Personal Devotion
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 119. We are going to read the paragraph which begins with verse 145 where the Psalmist cries:

Psalm 119:

145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
146 I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
149 Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
150 They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
151 Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

Those of you who have been with us in these studies recognize that we have learned that Psalm 119 is particularly the Psalm of the Word of God. Each paragraph of the twenty-two in the Psalm presents some particular aspect of the effectiveness of the Word of God in the believer's life representing a personal basis application of the Word.

The Need of Private Devotions

The paragraph which we are considering today presents the Word of God as the basis for a very practical need in every believer's life. I do not know of a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ who does not have this need as a continual need. I speak of the need for a quiet time. I speak of the need of personal devotions in the life of each individual believer. Go to church, go to Bible class, go to prayer meeting. I am not talking about that. I am talking about the need in every believer's life for a time of personal fellowship with the Lord. No matter what else you do, no matter in what else you may be engaged, you need this.

The Psalmist did, and it is brought to our attention in the theme verses of the paragraph, verses 147 and 148:

Psalm 119:

147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Not only is this the theme of the paragraph, as indicated by these two verses, but the theme is indicated by the Hebrew letter with which this paragraph is introduced. If you will glance at the beginning of the paragraph, you will see a strange looking symbol. It is a Hebrew letter and foreign looking word that is the name of the letter. The name of this particular letter is KOPH , and this word literally means “a bowed head.” It indicates what the theme of the paragraph is—the theme of private devotion, the theme of a quiet time needed in every individual life.

The Word is Wise

As we examine this paragraph, let us recognize another affirmation concerning the Word of God which falls from the lips of the Psalmist. Look at verse 152:

Psalm 119:

152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

We have noticed as we studied Psalm 119 that the Psalmist has a growing appreciation for the Word of God. He has come to realize through a personal contact with it a number of things about it. Let's glance at a few of these as we reach the climax which is found in verse 152. Turn back to verse 39, as we suggest to you that the Psalmist came to the realization that the Word of God was wise in every pronouncement that it made. It never was off the beam, for in verse 39, we read:

Psalm 119:

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

When we looked at that verse, we discovered that the word good comes from a word which indicates the wisdom related to God's pronouncement. God's pronouncements are always wise. Look at verse 72, as you realize with the Psalmist that it is the most valuable possession anybody can have:

Psalm 119:

72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

The Word is Always Right

“Far more valuable than any material thing I have is the Word of God.” Glance down at verse 75, as he tells you that he came to realize that the Word of God was not only always wise, but it was always right. You never needed to argue with the Word of God. He says:

Psalm 119:

75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

Sometimes humans have to reverse themselves. They don't always do it, but they ought to in some instances. But the Word of God never has to reverse itself. It is always right. If it says something, you can depend that it will always be so. We look at verse 86 and find something that would be a natural outgrowth of that as a realization, and that is that the Word of God is always dependable because in verse 86, we read:

The Word is Always Dependable

Psalm 119:

86 All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.

It means that they are always dependable. They never one time have failed any individual.

The Word is Miraculous

Look at verse 129. He comes to the realization that the Word of God is miraculous. This is not ordinary printing that I have before my eyes. They are not ordinary statements. It is a miracle. That is why, in verse 129, the Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:

129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.

The Word is Unchangeable

You will remember when we were examining that word wonderful , we found that it is the word from which the word miracle comes in the Old Testament. This is a miracle book, performing miracles in the lives of believers, so we are not at all surprised to hear him say in verse 152, by way of affirmation, “I've learned something else about the Word of God. I have come to a new realization concerning the Word.” He said:

Psalm 119:

152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

He is saying, “I have known for a long time…” The phrase, “known of old,” indicates that. “I have known for a long time that Thy Word is faithful, settled, established forever.” This phrase, “known of old,” comes from the Hebrew word yada , which speaks not of the knowledge that you learn from books, but of a knowledge that you learn from experience.

Elsewhere in the Old Testament this word yada is translated by the word observed. He said, “I have lived a little while, and I have observed during my span of life that God's Word is sure.”

