The Basis for Peace
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to Psalm 119. We are going to notice today the paragraph which begins with verse 161:

Psalm 119:

161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.

Those of you who have been able to be with us in these studies will remember that we have been discussing Psalm 119 for twenty-one Sundays, for this particular paragraph at which we have looked is the twenty-first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each paragraph in the Psalm has been presented under one of the Hebrew alphabet's letters. That is indicated by the strange looking symbol and the foreign looking word that you see at the very beginning of the paragraph. The symbol is the letter; the word is the name of it.

We said there were two reasons for it. One of them is that each line in the original text in that particular paragraph begins with that letter. Another is that the name of the letter so very often introduces the theme of the paragraph itself. Time will not permit us to review in detail what we have already discussed save to say that each one of these paragraphs presents some basic application of the Word of God to the believer's life, and such is the case today because the paragraph that we are going to notice presents the Word of God as the basis for peace or the Word of God as the only real wealth there is in all the world.

The reason for the double suggestion as the theme is presented in two key verses in the paragraph. Notice verse 165:

Psalm 119:

165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

The Word of God is the basis of peace, and since it is the basis of peace, the Word of God in its net result in our lives is the greatest wealth that anybody could ever possibly desire, so we read in verse 162:

Psalm 119:

162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil [great treasure, great riches, great wealth].

The interesting thing about the letter which introduces this paragraph, the Hebrew letter schin , is that the word schin means “ivory.” At the time this Psalm was written, ivory was the greatest symbol of wealth that man could possible have. Ivory palaces are often mentioned in the Scripture to indicate beauty and wealth, so as we think about this particular paragraph, let me suggest to you once again that the Word of God is indeed the basis for peace, and the peace of which we speak is the greatest spoil that anybody could have.

New Testament Prescription for Peace

I like to think about this verse of Scripture which we have emphasized as being the prescription for peace. There is another prescription for peace that is given in the Old Testament and it might be wise for us to tie the two together. Turn, please, to Paul's letter to the Philippians. I say it might be interesting for us to tie the two together because I do not know of a greater need in the hearts of men today than peace. Certainly we all recognize that it is needed in the world in which we live, but I am not speaking of that. I am speaking of peace needed in the hearts of men.

The New Testament prescription is found in Philippians, chapter 4, verse 6:

Philippians 4:

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

If ever there was a day when the hearts and minds of men needed to be guarded, it is this day; and the Lord Jesus Christ will guard our hearts and minds with His peace, which He places as a sleepless sentinel at the door of our hearts and minds to ward off all of that which would disrupt, but the prescription has to be taken or the medicine will do no good. We notice the prescription again in verse 6, where we read:

Philippians 4:

6 Be careful for nothing…

The word careful means, “be anxious for nothing,” and if we wanted to boil it down into very simple language, we would say, “Worry about nothing.”

That is the first step. That is the first ingredient in the prescription. Worry about no thing. If some of you were able to respond to me, I daresay some of you would say that that was good enough to say, but how do you keep from worrying? I have even had folk say to me, “I am a natural worrier. I worry when I don't need to.”

Let me say this kindly, Beloved: It is not a good testimony for our Lord for you, a believer, to be worried. How can you keep from it? You take the next ingredient in the prescription. You will find it there in verse 6. Notice:

Philippians 4:

6 …but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

If we boil it down into a few words, we would say, “Pray about everything. Worry about nothing. Pray about everything.”

Someone may say, “There is no point in praying about this thing that is worrying me. God very plainly says in His Word what I ought to do about it, so why pray about it?”

It is good to talk about it and it is much better to talk about it to the Lord than it is to someone else because they won't always let you talk. They will interrupt you before you are through and interject their ideas; and in desperation, you might seize upon their ideas and it won't be the solution to your problem. Pray about everything. Talk to the Lord about it. The simplicity of the song often makes it rejected in the minds of thinking men, but we still can't get away from the fact that a little talk with Jesus makes it all right. If you don't believe that, you put it into practice and see.

