The Basis for Blessing
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 119. You will remember that this Psalm is made up of twenty-two paragraphs, each paragraph headed by one letter from the Hebrew alphabet and each paragraph made up of eight verses. We said to you that this Psalm is so arranged that each paragraph in Psalm 119 provides for us some special value of the Word of God in the life of the believer, some special effectiveness in the life of the believer.

We are going to consider the first paragraph, which is presented to you under the Hebrew letter Aleph, for no other reason than the first line in the original text begins with that particular Hebrew letter. Notice Psalm 119, beginning with verse 1:

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.

As we have read these verses in the first paragraph of Psalm 119, it suggests to me the basis of blessing in the believer's life. What is the basis of blessing in the believer's life? I hasten to say to you it is the Word of God, for the declaration of the Psalmist indicates that in the very first two verses:

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.

“Blessed are the undefiled…; Blessed are they that keep his testimonies…” As I read these first two verses, I am reminded of only two other Psalms in the book of Psalms which begin in a like fashion. You will recall Psalm 1, beginning with verse 1:

Psalm 1:

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

I am reminded of another Psalm which begins with the so-called beatitude, Psalm 32, verse 1, which represents the words of David after confession of sin:

Psalm 32:

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile (no deceit).

The word of the Psalmist declaring the blessedness of the individual who has his life based upon the Word of God is a word that is described in the Amplified version by several other words which might be worthy of our attention. For example, the word blessed is translated by the English word fortunate , by the English word happy , and by the English words to be envied . Fortunate is the man who has his life based upon the Word of God. Happy is the man who has his life based upon the Word of God, and though it may seem a bit strange to say it, I believe it would be well said, “To be envied is the man who has his life based upon the Word of God.” We may as well face the fact that every believer does not have his life based upon the Word of God. He may have received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and Heaven may be his home, but his life is not based upon the Word of God. Therefore, he is not always happy, he is not fortunate, and certainly there are many things related to his life that need not be envied. The Psalmist declares in no uncertain terms that the believer who has his life based upon the Word of God is blessed, happy, fortunate and to be envied.

A Mature Believer

I said that not every believer has his life based upon the Word of God, so it is only natural for us to seek for the kind of believer who does have his life based upon the Word of God. We find a description of such a believer here in the first paragraph of Psalm 119. Let me suggest to you that the believer who has his life based upon the Word of God is a mature believer. That is brought to my mind by the word undefiled in the first statement: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way…” Ordinarily this word undefiled is associated with sin, with something that is filthy, with something that is dirty, with something that is perverse. Such is true of our English word undefiled, and I would suggest to you that the believer whose life is based upon the Word of God will be an individual who will be clean. That certainly is brought to our mind in verse 3:

Psalm 119:

3 They also do no iniquity…

The word iniquity here is a word for sin , which could be translated “perversity” or “presumption.” We would remind you that the believer whose life is based upon the Word of God is undefiled in that sense of the word. But I would like to suggest to you that this English word undefiled comes from a Hebrew word tamiym , which is translated undefiled only here. Nowhere else in the Bible is it translated by the word undefiled . Rather, it is translated by the word complete; it is translated by the word full; it is translated by the word perfect . In view of the Psalm which we are considering, I am inclined to think that that should be the meaning of the word here: “Blessed are the perfect; blessed are the full; blessed are the complete who walk in the things of God.”

If you will glance at Psalm 19, you will have an illustration of what I mean when I say that this word tamiym is translated by the word perfect , for in Psalm 19, verse 7, we read:

Psalm 19:

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Notice the word perfect in verse 7. It is the translation of this Hebrew word tamiym which is translated undefiled in Psalm 119. When we read of a perfect man, there comes to our mind what is suggested in the epistle of James, chapter 1, verse 4, when the Spirit of God reminds us that we should let patience have its perfect work in us that we might be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Of course, they are different words, but the same idea. One is a Greek word and one is a Hebrew word, but they suggest to us what I am talking about. The individual whose life is based upon the Word of God will be an individual who is mature. When you find individuals who are not mature, you can be sure that they have not been exposed to very much of the Word of God. When you find individuals who are not complete, who are not full, you can be sure that they have not been exposed to very much of God's Word.