This word is translated by the word perceive . He said, “I perceive, as I examine all of the evidence, that the Word of God is thoroughly founded.” In Nehemiah, chapter 6, verse 16, you have this word translated by the English word perceive . You know the story. Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall and the enemies were doing everything that they could to tear it down, but it just kept going up in spite of everything that they did. Nehemiah said that they were very unhappy because they perceived that the building of the wall was of God. You see, the Psalmist wasn't talking about something that he had learned from books; he was talking about something that came to him as a realization, something that he knew because he had seen it with his own eyes. The Word of God was settled forever. If we wanted to paraphrase the verse, we might read it: “I have observed for a long time that Thy Word is unchangeable.”

It is one thing for me to tell you that; it is another thing for you to be able to observe it for yourself. When you have observed for yourself that the Word of God is unchangeable and can give this affirmation, then all the false teaching in the world is not going to change the situation. All of the profound pronouncements from so-called intellectuals will not make any difference. You will be able to say, “You may think that, but I know. I have seen it with my own eyes.”

Anticipation of a Quiet Time

I wish that all folk could give an affirmation like this. Do you know why many of them can't? Because they have never had the anticipation which the Psalmist describes in this Psalm as his very own, for he did speak of an anticipation of periods of devotion, of a quiet time. Look at verses 147-148 again as we read:

Psalm 119:

147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

The word prevent in these two verses obscures the real theme of both the verses. It is not a happy translation of the original Hebrew word, for this word prevent comes from the Hebrew word qadam which really means “to anticipate.” It means to project yourself into the thing that you are talking about. If you read the verses that way, they make a difference, don't they? Look at verse 147, where we would read: “I anticipated the dawning of the morning. I looked forward to the dawning of the morning.” Then in verse 148: “My eyes anticipate the watches of the night. I look forward to the watches of the night that I might have my time of devotion with the Lord.”

The Time of Devotions

Let's notice what he says in these verses about his quiet time. First, he speaks of the time when he had his quiet time. He mentions two periods that he enjoyed particularly. I would not suggest to you that he had no other times of devotion, but these two he loved to look forward to. One of them is in verse 147. He describes it as the dawning of the morning. “Very early in the morning I look forward to getting up and having some quiet time with the Lord.”

We pointed out to you that in all probability Ezra wrote this Psalm. If Ezra did, then Ezra said, “I love the early morning for my quiet time.” In Psalm 108, verse 2, David said, “I awake early for one express purpose of having a quiet time with the Lord.”

Turn to the Song of Solomon, chapter 7, that beautiful allegorical description of the relationship of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will find that the Lord Jesus Christ loves those early meetings with us. For the sake of time, let me identify the characters. You hear the Christian saying, “I am my beloved, and his desire is toward me.” The Christian continues addressing the Lord Jesus Christ: “Come, my beloved. Let us go forth from the fields. Let us lodge in the villages.” Then, grammatically constructed, it is indicated the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Let us get up early to the vineyard. Let us see if the vines flourish, whether the tender grapes appear, and the pomegranates bud forth. There I will give thee my love.”

The Lord Jesus Christ responds to any indication of the need of devotion. That is why James could say, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” The Shulamite woman in the Song of Solomon said, “I want to have some time with you,” and the Lord answered, “Let's make it early in the morning. Let's see how things are doing early in the morning. Let's examine the vines and the grapes early in the morning.”

Oh, Beloved, there is a need for us to have a time set apart when we can examine the grapes and the vines and see how we do in our relationship to the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ loved it. Have you noticed while he was on the earth how many times it is recorded, as it is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verse 35, that the Lord Jesus Christ arose a great while before day, while it was yet night, and went out and prayed and talked with His heavenly Father?

In Isaiah, chapter 50, verse 4, the Lord Jesus Christ says, through the lips of the prophet, Isaiah:

Isaiah 50:

4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.

How do you feel about insomnia? Do you toss and turn and fret and reach for a pill? Well, you might need to if you need your rest. I wouldn't criticize you, and I will confess to you that sometimes I do a lot of tossing and turning and fretting about it; but oh, the blessing that comes when you wake up during the night and instead of tossing, turning and fretting, you say “Lord, thank You for waking me up,” and then you pray. Talk to the Lord about all these things that need talking about. Let the Lord speak to your own heart, and you know you will discover in the morning that you are not nearly as tired as you are if you spend all that time tossing and turning. It is a time of fellowship with the Lord, and it is sorely needed in the life of all believers. I believe that in this day of business and noise, we need this.

