The Basis for Comfort
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 119, that portion of the Word of God that we are studying together. Keep in mind that when we began the discussion of this Psalm, we told you that it was particularly the Psalm of the Word of God, that each of the twenty-two paragraphs in the Psalm presents some practical application of the Word of God to the believer's life. This is exceedingly important, for if the Word of God to you is but a source of knowledge so that you can go about saying you know this and you know that, we have failed in our ministry of the Word of God. But if the Word of God becomes a living, vital thing to you, where you can apply it to your life in everyday circumstances and find in it the source of what you need, then there will be a very definite blessing for you.

As we glance at the paragraph which begins with verse 49, presented to us under the Hebrew letter Zain , may I suggest to you that the Psalmist found and revealed to us in this paragraph that the Word of God was the only real basis for comfort in the believer's life, that the Word of God was the only real source of comfort in the midst of trial. Notice that theme as we read the paragraph which begins with verse 49:

Psalm 119:

49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
55 I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

Glance at verses 49-50, as I suggest to you that the Psalmist recognizes the Word of God as the basis for comfort in his life. Notice again:

Psalm 119:

49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

Almost every phrase in these two verses is pregnant with meaning and has reference to the subject at hand. Notice in verse 50, he said:

Psalm 119:

50 This is my comfort in my affliction…

I emphasize the pronoun in because most of us who have to do with affliction seek an escape from it. There is nothing wrong with that. Over and over again in the Word are the stories of how God has graciously delivered His own from affliction, but even if you did not have the Word of God to verify it, quite often God does not deliver from affliction. He leaves you in the affliction.

When you are escaped from it, there is no problem If you have hope of escape, there is no problem; but if God chooses to say to you, as He said to the Apostle Paul, “I am not going to do anything for you. Quit asking Me to do it. I am going to leave you in the midst of your affliction, but I will not leave you alone,” when you reach that place where you hear God say, “I am not going to do anything about your affliction,” you are so grateful when you hear Him say, “But I will not leave you alone.” When He says to you, as He said to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” then you have something in which you can find comfort in your affliction.

I would be very happy if I could stand here and tell you that if you are in trouble, God will get you out of it. I would be very happy if I could tell you that if you are in bodily affliction, God will heal you and you don't need to think He won't, but I can't be truthful to the Scripture and tell you that. For reasons known only to God, He chooses to leave some people in affliction, but the Psalmist said, “In my affliction, I have found comfort in the Word of God.” Look at verse 49:

Psalm 119:

49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.

Notice that last phrase: “…upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” He said, “Lord, you are responsible for my resting in the Word of God. You have given me reason to believe that the Word of God will sustain me in the hour of trial.”

If we had the time we perhaps could have any number of you stand to your feet and give a passage of Scripture in which God caused you to hope. Nobody told you you had to rest on that promise, but God gave it to you and you have rested upon it. When you share those promises, how hearts are encouraged. Don't ever be afraid to share them. I had a letter from a sister in Central America who underwent surgery for a problem in her mouth. At the time, they did not know what the outcome would be. She mentioned that she was very much concerned about it until God, in the still of the night, brought to her a passage of Scripture that God had given to my wife when she was facing a very serious time of surgery and her own heart was overwhelmed with the thought of the thing. If she had not shared that passage of Scripture, perhaps there would not have been a word upon which this lady could have hoped. God causes us to hope in His Word.

Notice what the Psalmist said in verse 49, when he said:

Psalm 119:

49 Remember the word unto thy servant…

Why do you suppose he said that? He said, “Lord, you have told me to rest on this passage of Scripture and I am in the midst of real trial. I don't know which way to turn, so Lord, don't You forget it. You have caused me to hope; now don't forget your Word.”

It isn't foolishness to remind God of that. Somebody might say, “Why would God forget?” He won't, but do you know what He called some people? He didn't call them preachers. He didn't call them Sunday School teachers. He called them His remembrancers—those who remind Him. He loves to be reminded, and that is what the Psalmist was saying when he said, “Lord, You have caused me to hope in the Word, and I have found comfort therein. Don't you forget it.”

