The Basis for Guidance
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 119, that Psalm which we are studying together. As you turn to Psalm 119, may we remind you that we have suggested to you that Psalm 119 is peculiarly the Psalm of the Word of God insofar that each paragraph of the twenty-two that are included in the Psalm present some special way in which the Word of God becomes effective in the believer's life, some practical application of the Word of God in the life of the believer.

As we read the paragraph, which begins with verse 33 and is presented to us under the Hebrew letter HE , I would like to suggest to you that in this paragraph we will discover that the Word of God is a suitable basis for guidance in the believer's life:

Psalm 119:

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

I believe that we will be better able to understand why I suggest to you that in this paragraph is portrayed the fact that the Word of God is the basis for guidance in the believer's life if we understand the relationship of the Psalmist to the Word of God, for remember his relationship was a close one. He did not take it or leave it as you and I might do in this day.

Delight in the Word of God

As I suggest to you that we examine the relationship of the Psalmist to the Word of God, may I point out that that relationship is presented in four phrases scattered throughout the paragraph. Glance at verse 35:

Psalm 119:

35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

The last statement is of interest to us for it is in that statement that he expresses his delight in the Word of God. He said, “I delight in the Word of God.” This is not a new expression for him. You remember that in verse 16, he said, “I will delight myself in thy statutes.” In verse 24, he said that that delight was something that was almost more than he could stand in some respects:

Psalm 119:

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

When we read in verse 35 that he expresses the same thing in our English text again, we might think he is repeating himself, but if we were reading this in the original text, you would discover that he is emphasizing something a little different because the English word delight in verse 35 comes from a different Hebrew word than does the English word delight in verses 16 and 24. The word delight in verse 35 comes from the Hebrew word chapets , which speaks of an inclination or a leaning toward the Word of God. It wasn't so much that he enjoyed it as he did in verses 16 and 24, but it was that whenever anything questionable arose in his life, he leaned toward the Word of God.

When you have a decision to make and various opinions are expressed, which way do you lean? Do you lean toward the Word of God or do you lean toward the rationalization of the human mind? The Psalmist said, “I delight in the Word of God.”

Devotion to the Word of God

Glance at verse 38, where we will discover he expressed his devotion to the Word of God:

Psalm 119:

38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

His devotion here is to the fear of God. You understand the the word fear can be translated by the word reverence or by the word worship . The suggestion is that he is devoted to the worship of God as it is based upon the Word of God. His relationship to the Word was one of delight. It was one of devotion.

Discernment Regarding the Word of God

Glance at verse 39, and you will see the third thing that he said about it:

Psalm 119:

39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.

We have already learned, when we examined the nine terms for the Word of God used in this Psalm, that the word judgment is another term for the Word of God, and we have already learned that the word good is a word that indicates wise and thoughtful and fruitful . What the Psalmist is expressing here is a discernment in relation to the Word of God. He comes to the realization that the judgments of God are good. Whatever God's Word says about something, it is wise; it is right; it is a thing to follow. You don't need to have any question about it at all.

You will notice in verse 40 that in describing his relationship to the Word of God, he expresses his desire in relation to the Word:

Psalm 119:

40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

Notice: “I have longed after thy precepts…” Glance at verse 20 and notice that he expressed practically the same thing, but in a more intense way when he said:

Psalm 119:

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

His desire was expressed in connection with the word longing . He longed for the fulfillment of the Word of God in his life. Because of this relationship, which he maintained toward the Word, in this paragraph he makes a sevenfold request. This sevenfold request is because the Word of God should be the basis for guidance in the believer's life. I want us to examine each one of these seven requests that he makes. We will have to examine them in a very brief fashion, but I trust sufficiently that will enable us to lay hold of some of these things for ourselves, so look at verse 33, where we hear the Psalmist saying:

Teach Direction and Guidance

Psalm 119:

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes…

This is his request: “Teach me thy Word, LORD. I want to know it.” It might be wise for us to recognize that he was not thinking of an accumulation of knowledge primarily; he was thinking of direction and he was thinking of guidance. That is very plainly understood if you will keep in mind that the word teach here is from a Hebrew word yarah , which describes an individual taking his index finger and pointing out a certain course that you are to follow. You know and I know that it is one thing to say to a person, “He went thataway,” and not be able to help at all in the sense of direction; but if we say, “He went that way,” you know exactly which way he went. That is the thought in relation to this word teach here. “Point out the way that I should go in relation to the Word of God.”