I used to enjoy flying because you got up above all the noise. But now there is music and movies that you have to listen to all the time. People just can't stand any quiet. Oh, we need a quiet time. Do you have yours? The Psalmist said, “I look forward to the morning when I can have this quiet time with the Lord.”

Another Kind of Time

Go back to Psalm 119, and notice, in verse 148, he mentions another kind of time:

Psalm 119:

148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

You will notice the word night is in italics. That means that it is not in the original text. The word watch is an interesting word. It doesn't speak of a specific period of time. It speaks more of a time when the watchman is out guarding the city because all of the activity has ceased in the still of the night when everything has quieted down.

I am not going to suggest to you that you ought to have your quiet time morning or night, but I would suggest to you that you ought to have it. Do you remember what the Apostle Paul said when he was listing all of the things that were part of his life because of his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ? He talked about fasting; he talked about perils; he talked about suffering. He said, “…in watching often.” That word watching is the New Testament counterpart of this Hebrew word: “I stayed awake a lot at night. I did a lot of praying.” You see, he didn't waste his time.

The Trend Devotions Should Take

The Psalmist speaks of the time of his devotions and he speaks of the trend of his devotions. So often I have had people say to me, “I think you are right about a quiet time, but what do you do during that quiet time? Sometimes I can't get mine to last longer than five minutes.”

I certainly am not going to tell you that you should have it five, ten or fifteen minutes. I don't know how long you ought to have it, and certainly there is no virtue in having it a long time for the sake of having it a long time. You go around telling me how long your quiet time is and I am going to begin to wonder if you are not bragging a little. I don't think that it matters about the time, but the trend—what should you do?

Let's look at what the Psalmist did. In verse 145, he said:

Psalm 119:

145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.

Then in verse 147, he said again:

Psalm 119:

147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.

He said, “I cried unto thee.” The word cried here is a word that speaks of communicating with someone who is near to you. He said, “I did some praying during my quiet time.” Then, if you will notice in those same verses, he did some meditating. In verse 148, he said:

Psalm 119:

148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

“I spent some time with the Word of God.” In chapter 108, verse 3, he said:

Psalm 108:

3 I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.

He spent some time in praising the Lord, too. Don't be lopsided in your devotional time. Don't spend all of your time asking God for something. Talk to Him; then let Him talk to you; then spend some time praising the Lord. You might want to vary the order, but that is the trend that it ought to take.

The Theme Devotions Ought to Take

Then the Psalmist makes another suggestion concerning his quiet time about the theme of it. What was the basic foundation? What was the theme of his praise? What was the theme of his meditation? What was the theme of his prayer life? Look at verse 147, the last statement:

Psalm 119:

147 …I hoped in thy word.

“I based all of my quiet time upon the dependability of Thy Word.” This word hoped comes from the Hebrew word yachal , which means “to wait with expectancy for the fulfillment of the Word of God.”

He didn't ask the Lord, for example, in his morning quiet time, to guide his footsteps, and then go about fretting all day wondering if He would. He committed it to the Lord in the morning and rested completely upon it, knowing that the Word of God was real.

Apprehension of Being Dissuaded

I want you to notice something else in this paragraph. Not only is there affirmation of the Word and anticipation related to the Word and quiet time, but there is an apprehension suggested on the part of the Psalmist, and it should be a fear, for that is the meaning of the word apprehension . It is a fear that every one of us ought to have. Look at verse 150, where he said:

Psalm 119:

150 They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.

Taking this verse out of its context, it means absolutely nothing specifically to you, but considering it in the light of the paragraph, he is saying, “God, I love these quiet times. I love the morning. I love the night, but Lord, there is something that bothers me. They are drawing near that follow after mischief.”

Perhaps he had in mind individuals. In all probability he did, and he was saying in so many words, “Lord, people are around me all the time who try to dissuade me from this time of quiet with Thee.”

Have you found that to be your experience? Have you found people full of mischief, dissuading you from this quiet time? Some of you good women who plan to have your quiet time after all the children get off to school and after you have fed your husband and sent him off to work, what happens? The phone rings off the wall, doesn't it? Folk may not know that they are interrupting your quiet time, but they are.

