The Fountain of Joy
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Open your Bibles to Psalm 119, verse 17, and notice as we read:

Psalm 119:

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

Psalm 119 is the subject of our study. It is unique in that it is made up of twenty-two paragraphs, each paragraph consisting of eight verses, each one of those eight verses beginning with the Hebrew letter which you find at the top of each individual paragraph. For example, in the first paragraph you find the Hebrew letter Aleph . In the second paragraph, there is the Hebrew letter Beth . In the third paragraph—the one which we have just read—we have the Hebrew letter Gimel . We offer that only as an explanation of why the translation is written in the manner in which it is.

The important thing that we would like for you to fix in your minds is that this Psalm is dedicated to a discussion of the Word of God because it is peculiarly the Psalm of the Word. Each one of the twenty-two paragraphs offers you some specific and practical effect of the Word of God in the believer's life.

For example, in the first paragraph, we discovered the Word of God is the general basis for all the activity of individual believers. In the second paragraph, we discovered that the Word of God was the basis of cleansing for the believer. We pointed out to you that was not a reference to cleansing after the individual had sinned; rather, it is offering a method for keeping clean in the midst of a world which seems to be dedicated to defilement.

The Word Should be a Joy and Rejoicing to Your Heart

The paragraph which we have just read together is the basis for all rejoicing in the believer's life; that is, the Word of God, as Jeremiah said, should be a joy and a rejoicing to your heart. Remember what is recorded concerning his testimony in Jeremiah, chapter 15, verse 16:

Jeremiah 15:

16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

If you are called by the name of the Lord, if you are a follower of His, then the Word of God ought to be the joy and the rejoicing of your heart. You ought to find real pleasure in the Word as did David, Hezekiah, or Ezra—whoever the author of this particular psalm might have been. These men did find such pleasure in the Word of God, and it is indicated by two verses in the paragraph. Notice verse 20:

Psalm 119:

20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

Then down in verse 24:

Psalm 119:

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

These two verses suggest two things to me which are an absolute necessity if you are going to find pleasure in the Word of God. First, there will have to be an insatiable longing in your heart for the Word of God. It will not mean that you will have a haphazard interest in His Word, but there will be an insatiable longing in your heart to have the Word and to obey the Word. Glance at verse 20:

Psalm 119:

20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

You will remember when we explored the nine terms which described the Word of God in Psalm 119, we found that our English word judgments comes from a word which we said represented the definition of God's will. The Word of God is inseparably related to the will of God. That is the reason we are interested in the Word of God—that we might know the will of God. The Psalmist is saying that his very heart was breaking for a longing to know the will of God and to do the will of God.

The word breaking could just as well be crushed , indicating that he had a great burden that he might know God's will and obey it. May I pause, asking the Spirit of God to search our hearts mutually, as I ask you, for what is your heart burdened today? For what is my heart burdened? What breaks my heart today? What crushes me? What breaks your heart? What crushes you?

When I think of some of the things that people say break their hearts, when I think of some of the things that people say represents a burden too great for them to bear, when I think of some of the things which people say represent the longing of their hearts, I wonder how sincere we actually are in our relationship to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Psalmist said, “I have a insatiable longing to know His Word and to know His will. My heart is crushed with the very desire of it.”

Glance down at verse 24:

Psalm 119:

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

Pleasure in the Purpose of God

Just as necessary as it is for there to be an insatiable longing for the Word of God and the will of God, if we are to find pleasure in the Word, it is necessary for this inseparable pair of truths to go together. The inseparable pair of truths are emphasized in verse 24:

Psalm 119:

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

Notice the word delight , and notice the word counsellors . They are twins which must never be separated if you are to find pleasure in the Word of God. The word delight comes from the Hebrew word shashua , which means “delight,” which means “enjoyment,” which means “pleasure.” That is the attitude that every one of us ought to have in connection with the Word. If the Word of God is a boresome, burdensome thing to you, then it would be good for you to search out your relationship to God. If you would rather not hear the Word than to hear it, then you need to search out your relationship to God. If you have your mind set and would rather not listen to the Word of God, then you need to search out your relationship to God and to His will.

That is brought to my mind by the word counsellors . Did you notice “delight and counsellors?” The two come together. These are the inseparable twins that I have in mind, for the word counsellors comes from the Hebrew word etsah , which is translated other places in the Word of God by the English word plans and the English word purposes . So I say to you that the two inseparable truths which must always go together is pleasure and purpose . It isn't only a matter of pleasure in so many words in the Bible or so many verses which you committed to memory, but it is a matter of pleasure in the purpose of God.

