The Basis for Christian Testimony
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 119, where we will be considering the paragraph that begins with the Hebrew letter VAU , which is found in verses 41-48. Follow in your Bibles, please, as I read:

Psalm 119:

41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
45 And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

You will recall that we have said to you that Psalm 119 is the Psalm of the Word of God. Each paragraph in this Psalm presents some practical application of the Word of God to the believer's life. Without reviewing the paragraphs that we have already considered, let me suggest that in the paragraph that we have presented to us, the Word of God is presented to us as the basis, the inspiration, the incentive for Christian testimony.

Psalmist's Love for the Word

We have been conscious of the love of the Psalmist for the Word of God from the very first verse of the Psalm. That love is re-emphasized in the paragraph before us. Glance at verse 42, where you will notice the first of four phrases reminding us of the love of the Psalmist for the Word. Notice the very last statement:

Psalm 119:

42 …for I trust in thy word.

The word trust here is a word that describes one who flees for refuge to an individual or to a place. I rather like that. The Psalmist said that his relationship to the Word of God was such that time and time again he had fled for refuge to the Word of God. If you don't need refuge, if you haven't needed it, you will; and you should be so familiar with the Word of God that you can flee for refuge to it because you will discover, if you have not already done so, that friends will fail you. There is only one certain refuge and that is His Word.

Notice the last statement in verse 43:

Psalm 119:

43 …for I have hoped in thy judgments.

The word hope here suggests the idea of looking after the Word of God with the sense of longing for its fulfillment. He said, “I have not only fled for refuge to the Word of God, but day by day I look forward with expectancy to the fulfillment of the Word of God in my life.”

Friend, if you and I could so practice the presence of God in our lives that we would relate everything that happens to us day by day to the hand of God in our lives, how much better off we would be. Too often we talk about chance. Too often we talk about a lucky streak. Too often we talk about how we had narrow escapes and how smart we were to get out of the pickle we were in. I wish we would learn to hope in the Word of God.

Glance at the last statement in verse 45:

Psalm 119:

45 …for I seek thy precepts.

Seek the Lord and Seek the Word

Here the suggestion is that the Psalmist is following after the precepts, the Word of God. By way of contrast, I would like for you to notice verse 2 of this Psalm:

Psalm 119:

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

In this verse the Psalmist was seeking the Lord. In verse 45, he was seeking His Word, and this provides for a happy balance. There are some individuals who seek the Lord without relation to His Word, and that leads to fanaticism. There are individuals who seek the Word without seeking the person of the Lord, and that leads to a cold orthodoxy that will stifle any spiritual growth. The happy relationship is to seek the Lord and to seek His Word.

Notice verse 47. I love this last statement. Here he is speaking of how he feels about the Word of God, for the word loved here is a word that speaks of thinking of someone as a very close friend. We speak of our friends; we speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Have you thought of the Word of God as your friend? Have you loved it and sought out association with it as you would a very dear friend? Keep in mind that the Word of God is living and powerful. We are not thinking about the dead letter; we are thinking about the living spirit.

Recognize Responsibility to Share the Word

If the Psalmist had this close relationship to the Word of God, it is only natural for him to long to share this relationship with others, and not only long to share it, but to recognize the responsibility to share the Word. Are you recognizing that responsibility today? Those of you who have the God-given opportunity to gather in a place Sunday after Sunday, and other occasions, and feed on the Word of God (I am not speaking of the manner of presentation or the person who presents it.), do you enjoy it and not feel any responsibility toward those who don't have the same privilege? If you sense no concern, then you are not like the Psalmist. He recognized a responsibility, but he recognized that responsibility with concern because he was not at all sure that he would be able to discharge the responsibility in the manner that he should.

Concern About Reproach

May I suggest to you, as you glance down at verse 42, that he was concerned about the reproach of the world. He said:

Psalm 119:

42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

He was concerned about the world, those who did not love his Lord, reproaching him. This was a very vital thing with him. You will remember in verse 22, he said:

Psalm 119:

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

Then down in verse 39, he said:

Psalm 119:

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

There are many kinds of reproach which the child of God is called upon to suffer, but the kind of reproach that the Psalmist had in mind here is a little different. The word reproach here comes from the Hebrew word cherpah , which speaks of stripping someone naked, and having them stand utterly ashamed before a crowd.