An Obedient Believer

Emphasizing this, because I do not want you to misunderstand me, nor do I want you to misquote me, I am not talking about whether an individual is converted or not. I am not talking about whether an individual is a born-again believer. I am talking about his completeness, his perfection. I say to you that the individual believer who finds his roots deep in the Word of God, who has his life based upon the Word of God, will be a mature individual; but as I examined David's description of such a believer, I noticed that he will not only be a mature individual, but he will be an obedient individual as well. Notice verse 1:

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.

Notice verse 3:

Psalm 119:

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

We have examined the various terms which are related to the Word of God, so we do not repeat them today, but in both of these verses, emphasis is placed upon the fact that the individual whose roots are based upon the Word of God are individuals who will be walking in the law of the Lord, who will be walking in His ways, or to put it very simply, who will be obedient to the Word of God. In our last lesson, we learned that this word keep simply means “to keep apace with the Word of God.” You and I cannot keep apace with the Word of God without being obedient. You cannot be obedient and lag behind. You cannot be obedient and run ahead. The only way that you can be obedient is to keep apace with the Word of God.

I am often amused by the various things which I read in newspapers and hear in various speeches that what we need to do is keep our religion apace with this age. We need to update the church, and we need to update our Christian experience. That is so much hogwash. There is no need to update anything. All that anybody needs to do is keep apace with the Word of God. It is not the Word of God that has become outdated; it is not the Word of God that has slowed its pace. It is the believer, the born-again individual who is presenting a testimony before the world which is so sad that the world thinks there is something wrong with the Church, as they put it, or with the Word of God because our lives are so inconsistent. I would suggest to you that we have a responsibility to be obedient, to keep apace with the Word of God.

In verse 2, you will notice the words:

Psalm 119:

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

That further emphasizes the need for obedience, for we have learned that the word keep , there, in relation to his testimony, elsewhere in the Scripture is translated by the word obedient . We must be obedient to His Word.

We remind you that this is not a halfhearted obedience that God is calling for. It is not a halfhearted obedience that is needed. It is an obedience that demands every bit of you. That is why you read in the last part of verse 2:

Psalm 119:

2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, [notice carefully now] and that seek him with the whole heart.

It is not a matter of seeking to obey as certain things please us, but seeking to obey with our whole heart with unrestrained submission to the Lord. That the Holy Spirit might provoke your thinking, I ask the question: What kind of obedience is yours? Is it an obedience that is convenient? I never cease to be amazed that people can sit under the Word of God for long periods of time and apparently obey everything that is proclaimed to them from the Word of God, then suddenly cease to obey.

When you begin to delve into the situation, you ask the question, “Why?” Invariably, you will find that the things which they obeyed with their whole heart did not present any particular problem for them. They didn't mind too much obeying in relation to those things, but when you got right down to the heart of something they wanted to do really bad and obedience was demanded, that obedience was not forthcoming. Oh no, it wasn't open rebellion necessarily, though it could be on some parts. Usually, it was foolish rationalization. I say foolish rationalization because there can be nothing more foolish than rationalizing the Word of God, trying to find a way to fix it so it will be all right to do what you want to do and still appear to obey the Word of God.

A Perceptive Believer

The individual about whom we are thinking today is a mature individual. He is an obedient individual, and if you will glance at verse 4, you will see that he is a perceptive individual as well because we read there:

Psalm 119:

4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

You say, “Aren't we talking about the same thing we were talking about in verse 2?” “Blessed are they who keep his testimonies.” Then we read down in verse 4, the Lord has commanded us to keep his precepts diligently. You will recall that in an earlier lesson, I pointed out to you that these two English words keep come from two entirely different Hebrew words. The second Hebrew word is one that speaks of real perception. It is one that speaks of keeping diligently, as our text says, or if you will glance down at verse 9, “…taking heed to the Word of God,” for the phrase, taking heed, is the translation of the same Hebrew word which is translated keep there in verse 4. I say that an individual who has his life based on the Word of God will be a perceptive individual. He will not be reading the Word of God haphazardly, but he will be reading the Word of God perceptively. He will be as eager as the individual of whom the Apostle speaks in II Timothy, chapter 2, verse 15:

II Timothy 2:

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We have pointed out to you before that the word study in that verse does not mean to take your Bible and spend a lot of time with it, though that will be necessary. The word study there could be translated “be eager.” You know, there is a difference between spending a lot of time studying the Word of God and being eager to know what the Word of God says so that you might apply it to your life.