The third ingredient in the prescription is again found in verse 6, and it is involved with the word thanksgiving . Notice as we read again:

Philippians 4:

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

If we were going to tie this in with everything we have said, we would say, “Be thankful for anything. Worry about nothing. Pray about everything. Be thankful for anything.”

It is not easy for us to be thankful for the unpleasant things. It is not easy for us to be thankful about the thing that drives the knife into our hearts and even twists it after it is driven in.

Are you listening? Notice I am not saying being thankful for, I am saying be thankful about, and there is a vast difference. If you are in your right mind, you could not possibly be thankful that somebody had stabbed you in the heart. But by faith, you can be thankful about it in the sphere of it, because you know that your God has so arranged things that all things will work together for good.

I am going to stop there for a moment because most people do; but if I don't go on, some of you are going to leave here and say, “Yes I have heard that before. It works together for good, but I would like somebody to prove it,” because your emphasis is upon the good . The good is related to the material all too often and I cannot tell you in all sincerity that all things are going to work together for good, materially speaking, because I would be proven a liar if I did, but I finish the passage of Scripture. Notice again: “All things work together for your good…” For what purpose? “…that you might be conformed to the image of Christ.”

Beloved, if you and I are going to be conformed to His image, then we may not be able to see the material good of a particular event, but by faith, we can be thankful. I am not talking now about playhouse religion. I am not talking about children's church as many people think of it. I am talking about the seriousness of having recognized Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, and in that recognition, wanting His very best for us.

If you are just an ordinary bench-warmer in an ordinary church, this is not going to appeal to you, but if the Lord Jesus Christ is Lord, then you are going to want to be as much like Him as you can be. Anything that comes into your life you will be able to thank God because you will know by faith that it will conform you to His image, and because you are thankful for it, you can have peace.

Old Testament Presription for Peace

That is the New Testament prescription and perhaps I dwelt too long on it, but go back to the Old Testament with me again and notice the Old Testament prescription as it is given to us once again in Psalm 119, verse 165:

Psalm 119:

165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

May I suggest to you not only the prescription for peace today, but the pursuit of peace because if we understand the prescription, we are going to have to notice the pursuit of it, for you see, there are no pill-pushers in God's realm in the sense that anybody is going to shove the pill down your throat. It would be fine for some if that were true—if God held your nose and forced your mouth open and rammed the pill down. But He doesn't do it. If you have the peace of which we speak today, then you are going to have to pursue it.

That is brought to our minds in Psalm 34, where the believer has, in the words of the Psalmist, a very definite command presented to him about the subject of peace about which we speak. Notice verse 14:

Psalm 34:

14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Notice the words seek peace and pursue it . You may say, “Aren't we talking about Psalm 119, verse 165?”

Psalm 119:

165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Yes, we are talking about that verse. “Where is the idea of pursuit in that verse?”

Let me suggest that it is in that verse and the rest of the paragraph. Did you notice the requirement for peace in verse 165? “Great peace have they which love thy law…” The word law here is just another name for the Word of God, so we could say, “Great peace have they which love God's Word.”

What does it mean to love God's Word? Some people might say that it means to attend every Bible class you can, listen to every tape that you can, cram your head full of as much knowledge as is possible, then go around spouting out like you need a plug.

That isn't loving God's Word. What does it mean to love God's Word? The word for love here is a word that speaks of a very deep affection for a friend in whose company you like to be. When you speak of loving the Word of God, you are speaking of seeking out the company of the Word as you would seek out the companionship of a friend. That is where the idea of pursue comes in, for if you love the Word of God, you will be seeking out the companionship of the Word of God in many different ways. The idea of pursue is suggested in verse 162, as you notice:

Psalm 119:

162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

The word findeth here speaks of a search. You look, you search, you hunt, you find, and then you rejoice. When you open your Bible, do you open it with the thought, “I wonder what precious thing I am going to find today?” or do you open your Bible with the idea that you have to read so much or you won't meet the test. Ah, Friend, this is a treasure chest in which there is much that you and I need, and we need to seek out the good things in the Word that our hearts might be satisfied more and more.

Notice verses 167 and 168:

Psalm 119:

167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.

