“Thy testimonies are wonderful:
therefore doth my soul keep them.
The entrance of thy words giveth light;
it giveth understanding unto the simple.
I opened my mouth and panted:
for I longed for thy commandments.
Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me,
as thou used to do unto those that love thy name.
Order my steps in thy word;
and let not any iniquity have dominance over me.
Deliver me from the oppression of man;
so I will keep thy precepts.
Make thy face shine upon thy servant;
and teach me thy statutes.
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes,
because they keep not thy law.” (KJV)
The Psalmist, whom I believe to be Nehemiah, or by Ezra’s instructions to the priests, in this case, begins this stanza with the delight in the Law, the Torah. After many years in exile, the Hebrew Children have returned to Jerusalem and found the city and temple in ruin. The remnant has forgotten the Law and adapted the ways of the Assyrians and Persians. They have forsaken the teachings of the LORD Yahweh and married out of the faithful, they have begun to worship idols and taken on the customs of the pagans. The recurring theme of the Psalm is that God’s Precepts are wonderful, they are not to be taken light-heartily but embraced with passion. David says; “The Law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7-8 -NLT). The people needed to be reminded of this. They have been in exile from the teaching of the Law for many years, they have forgotten the teachings, they no longer spoke the old language but now spoke Aramaic, the very written word has been lost to most and the Torah had to be explained to them in a new tongue and written down in a new script. They had to relearn the language of their fathers.
Today we have many translations of the text of the Old Testament, and many churches do not use the understandings of the Torah for teaching or for study. Yet to these people, they were as new words, new hope and a promise of God’s awesome might and glory. They received the instructions of Nehemiah as did Job when he said, “I long for the years gone by when God took care of me, when he lighted the way before me and I walked safely through the darkness,” (Job 29:2-3 NLT). Looking at Psalm 119:130 we read into it that God’s Law is like a morning dawning, as the light grows in the east so does the light of the Word grow and warms us. It comforts us, it drives away the darkness. The Word, the Law, the teachings make us safe in the love of the Father. As sin hides us from peace, God’s Word drives out that darkness, it overcomes it. As Satan tries to hide in the dark, Jesus exposes him and we can see what is evil and unjust in God’s sight. As Christians today,we see through light of the Holy Spirit, we have learned what great Love God has for us. Because we know the sacrifice of Jesus we “pant expectancy” as a deer when it comes to the water. For we have seen the Living Water (John 4:10-14). In Our purpose of life, are we still desiring to drink deep of the living water? Where are we walking? In a patched hot, dry desert or by the cool streams of springs of God’s Grace and Mercy? The message to the Children of Israel was to long for the commandments of the LORD, the desire of our hearts is to long for the Great commandment to Love with all of our being Our God and to love each other as equal to ourselves.
The Psalmist cries out for his people, “Come, show me your Mercy, as you do for all who love your name.” (Psalm 119:132 NLT). And God heard the prayer and he sent Jesus, His Son to die for us, giving us mercy. While the people were only looking for protection from their enemies, we see now that God has protected us fro the Great Enemy, Satan. And he has rescued us form eternal death and given us everlasting life. Yet in today’s temptations we surround ourselves with the very things that distract us, we justify our wrongness and pursue things that are ungodly and still call ourselves a people of God. Shame on us! We are no better than the remnant that lost their heritage while in captivity or exile. We have replaced the Wisdom of the Word with outlandish ideas of self-gain, self importance and into thinking we can dictate to God what is right and what is wrong. We justify our actions and tell ourselves that the Law of God is for us to desire what is good and what is evil. We continually sin against God and then deny that it is sin or we say that because God has forgiven us all sins, we can still commit them without recourse.
Because of the turmoil in the world today, because of the persecutions of Christians, because those in the West have taken on a god of wealth and perversion we are no different from the Children of Israel and Judea who return to Judea and Jerusalem to face the constant harassment of their neighbors. As the trials we face today to preserve the faithfulness, we cry out as did David, “With regard to the works of man, by the word of Your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your path.” (Psalm 17:4-5 -ESV). Or have we? Do we still linger in the desires of the violent, those who seek to take and not give, to the desires of the flesh and the enjoyment of things not of God? Are we like David in saying to God, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous and let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13 ESV). There seems to me there are to many weak an senseless reasons to flee from God’s ways and to hide from faithfulness. But we are to stand up to these temptations, these aggressions and trials. We need to be as the Psalmist says to the people, let God guide you, let the Spirit of God teach you to overcome evil and to be protected in Righteousness from any and all evil and wickedness.
Paul told the Roman Christian community, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” Romans 5:6. And again he said “Do not let sin control the way you live! (or do not let sin reign in your body which is subject to death), do not give in to its lustful desires.” (Romans 6:12 NLT). We are in a battle to preserve our souls, to stand up to the weakness that prevails around us, to reject the sins of the world that corrupt our beliefs and our Salvation. Are we no different from the Jews returning from Babylon? Do we harbour wrongness in our hearts and claim that we are still faithful to Jesus? Just because we say we are Christians does not mean that we are faithful to God any more than it meant that the Returning exiles were faithful to the Law of Moses.
But now as was in the day of Ezra and Nehemiah, we are surrounded by evil and wickedness. Our Media, our neighbors and your enemies seek to destroy our resolve to follow God’s way. The psalmist shouts out to the people and to God, “Rescue me!…then I can follow Your commandments.” In the prayer of Jesus, “Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil” David called out to God (Psalm142:5-6 NLT), “Hear my cry,for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.” WE can not stand “Then I pray to You,O LORD. I say,’You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.alone or be brave enough to resist that which oppresses our soul. We need to cry out to God, “Protect – Preserve – Provide!” Lean onto God’s understanding, read the Word of God and learn from it how to pray, how to live and why to Love God.