Desire of the Psalmist

This perception is further emphasized by the third and last point that I want to leave with you—the desire of the Psalmist as it is described in the Psalm. There is the declaration of the Psalmist; there is the description of the man who has his life based on the Word of God, and now there is the desire of the Psalmist, which ought to be the desire of every real believer. Look at verse 5:

Psalm 119:

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

You see what the Psalmist is doing. He knows that the man who has the Word of God as a basis for his life is blessed. He knows that he is happy. He knows that he is fortunate. He knows that he certainly can be envied. He knows that the individual who has his life based on the Word of God is a mature individual, an obedient individual, a perceptive individual. He knows all of that. Then he cries out, “Oh that I could be an individual like that.”

I dare say if you are thinking, you are thinking somewhat along the same line. You are saying, “This is true. The man who is interested in the Word of God and who has his life based on the Word of God is blessed. Oh that I could be an individual like that.”

Look at verse 5 again:

Psalm 119:

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

We have mentioned that this word directed can be translated by the word established in the Scripture. As a matter of fact, it is so translated in Psalm 90, verse 17, where the Spirit of God said:

Psalm 90:

17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

The word established there is the translation of the same word that is translated directed here in Psalm 119, verse 5, when the Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:

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

The reason that I am making that distinction is that you really don't need any direction, do you? You know what you ought to do. Everybody does. Oh, there may be a few exceptions to that in lands where the Gospel has never gone and where the Word of God has never been made available, but generally speaking, you know what you ought to do. Nobody needs to direct you. Nobody needs to tell you. You know what you ought to do.

Numerous times when individuals come to me with their problems, I discover that they don't need directions. They know what to do. Why, they even tell me they know what to do before they have said very many words. It isn't the direction they need; it is the know-how. It isn't the direction they need; it is that something that will cause them to do it.

The Psalmist may have had in mind: “Lord, when you direct my footsteps to obey the Word, just do it.” Wouldn't it be wonderful, and don't you wish God would just do it; when we know what is right, if He would just do it! If He would just somehow say, “Oh, all right. I know what ought to be done and you want to do it, so I'll just do it.”

But He doesn't do it that way. He still leaves your volition untouched, and He says to you, “This is the way,” and your response is, “I know it.” Your response quite often is, “I will do it,” and you do for an extended period of time; but then you reach one of those places where you don't any more, or you fluctuate doing it today and not doing it tomorrow. That is the reason I say to you that the desire of the Psalmist could well be the desire of every one of us: “Lord, establish our goings. Lord, establish our keeping of the law. Lord, establish our obedience to the Word of God.” God can establish you through the Word if you give Him the opportunity to do it.

The desire of the Psalmist was indicated not only by the fact that he wanted to be established in relation to the Word of God, but if you will glance at verse 6, you will see that he had another desire, and that was that he would not be ashamed, for he said in verse 6:

Psalm 119:

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

There is nothing wrong with this word ashamed , here, for certainly there is a lot of truth related to it. You and I need to be concerned that we won't be ashamed as Christians, that we won't be brought to shame as individuals who profess to love the Lord, but I would like to suggest to you something else about this word ashamed . It is the translation of the Hebrew word buwsh , which is translated in other places in the Bible by the word delayed . I rather like that. “Lord, I don't want to be delayed. It is not only that I don't want to be ashamed, but Lord, I don't want to be delayed. There is so much to do and so little time to do it. I don't want to be delayed.”

Let's face it, Beloved, the devil delights in delaying the children of God. He delights in tearing up the road ahead of you. He delights in slowing you down. He may not be able to detour you permanently because you have settled it. Your relationship to God is sure, but he will do all that he can to delay you. Did you notice the only cure for that? Look at verse 6 again:

Psalm 119:

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

“…all thy commandments.” Keep in mind the word commandments here is a word that describes the whole Word of God. It isn't talking about the Ten Commandments. The Psalmist is saying, “Lord, I won't be delayed. I won't be slowed down if I learn to respect all of the Word of God.

Once again I remind you how easy it is for us to come face to face with something that is there. It is plain as can be. There is nothing wrong with the print. It is there, but we don't want to do it and the devil delays us because we are not willing to have respect unto all the Word of God. This word buwsh is translated another interesting way in the Bible, and that is by the phrase, “to become dry.” I rather like that. Do you know any dried up Christians? I do. A lot of folk refer to it as dead orthodoxy . They are as orthodox as the day is long. Liberal? Perish the thought! Have something to do with liberalists? Not on your life! But they have become dry. They have become as dry as the dryest tree in the world. They have become as dry as the tree that does not have its roots going out to the water all of the time. Why? Because they have picked and chosen in relation to the Word of God. They picked this; they picked that; they picked something else.

