Serving Christ and sharing the Gospel

Listening to God (Ps 119:97-105)

So this is the third in our sermon series called ‘Learning to Pray’, and this week’s reading was Ps 119: 97-105. But first my question is How should we live? Where is the guide to life? Every new car comes with an owner’s manual. And there is a manual for us? The psalmist tells us that the manual for life is the Word of God.

So how do you deepen your relationship with the Lord? Our relationship to the Lord is determined by our following His will and His will is revealed in His Word. We cannot be in His will if we are not in His Word.

The psalmist declared his love and devotion to the Word which gave him more understanding and wisdom than his enemies, teachers, and elders (vv. 97-100). By God’s Word he had kept himself pure (vv. 101-102; 9, 104) and tasted the sweetness of God’s promises (v. 103). Insight and purity (v. 104) result from being “Made Wise By The Word”.  May we too meditate on God’s Word throughout the day and grow in understanding and wisdom through listening to God.

Verse 97 begins with a shout of love for the Word.  “O how I love Your law!” The closing phrase of this verse proves that he is telling the truth. “It is my meditation all the day.” Note the writer says – He loves God’s Word and shamelessly proclaimed it. He and We should love it for its truth. Love it for its wisdom.

Love it for its transforming power. ..for its comfort. For its encouragement… for its guidance… Love it for its purity or holiness. Love it for it reveals the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because the psalmist loves the Word he meditates on it all day long. He has so soaked himself in the Word and it is his constant companion and guide.

Meditation takes time. We must first understand what the Bible says which requires study-a little digging.

Most important of all, we must apply to our everyday lives what we read and learn. Anything less will produce little or no spiritual growth. There is much to love in the Bible but only as we study it and obey it will it change our lives. So why is the psalmist so preoccupied with God’s Word? Why does he fill his mind with it rather than with the newspaper, rubbish books, Facebook, or social media or just rubbish TV?

The answer is that through it he has become wise. The Word of God is teaching him how to live. It’s God’s  manual for life, for our lives. Many people who go to Church and call themselves Christians, rarely open the Bible to read it, let alone meditate on it, or study it. And because of this they are spiritually weak.

I wonder if someone hide your Bible at home how long would it take before you missed it? Now you may say I don’t have to read the bible I know all that is in it. I know Christians who have been brought up reading the Bible and are now in the 80’s and even 90’s who still read the bible and say that they learn new things quite often and are also remind of things they forgot.

The importance of reading the Bible is strongly stated in verse 98. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. Continually studying the Word made the psalmist wiser than his enemies. He was not distracted or seduced by his enemy’s lies, for God’s commandments are ever with him.

Because God’s Word was his true guide, he has been made wiser than those who try to defeat him.

When my son was very little and had done something wrong and I told him off, I caught that look in his eyes that said you don’t love me, so a few days later I reminded him of what had happened and of that look and I told him that I would always LOVE him.  I may not always LIKE what he did but I would never stop LOVING him.

And through studying the word of God we learn that this is the same type of love that Jesus has for each one of us – unconditional.  He may not LIKE what we do sometimes but He will never stop LOVING us.

Jesus said in John 5:24 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Jesus said, “hears my word” so  how do we hear Gods word through the bible in study and meditation, not as the world would have us believe through being good people and being nice, if we follow Jesus that will be a by-product.

Verse 99 reveals that the God’s Word has given the psalmist more insight than his teachers. He says “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes”. Human thoughts, however brilliant, come and go. When they are based upon God’s Word, they may even be trustworthy and true.

Nevertheless, by learning to use the Bible for ourselves, we can have more understanding than our teachers because we have gone to the source of eternal wisdom. Notice again how the Word made him wiser than others. He gains insight by constantly reflecting on the Word of God.

The psalmist declares that he even understands more than the elders in verse 100. He says “I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts”. Now he goes beyond his teachers to those who have the wisdom of a lifetime. Old men are those whose experience entitles them to be wiser. Not even they can compete with God’s Word.