Notice the word kept. It is twice mentioned in these verses. It comes from the same Hebrew word shamar , but it is a word of intricate meaning. It has various shades of meaning and in order to emphasize the intricate meaning, recognizing a distinction with a difference, the Paraphrased Translation of the Scripture suggests some translations that I would like for you to notice with me. Glance at verse 167 as I read it from the Paraphrased Version of the Scripture: “I have looked for your commandments and I love them very much.”

That is the meaning of the word kept —to look for the commandments of the Lord, and then when you find them, to love them very much—that is, to seek out their companionship in even a more intimate fashion. The pursuit of peace is related to looking for the commandments of the Lord.

Look at verse 168, as I read it from the Paraphrased Version : “Yes, I have searched for them. You know that because everything I do is known to you.”

I say to you, Beloved, that if the prescription for peace in the Old Testament is going to be workable in our lives, we must follow the pursuit of peace. One thing I would include because in this day of levity, I think it is often forgotten. We can't get away from it. It is in the Scripture, verse 161. This pursuit of peace includes not only the love of which I speak, but it includes an awe of the Word of God, for in verse 161, we read:

Psalm 119:

161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

I don't think this translation fully conveys the entire meaning of the passage, and I ran across an ancient translation of verse 161 that I like very much. I don't even have the name of the translation, but it is so accurate. It says: “I dread desecration of the law more than the force of prince and potentate. I dread desecration of the Word of God more than I do all the force of the strongest prince I know anything about.”

That is what the Psalmist meant here. How important is the Word of God to you? Your evaluation of its importance will determine the effectiveness of the prescription for peace of which we speak. If you feel the Word of God is only to be obeyed when it is convenient, then the medicine won't take effect, but if you hold the Word of God in such reverential awe that you would rather disobey the force of a prince or potentate and know that God's Word was fulfilled, you have the right evaluation of the Word.

Now be careful because there is a lot of mouthing going on in this age that touches upon what I am saying, but is a twisting of the truth. Many people are saying today that they are obeying God's Word when they are disobeying laws. I am not talking about that. I am talking about revering the Word of God over the foolish mouthing of men.

Things Which Accompany Peace

One last thing I want to say to you, and that is about the things that accompany this peace. What is the power of peace in your life? What will this peace do in your life? When we looked at the New Testament prescription, we found that the peace of God would guard our hearts and our minds, but here the Holy Spirit is even more explicit because He tells us some of the things that are going to accompany this peace in our lives. “Great peace have they which love Thy law.”

It might be wise to begin by noticing the meaning of the word peace . It comes from the Hebrew word shalom , which is the ancient Hebrew greeting of friendliness. My, wouldn't it be good if we who know the Lord could greet one another in this way in all sincerity?

When ancient Hebrews greeted each other with the word peace , they might not have meant everything that we as Christians could mean, but if today we could greet one another with the word peace and know what it really meant, what a blessing it would be.

This word, defined much in detail in the Hebrew lexicon, summed up its entire meaning in one little phrase that I like: “Peace indicates safety in mind, body, and estate”—emotional peace, physical peace, material peace. This is what God promises to those who love the Word of God, and God keeps His Word. If you give the Word of God the place in life it should have, then it will provide this that I suggest to you. This word, as far as the Scripture is concerned, is translated by the word prosperity , by the word full , and by the word complete .

I think Solomon the wise man gave us probably the best summarized use of the word in the book of Proverbs. Turn to Proverbs, chapter 3, and notice verses 1-2:

Proverbs 3:

1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

Keep in mind, from a purely human standpoint, these words were written by a man who tried everything there is to try in this life. You read the book of Ecclesiastes with that thought in mind someday. That is the reason the book was written. Solomon wrote down all of his experiences in everything that he had ever tried in his life to find satisfaction, and now at the end of a futile life, he said:

Proverbs 3:

1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

I would suggest, as we go back to Psalm 119, that the peace of which we speak is accompanied by continuous praise, for in verse 164, we read:

Psalm 119:

164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.

The phrase, “seven times,” is an idiomatic expression often used in the Old Testament to speak of something that is done in a continuous fashion, and that is why the Berkeley Translation of the Scripture presents this verse: “Constantly, throughout the day, I will praise thee.”