This comfort which the Psalmist found was not related to him. Turn in the New Testament to the book of Romans and notice chapter 15. You will recognize the Apostle Paul encouraging us along this very same line. Notice verse 4:

Romans 15:

4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

The Apostle said, “Your Bible was written that through the patience and the comfort of the Scriptures, you might have hope.” Are you in the midst of a trial? Are you suffering affliction such as you thought would never come your way? Do you feel utterly hopeless? You say, “Yes, I do, and I don't think there is any hope.” You will find hope in the Word of God for God has said that through the comfort of the Scriptures, you will find that hope.

Perhaps you would say to me, “I know that is supposed to be true and I am sure it is, but somehow or other it just hasn't worked that way for me.” Is there a reason? Perhaps. Glance at verse 13:

Romans 15:

13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Of course, you realize what is needed today. Let the Holy Spirit minister the Word of God to your heart and as He ministers the Word, not as you just approach it from an intellectual standpoint, but as the Holy Spirit of God ministers the Word to your heart, believe it. As you believe it, then you will find hope, not a bare thread of hope, but abundant hope and abounding hope.

There was a reason the Psalmist could find comfort in the Scriptures other than the fact they were meant for that, and that reason is presented in Psalm 119, verse 56:

Psalm 119:

56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

“This comfort of which I speak, I enjoyed because I kept the Word of God because I was obedient to His Word.”

It would be wise for us, in the light of this statement, to examine our relationship to the Lord. If we do not find the comfort (Notice what I say, please.) that is needed in the Word, perhaps the reason is that we are not in right relationship to Him. Please understand what I am saying. I am not saying that the affliction has come because we are not in right relationship. That is not true. Sometimes the affliction comes because we are not in right relationship, but sometimes we can be walking in full fellowship with the Lord and the affliction will come, and we find the comfort the Psalmist found.

Revival First Requirement

If we examine what the Psalmist found necessary in his own life, if the Word of God was to be the comfort that he said it could be, let me suggest that you glance at verse 50:

Psalm 119:

50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

May I suggest to our hearts that the first requirement for us, if we are to find the Word of God to be the source of comfort that it needs to be, is revival. I am using the word revival for the sake of alliteration. It comes to my mind from the word quicken , where he said, “The reason I have found comfort in the Word of God is Thy Word has quickened me.”

If you have read all of Psalm 119, you know that there are nine requests for quickening in this Psalm. The Psalmist was conscious of a need, not only of revival, but of continuous revival in his life. That is the reason he says so much about it. I would like to suggest to our hearts that if we receive the comfort from the Word of God that God intended, there must be that initial quickening of the Word that is related to the experience of regeneration. When we are reminded in Romans, chapter 10, verse 17, concerning our salvation, that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, when the Word of God is presented to our hearts concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, the simple message of the Gospel, we believe it, we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, then we are quickened. We are brought to life for we have been dead in trespasses and sin. Because we are living in a world that knows more of death than it does of life, spiritually and physically, there is a need for a continuous quickening of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.

You recall what is recorded in Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 12:

Hebrews 4:

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword…

The Word of God is quick—that is, the Word of God is alive. It is not a dusty word on dusty pages. It is alive. It is powerful. It is energizing. It is reviving. It is quickening. If we permit the Word of God to have its way in our lives, it will be just that—a quickening influence. That quickening influence is an absolute necessity and that is the reason it is so very important to be bathed in the Word of God. If we are bathed in the Word of God, its quickening influence will be consistent.

Turn back to Psalm 119, and glance at verse 51:

Psalm 119:

51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

Resolution Also Required

Keep in mind that the word law here is one of the nine terms used to describe the Word of God. The Psalmist said, “Not only have I discovered revival is necessary in my life if I am to find the comfort in the Word of God that I need, but there must be resolution on my part as well.”

Resolution is suggested by the word declined . Notice what he says again:

Psalm 119:

51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

The word declined comes from the Hebrew word natah , which means “to bend away from.” Here is the breath of the Word of God coming into your life and you don't want the effect and the influence of the Word of God, so you bend away from it. You get as far away from its influence as you can. The Psalmist said, “I have not bent away from the Word of God.”

