The Basis for Victory
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to Psalm 119, that portion of the Word that we are considering together. May I remind you that this Psalm is particularly the Psalm of the Word of God because every paragraph of the twenty-two in the Psalm emphasizes some particular application of the Word of God in the believer's life.

We have also noticed that each one of the paragraphs begins with a strange looking symbol and a foreign looking word. The symbol is a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the word is the name of that particular letter. It is placed there by the translators to emphasize a unique arrangement in the original Scripture—namely, that every line in that particular paragraph begins with a word which begins with that particular letter. We have discovered another underlying reason, and that is that each one of these words suggests the theme of the paragraph in most cases, the name of the letter being the main thought of the paragraph.

We do not have time to review the previous paragraphs which we have considered, but as we come to the paragraph which is introduced to us under the Hebrew letter RESH , beginning with verse 153, we are going to discover through our discussion that the Word of God is the only basis for life, the only basis for spiritual life, the only basis for rejuvenation, for a renewing of strength, for a reviving. That will become particularly evident not only in our discussion, but if we emphasize that the word quicken is used three different times in this paragraph in three different ways. The word quicken is a word that speaks of revival; it is a word that speaks of the restoration of life.

We have to use the word revival very carefully because when we use that word, in the minds of many folk, there is a protracted meeting, a spring revival or a fall revival. We are not talking about that. We are talking about that ministry of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God which causes us to be revived, renewed, rejuvenated, restored.

Let's look at the passage of Scripture beginning with verse 153:

Psalm 119:

153 Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.
154 Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
156 Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
157 Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
158 I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Consideration for Affliction

As we examine the paragraph, let me give you a few mental pegs upon which to hang some of the thoughts I want to leave with you. The first one that I would like to give you is the plea of the Psalmist, because the desire for life to which I have already referred is indicated in the pleas which the Psalmist made to God. Notice the very first statement in verse 153:

Psalm 119:

153 Consider mine affliction…

This brings to my mind that he makes a plea for some consideration at the throne of grace. Oftentimes we live under such duress. Oftentimes we live in such difficult circumstances that we are so beaten down that we feel that nobody is giving us any consideration at all; and when we have reached the point of expostulation, we are apt to say, “Give me a little consideration. Don't you know how bad I feel? Don't you know the hard time I have had?”

Without being irreverent, this is exactly what the Psalmist did. He said, “Lord, consider my affliction. Look on me. Take that into consideration when you deal with me. I wouldn't be doing some of the things that I do if it were not for the situation in which I am.”

The thing for which he asked consideration was his affliction. Most of the time when we see the word affliction , we automatically think of some physical ailment. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that because physical disabilities certainly can be called afflictions , but I think we will miss the point of this paragraph if we do not recognize that this word affliction comes from the Hebrew word oniy , which elsewhere in the Old Testament is translated by the word depression —depression that is related to the circumstances in which the individual is caused to live, a depression which is related to the problems which the individual has to face. When he spoke of his affliction, he said, “Lord, keep in mind that I am bearing emotionally just about all I can bear. Keep in mind, LORD, that I am having real trouble. I am not hurting in body, but I am hurting in heart and I am hurting in mind.”

If you haven't already realized, Friend, you need to come to the realization that oftentimes this kind of affliction is worse than any physical pain anybody is called upon to endure.

Naturally, we would like to know what caused the affliction of the Psalmist. Was it some kind of trouble into which he got? Did he bring it upon himself? What was the real reason for his affliction? Our eyes pass down to verse 157, and we read:

Psalm 119:

157 Many are my persecutors and mine enemies…

“Lord, the reason that I am in the state I am is that my enemies and my persecutors seem without number.” Do you have a persecution complex? You may, for oftentimes we feel we are persecuted when we are not, and oftentimes we are driven to the point of desperation by imaginary persecutors. Having said that, let us recognize that persecution can be a very real thing. People can persecute you and people do persecute you, and you may reach the place where you feel that your persecutors and your enemies have increased in number to the extent that you must cry out to God for some consideration at the throne of grace.