Turn back in your Bibles to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 17, and you will find a description of what the children of Israel were supposed to do when they were in doubt in relation to any one given thing. Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 8:

Deuteronomy 17:

8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;
9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment:
10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:

Notice the word inform in verse 10. It is a translation of the Hebrew word yarah , which is translated teach in Psalm 119. God said to the children of Israel, “If you have a question about something, you go to the appointed teachers of the Word. You ask them what to do and you act according to whatever they inform you.”

When the Psalmist said, “Teach me thy way,” he was asking for guidance. You remember well the story that is recorded in Exodus, chapter 15. When Moses was looking for water to quench the thirst of the Israelites in the wilderness, there was no water. God told Moses to look at a certain tree that was in the midst of where they were and he saw that tree. He was able to cast that tree into the water and make that water sweet. The description given related to that tree presents it in the words: “God showed him the tree.” The word showed there in Exodus, chapter 15, verse 25, is this very same word that we are talking about. So when the Psalmist was saying, “Teach me, O LORD, thy way,” he wasn't thinking about an accumulation of knowledge. He was asking for information, for direction and for guidance.

Give Understanding

Look at verse 34 for the second request, as I suggest to you that you should be able to notice an ascending desire in relation to each one of these requests, for it isn't a matter of having seven; it is a matter of having seven, one piled on top of the other, each request recognizing a new need. In verse 34, we find the second request:

Psalm 119:

34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea…

It is one thing to be told something and another thing to understand what you have been told. In verse 33, he was asking for information. In verse 34, he was praying that he might be able to understand the information. This word understanding comes from the Hebrew word biyn , which suggests the idea of separating one thing from another. There is a lot of information in these sixty-six books. Give me understanding so that I will be able to separate it and know exactly what applies to my own individual case at a given time.

If you will turn with me to the book of Job, you will notice an illustration of the meaning of this word understanding , as I suggest you turn to chapter 6. Job is offering a defense for his longing for death. He had been criticized for wanting to die and he was expressing a defense for that desire. They had said that he was sinful and so many things, so down in verse 30, he says:

Job 6:

30 Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?

Notice the word discern there. It is the translation of this Hebrew word biyn , which is translated understanding . He says: “Don't you think I am able by my very tongue to discern when I am saying something right and something wrong?” When the Psalmist was praying, “Give me understanding,” he was saying, “Give me discernment in relation to the Word of God.”

Turn to Job, chapter 38, and you will find another illustration of this particular word and a different circumstance in the life of Job himself. His testing was over, and God was dealing with him now to help him to see that he thought of himself more highly than he ought to think. He asked Job a number of questions. One of them is in verse 18:

Job 38:

18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.

“Hast thou perceived…” Notice that word perceive . It is the same word that we are talking about. When the Psalmist was saying, “Give me understanding,” he was saying, “Give me discernment; give me perception.” Do you see how these requests are progressing? “Teach me. Show me the way. LORD. Help me to understand the way,” and the requests grow even more intense if you will notice verse 35, where we read the third request:

Make Me to Walk in the Right Way

Psalm 119:

35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

“Make me…” The Psalmist realized his own weakness. He realized that he oftentimes would know what he ought to do and would thoroughly understand it but still not be able to do it because self is a tremendously powerful thing. Self is constantly usurping itself and making its influence felt, so the Psalmist prayed in verse 35: “LORD, I may not want to walk in the way that You have pointed out, but make me.”

This word make is an interesting word. It comes from a Hebrew word, which refers to the bending of a bow in the right direction. As a matter of fact, in Psalm 11, verse 2, we read:

Psalm 11:

2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

The phrase, bend their bow , is a translation of the same Hebrew word. What is he saying? He is saying, “LORD, I may not want to do it, but bend me. Make me, mold me, melt me, cause me to do the thing that I need to do.”

