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THE UNFOLDING OF GOD’S WORDS GIVES LIGHT

Psalm 119:129-119:144
Key Verse: 119:130

Today we learn 17th and 18th section of the passage. The psalmist praises the blessings when the words of God are open to us. The bible shows many examples how one and nations’ life is blessed when the word of God unfolded. On a contrary, when the word of God folded, people suffer in darkness. Through this study, we may learn the psalmist’s strong desire toward the words of God.

Part I. The unfolding of God’s words gives light

Verse 129. “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them” Your statutes refer to the words of God. The words of God has full of wonders. God shows his wonderful aspects through his words. His creation, love, salvation and promises express how wonderful God is. For example, God promised to Abraham that he would give him a child although he was too old to have a child. When we read a book of Exodus, we see how wonderfully God saved his people from the strong hand of Pharaoh. When God’s words were spoken, humanly impossible things became possible. However, in all his wonders, what is truly wonderful is that God has given us his words showing his care and love to us. Actually, men are underserved to have his words due to a broken relationship with him. Men’s sins against God completely broke relationship with him. When people have broken relationship with someone, they stop communicating by removing from facebook friends or from email contact. Considering men’s unworthiness, we are subject to have no words from God. However, despite man’s sinfulness and arrogance, God spoke and gave us his words, conveying his unfailing love, hope and the way of restoring relationship. His words are truly wonderful gifts from God. Deeply appreciating God’s grace, the psalmist responded “I obey the words of God.”

In verse 130, he addressed excellence of the words of God. Look at verse 2 “The unfolding of your words gives light; gives understanding to the simple” God gave us excellent words of God. When the word of God is revealed to us, it shines his wonderful light that drives out all our darkness from our hearts and lives. As the psalmist confessed, it gives understanding to the simple. The simple is lack in prudence. When people live without knowledge of God, they become simple. According to the book of Proverbs, the simple had no wisdom so that they suffer (Pr 22:3). However, the words of God give them wisdom. Psalm 19:7 says “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”

What kind of light and understanding can make people wise? Those who are shone in this light, they acknowledge God who is the Creator. I recently had a chance to talk with one math student about the origin of the world. He strongly believed that he was from ameba. However, what he believed does not tell the meaning and purpose of men’s life. Men’s value cannot be measured in animal level. However, the word of God reveals God the creator and man is his masterpiece. Creation knowledge and faith always gives us his light that God is the Sovereign Lord.

The words of God also reveal who we are. The bible pointed out that we are helpless sinners who needs God’s salvation. God revealed not only our spiritual conditions but also the wonderful way of salvation through Jesus. So, the unfolding of God’s word gives light of God’s forgiveness and salvation to the sinner’s heart. There was a man, Lew Wallace an American politician, writer, and General. One day, after he had conversation with his atheist fellow, he questioned about his own faith. Until that time, he was a nominal Christian and indifferent to the religion. He decided to tackle reading the bible. Through the reading, he could understand the forgiveness of Jesus which motivated him to write a book. After seven years of further biblical research, he completed a book titled “Ben-hur”. He confessed that the act of writing Ben-Hur resulted in “a conviction amounting to absolute belief in God and the divinity of Christ.” As for me, one word of Jesus from John 8 “Then neither do I condemn you, Go now and leave your life of sin.” was unfolded to me. I could deeply acknowledge that I am a sinner who needs the grace of Jesus. When I also had fear of failure in school study, God also unfolded his word (John 11:25-26) to me “[25] Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; [26] and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" I could experience power of resurrection faith in my troubles.

Thank God for blessing our Luke’s gospel study each week. The unfolding of Luke’s gospel helps us understand Jesus more and more clearly and personally. Our meditation and writing reflection is the time of asking God for unfolding his words and letting the light of God capture our hearts and mind. The stronger desire we have toward the words of God, the brighter life we have. No matter how deep our inner darkness is, the words of God give us his full strength of light. May God continue to reveal his words so that we may grow in wisdom and knowledge of God.

Look at verse 131. “I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.” We see the psalmist’s strong desire toward the words of God. As the hungry baby bird open its mouth as wide as possible to get yummy food, he was so hungry for the words of God. His sole desire was to have words of God more and more. This expression also shows that he eagerly desires to receive any words from God whether it is easy or hard teaching to take. Sometimes, children have picky eating habits and do not open their mouth to vegetables but widely open to yummy meat. But the psalmist is ready to take any words from God. Verse 132 “Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.” This is his humble request to God for helping him to understand his words. Without God’s help, one can’t truly have his words.

Verse 133-135 shows what kind of grace the psalmist wanted to receive through the words of God. “[133] Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. [134] Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. [135] Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees.”

Verse 133-134 shows that he sought God’s help and salvation from his sins and persecution. These are our enemies inside and outside in our journey of life. However, the words of God can perfectly lead us to live a life that God desires. In our journey of life, many pits of temptation and snares of sins await us. Hence, our footstep needs God’s guidance through his words. The words of God also redeem us from hands of man’s oppression. The psalmist was persecuted; however, he sought more words of God so that he could experience the power of the words of God and also continue to live on them. We often receive various pressures from men when we follow the words of God. Particularly, it is not easy to live a holy life in ungodly environment among unbelieving families or friends. However, the words of God can redeem us for such pressure and inner fear. When we are equipped with the words of God, we can overcome our spiritual enemies.