Plea for Emancipation

The Psalmist followed his plea for consideration by a plea for emancipation, and I am using the word for the sake of alliteration in sound, that it might be fixed in your mind. I say the Psalmist pleaded for emancipation because of what I read in verse 153:

Psalm 119:

153 Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.

Then in verse 154, we read:

Psalm 119:

154 Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.

Twice over he pleads for deliverance. This is a plea for emancipation. The interesting thing to my mind is that the Holy Spirit in the writing of the Word was pleased to use two different Hebrew words which our translators have translated with the same English word. For example, the word for deliver in verse 153, is a translation of the Hebrew word chalats , which means “deliver me out of the battle.” He is saying, “Lord, I am in a fight and the enemy is pressing in on both sides, and I am no match. Lord, deliver me out of the battle. Come down here where the battle is. Come right down into the midst of everything and deliver me out of it because I am no match for the battle.”

If you are keeping in mind that the affliction of the Psalmist was not a physical one, but a spiritual, mental, emotional one, it might be wise for us to emphasize that the enemies and the persecutors which the Psalmist had to face were not necessarily human. They were not necessarily real. They could have been, but certainly we do not have to limit our thinking to the idea that they were. I am of that opinion in a more definite way when I look at verse 154 and read:

Psalm 119:

154 Plead my cause, and deliver me…

I realize that the word deliver there is from the Hebrew word gaal from which we get our English word goel —kinsman redeemer. The word deliver is “deliver me out of bondage. Here I am in a battle, but Lord, I am in bondage, too. I am in a battle fighting all the enemies around me, but Lord, I am enslaved. I need to be redeemed.”

The interesting thing about this word gaal is that it is translated by the word redeem and is used in connection with redemption. It is the word that is prominent in the book of Ruth, when it was necessary for her to be redeemed out of the bondage of debt into which her family had come. This suggests to me that the battle in which the Psalmist was engaged could have been a spiritual one and the bondage could have been not necessarily physical human beings who had him in bondage, but Satan and his demons, the enemies of our souls.

We are reminded again that the battle which we fight is not always a physical one, but our battle is spiritual; and the weapons of our warfare cannot be carnal—fleshly, material—for they will not bring about the victory.

Plea for Representation

An added weight of evidence that is in my mind in relation to the spiritual battle to which I refer is suggested by another plea of the Psalmist. He pled not only for consideration, he pled not only for emancipation, but he pled for representation, and that is brought to our minds by what you see in the first statement of verse 154:

Psalm 119:

154 Plead my cause and deliver me…

When he used the phrase, “plead my cause,” the Holy Spirit was using one Hebrew word for the entire clause, the word riyb , which is translated by the word advocate or by the word lawyer . He said, “Lord, I am in a situation where I need a lawyer.”

Why do you need a lawyer? It doesn't necessarily mean that you have committed any crime. It may be that you are in a situation where you don't know the proper thing to do. You may need someone to represent you who knows the language and can give the right advice. The Psalmist, feeling the impress of his enemies, of his bondage, of his problems, said, “Lord, I want some representation. I want You to take over the battle.”

There is a sense in which all of us need an advocate, and I am glad that we have one in the Lord Jesus Christ. You will recall that the Holy Spirit recorded in I John, chapter 2, that if we sin, we have an advocate. This is the New Testament counterpart of this Old Testament word. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. We all need representation at the Throne of Grace.

I would like to remind you of something else. Though that is true, in the problems we face for which we are no match, we need representation. We need someone to represent us in the battle. Isaiah said, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, then the Lord shall raise up a standard against the enemy.”

You may try in your own strength to stem the flood, regardless of what the attack may be, regardless of what form it may take. You may in your own effort try to hold back the waters; you can't do it. You will be overwhelmed. You will go down, but if you, like the Psalmist, will lift up your face to Heaven and say, “God, I need some representation,” He will send it. What you have not been able to do, God will do.

