and shrug your shoulders; you give respect to it. You look at it very minutely. When you read a passage of Scripture, you don't say, “Is this all that it means?” You say, “I wonder if it means something else,” and you look for another passage of Scripture to tie with it so that you might become proficient in the Word of God.

Be Skillful in the Word

Look at verse 7:

Psalm 119:

7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

Look at the word learned . It is the translation of the Hebrew word lamad which means “to be skillful in the Word of God.” Skillful in the Word. Can you tell me how any individual could even begin to be skillful in the Word not spending any more time in it than the average Christian spends in it? Can you tell me how people can attend churches and sit in services Sunday after Sunday and be expected to be skillful in the Word of God when the Word of God is given as scant attention as it is in most places? Your responsibility and mine is to be skillful in the Word of God, and the Psalmist said: “I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I have become skillful in thy righteous judgments.” The reason some of us rebel at the Word of God, the reason some of us criticize the Word of God is that we have not become skillful in it.

Don't Wander from the Word

The next attitude is one that is presented from a negative sense. It is described in verse 10:

Psalm 119:

10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

Notice the phrase, not wander . It comes from the Hebrew word shagah , and it is a phrase which describes sins of ignorance. What is it we are reading here? The Psalmist is saying, “Lord, don't let me sin against Thee through ignorance.”

Isn't it amazing that in our ordinary, everyday life we say that individuals are ignorant of the law and they go to court expecting some special kind of attention because they were ignorant of the law, but the judge raps his gavel and says, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” and we abide by it. But when it comes to the Word of God and individuals permit things in their lives that are contrary to His Word, we tend to be so lenient, and we say, “Well, they just didn't know.” Beloved, that is no excuse. They ought to have known, for individuals are not to wander from the Word of God.

Hide the Word in Your Heart

The last attitude that I would mention is described for us in verse 11:

Psalm 119:

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Notice the word hid . The word hid comes from the Hebrew term tsaphan which not only means “to hide” in the sense of secreting something, but more literally and more exactly it means “to hoard up the Word of God in your heart,” “to lay it up in your heart.”

I don't suppose there is anybody who would say that an individual was foolish if he said that he was laying up a little money for the proverbial rainy day that comes to most of our lives. If he were laying up that money with a great deal of anxiety to the extent that he couldn't even enjoy the day in which he was living, then that would be wrong because the Lord Jesus Christ said, “…sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof…” But I say no one criticizes a person for laying up some money for the proverbial rainy day, but are we criticized for laying up the Word of God, for hoarding up the Word of God in our hearts for that trial that might come into our lives someday?

I want to ask you, Beloved, how are you reacting to the Word of God in any of the number of ways that I have mentioned, especially on this last point? How are you reacting to the Word of God? Are you hoarding up the Word of God for some particular trial that is going to come into your life?

Do you know the reason a great many people faint in the day of adversity? The Word of God gives you the answer. Because their strength is small and their strength isn't going to come from the Word of God.

Pardon my reference to my family, but my wife and I determined that we would do everything that we could as far as our children were concerned to prepare them for whatever emergency they might face in life, and that is one reason why I dedicated so much of my time to Bible Memory Association. It provided such an excellent opportunity for our children to learn the Word of God and to hoard the Word of God away in their hearts. That is the reason I give the answer when I am asked by many parents, “What do you do if your children decide after they start the contest they don't want to finish it?”, I say, make them. You make them eat, don't you? If you are interested in teaching your children thrift, you teach them to save their money, don't you? They might want to go out and blow their savings on the latest toy they have seen, but you don't let them, do you? You are trying to teach them.

Tell me why it is that we are so practical about so many things and so impractical about spiritual things. People have said to me many times, “You mean that you make them go ahead and finish the contest after they started?” “Yes.” “Well, aren't you afraid that it will make them hate the Word of God?” “No.” “Oh, I ran into a man the other day who told me the reason he never goes to church is because his mother and daddy made him go to church when he was little.”

That is hogwash. That is a lie of the Devil, and there is not an ounce of truth in it. The reason that he doesn't want to go to church now is because he doesn't want to go to church now. That's why. It isn't because his parents made him do it.

Somebody will say that it will make your children hate the Word. No, it won't. Some have said to me, “Do you see any results of them hoarding it up in their lives right at that particular time? Do you mean that they memorized it and are better than they were last year? “No, they may have been worse.” “Well, then it didn't do any good.” Yes, it did. They are hoarding it up, and when they need it, it will be there. It is my responsibility as a parent to see that they hoard it up, and they will have it when the emergency arises.

It is my responsibility in relation to my own life to hoard up the Word of God for whatever emergency will come because I do not know what is going to come. I am not going to take the time to remind you of example after example that has been given by others of men who, when they have been imprisoned in Communist camps, say that the only thing that caused them to retain their sanity was the Word of God, which they had hidden away in their hearts and lives.

I don't know what will come, but Beloved, hoard up the Word in your heart. “Thy Word have I [hoarded up] in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”


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