He was not concerned, I am quite sure, about his literal clothes being stripped from his literal body; but I do believe he was concerned about his being robbed, being stripped of any answer to give to the world, to the unsaved, when he tried to present a testimony. Look at verse 42 again, as we emphasize that fact:

Psalm 119:

42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

Get the picture of the individual when the Psalmist stands up to give his testimony, saying, “That isn't so. You can't prove that,” and all the arguments that he has being stripped away from him, and he stands without an answer.

Could it be today that the reason many of us are concerned about our responsibility of witnessing and feel our inadequacy is because we know that we don't have the right answer to give. We think of somebody who says, “What are you going to do about this?”, and we won't know what to say. I believe that many folk are hindered in their witnessing because of a sense of inadequacy. They say, “What will I answer when my enemy reproaches me?”

That weakness, along with another weakness, provided a reason for concern. Look at verse 45, where the Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:

45 And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

He felt restricted. There is no question about that. Glance at verse 32:

Psalm 119:

32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

“When thou shalt set me free, when thou shalt break the fetters that bind me and give me freedom to deliver the testimony that I need.”

Do you sense some restriction today in relation to your testimony? Do you long for the liberty that only God can give you? That liberty will come as you seek the precepts of the Lord as you see in verse 45. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” We are living in an age when we are taught that any adherence to the Word of God or to the law of God will rob us of our liberty. We hear much in this day and time of civil liberties and the rights of human beings, and all of them are without the Word of God. If you are making your battle in accordance with the Word of God, then you are standing where you ought to be because law does not rob men of liberty. Truth does not provide restriction. It sets men free and the Psalmist said, “As I seek the Word of God, I want to enjoy this liberty.”

The Responsibility of Witness

Look at verse 46, as I mention another real concern of his, which we have already touched upon. He was concerned about the responsibility of his witness. In verse 46, he said:

Psalm 119:

46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

We have suggested to you the responsibility of all of us in a general fashion—the responsibility of getting the Word out to those who have never heard. But the Psalmist said, “There is something else that concerns me, and I feel so inadequate for it. That is that I am going to have an opportunity, I am going to have the responsibility of giving my testimony before kings and I don't feel up to it at all.”

I don't suppose that very many of us, if any of us, need to be worried about the responsibility of witnessing before kings. In all probability, that day will never be presented; but I think if I could engage you in conversation, you would agree with me when I make the statement that there is something far more difficult than witnessing before kings and that is witnessing before those who are nearest and dearest to you—your own family, your own loved ones.

I don't know how many times people have come to me and said, “Will you speak to so and so? I can't. I'm too close to them. I don't have any influence. I don't have any witness.” That is repeated so often, but we would remind you that the concern that the Psalmist had can be solved through prayer.

The Cry of the Psalmist

Having noticed the concern of the Psalmist, I would like for you to notice with me the cry of the Psalmist. Look at verse 31:

Psalm 119:

41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD…

That is his first request: “Lord, I need Your mercy. I need Your loving-kindnesses. I need Your patience. I need Your understanding.” You think that the request speaks for itself, and I think that you can join in such a request as that. Perhaps you can join even more effectively if you look at the word also , for therein lies the emphasis in the verse. The Psalmist is saying, “Lord, other people have enjoyed thy mercies. Other people have enjoyed thy long-suffering. Other people have enjoyed thy kindnesses. Let me experience them, too.”

I wonder if you could take your stand by the side of the Psalmist and say, “Lord, that is right. I see the blessings of God in the lives of other people, and long to see it in my own life. I see the mercies of God being manifested to so many. Oh, Lord, if You would manifest them to me also.”

Keeping in mind that God is no respecter of persons, He will heed that request and let you enjoy the mercies of the Lord also, but look at that verse again and notice the second cry that came to the Psalmist:

Psalm 119:

41 …even thy salvation, according to thy word.