This word natah may be translated by the word wrest , and it used in Psalm 56, where God speaks of a habit that a great many folk have in relation to the Word of God. He said, concerning the words of the righteous:

Psalm 56:

5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.

Here was a righteous man saying that his enemy twisted his words around and made them mean something that he never intended they should mean. God says that individuals do that with His Word. That is the reason Peter reminded us in II Peter, chapter 3, verse 16:

II Peter 3:

16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

There must be no wresting of the Scripture if you are going to find comfort in it. You must accept it at its face value and let it mean exactly what God said it would mean. You must be resolute enough not to change, no matter what occurred. In verse 51, the Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:

51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

The proud here are the wicked. His enemies were giving him a very difficult time, but he was not going to swerve from the Word of God.

You may not have any enemies, per se, that give you a very difficult time, but there is an enemy who does give you a very difficult time. Satan is his name and he will consistently give you a bad time, and if you think things are bad now, they could get worse and when they get worse you might be tempted to swerve from the Word of God, but if you find the comfort in it that you ought to find, then you are going to have to be resolute enough to stand on the Word.

Are you noticing what I am saying—not standing on the circumstances, but standing on the Word; not keeping your eyes on the affliction, but keeping your mind on the Word of God.

The Art of Review

That leads me to suggest a third thing which the Psalmist did to enable him to find comfort in the Word of God. Notice verse 52:

Psalm 119:

52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.

Then in verse 55, he said:

Psalm 119:

55 I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.

The Psalmist did not only find revival necessary. He did not only find resolution necessary, but he found the art of review to be an absolute essential in his life. He spent his day not looking at his affliction, but in reviewing the past. He spent his day not looking at the difficult circumstances, but in reviewing what God had done. In verse 52, he said:

Psalm 119:

52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.

You will remember when we were looking at the nine terms for the Word of God in this particular Psalm that the word judgments was one of them. It did not refer to God's visiting judgment on individuals in the sense of passing a sentence, but it referred to the wise decisions that God made. The Psalmist said, “I have spent my time remembering the decisions that you have made in the past and recalling how very wise those decisions were. I know that if they worked in the past, they will work again.”

You will notice in verse 55, he said, “I have remembered thy name…” He was not speaking about events, but he was reviewing all the wonderful things about the person of God because the person of God is revealed in His name, so much so that the wise man in the book of Proverbs, chapter 18, verse 10, said:

Proverbs 18:

10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

The Psalmist said, “I keep on remembering the good things that you have done in the past, and I remember the mighty power of thy name.” What do you suppose he meant when he said he remembered? Did he just sit down and think? He could have, but I would like to suggest to you that this word remembered comes from the Hebrew word zakar , which means “to mention” and “to think on.”

In Malachi, chapter 3, verse 16, we are told that God keeps a record in Heaven of those who sit down to think upon His name. That is a good occupation. Think upon His name and, in the process, there will be comfort for you.

In Isaiah, chapter 63, verse 7, this word zakar , which is translated “remembered” here is also translated by the English word “mention.” It might be wise for us to follow the example set by Isaiah in Isaiah, chapter 63, verse 7, where Isaiah said:

Isaiah 63:

7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.

Isaiah is saying, “I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.” May I suggest that our trials would be easier to bear and they would certainly be more effective and we would have more effective victory in relation to them if we would learn to review the blessings of the Lord and talk about them instead of talking about the problem we face, instead of dwelling upon the situation in which we are.

If you don't believe this is true, may I suggest that some morning when you get up and the day looks dark and dreary and you feel like you can't face another day like you faced yesterday, instead of looking at the day expecting it to be bad, you begin the day with praise, you begin the day by making mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and there will be comfort in the Word of God.

Regrets in Relation to Others

Turn back to Psalm 119, as I suggest to you that there is another essential if the Word of God is to be the comfort in our hearts that it ought to be. I have used the word regret to describe this attitude of heart and mind, not regrets in relation to our selves, but regret in relation to others. Look at verse 53, where the Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:

53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.

The word that is translated horror comes from the Hebrew word zalaphah , which means “to be sad.” I like that a little better, for I think it indicates the condition of the Psalmist's heart. He is saying, “I am sad. I am sad because of those who forsake the law of God. I feel sorry for them.”