Plea for Rejuvenation

The suggestion in the paragraph is that the Psalmist had been fighting the battle so long in his own strength. That is where we make the mistake, isn't it? We fight the battle too long in our own strength. He had been fighting the battle so long in his own strength that his strength was depleted. He despaired of life, and so we find another plea, and that is a plea for rejuvenation—revival if you want to call it that, a renewal of strength if you want to call it that. We use the word rejuvenation for the sake of alliteration. The plea was, “Lord, I have got to have some more strength.” Look at verse 154 again:

Psalm 119:

154 Plead my cause, and deliver me: [notice now] quicken me according to thy word.

The word quicken is the word that represents the restoration of life. It represents a rejuvenation. It represents a renewal of strength, and the thing that interests us in verse 154 is that he is asking for it according to the Word. As we have pointed out to you, this means “according to your promise.” “Lord, You promised to restore my strength. You promised to revive me; You promised to quicken me; You promised, Lord, to give me a new lease on life. According to your promise, quicken me.”

I would like to remind our hearts that one of the best ways to pray is to remind God of His promises. I heard someone say, “Why do you quote Scripture in your prayers? God wrote it and He knows it.” That's right, but He likes to be reminded and I love to remind Him. I love to say, “God, You promised, and I am resting on the promise.”

That is what the Psalmist said: “Grant me, Lord, a new lease on life according to Thy Word.” But, notice verse 156:

Psalm 119:

156 Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.

Notice, it is the same plea, “Quicken me.” But this time, he phrases it differently. One time, “Quicken me, Lord, according to Thy promises,” but now, “Quicken me, Lord, according to Thy judgments.” This word judgments , we have learned, is related to the righteous decisions of God. You see, the Psalmist was saying, “Lord, You rejuvenate me and restore me according to the way You see things, according to your perception, according to your decision.”

I am not going to ask you for an audible reply to this question, but I do wonder how many of you when you pray are willing to leave the answer to God's discretion? Oh, you may leave it to His discretion because you don't think that there is anything else you can do about it, but are you willing to pray in faith and say, “Lord, restore me according to your judgments, according to your decisions.”

If you can't leave it to His discretion, why can't you? Don't you want what He wants? You say, “I do want what He wants.” Then why can't you leave it to His discretion? Somebody says, “I don't know really.” Then you delve a little deeper and what is the usual answer that comes forth? “I am afraid to leave it to His discretion. I want Him to work, but I am afraid to say, ‘Lord, You do it any way You want to'.” Why are you afraid? “I guess I just don't trust Him like I ought to.”

That is exactly right, and it is not an unusual problem. I think the reason the Psalmist could pray this way was the way that he prefaced his prayer. He reminded God of something. Look at verse 156 where he prayed that prayer. What is the first thing he said before he prayed that prayer? “Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord.” Literally, it is, “Lord, thy mercies are without number, and because they are, I am going to ask you to work in my life according to your own discretion.”

Look again now at verse 159, as he asked God to rejuvenate him, not only according to promise and not only according to His judgments, but in line with what we have just said, according to His compassion. In verse 159, he said:

Psalm 119:

159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, [notice now] O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.

Yes, you can pray that God will rejuvenate you, will answer your prayer according to His decision; but you will be perfectly safe if you add, “Lord, make it according to Thy lovingkindness.”

This word lovingkindness is related to patience. It is related to long-suffering. It is related to understanding. It is related to the realization that God remembers our frame, that we are but dust and that many of us are weaker than we want to be. All of this is according to His lovingkindness, and the Psalmist could make his plea for rejuvenation on that basis.

God Honors Obedience

I would like to suggest something to you that is vital in relation to the understanding of this paragraph and that is, the pleas of the Psalmist were not based upon empty, idle words. They were based upon a premise that is vital to understanding this paragraph, and I want you to get it today, because it is grossly neglected in the hour in which we live. His pleas were based on the premise that God honored obedience to the Word of God. Now, get that. His pleas were based on the premise that God honored obedience to the Word of God.

That becomes evident if you will notice how he based his plea. Go back to verse 153 and notice as we read:

Psalm 119:

153 Consider mine affliction, and deliver me…

God might have replied to the Psalmist, “Why should I? Why should I consider you? Why should I deliver you,” and the Psalmist answered, “Because I don't forget Thy law. That's why. I do not forget Thy law.'

