“God, My Portion”
June 26, 2016
Obedience is hard.
It’s hard to obey a boss who is tyrannical and unfair. It’s hard to obey a parent that demands his children do what he will not do. It’s hard for a wife to submit to a husband whose leadership is foolish and uncaring. It’s hard for a citizen to obey immoral, lying, weak, and dishonest political leaders.
And for many people, it’s hard to obey the Word of God because it seems so demanding, and its principles are so contrary to the culture and what we are encouraged to do in the world every day. The Bible seems out of touch with reality. Do we really need to obey?
Yes. We do. And even more than that, obedience is good and delightful for us, as Kevin DeYoung notes:
“The law is good because firmness is good. God cares enough to show us his ways and direct our paths. How awful it would be to inhabit this world, have some idea that there is a God, and yet not know what he desires from us. Divine statutes are a gift to us. God gives us law because he loves.” [The Hole in our Holiness, 50.]
So this morning, I’d like to take us to the greatest extended passage on the work of the Word of God, Psalm 119, and remind us of the priority of obeying God. Obedience is the theme of the stanza beginning in v. 57:
Obey God and His Word in every way and at all times.
We come to Psalm 119 because several years ago I thought it would be good to take one Sunday at the beginning of each year and think about the necessity of the Word of God; and what better way to do that, but to spend one Sunday each year in Psalm 119? I was 46 when I started that, and didn’t do the math. Last year I realized that if I kept up that pace, I would be 68 before I finished the psalm. So I thought I might pick up the pace a little — and one way to do that would be to do an annual mid-year Bible check-up. How are you doing in your quest for God in the Scriptures? How faithful have you been to this Word, and what work has the Word done in your life? So, as this is the middle Sunday in the year, here we are, back in Psalm 119 (which I now plan to finish preaching when I’m 60!).
Let me remind you about Psalm 119. It is the longest Psalm (and chapter) in the Bible — 176 verses. It is made up of 22 8-verse stanzas — one stanza for each consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And within each section, each line begins with that letter of the alphabet, as a means to help the hearers remember and memorize the psalm (that’s why many of your Bibles have words you may not know between each of these sections — those are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet).
We don’t know who the author of the Psalm is, but he is pre-occupied with the Scriptures. He uses eight primary words to refer to the Scriptures, and most of those words appear in each of the stanzas. It is his way of affirming the breadth and authority of the Word of God.
He also speaks in many different ways about how we should respond to the Scriptures. A few years ago, I found at least 45 distinct responses that we should have to the Word of God: we should be in awe of it, believe it, choose it, counsel with it, esteem it, not forget it, not go astray from it, praise it, rejoice in it, seek it, sing it, speak it, give thanks for it, treasure it, turn to it, and be zealous for it.
But if there is one theme that is dominant among all those, it is the various words that he uses for obedience: we should cling to it, consider it, incline our hearts to it, keep it, obey it, not turn from it, remember it, and turn to it. God has given us His Word and He wants us to obey it (because it’s good for us). It may not always seem convenient to obey; it will almost always be hard to obey. But it is always good to obey.
As the psalmist meditates on the value of God’s Word, he affirms there are six times when it is wise to obey God and His Word.
- When Times Are Good, Obey God (vv. 57-58)
- When You Sin, Repent and Obey God (vv. 59-60)
- When You Are Opposed, Remember God and His Word (v. 61)
- When You Are Weary, Thank God for His Word (v. 62)
- When Pursuing Fellowship, Choose God-Fearing Friends (v. 63)
- In All Things, Let God Teach You from His Word (v. 64)
Download the rest of this sermon on Psalm 119:57-64.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.