Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Joy of the Word of God

The law of the LORD is perfect,
restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true;
they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold,
yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the
drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is
In keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors? Acquit
me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from
presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great
Let the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

~Psalm 19:7-14

This psalm attributed to David clearly reveals the heart of one who loves the Word of God. After rejoicing over the work of God in creation (vs. 1-6), David moves on to rejoice over God's Word. He uses five synonyms for God's Word (law, testimony, precepts, commandment, and judgments) and then proceeds to speak of its result. The effects of God's Word which should bring us joy are that it brings us encouragement in restoring our soul, teaching by making wise the simple, giving us joy, rejoicing the heart, as well as revealing truths to us by enlightening the eyes all because God's words are righteous altogether. While the fear of the LORD mentioned in vs 9 does not appear to be a synonym for God's Word, it does describe a proper response to it. One thing God's Word does in the heart of a Christian is inspire him to worship. In his wonderful work, Desiring God, John Piper makes a strong point that the natural response to reading God's Word is worship (while I remember reading it, unfortunately I have failed to find the exact quote in over 334 pages in his book.) I can recall several times personally studying Scripture when the Holy Spirit has revealed something to me or aided me in understanding something I had been struggling with and having to stop and take time to praise and worship God, to have that fear or awe of God David may be referring to.

Continuing in his joy of God's Word, David goes on to describe it as more desirable than gold, even fine gold. While many spend their lives searching for treasure, David has already found it in the Word of God. He would rather have God's Word than "silver and gold". Money cannot buy the joy the Word of God brings to the serious student. Material things are fleeting but the Word of God is eternal. As Isaiah points out comparing the temporal physical human life to God's messages: The grass withers, the flower fades, / But the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). It grieves my heart to know of too many who are wasting their time seeking false joy from what they mistakenly believe material wealth will bring when true joy and treasure is found in Scripture. The treasures in God's Word will make an eternal difference in one's life, much more than "bigger barns" full of stuff one accumulates on this earth which receive no eternal value (Luke 12:13-21).

In addition to viewing God's Word as "greater treasure", David describes it as "greater food". He compares it to honey and finds it sweeter. It is hard to find anything sweeter than honey, especially when it is fresh from the honeycomb itself. Yet, as sweet as it is, David finds the treasure of God's commands and judgments to be better. David must have realized what Moses had taught in Deuteronomy 8:3: man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. While it is important to partake daily of physical food for the nourishment of our bodies which are temporal, how much more important to partake of our spiritual food of God's Word for the nourishment of our souls which are eternal?

Another reason David rejoices over God's Word is the great reward of heeding to the warnings it gives concerning sin (vs. 11). Another psalmist later states that a young man can keep his way pure . . . By keeping it according to Your word, (Psalm 119:9) and Your word I have treasured in my heart, / That I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:11). The remedy for not falling into sin is to heed the warnings in God's Word and treasuring that word over all other things, which would include the pleasures of sin. 19th century evangelist Dwight L. Moody made a strong point when he held up his Bible in one of his revival meetings and stated: "This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book." In reading the words which are true and righteous altogether, one will see how unrighteous he or she is. It is God's Word which leads one to confess and repent of both sins of omission (hidden faults) and sins of commission (presumptuous sins). David ends his psalm with a prayer resulting from the reforming power of God's Word in pointing out sin in one's life. Instead of living in sin which is displeasing in God's sight, he wants everything he does to be acceptable in His sight.

David's love and joy in God's Word is undeniable. The question then is what about you? Do you find your joy in God's Word or are their material things in your life which are sweeter and valued as a greater treasure? Would you rather watch a movie or read the latest fiction novel than spend an hour with God in His Word? I pray that the passion and joy David exudes concerning God's Word would flow in our lives out to others who witness us studying and living out Scripture. May God receive glory by us satisfying ourselves in Him through His Word.

In Christ,
Lee Smith
Soli Deo Gloria!!!

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