What does the Word of God say? The Word of God reminds us of a group of people who were given the opportunity of having what God wanted them to have, and they chose what they wanted. You say, “Didn't God do something about it?” No, He gave it to them. He helped them attain what they wanted. He helped them. He didn't stand in the way, but what does the passage of Scripture say? It says that He sent leanness into their soul. Outwardly, nobody could tell the difference. Outwardly, everything was as they wanted it. They got it. They even said they prayed about it, and they did. God gave them what they wanted, but He sent leanness into their soul.

What is this desire of the Psalmist? “Lord, I don't want that in my life. I don't want to be dry. I don't want to be ashamed. I don't want to be delayed, so give me the grace to have respect unto all thy commandments.”

He had another desire which is indicated in verse 7, where he said, “I have a deep desire to learn the Word of God.” Look there again:

Psalm 119:

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

This isn't a reference to hiding away the Word of God in your heart. You must do that, and you are told to do that in the next paragraph. You are told to hide the Word of God away in your heart, but when He talks about learning the statutes of the Lord, he isn't talking about hiding it away. This word learned comes from a word that speaks of being skillful through experience. “Lord, it is my desire to be skillful with the Word of God.”

“Oh, you mean you have a desire to be able to stand up and rattle off a lot of Scripture?” I heard someone speak about a preacher one day and they said, “You know, he is one of the greatest preachers I have ever heard.” I said that I was glad to hear that, and I mean that. I am always glad when people have an audience if they will give the message. I am glad, but the individual said, “Yes, he is one of the greatest preachers I have ever heard. You know, he doesn't use a Bible. He doesn't even carry one into the pulpit. He quotes everything he says. Why, he can quote a whole chapter at a time.”

I said that that was interesting. That is the only comment I made, but to myself I wondered if he could do any more than that. It isn't interesting to me to know that a person can quote a whole chapter at a time, but it is interesting to me to know that the person who can quote a whole chapter at a time can also tell you that he has experienced what he is quoting, for that is the meaning of this word learned here. It means “to learn by experience.”

I rather like the way the Paraphrased version of the Old Testament quotes this particular verse. It reads this way: “After you have corrected me, I will thank you by living the way that I should.” That is paraphrased, not translated. You need to learn the difference between paraphrasing and translation, but sometimes the paraphrasing drives home the truth, and that is the idea involved in this word. “After you have corrected me, I will thank you by living the way that I should.”

Let me ask you. Are you even interested in learning the Word of God by being corrected by the Word of God? It is wonderful to hide it away in your heart. It is wonderful to be able to memorize it so you can quote it, but if I had to choose between the two, Beloved, I would choose the latter because I believe it has more effect in your life to be corrected by the Word of God. Even though it is a painful experience to stand corrected and not be sullen all of your life because you have been corrected, be thankful that the Lord thought enough of you to correct you with the Word of God.

The last desire that is evidenced by the Psalmist is in verse 8, where he said:

Psalm 119:

8 I will keep thy statutes: [now notice this statement] O forsake me not utterly.

The desire of the Psalmist is found in those words. He desired not to be forsaken utterly of the Lord. In a very general way, I do not know of a greater desire than that. In a very general way, I am sure all of you would subscribe to such a desire. You wouldn't want to be forsaken utterly by the Lord, would you? You wouldn't want the Lord to walk off and have nothing more to do with you. You wouldn't want the Lord to say to you, “Now, get on along the best way you can. I am through. I am not ever going to do anything for you.” You wouldn't want that to happen, would you? None of us would, but let us be more particular in relation to this statement in connection with the paragraph in which it is found.

Notice the phrase, “O forsake me not utterly.” It is in relation to obeying the Word of God. Another translation has it presented very well, when it says, “Let me not slip back into sin again. Lord, I want to obey your Word. Lord, I do obey it. Lord, I fail sometimes. Lord, You have corrected me; now don't let me slip back again. In relation to the Word of God, don't let me slip back into disobedience again.”

Conclusion

I wonder if that is not the prayer of a great many of our lives. Is your life based on the Word of God? The Word of God is the basis for the believer's life.


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