What do you do? Someone said to me, “I feel dishonest not to answer the phone, so I will go ahead and answer it. Then by the time I get through, my quiet time is all gone.”

There isn't time for me to suggest all of the people who can interrupt your quiet time. If you are off some place with a group of people, you feel like it is impolite to get off by yourself, don't you? You think they might think you are rude. They have interrupted your quiet time.

I wonder if the Psalmist had in mind things as well as people because I have discovered it is more things than it is people. I can deal with people, but I have a hard time with things. So many things, good things if you will, things which are important, things which are essential will get near and they will rob you of this quiet time.

The Presence of the Lord

The Psalmist, describing his apprehension, recognized the presence of things, but I want to point out something else to you that encouraged his heart and it encourages my heart to know it. While the presence of the enemy was evident, the presence of the Lord was more real. Notice what he said in verse 151:

Psalm 119:

151 Thou art near, O LORD…

Read the Scriptures carefully. Notice in verse 150, he said, concerning the enemy, “They draw nigh, but Thou art near. They keep encroaching, but Lord, Thou art right by my side all the time.”

This is the lesson that I want you to get: The presence of our Lord, if you will let it, will overshadow the presence of the enemy anytime. You will never be rid of those who draw nigh. You never will until you get to Heaven. If the Lord had wanted you to be rid of them, He would have knocked you in the head the day you received Christ as Savior and that would have been the end of it. But He left you in the world. They are near, and they are always going to be near, and they are always going to be drawing nigh, but the presence of the Lord can envelop you as a barrier and separate you, isolate you, so that you can have this very important quiet time with the Lord.

Appeal to the Lord

You say, “Well, it hasn't worked that way.” Maybe it is because you haven't appealed to the Lord. The Psalmist did, for there is in this paragraph not only his affirmation of the Word and not only his anticipation of an opportunity for a quiet time, and not only his apprehension of that which would interrupt that quiet time, but there is his appeal to the Lord. Notice in verse 145:

Psalm 119:

145 I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
146 I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.

It isn't apparent in our English text, but it is in the original. It is important for us to notice that the Psalmist was not a spasmodic appealer to the Lord when he got in a tight place. He didn't just pour out his heart to the Lord when the going got tough. It was his practice of life. Look at verse 145 again:

Psalm 119:

145 I cried with my whole heart…

Literally, that is, “Lord, I have continuously cried to you.” Then in verse 146, grammatically speaking, “I've got a special need. Lord, this cry that I am bringing to You is extra special. Deliver me!”

Remember, we learned that the word save , may be translated deliver and doesn't always refer to the salvation of the soul. It can refer to deliverance of an immediate need. “Lord, I have been in the habit of talking to you. I've been in the habit of crying out to you, but Lord, I have a special need right now. My quiet time is slipping away. Things have come in and kept me from having my time of communion with You. The enemy is drawing nigh, and Lord, I am in a fix. I can't get out of it. Deliver me. Give me this quiet time that I need so very, very much.”

Friend, is your quiet time ancient history? How long has it been since you have had time with the Lord? I am not talking about reading some of the printed page. I'm not talking about Bible study, verse by verse and chapter by chapter, in preparation for your Sunday School lesson, I am talking about your quiet time with the Lord. Is it ancient history or not?

I suppose, because audiences are pretty much the same everywhere, if I were to ask you to indicate to me an answer to that question, we would discover that with many of us, quiet time is ancient history. It has been a long time since we have gotten alone with the Lord and had our time of devotion or whatever you want to call it. Has it?

You say, “Yes, it has, and I don't know what to do about it. I'm in a treadmill. It is just a constant revolving of circumstances. It isn't because I don't want to do it, I just don't know what to do about it.” You appeal to the Lord. You say, “Lord, save me out of this thing. I want to have time with you. Deliver me.” He will.

Conclusion

I want to say to you in closing that you will never be able to give this lovely affirmation with which this paragraph closes unless you develop this quiet time. Notice verse 152:

Psalm 119:

152 Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.

That is the only way. Your time alone with the Lord will determine your appreciation for the Word at other times.


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