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MEDITATE ON GOD’S PROMISES

Psalm 119:145-119:160
Key Verse: 119:148

Happy New Year! 2016 has just begun. Thank God for giving us his words through Hebrews 12:2 “Fix our eyes on Jesus”. May we have many victories through this word this year. Today’s passage Psalm 119 is like Old Testament version of Hebrews 12:2. Practically, to fix our eyes on Jesus, we need to have his words fully in our hearts. It is because Jesus is the Word. May God bless us to have a stronger desire to meditate on his words as the Psalmist did.

Part I. Meditate on God’s promises

The Palmist had one single desire that is to live according to the words of God. We also want to live such life. However, it is not easy to live godly when our circumstances are ungodly. We often fall into deep troubles and distress. This passage shows us how to sustain our lives before God and how God helps us.

First, the psalmist’s prayer: Look at verse 145-146. “[145]I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees. [146]I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes.” The psalmist prayed with all his heart. It means that he prayed to God wholeheartedly with single mind even when he faced with difficult situations which could cause him to fear and worry. He desperately wanted to revive his life from his problems. God promised to those who pray earnestly. Jeremiah 29:12-13 says “you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Proverb 8:17 also says “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”

The bible testifies how people could restore their lives in God as they earnestly sought him. In the book of Samuel, Hannah sought God wholeheartedly because she was barren. God responded to her earnest prayer and granted her a baby boy, Samuel. King Hezekiah was helpless when the nation was attacked by a large army of Assyria. He said “This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the point of birth and there is no strength to deliver them.” But when he prayed to God wholeheartedly, God brought him a great victory and put to death 185,000 Assyrian soldiers over night. So, there is a saying that goes “a man of prayer is stronger than a nation without prayer”. Our ancestors of faith such as Moses, Samuel, Elijah, David overcame all critical situations with their prayers. God blesses those who seek him in their midst of individual, community, and national wide problems. So, the psalmist earnestly asked God to save him so that he could continue to live an obedient life as his child.

Particularly, he struggled through his morning prayer to seek God and his will as our Lord Jesus showed in his ministry. Look at verse 147 “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” Early morning is the best time to concentrate on God. Through morning prayers, the psalmist focused his heart to God. Normally, music instruments are tuned before performance. His morning prayer was like tuning his heart to God before starting the day. When he did so, he could put his hope in the words of God though he was in hopeless situation.

Secondly, he meditated on the words of God. Look at verse 148 “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” He meditated on God’s promises until his heart was refreshed. “Meditate” is one of key words in Psalm 119. It is written eight times alone in this chapter out of 16 times in the Old Testament. The psalmist meditated God’s words before dawn. Early morning is most fresh time in a day. We like the word “fresh”: “Make a fresh start in this new year.” Think about a pond where fresh water flows into continuously. Many good wild lives can live in it. However, if the pond receives various wastes, it will lose life soon and can’t be a good home. Our heart is like a pond to become fresh or not depending on what flows into.

How to make our lives living and flourishing in the midst of difficult times? Is it possible or not? Yes, it is possible when we receive God’s word through meditation. Psalm 1:2-3 says “on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” When we meditate on the words of God, our heart becomes filled with fresh words of God. The psalmist in this passage could have lost his heart in fear and anxiety due to his sufferings. But he decided to meditate on the words of God and chose to wait for the time when God can give him most fresh words. He could not sleep more, expecting that he would receive fresh words of God every morning. Thank God for Ian’s decision to have daily bread this New Year. Daily bread will give him fresh words each and every day.

Meditation on God’s words is also God’s will in our spiritual battle. When God raised Joshua as Moses’ successor to bear battles in Canaan, he did not require any other skills. Rather, he said to Joshua, “[7] Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. [8] Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:7-8). God said what he should not do and should do. All commands are related to the words of God. If the first man, Adam and Eve meditated the words of God, they could discern the will of God and protect themselves from Devil’s scheme. Devil has made various wicked schemes from the Garden of Eden until now. Deep meditation on the words of God is the way of fixing our hearts on God and it protects our hearts from devil’s scheme.

What are the results of his meditation? V149 “Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws.” As he prayed, he could depend on God’s love and God’s words more deeply and he could pray more boldly. When we mediate on God’s word, it can lead us to know God’s steadfast love despite our present situations. The psalmist asked “Hear my voice”. As we saw, in his prayer, he cried out and called out to God. Sometimes, our voice is not loud enough. Think about aforementioned Hannah’s story, she prayed in her heart and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. That time, Eli the priest said “you are drunken.” But she said “I was pouring out my soul to the LORD” “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." Likewise, God hears our sincere voice whether it is big or small because of his great love. Let us pray all the more by holding onto his love and words this year.