If you will turn to Isaiah, chapter 14, you will understand a manner in which this word purpose is used as a translation of the Hebrew word shashua . Speaking of God's plan and purpose in relation to the Assyrian in connection with the nation of Israel, we read in verse 26:

Isaiah 14:

26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.

Notice: “This is the purpose.” That is the translation of the same word that is translated counsellor s . Look at Psalm 119, verse 24, again and read it with that thought in mind: “Thy testimonies also are my pleasure because in thy testimonies I find thy purposes.”

If you will remember when we looked at the nine terms which describe the Word of God in Psalm 119, we told you that the word testimony is a word which describes the repetition of God's will, for God's will is not found mentioned once and then you are left to wonder if you read it right or you are left to wonder where it might be found again. It is line upon line and precept upon precept, and we would suggest to you that only as we know the purpose of God for our lives as it is revealed in the Word of God, and only as we walk in accordance with that purpose will we find real pleasure in the Word of God.

Problems Related to Finding Pleasure in the Word

If I were to give you a chance to talk back to me, I am quite sure that some of you would say, “That is all well and good, but it is difficult, it is hard to walk in God's will. It is difficult, it is hard to obey the Word of God, fulfilling the purpose of God.”

The Psalmist thought so, too, and in this paragraph which we are considering today, he presents some problems related to finding pleasure in the Word of God. Oh, yes, he said that the Word of God was his pleasure, but he said that it isn't easy. There are some problems related to finding pleasure in the Word of God, and I want to suggest some of those problems. These are by no means all that you will face, but there are some which the Psalmist faced. Look at verse 18:

Psalm 119:

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

I would suggest to you that the first problem which the Psalmist found in relation to finding pleasure in the Word of God were veiled eyes . That is why he said, “Open thou mine eyes…” No, he wasn't asleep. This word open elsewhere in the Scripture is translated by the word uncover or by the word remove ; and what he was saying is, “Remove whatever it is that is over my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”

You might say, “Well, what could possibly be over his eyes?” All that we can say to you is that when you have time, you should read II Corinthians, chapter 3, noticing particularly verse 15, where we are told that the problem which the nation of Israel faces today in understanding the truth concerning Jesus Christ the Messiah is a veil that is over their face or over their eyes as they read the Word of God. That veil is there and even though they read the Word, they cannot see the things that you see. They cannot see the things which are related to the truth of God's Word.

You say, “Well, what about us? We are not Jews; we are Gentiles; we are Christians. Is there any point in our praying a prayer like that?” Yes, and when you have time I would suggest that you read what is recorded in I Corinthians, chapter 2, and the first paragraph of chapter 3. When you read them, you will discover that the natural man, the unsaved man, cannot see nor discern nor understand the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually discerned.

That is just another way of saying that the unsaved man has a veil over his eyes so that when he reads the Word of God, he can't see it. It is so much foolishness to him. That is the reason it will take more than your just throwing out a verse of Scripture to get results in bringing people to Jesus Christ. There is a veil over their eyes, and you need to pray that the veil will be lifted so that they will be able to see the truth of the Word of God.

Someone might say, “I am a Christian. Why do I need to pray that prayer?” You follow on the passage of Scripture to which I referred in I Corinthians, chapters 2 and 3, and you will discover that it is possible for a spiritual man to slip into a carnal state. If that spiritual man has slipped into a carnal state—not an unsaved state, mind you, but a carnal state, a fleshly state—then that same veil will cover his eyes. The Apostle Paul said, “I want to speak to you people as spiritual people, but I can't. Some of you are carnal. You are fleshly. You are not living according to the direction of the Spirit of God. You are living according to the direction of the flesh, and if you are walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit, then the same veil is over your eyes.”

What was it the Psalmist was saying? He was saying, “Lord, don't let that veil get over my eyes.” He was saying, “Lord, if that veil is over my eyes, take it away. I want to be able to behold wondrous things out of thy law.”

You will miss the emphasis if you neglect the word wondrous , for that word comes from the Hebrew word pala , where in Psalm 131 the Psalmist said that he was not going to concern himself with matters that were too great for him. He was not going to exercise himself with matters which were too high for him. Those words too high are the translation of this one word pala , which is translated by the word wondrous here.

Oh yes, a carnal person can read his Bible, and he can trace the missionary journeys of Paul without an effort. A carnal person can read his Bible and tell you that the first miracle that was performed was in the wedding of Canna of Galilee. A carnal person can study his Bible and tell you that there are sixty-six books in the Bible. Of course, he has no problem in accumulating biblical facts, and I am afraid, Beloved, that that is all that a great many Christians have. They can even give you the right answers to the right questions, and I am not talking about that. I am talking about God's removing the veil from our eyes so that when we read the Word we will be able to behold the wondrous things which are in the Word.