However, when we see verse 135, we can see that what the psalmist sought from the words of God was more than salvation and problem solving. “[135] Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees.” Other translation says that “Smile on me” (NET, MSG) “Let your servant see the shining of your face” (BBE). When we feel distress, our beloved one’s smile encourages us. I experience when my children and wife smile at me, my tiredness is gone. How much more can we be strengthened when God gives his bright smile to us. Moreover, the psalmist’s desire was to have a more intimate love relationship with God. The psalmist loved God. His sincere desire was to know God more personally as he sees him face to face. In this way, he wanted to learn of God and restore his image in his heart. He wanted to become like a man after God’s own heart.

Think about Apostle Paul’s life. He also had such a noble desire. He accomplished remarkable work of God. He experienced the power of the words of God inwardly and outwardly. However, his deep inner desire was to have intimate relationship with Jesus and know him and possess his image in him. Philippians 1: [20] “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” May God make his face upon each of us to have close love relationship and grow in his image through the words of God.

Look at V 136 “Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.” Suddenly, the psalmist cried over and over. His heart was so broken due to people’s unbelief. When he learned of God’s heart, he could have such godly sorrow. God opened the psalmist’s eyes to see his broken heart toward disobedient people. The bible says that God has held out his hands all day long to a disobedient and obstinate people (Romans 10:21). Knowing such heart, the psalmist also had a broken shepherd heart toward unbelieving people. May God help you and me to grow in God’s broken heart.

Part II. Your laws are right.

In this section, the psalmist praises that the words of God is righteous. The word “right” “righteous” is repeatedly written. Look at verse 137-138. He exclaimed “Righteous are you, O LORD, and your laws are right. [138] “The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.” The psalmist struggled with the words of God while living in an ungodly environment. He suffered much through various persecutions while his enemies prospered and advocated their evil thoughts and suppressed God’s righteousness. It is very painful to see when the world becomes more and more evil. It seemed there are no right things in this world. The spiritual condition of the world is critical. However, the psalmist newly saw God who is righteous and give his righteous word. What if there is no righteous God and no justice? Evilness will ever grow and prosper. This world will face a terrible situation like emission of all kinds of harmful pollutants to the environment endlessly eventually makes us chocked. That is why people lay down all kinds of environmental regulations to protect our lives. Similarly, our righteous God gave us his words as a standard. Righteousness is God’s character. People experienced such character of God. Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4) and Daniel (Daniel 9:14) confessed that God is right. Even pagan kings such as Pharaoh (Ex 9:27) and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:37) also exclaimed God’s righteousness. Our God alone is righteous and his words are truly righteous and trustworthy.

Look at verse 139. “My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.” Zeal is a high degree of love. The psalmist had great passion for the words of God. So, he was indignant when the words of God were ignored. It could be discouraging when people ignore the words of God and when they reject our invitation. However, the psalmist had more burning desire to love the word of God. Such zeal helped him to overcome despair and continue to serve God’s work.

When Apostle Paul pioneered many places, he experienced many objections. For instance, when he delivered the words of God at Ephesus, people refused to believe and publically maligned them. However, Paul took the disciples with him and had very intensive bible study daily in the lecture of hall of Tyrannus for two years. As a result, all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. When Paul passionately served the ministry of God’s word, church of God grew in spiritually challenging environment. The psalmist and Paul’s zeal came out of love for God’s word.

Why did the psalmist love them? It is because the words of God are perfectly pure. V 140 “Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” Other translation says “Your word is very pure” God’s word is like very refined gold. They are perfectly true without any flaw so that they are righteous. Products should be tested many times to be on the market. M. James is testing drugs at work as quality control. But things in the world do not last long because none can make anything perfect. However, in the bible, numerous examples show truthfulness of God’s word. God promised Abraham that he would made him a father of many nation although he could not have even one son. God’s promise was indeed fulfilled. God also fulfilled his promise promised to Israel that she would be delivered after 70 years of Babylon-exile. More than that, God also promised to send us our Messiah. He gave the promise repeatedly through different prophets over thousand years. As he promised, Jesus was born and fulfilled God’s promise through his death and resurrection. All the words of God are thoroughly tested. We live in the world flooded with many ideas with flaws. Man’s promise and idea is not perfect. Jesus said “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (MT 5:18) “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. / But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (MT 7:24-26) May God help us to love and depend on the word of God all the more.

V 141-142 “Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts. Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.” The psalmist was in a hard situation. However, he wanted to keep the words. There is a time of being tested when we seek God’s righteousness and words. In 2 Timothy 3:12-17, Paul said to Timothy “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, [13]while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. [14]But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, [15]and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [16]All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, [17]so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

When the psalmist depended on God’s word, what happened to him? V 143 “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.” The words of God gave him joy although situation did not change. Sometimes, we face troubles and distress in every aspect of our life such as our workplace, school study, and family life. We learn how to change our distressful heart to delightful one. David experienced various troubles during his life. But he could endure them because he had joy in the words of God. He said “His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

The psalmist prayed in V 144 “Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.” His desire was to have deeper understanding and wisdom through the word of God. Men can live when they have knowledge of God.

In conclusion, thank and praise God for giving us his precious words which are right and trustworthy. May God continue to unfold his words to us so that we may have his light in our hearts and lives. We may trust and depend on his words in our ungodly environment and grow in deep love of God’s words.

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