This word forget is deeper than a mere lapse of memory. All of you have memorized verses of Scripture and then forgotten them and if somebody asked you to quote it, you couldn't because you forget. It is not talking about that. It is talking about a deliberate laying aside, just putting it out of your mind. The Holy Spirit brings a certain passage of Scripture to your mind, and you don't want to think about it. You just put it out of your mind. That is what this is talking about. The Psalmist said, “Lord, I want You to give me some consideration because I do not forget your Word.”

Look at verse 157:

Psalm 119:

157 Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.

“Lord, my enemies are converging and I feel their breath upon my neck, but remember as I ask you for deliverance that I do not decline from thy testimonies.” This word decline is an interesting word, and we have noticed it before. It paints a picture of an individual who has something coming straight at him and instead of standing in place and letting it hit him right as it will, he gets to the side. To decline from God's statutes suggests that you move out of the way of the Word of God. It is just as though some message from God was coming from my lips to you and it was coming right down to the place where you are sitting and you know it is for you and you step aside so it hits the person back of you. Of course, you don't do it literally, but you do it spiritually. The Psalmist said, “Lord, I am basing my plea upon the fact that I have been obedient to your Word. I haven't deliberately put anything out of mind that you have brought to it, and I haven't swerved because of the Word that was coming in my direction.”

In verse 158, he said something else: “I don't only feel this way about myself, but Lord, I am tired of people who don't obey your Word. I loathe disobedience to the Word of God.” In verse 158, he said:

Psalm 119:

158 I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.

We need to be very careful here, because twice already we have noticed the Psalmist was very greatly burdened because people did not obey the Word of God, burdened to the point of tears. For example, in verse 136, you will hear the Psalmist saying:

Psalm 119:

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

“Lord, I weep for those who do not know the Word and who do not obey it.” We all ought to be so burdened, but when we look at verse 158 and notice the word grieved , it is important to recognize that he is not talking about sadness. He is talking about a Hebrew word which means “to loathe or to be pushed back from people who do not obey the Word, to be disgusted with them and to have nothing to do with them.”

We need to be very careful that we don't let our burden for those who are disobedient to the Word of God become a condoning of the thing that we do. We need to take a firm stand against disobedience to the Word of God, particularly in this hour in which we live.

You may say, “I am a little bit puzzled why you say that obedience is essential to God's answering prayer, that obedience is essential to God's meeting needs. Why do you say that?”

There are many reasons, but one is right here in this paragraph in verse 155. He says:

Psalm 119:

155 Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.

This word salvation , as I have pointed out to you any number of times, is a word that may be translated by the word deliverance , and does not necessarily mean the salvation of the soul. It is a deliverance related to the subject under discussion. He is saying here that those who do not obey the Word of God cannot expect this deliverance for which I am praying because if men want to live without God and without His Word, He permits them to; but if you want to live according to the Word of God, then you have a claim on God and you can ask God as your Father to deliver you as did the Psalmist.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be recognized that the Psalmist, even though he knew obedience was necessary, had his confidence resting in the promise of God's Word and that is important. Your final, ultimate foundation must be the Word of God itself, resting on the promise. Notice verse 160:

Psalm 119:

160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Notice: “Thy Word is true from the beginning…” He is saying, “God, I can't think of a time that You have denied your Word, and that is what encourages me to pray.” He said, “Not only have You not denied your Word, I know that You cannot deny your Word and that is why I know that Thy righteous judgments endureth forever.”

I like the Berkeley translation, for it reads, “Every one of Thy Words has an everlasting vitality.” Vitality was what he needed, wasn't it? Restoration, rejuvenation—he needed it, and he said, “I can rest on Thy Word and receive it.”

Friend, if you feel that the enemy, the persecutors, whether they be human or otherwise, whether they be personal or impersonal, whether they be live or abstract, if you feel the enemies are converging, if you feel that you are in bondage, follow the practice of the Psalmist. Lift your voice to God, asking for deliverance, reminding that you have a claim on Him and then rest on His Word and see what happens. He won't fail you. I can guarantee you that.


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