I am sure that he was sad in relation to the fact that their eternal destiny was going to be different from his, but I dare say that he was sad for the same reason that many of us have been sad, when we have expressed our concern by the statement, “What do you suppose the unsaved do without the Lord?” Haven't you said something like that any number of times? You have been in the midst of a trial or tribulation, and the Lord has graciously stood by your side and you are conscious of His presence. Then you begin to think about the people who do not have that association with the Lord, and you found yourself saying, “I couldn't have gotten along without Him. I wonder what they do without Him. I wonder how they live without the Lord.”

How concerned are you? How much do you really care? The Psalmist was so concerned for these very same people that in verse 136, he said:

Psalm 119:

136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

How do you feel about the unsaved? How do you feel about those who are out of fellowship? Oh, you do put forth an effort to witness to them, but are you vitally concerned? Do you feel that their need for the Lord is related only to eternity? If you do, perhaps you are not as concerned as you should be because you feel they are not dead yet and as long as there is life, there is a chance for them to receive the Lord, so you are not as pressed about them as you ought to be. But Friend, if the Word of God means to us what it ought to mean, and if in the Word of God we have found comfort and consolation, our eyes ought to run down with rivers of water for the great number of people who have not learned how to find comfort and solace in the Word of God. This will enable you to find comfort in the Scriptures. Oftentimes you have been told by those in various professions related to affliction and illness, “Get your mind off yourself. Don't think so much about your troubles and get your mind on something else.”

That could be empty advice, accomplishing very little, but I would suggest to you that in the midst of your trial and affliction, you enjoy the comfort and the consolation of the Scripture, you begin to pray for those who do not have the same privilege. You let your eyes run down with rivers of water and you will find yourself comforted in a way that you thought not possible.

Let me suggest that you glance at verse 54:

Psalm 119:

54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

Then down in verse 56, we read:

Psalm 119:

56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

In these two verses of Scripture the Psalmist is suggesting to us that if we are to find the comfort in the Word of God that our hearts need, we should learn to rely upon the Word of God. Reliance upon the Word of God is an absolute essential if we are to find the comfort that we need. Notice verse 54 again, where we read:

Psalm 119:

54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

He said, “I have been traveling. I am a stranger and a pilgrim, and during this pilgrimage, which isn't as easy as it could be, I have been singing. Thy Word has been the song of my pilgrimage. They have given me inspiration and hope as I have relied upon them.”

I am sure the Psalmist must have had in mind the Oriental custom of the nomad. When he pitched his tent for the night and had taken care of all of the duties related to the day, he called to him his singers. His singers, accompanying themselves upon the lute, sang of the blessings and victories of bygone days. The nomad found comfort in the singing of the songs.

I believe David had that in mind when he made this suggestion at the close of the day, a wearisome journey for the Pilgrim. Take the Word of God and let it become songs in the night, as we read in verse 55, songs of your pilgrimage at the close of the day.

Reliance on the Word

One last thing I want to say to you. When we looked at verse 56, we read it as it is written in the King James version:

Psalm 119:

56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

We suggested to you that the Psalmist found comfort in the Word of God because he had been faithful in obeying the Word of God, but there is an alternate translation that you will find in most of your Bibles if you have a marginal reference Bible. That alternate translation conveys a message that I want to leave with our hearts: “ This I have had, that I have kept thy precepts.”

The suggestion is, “My mainstay has been my knowledge of the Word of God.” Reliance on the Word is an absolute essential. Friends, I know that some of you are going through trials and afflictions. You have talked with me about them. Others of you are going through trials and afflictions, and perhaps you and I and the Lord are the only ones who know about it because you haven't been talking about it. Others of you are going through affliction and trials, I am sure, that you have kept to yourselves. You haven't said anything at all about it, but I want to say to you that if you have not gone through those afflictions or are not going through afflictions, you will. There is no way to escape it. You will. When that time of affliction comes I want you to be able to say with the Psalmist, “In Thy Word is the comfort for my afflictions.” I want you to know the comfort and the assurance that can come only from the Word of God. That is the reason I am so very much concerned that you fall in love with the Word as you should, that it might be in your life what it can be.


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