Who is able to do this? Who is able to praise the Lord throughout the day? The individual who has peace. Think about that. Examine your own life and see how much praising you get done. Let me rephrase that. See how little praising you get done when you are torn up emotionally, when there is no peace in your heart. Continuous praise always accompanies peace.

Look at verse 165, as I suggest another companion of peace, not only continuous praise, but a clear path, for in verse 165, we read:

Psalm 119:

165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

This doesn't mean that nothing will make them angry. It means that nothing shall cause them to stumble because the word offend is the translation of the Hebrew word mikshowl, which is translated by the word stumbling block elsewhere in the Scripture. God is saying that if you love the Word of God in the fashion which we have described, you will have peace; and if you have peace, no stumbling block will be placed in your way.

This word mikshowl is also translated by the word ruin . There will be no ruin in your pathway if you love the law and have the peace. I rather like the way Moffatt translates it, for he said: “Great peace have they which love Thy law, and the road is clear before them.”

Aren't you glad to have a clear path, a clear path which you can travel without fear of stumbling into a chughole before you get very far along? Look at verse 168 and notice:

Psalm 119:

168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.

Notice that last phrase: “…for all my ways are before thee.” That brings to my mind that not only is peace accompanied by continuous praise and by a clear path, but it is accompanied by a conscious presence of the Lord. When peace reigns supreme, then you are conscious of the presence of the Lord in your life; and that is what the Psalmist had in mind when he said, “All of my ways are before thee.”

Moffatt translates it: “I live all my life under thy eye.” Now, if you have got something to be ashamed of, if you have got something that you know is not right, if you have something that you know ought not to be a part of your life, then you don't enjoy what I just said. But if you are walking in the Spirit and the Lord is supreme, then you relax. You relax because you know you're living all of your life under His eye, and it is good to know that He is watching over you. The Paraphrased Version says: “Everything I do is known to You.”

Again, if you are doing something that you know is inconsistent with your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, you're not going to enjoy knowing that; but if you are walking in the Spirit, isn't it good not to have to worry? Isn't it good to say, “Everything I do is known to the Lord, and He is making provisions for it. He is working things out. He is doing what ought to be done.”?

Turn back with me once again to Psalm 34, where we turned a bit earlier in our discussion, and notice how the Psalmist there ties this truth in with what we have been saying. Notice verses 14-15:

Psalm 34:

14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous,[here is the lovely part] and his ears are open unto their cry.

His eyes are on us, and His ears are always open. I love that. I have never seen it better illustrated than in the life of a mother. All of you mothers know this, but it is always been a thrilling thing to me to observe, not only in my own wife, but in many, many mothers through the years. They are busy about many things. The child is playing, and there is constant prattle. There is a constant noise. All day long it goes along and the mother seemingly never hears, and then all at once there is a change in the tone of voice or in what seems the unintelligible prattling to a stranger. It becomes intelligible language to the mother, and immediately she goes to the rescue of the child.

I don't know how many times I have said to my wife, “How did you know they wanted anything. That had been going on all day. How did you know they wanted anything?” Mother-like, she just smiled and said, “Well, you know.”

That is the best illustration I know of God, that His ears are always open to your cry. That is why you can have peace, Beloved. “Great peace have they which love Thy law,” because everything we do is done in sight of His eyes, and His ears are open to our cry.

You don't have to do a lot of yelling and shouting and screaming to get His ear. As a matter of fact, that is why He doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to some of it. He knows it is just a lot of screaming, but when the real message needs to get through, it does.

Conclusion

I want to close on this one moment of sadness this morning, for it makes my own heart sad to think about it because I enjoy this peace of which I speak. I have it. I love it, but I read in the book of Romans, chapter 3, verse 17, concerning a group of people who have never trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, and one of the saddest things that it said about them as far as I am concerned is that the way of peace they have not known. I am glad today that because I met the Lord Jesus Christ, I found the way of peace. My heart aches for those who don't know it. I don't know how people live in this world without this peace.


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