Look at the word salvation , as I remind you that every time you see the word salvation in the Bible, you are not talking necessarily about the salvation of your soul. This word salvation could be translated “deliverance,” and it could be related to a local or to a specific situation in which the individual finds himself. So I would say to you the Psalmist is saying, “Lord, deliver me from this particular thing.” According to the context, the Psalmist wanted to be delivered from his fear of men. That was his need; that is the reason he was crying out, “Lord, deliver me. Then I will be able to witness the way I need to witness. Deliver me from the shame of men.”

You may not need such deliverance. You may need another kind of deliverance. You may need to be delivered from some habit. You may need to be delivered from some besetting sin. You may need to be delivered from the weight that keeps you from running the race the way you ought to run it. Pause with me in your thinking for just a moment, as I ask you this question: What kind of deliverance do you need right now—not what you needed yesterday nor what you will need tomorrow; what do you need right now? Will you pinpoint that in your thinking? What kind of deliverance do you need? As you pinpoint that in your thinking, lift your cry right now, and say, “Deliver me from this thing that has bound me.”

I would emphasize the manner in which the Psalmist prayed. Remember the Word of God was the central thing in his life. It was the basic foundation of his experience, and so we are not hearing him cry for deliverance at any price and in any way, but only deliverance according to the Word. “Deliver me,” he said, “according to thy Word.”

He was not like some of us. He was not saying, “Lord, deliver me even if You have to violate Your Word to do it.” He wasn't saying, “Deliver me, even though it will hurt the cause of Christ.” He was saying, “Deliver me only in accordance with Thy Word.” That, Beloved, is true dedication, when you would rather stay in the situation which you are and honor the Word than to be removed from it and violate the Word. There are many folk who are in difficult situations. They are asking God for deliverance, and there is no way to be delivered without a violation of the Word of God, so they are careful not to add, “according to Thy Word.” They just ask for deliverance.

Someone may ask, “Then will God deliver them?” Yes, because the Word of God very plainly teaches us, yea, it boldly declares that God oftentimes gives us the desires of our heart and sends leanness into our souls. Oftentimes I am asked, “If we pray about this, do you think God will go ahead and let it happen?”, and I have to say that I don't know. He may let it go ahead because where the human will is involved, God sometimes gives what folk desire and lets them pay the bills for it. Learn to pray for deliverance according to His Word.

Look down at verse 43, and notice another cry:

Psalm 119:

43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

This, too, must be interpreted in the light of the context, and when we do so, we realize that what the Psalmist is crying about is that he does not want the opportunity for witness to be snatched away from him. He has been tardy in the witness. He has been remiss in his responsibility. He hasn't been quick to discharge his obligation for the Lord, but he is trying to get up his courage to do it; yet, he realizes opportunities do not come and stay. Opportunities come and go, and they tarry for such a brief time that it seems as though they are snatched away even before you have had an opportunity to take advantage of them.

That certainly is suggested by this word take because it comes from the Hebrew word natsal which means “to snatch away.” He is praying, “Lord, I have been slow and I have been tardy and I haven't discharged my responsibility, but don't snatch that opportunity away never to be given to me again. I want the opportunity.”

Search your hearts, Beloved. Have you had the opportunity to witness? Have you had an opportunity to convey the message and for whatever reason you haven't done it? You are not going to have that opportunity continuously. It may even now be slipping away from you. As the Holy Spirit ministers the Word of God to your heart, it might be well for you to slip away in the quiet of this day and tell the Lord that you know that you haven't been faithful; you know that you haven't taken advantage of the opportunity. Say to Him, “Lord, don't take it away. Let me have that opportunity just a bit longer so that I can take advantage of it.”

Oftentimes when we cry to the Lord in relation to various things that are needed, we preface our pleas with a promise. We say, “Lord, I'll do this if You will do this.” That is not necessary. There is nothing in the Word of God that indicates that it is necessary, but it is done. It is done in the Word of God and it is done by us off and on all the time. Oh, I don't know why. Some people might think that when we preface our pleas with promises, we are trying to bargain with God. That may be true in some cases, but I don't think it is true in all. I think that many times promises are made to assure the Lord of our consecration, and I think that He accepts it in that fashion.