The Problem of Higher Things

We must leave this thought. I say to you that one of the problems gaining pleasure in the Word of God are veiled eyes, and I am going to suggest something else to you that is a problem: hidden things. Notice verse 19, where the Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:

19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.

“I am a stranger in the earth…” Really what he meant was, “I am a pilgrim.” That is what we are as believers. Sometimes we forget it. Sometimes we think we have settled down here for the rest of our days. Sometimes we think that this world is all there is, and there is no more. We would remind you that we are pilgrims and as pilgrims we need a lot of help. We need the authority for doing the thing that we do, and we will find that in the Word of God, for you will recall once again that when we were considering the nine terms which describe the Word of God, we found that the word commandments comes from a word which indicates the authorization of God's will. The only authority I have for saying anything is in the Book, and if I can't give you chapter and verse, then you have every right to question everything that I say. Then if you want to question it after I give you chapter and verse, you are questioning the Word of God, not me, and I have no ill-will toward you because it is not my interpretation; it is not my word; it is God's Word.

What is it I read here in verse 19?

Psalm 119:

19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.

That word hide intrigues me. What is the Psalmist talking about? It means just what it says: “conceal,” “hide commandments.” Why would God want to hide His commandments from me? It would seem that He would want me to know His commandments. It seems that He would spend every effort to let me know what they were. Why would He want to hide them from me?

Evidently there is a danger of their being hidden or the Psalmist never would have prayed, “Hide not thy commandments from me.” Why would God want to hide His commandments? Let me rephrase that question, as I ask you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Genesis, chapter 18, and say, “Why does God find it necessary to hide His commandments?”

It isn't so much that He wants to, but why does He have to? You will find a suggestion in your Bibles where we have the story of how God found it necessary to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Angel of the Lord and two other angels were on their way to do that very thing. We read in verse 17:

Genesis 18:

17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham [the very same words] that thing which I do;
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

This is the positive approach instead of the negative approach. He knew that Abraham would walk in His way. He knew that Abraham would guide his children after him, so He didn't hide anything from him. Now, put it on the other side of the line, as I suggest to you that God finds it necessary to hide from us His commandments oftentimes because He knows very well we are not walking in the way that we ought to walk now and we don't intend to walk in any light that He does give us. So He withholds the light. The Bible very plainly teaches us that when we refuse to walk in the light, the light becomes darker. That darkness is a great darkness. It isn't just an ordinary darkness; it is a great darkness when we fail to walk in the light that we have.

You might tie in with this, when you have time, James, chapter 1, verses 6-7, where we are told that if we ask wisdom from God, we should do it boldly. God loves to give the wisdom, but we should ask it in faith, nothing wavering. We have suggested to you before that the wavering there is not a reference to a lack of faith, as a great many people think; rather, it is a reference to wavering in relation to the revelation. When God gives you the wisdom, will you have nerve enough to do it? When God gives you the wisdom, will you have strength enough to do it? God knows. When you are saying, “God, show me what your will is,” your heart isn't sincere and God is not going to show you. He is going to hide it from you because He knows you will not do what you ought to do.

There is a passage of Scripture in Proverbs, chapter 25, verse 2, which suggests another reason God hides some things from us. It is a simple statement:

Proverbs 25:

2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing…

Stop and think about that. Why would God get glory out of concealing something? Some people say, “That means it is the privilege of God to conceal a thing,” and that is right. The word can be translated privilege as well as glory , but why would He want to?

Beloved, half truths are dangerous. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and sometimes God's children want knowledge for knowledge's sake and not because they are interested in the will of God. God, sometimes to protect His own glory, hides things from us. That is the reason I believe the Psalmist prayed, “Lord, don't hide from me your commandments. Reveal to me what you are going to do and when you are going to do it, so that I might pattern my life accordingly.”

Our Reaction to the Opposition of the Enemy

I would suggest to you one last problem related to finding pleasure in the Word of God that is brought to mind by the Psalm 119, verse 23:

Psalm 119:

23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

One of the problems related to finding pleasure in the Word of God is illustrated here—our reaction to the opposition of the enemy. Oh, in David's case, if he were the author of the Psalm, it was princes—royal people—who did sit and speak against him. Have you ever had anybody sit and speak against you? Have you ever had anybody talk about you? Have you ever had anybody criticize you? Have you ever had anybody say things that are false about you? What do you do? Most of the time you pick up the telephone and give what little piece of mind you have left to them, but it doesn't help, does it?