He exceeds them, for He obeys Gods precepts. He is not boasting of superior intelligence but declaring that the highest gift of wisdom comes from doing the will of God as revealed in the Word of God. Verse 101 relates a practical value that comes from meditating upon the Word of God. We read “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word”. As we walk in the way of God, His Spirit enables us to keep His Word. To keep God’s Word is obey its teachings. The keeping of God’s way is not compatible with any sort of evil. So the Word of God has restrained the psalmist’s feet “from every evil way.”

God’s Word is the guide for his life. It is the manual that shows him where to walk. It keeps him from evil, and, by implication, directs him in righteousness. In verse 102 we learn that he has not departed from God’s laws because he has been taught by God Himself. He says “I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me”. These laws reveal God’s justice and  order, according to His will. The psalmist proclaims that his faithfulness to God and His Word have come from God and what He has taught him.

Some read their Bibles by flipping through the pages and take a quick look at a verse here or there simply to satisfy their curiosity. They admire its thought-provoking words, but they don’t study its deeper truths. It fascinates them but doesn’t change them. When you study the Bible in a hit or miss fashion, you miss far more that you hit. A true student of the Word is not a person with a big head, full of all sorts of knowledge, but one who has an obedient heart and is committed to do God’s will.

While God’s truth is food for our souls, it is not a “buffet” from which we select only the things we like. If the Bible tells us something is wrong, then it is wrong end of story. If God tells us something is right, then we should fellow that path with all we have.

Is the will of God difficult to the psalmist? No. He confesses the Word’s sweetness to him in verse 103. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Though it was an acquired taste, the psalmist now enjoys the Word. Honey would be the sweetest thing the psalmist could taste. God’s Word had become like honey to him, and it should become like that to us also. It gives our life the sweetness and energy we need to obey His commands. The unsaved person finds the Bible boring, but a true child of God feeds on the Scriptures and enjoys the sweet taste of its truth. This is what it means to go beyond Bible study. But start at bible study we have four groups in church if you’re not in one why not do you not want to enjoy the sweet taste of truth.

As we take in the Word of God, it is a pleasure. There is a delight in knowing that we have a sure guide in life. The Word also holds us up so that we stand against evil. It is a relief in knowing that we are not left to wander alone, but as the psalmist says in verse 104, because we are certain as to what is right, God can empower us to stand against dishonesty.  He says “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path”.

God’s revelation taught through the bible shows us what is true and what is false. This understanding prompted by God’s Word leads the writer not to tolerate falsehood, unlike in our world today where much is tolerated and accepted and sometimes called a grey area. He hates the false ways that lead to death. This is not arrogance. This is honesty, born from a man who has learned from life’s manual how to live. He knows that there is no eternal wisdom apart from God’s. I have found the best thing I can do with regard to deceit is to know the Word of God so that when something is said that is contrary to Scripture, it won’t sound right to me.

Verse 105 says “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”. Matthew Pools commentary puts this very well he says “To direct me in all my doubts and difficulties, to preserve from sin and misery, both which often come under the name of darkness, and to comfort me in all my fears and distresses.

So in closing, in reading and studding God’s Word we are listening to God through his word and through the Holy spirit who will prompt us and point us to the true way of life. Once we know Gods word we are in a better position to listen to God in our prayer time as we will be more able to discern what is God and what is us and what is the world. If we meditate, study and listen, God  will guide us in good times and in bad. As we grow in grace we will live and serve the Lord in ways that bring Him glory and honour. Maybe then the so called learned of the world will say of us what they said of Jesus first disciples in Acts 4:13. “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Are we listening to God, are we following Jesus? Let’s close in prayer: Lord God, thank you for your word, may we study your word all the time, my we be guided by your word and your Holy Spirit. And Lord may your word be a lamp to our walk with Jesus, In His name we pray, Amen