Read V150-151 “Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law. Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true.” The psalmist heard many ungodly plans and the wicked people were near to him. He felt lonely and vulnerable with fear and pressure. But as he devoted to God through prayer and meditation, he was newly assured that God is near to him and equips him with the truth.

“God’s commands are true” This is an important confession in our spiritual battles. When Apostle Paul said about armor of God in Ephesians 6, the first armor he mentioned was “with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” Evil people try to nullify the words of God. But when we meditate his words, we feel his presence, speaking to us the truth.

The psalmist also sang everlasting of the words of God. Look at verse 152 “Long ago I learned from your statues that you established them to last forever.” The words of God do not change. The psalmist learned that the words of God was already tested and experienced by people of God. The truth of God is forever right. Truth does not have an expiry date. The word of God was true when it was written in the past. It is still true today and it will be true tomorrow. It was true in 2015 and this year as well. In such conviction, we can continue to live up to the words of God. The same word that we received long ago still works now and will work in the future. As God does not change, neither does his words.

Part II. Preserve my life.

In this section, the word “preserve my life” is repeatedly used to show the earnest desire of the psalmist. Here, “life” can be extended to our spiritual life which should be established in right relationship with God. How can we preserve our lives in our suffering?

Look at verse 153-154 “Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.” “Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.” In this prayer, he asked God to intervene in his hardship. My suffering and my cause are very personal matter. Sometimes, no one understands my suffering. So, the time of suffering is the very time to meet my God who understands me very personally. As we know, King David had many victories in his life. That means he had many troubles due to his various enemies in his journey of life. The secret of his victory was that he asked for God’s help whenever he was in troubles. He confessed “God is my rock, my fortress.” “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)

So, the psalmist earnestly sought God’s help. In addition, even though the psalmist was in trouble, he said “I have not forgotten your law”. He did not lose the words of God in his heart. As preservatives are used to keep food quality, he put his words to keep his heart in his trouble times. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverb 4:23)

He also prayed “Preserve my life according to your promise” He might have heard many wicked plots have made to destroy his life. However, he entrusted his life to God holding onto God’s promise that God will revive his life. He asked God to become his deliverer, defender, and redeemer.

He also noted the destiny of the wicked. Look at verse 155 “Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.” The wicked is temporarily prosperous; there is no salvation for them. Salvation is not based on men’s own power and ability but is given to those who seek the words of God. God saves and redeems those who seek his words and find him and know him. What a grace is this that God gave us his words!!

So, the psalmist praised God’s great compassion. Look at verse 156 “Your compassion (mercy) is great, O LORD; preserve my life according to your laws.” Salvation is deeply rooted on God’s compassion. Our God is compassionate and merciful.

Salvation through the words of God and his compassion reminds us of John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In Jesus’ grace and truth, Samaritan woman’s life was restored in God. The woman who was caught in the act of adultery was preserved. That time, the Jews decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.

Seeking God’s salvation, how did the psalmist’s live? He valued the words of God. Look at verse 157 “Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.” When many hated and bullied him, the psalmist felt great pressure. But he was determined to fix his heart on the words of God so that he could not be shaken. The psalmist knew the grace of God through his words. He did not turn from them. This reminds us of a born-blind man’s story who received his sight by Jesus. However, religious leaders pressured the man to admit that Jesus is sinner.

Under such pressure, he held onto one thing, the grace of Jesus giving him new life. In the end, he was thrown out from the synagogue. But Jesus met him, revealed who he was to him and blessed his faith. We may hold onto the words of God who showed us his grace even under such pressured circumstances in our lives.

Look at verse 158 “I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word” In other translation, “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved” (KJV). He saw the faithless out of holy anger and broken heart, thinking about their destiny.

Look at verse 159 “See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love.” As we see from the passage, the psalmist’s love for God’s words was deep. Through his deep love for God’s words, he could also grow in knowing God’s deep love for him. So loving God’s words became his medicines in his painful times, driving out despair and putting a hope of revival in his life.

Look at verse 160 “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal” All the words of God are true and eternal. When he held onto the words which are true and eternal, he could gain a sense of victory in the temporal world. So all his suffering was meaningful to him that he could deepen his faith and could love the words of God more and more.

Thank and praise God for giving us precious words which is true and eternal. We may continue to meditate on them so that in our difficult times, we may be strengthened and renewed.

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