What did the Psalmist do? He said, “When these princes sit and speak against me, I meditate in thy statutes.” I sit with the Word of God and I meditate. I think about it. I muse. That is the meaning. There is no question about that, but I would like to remind you that this word meditate comes from the Hebrew word siyach , which is translated pray any number of places in the Scripture. For example, in Psalm 55, verse 17, the Psalmist said:

Psalm 55:

17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray…

He used this very word here. Meditation is not only related to musing on the Word of God; meditation is related to talking to God as well. What do you do when your enemies speak out against you? Let me tell you what you ought to do. You ought to find pleasure in the Word of God. You ought to get the Word of God and you ought to find your comfort and solace in it. You ought not to reach for the telephone and call a neighbor or a friend or the person who has injured you. You ought to pray.

We used to have a little rhyme or maybe it was a song, but it rings in my mind right at the moment: “You can just talk about me all you please, and I will talk about you upon my knees.” My ears are not burning, and I don't know whether anybody is talking about me or not, but when I am tempted to talk back to them if they do, I think about this. “When men sit and speak against me, thy servant will meditate in thy statues and then there will be the promise of His Word, a pleasurable thing.”

Let us notice the plea of the Psalmist in the light of the problem. What do you do about your problem? You say, “Well, I've got them and that's all I can do about it.” Well, why don't you do what the Psalmist did? Why don't you pray about them? That is what he did. Look at verse 22:

Psalm 119:

22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.

“Lord, I want to find pleasure in thy Word, and I not only want to find pleasure in thy Word, but I want to be removed from reproach and contempt.” Why did he say that? Look at verse 21:

Psalm 119:

21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

“Lord, you rebuke people who don't obey your Word. You rebuke people who err from your commandments. Lord, I don't want that to happen to me. I am pleading with you now. Remove from me reproach and contempt.”

Glance over at verse 6:

Psalm 119:

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

“You gave me a promise LORD. You said that if I have respect unto all thy commandments that I would never be ashamed. Now, LORD, I know that you rebuke people who disobey you. I have kept your testimonies. I don't want to ever be ashamed.”

“Deal Bountifully with thy Servant”

One last plea he makes, and perhaps it is the most important of all. Look at verse 17:

Psalm 119:

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

Ah, here is a plea indeed. “Deal bountifully with thy servant…” Why do you want God to deal bountifully with you? Why do you? Ah, Beloved, search your heart. Do you ask for God's blessing for selfish reasons? The Psalmist said, “Lord, deal bountifully with me, that I may live and keep thy Word. I want you to deal bountifully with me, Lord, so that I can live a long time and so that I can keep your Word.”

What does it mean to deal bountifully? It speaks of benefits and it speaks of blessing, but this word is a very interesting word. It attracts my attention for this phrase, deal bountifully, comes from the Hebrew word gamal , which is translated by the word ripen in such verses as Isaiah, chapter 18, verse 5. It is translated by the word yield in such verses as Numbers, chapter 17, verse 8. What are we talking about? Ah, Beloved, the desire of the Psalmist was that God might deal with him in such a way that his life could yield a bountiful harvest. The desire of the Psalmist was that God might deal with him in such a fashion that he would have a fruitful life.

What was he asking for? He was asking not only that God would remove from him reproach and shame, but he was asking that God would ripen him. Do you need ripening? The ripening processes are not always pleasant, but remember this: Before the fruit is edible, there has to be a ripening process. Before your life will count for very much (Notice what I am saying.), there is going to have to be a ripening process.

Have you reached that place in your spiritual experience where you are willing to say, “Lord, ripen me. I want to yield the most fruit I possibly can.”?

The Lord Jesus Christ said that He would do some of it whether you wanted him to or not, for remember in John, chapter 15, he said, “Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit is going to be taken out. It is going to be laid aside. I've got no room for branches that don't bear fruit, and if there is a branch that bears some fruit, I am going to purge that branch. I am going to prune it. I am going to lift it up off the ground and prop it up with some sticks where it can get some sunlight. I'm going to force it against its natural inclination. Its natural inclination is to lie down on the ground, but I am going to raise it up. I am going to do some purging. I am going to do some cleansing, because I am not satisfied with just fruit. I want all the fruit there is.”

Conclusion

I am talking to brave souls today. I am not talking to folk who are content to just get by. I am talking to folk who want more than that. If you want more than that, then I challenge you to ask God to ripen you, to ask God to deal bountifully with you that you might live and keep His Word. I say, do you have nerve enough to do that? Lift your heart to God today and tell Him.


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