Immediately, this raises a question in the minds of thinking people because we do not believe our God forces us to do anything against our will. One of the things that brings glory to God is the fact that men who have a will of their own love Him, worship Him, and serve Him; so when we find the Psalmist saying, “Make me do something,” are we suggesting that God is going to ride roughshod over the human will? No, we wouldn't suggest that and neither would the Psalmist have you think that he meant it because in verse 36, we have the next request:

Cause Me to Yield

Psalm 119:

36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

You see, he said, “Make me do it,” and then as an afterthought, “LORD, I know that You can't make me, but make me want to.” That is what he meant when he said: “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies.”

The word incline is from the Hebrew word natah , and the picture back of that word is related to pitching tents. There is a lot in the Old Testament about pitching tents. You remember one story in Genesis, chapter 13, concerning Lot, who indicated the decisions that he made in relation to the things of God by pitching his tents toward Sodom. When he pitched his tents toward Sodom, he had made his decision. This word natah here is the word that is used to describe an action like that—pitching your tents in the right direction. It was just as though the Psalmist was saying to the LORD, “Oh, God, pitch my tent in the right direction. I know which way I ought to go. I know which way deep down inside I want to go, but LORD, the covetousness of the world, the things of the world, how they pull on me. LORD, pitch my tent in the right direction.”

Turn to the book of Proverbs, chapter 7, and you will find even a clearer illustration of this request—“incline my heart.” In this chapter of the book of Proverbs, there is the story of how a prostitute takes advantage of a foolish young man, a young man who is so foolish to think that he can play around with sin and not be burned. She does not convince him it is all right by just having him jump in the middle of everything. The wise man here describes the process by which she brought about his downfall. Look at verse 21:

Proverbs 7:

21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.

Notice the phrase, she caused him to yield . This phrase is the translation of this one Hebrew word natah , which is translated “incline my heart.” So you see what the Psalmist was really praying—“LORD, cause me to yield.”

God never rides roughshod over the human will, but if you will ask Him to, He will cause you to yield. I would like to pause long enough to emphasize a bit of exhortation; namely, don't make it hard on yourself. He will cause you to yield if you belong to Him. Don't make it too hard on yourself. Don't be stubborn too long. Don't be rebellious too long. Don't make it necessary for Him to do something very drastic in your life. Yield before He has to do that too soon.

Build a Partition

Look at verse 37, where we have another request. We read:

Psalm 119:

37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity…

Then look at verse 39 where we see a similar request:

Psalm 119:

39 Turn away my reproach which I fear…

There are two things that the Psalmist recognized that would keep him from following the direction of the Word of God even after he was willing to, so he asked God that God might turn away those things from him. “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.”

This word vanity should be interpreted in the light of Ecclesiastes. The book of Ecclesiastes is a description of a man who tried everything that the world had to offer and found that none of it could satisfy. Every once in a while, young people who are reared in Christian homes and who are taught from their early childhood the things of God are duped by the Devil into thinking that they have been protected so much that they need to find out what's on the other side of the fence. They need to delve into these things that are related to the world. “Who knows,” the Devil says, “maybe you have been kept from these things and you are missing something.”

I want to say that when that temptation comes—and it will come—instead of following the Devil and trying out these things, you sit down and read the book of Ecclesiastes. It will be a whole lot cheaper because Solomon tried all those things, and he paid expenses for the trip. No need in your paying the expenses, too. You won't learn any more than he learned; you won't be any more satisfied than he was. But if you read his experiences, you will know all you need to know about what is on the other side of the fence. You will learn that it doesn't pay and there is not a thing there that is worthwhile. It is all vanity, and so the Psalmist said, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.” Then in verse 39, he said, “Turn away my reproach which I fear.”

We can all understand that. Most of us at one time or other have been afraid to be ashamed because of our testimony in Christ, haven't we? Some time or other we have been quiet because we didn't want to be embarrassed. Some time or other we haven't been as forceful in our exclamations as we might have been because we didn't want to be ashamed when most of the crowd was going the other way.