Consecration of the Psalmist

Let's notice the indication of the consecration of the Psalmist in this paragraph and perhaps you can use this as a guideline in relation to your own consecration, for you should keep in mind that consecration does not consist solely of walking down the aisle and giving the preacher your hand as you dedicate your life or kneel at an altar of prayer. It doesn't consist solely of that. If that is all that it is, it will last no longer than it takes time to pronounce the benediction.

Consecration Marked by Dedication

You may evidence the consecration in that fashion, but it must go deeper than that. It must include the determination of the Psalmist. Look at verse 44:

Psalm 119:

44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

This is his determination: “Lord, hear my cry. Give me these things that I desire and I will keep Thy law continually for ever and ever. I will just keep close to the Word of God. I will not disobey it.” This is a holy determination and how I wish that every one of us could make a like determination. Perhaps you realize in your heart the need of renewing that determination. You made it once, but you have fallen by the wayside and you haven't kept the Word of God continually, consistently, constantly.

Consecration Marked by Delight

Glance at verse 47, and read:

Psalm 119:

47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

What is it he said? He said, “I will keep Your Word,” and then he said, “I will delight myself in Your Word.” He has expressed this in verse 16:

Psalm 119:

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

He reiterated it in verse 24:

Psalm 119:

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

In verse 47, he is saying, “I will delight myself in thy commandments which I have loved.” Do you delight yourself in the Word of God or are you doing what you are doing in relation to the Word of God because you have to do it? Sometimes children, sometimes young people reared in Christian homes maintain the relationship with the Word of God, but they do it because they have no other choice. It is the rule of the home, so they have to obey it, but they find no real delight in it. Then there are some adult believers who have such a fear of God in their hearts that they obey the Word of God out of sheer fear, but there is no real delight. The Psalmist said, “Lord, hear my cry and I promise you this. I am determined to keep Your Word, and I am going to delight in it. I am going to look with perfect confidence on everything that I find in the Word.”

Look at verse 48 and notice the first statement:

Psalm 119:

48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments…

Consecration Marked by Supplication

I suggested to you that the consecration of the Psalmist was marked by determination. It was marked by delight, and as I read this particular clause, I would like to suggest to you that the consecration of the Psalmist was marked by a supplication. That comes to mind by what I read here:

Psalm 119:

48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments…

This phrase, lifting up of hands , is often used in the Scripture, and sometimes it is used in connection with receiving a blessing, of asking, begging, for a blessing from God. As a matter of fact, the Amplified translation points that out when it adds the phrase: “My hands will I also lift up unto thy commandments in fervent supplication. I want something from the Word.”

This was the same thing that he was talking about in verse 18, when he said:

Psalm 119:

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

He said, “Never am I going to read this Book just to read so many verses or so many chapters, but every time I open it, Lord, I am going to expect to receive a blessing from You.”

This phrase, lifting up hands , is used to signify the welcome that is extended to a person or thing, and I think the editor of the Living Translation of the Bible caught that thought when he said: “Come, come, to me. I call them for I love them and will let them fill my whole life.” This is a real welcome to the Word.

Conclusion

In conclusion, look at verse 48 again, and notice the last statement:

Psalm 119:

48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

The meditation of the Psalmist was a mark of his consecration. He said, “Lord, if thou will do thus and so with me, I will meditate in thy Word;” and we have already learned that this word meditate comes from the Hebrew word siyach , which is translated “pray.” The Psalmist used it in Psalm 55, when he said, in verse 17:

Psalm 55:

17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

If you meditate, you pray; otherwise, you daydream. Will you remember that? If you meditate, you pray; otherwise, you daydream. This same word, siyach , is translated by the word commune , and the Psalmist used it that way in Psalm 77, verse 6, when he said: “I will commune with my own heart on my own bed and be still.” Are you following the practice of communing with your own heart? How many telephone conversations do you have in the course of one day? Don't tell me, but suppose you substituted some of that time of communication with communing with your own heart, using the Word of God as a basis, then you will know what real meditation means.

The Psalmist said, “I want to be a witness. I know the Word of God is the only real basis for witness. I feel inadequate. Lord, help me, and if You do, I will yield myself completely and fully to thee.”


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