It was a big thing for the Psalmist and he said, “LORD, even though You made me willing to do what You want me to do, there is something that will keep me from it, and I want You to turn away my eyes from that.” This phrase, turn away , is an interesting phrase. It comes from the Hebrew word abar , and the interesting thing about this word is that elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is translated by the phrase, make a partition . For example, in I Kings, chapter 6, where the story of the building of Solomon's temple is recorded, we are told that Solomon made a partition out of little beads of gold to separate one room of the temple from another, and the phrase, made a partition , is a translation of this one word.

I rather like that. I like to hear the Psalmist saying, “LORD, build a partition between me and those things that bother me.” That is the safest way I know to have the victory. He said, “Turn away my eyes. Build a partition. Don't let me have to look at those things.”

I am not one of those individuals who believe that you have to have a little experience with sin to know what it will do for you. I would just as soon God would build a partition between me and it, and by the grace of God, I have tried to build a partition around my children in relation to sin, and I have been told any number of times, “You had better be careful. One of these days when they get out beyond that partition, they will go wild.” I don't believe it. I believe that God can build a partition and turn away your eyes from reproach.

Quicken Me

Notice the last portion of the 37th verse:

Psalm 119:

37 …and quicken thou me in thy way.

Then down in verse 40, we have a like request. Notice the last part of the verse:

Psalm 119:

40 …quicken me in thy righteousness.

Here is another request. Build a partition, but my, you can die behind a partition, and this old world of ours is full of dead Christians. They have no real life. They have no real tendency, nothing vital and gripping, and David didn't want that to happen to him. He said, “LORD, build a partition, but don't let me die behind it. Quicken me.” This word quicken means “to restore, renew, or revive,” and there is a need for a continuous revival in the heart of every believer. Don't misunderstand me. I have never been too much interested in spring and fall revivals because they don't seem to last very long. What I am interested in is a continuous revival, a continuous revival in the hearts of men that make them alive in the midst of their Christian testimony.

Confirm Thy Word

The last request which the Psalmist makes is in verse 38:

Psalm 119:

38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

This is a request that the Word of God might be established to the servant who is making the request. This word stablish comes from the Hebrew word quwm , and it is translated by the word confirm in a number of places in the Bible. You see, we stick our necks out sometimes. We say that the Word of God says so and so, and it will do thus and thus and then the Devil slips up alongside of us and whispers in our ear, “How do you know it will, and what are you going to do when the Word of God fails?” So there is always that feeling in relation to the Word of God, if you are going to follow it as a basis for guidance in your life, “Maybe it won't work in my case. It has worked in numerous other cases, but maybe it won't work in my case.” So the Psalmist said, “LORD, confirm Your Word to me. Don't let it fail.”

This word quwm is also translated by the word stand in the book of Proverbs, chapter 19, verse 21. Notice:

Proverbs 19:

21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

That is what he is praying for: “LORD, let these things stand. Don't let me be disappointed.”

Three Reasons for Sevenfold Request

I would like to emphasize that this sevenfold request of the Psalmist was not selfish. It wasn't that he wanted something for himself, no matter what. He gives us three reasons for making this sevenfold request. They are found in verses 33-34:

Psalm 119:

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and [notice] I shall keep it unto the end.
34 Give me understanding, [Notice these two statements.] and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Notice the three phrases now: “I shall keep it…I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.”

These are the reasons the Psalmist made this sevenfold request. It isn't apparent in our English translation, but if you were reading this in Hebrew, you would find that these phrases are in what we call the Hebrew genitive , and when you find phrases in such a grammatical construction, it indicates that the idea is a reason, not a result, so that you might read the verse this way, “Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes that I may be able to keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, LORD, that I may be able to keep thy law, that I may be able to observe it with my whole heart.”

Conclusion

His desire was to keep the Word. His desire was to keep the whole law of God. This is why he made these requests—that he might be able to do it. The Word of God ought to be the basis for guidance in your life if you know the Lord. It can be, and God will make it so if you pray in a manner similar to this that we have been talking about today, and we trust that you will.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org