This brings me to the point of the lesson, (NLT)”Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because the people disobey your Law.” Psalm 119:136. Throughout my life I have heard the heresy that we can continue to sin because we have been forgiven the sins we have yet to commit. But oh that is so untrue. We are still called to obey God, to not sin. We are told that those who claim to know God and yet continue to revel in the flesh will be dealt with more harshly than non-believers. As Jesus took our burdens to the cross, His sorrow was so great that He sweat blood, So great was the pain on the cross that he cries out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?” It is like the psalmist knew that regardless of the reassurance from God not to foresake the people if they keep His Law, they would time and time again. And even after the death and resurrection, those who followed Jesus would run away and hide. And over the centuries that followed, men would distort His Word, abuse His Love and ignore His Laws. Oh what sorrow it must have been for Jesus as He hung there knowing that man would not keep their word to God, they would turn away from His Statutes, His Decrees, His Love. “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasures, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everybody is wrong except those of your own little group.” (Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT) All these thing are the sins that violate the Law of God’s Love. All these attitudes cause our Lord Jesus to cry. For all these sins that filled the people returning to Israel and Judea from captivity still reign in the hearts of those who cry out “Lord, Lord!” and Our Father in heaven will not hear them for their sins revolt against the Love of the Cross. Add to these offences, Envy, drunkenness, sexual sins, wild living, and other sins. “Let me tell you again, as I have before, THAT ANYONE LIVING THAT SORT OF LIFE WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM GOD!” Galatians 5:22.
Joel told the people, in a Word from God, “Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the minister of the LORD weep…” (Joel 2:17a ESV). God has sent judgement to his people because of their sins. Micah laments the voice of God in saying, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” and he follows with the Words from God to the sinful, arrogant people of the land with, “The voice of the LORD cries to the city and it is sound wisdom to fear Your Name;…. ‘Hear the rod and Him who appointed it!'” (Read Joel 2:9-15) For these reasons, the Psalmist weeps, because the people have still not heard in their hearts the Wisdom of God’s Will. Why then, even after we have come to the saving Grace of Jesus, do we seek to destroy the gift by returning to the ways of our past? Jesus told His disciples that we must continue to forgive the repentant sinner, but I as read Luke 17:1, I see Jesus say, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” And when it is our leaders, our ministers that tempt us with their sins, then woe be to them! When it is us who lead our children into sin because we struck down goodness with pride and envy and greed, then woe be to us!
For this we must also weep because Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The Slave does not remain in the house forever: the son remains in the house forever. So if the son sets you free, you are free indeed.” But are we to return to the slavery of sin? No we are not! we are set free by Jesus and His grace but if we return to sin then we are again it’s slave and a slave by choice. For this Our Lord must weep! Paul told the Roman Christians, both Gentile and Jew, “For all who have sinned under the law will perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. …For the Gentiles, who did not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even if they do not have the law. They show the work of the law on their hearts. …” (See Romans 2:12-16) the same goes for us today as Christians, if we who have the law of Christ, fail to abide are we then less than those who not knowing Christ abide in His teachings? Oh that I might cry for the many who claim Christ in the mouth but not in their hearts. We are to be careful in what we claims faith, because “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14-23b). But remember this also, “We who are strong have an OBLIGATION to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1). Those who are in leadership, who are the teachers of the Word must have the fortitude to lead, to encourage and to REBUKE and not to be examples of sin. We should be those who cry out for the sins of our brethren, to show the righteousness of obedience to the Word, to follow in every way the commandments of Love and service to the Word.
The psalmist weeps, tears gush down his face like a river because the people are tempted by the world to turn away from God’s instructions. Just as James wrote, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire when it is conceived give birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth DEATH!”(James 1:15). What then is there so enticing about sin? that is so grand that eternal life is worth placing in jeopardy? Oh I know that there are those who say that they have eternal life even as they sin, but is that really so? Did we ever have eternal life if we constantly turn from Christ and rejoin Satan in living with sin as our god? As I write this, I am constrained not to cry myself, because I see the world who says “I believe” yet with every breath they seek only the things that are not of god, but of the flesh. The Prophets wept for the people of Israel and Judea as they forsook Their God for the things of their neighbors, the false gods, the wealth of false prosperity and the oppression of their own. Today, I see governments who make claims that they represent God and godliness yet abuse the poor, the elderly, the weak and the infirm. So often we hear the politicians, “I am seeking after God” and then they reward the rich, line thier pockets with wealth from lavish gifts and take away from the working poor, the elderly and education, medical care and other important things in defiance of Jesus commandment to care for their neighbor. To many times I see churches close down ministries and give their leaders vast amounts of wealth and power, ignoring the needs of their communities wretched.
The Psalmist cries with tears like streams because they have forgotten to “…keep His word,in him is truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: WHOEVER SAYS HE ABIDES IN HIM OUGHT TO WALK IN THE SAME WAY IN WHICH HE WALKED.” (1 John1:4-5 ESV). But as the psalmist knows, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4 ESV). and we are commanded through John, “No one who abides in [Jesus] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. WHOEVER PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS IS RIGHTEOUS. WHOEVER MAKES A PRACTICE OF SINNING IS OF THE DEVIL, for the Devil has been sinning from the beginning.” (1 John 3:6-8 ESV). So this is the choice; be in Christ and resist temptation and sin or live outside of christ and continue to reject His grace by sinning. Are we to continue to live in the flesh, to ignore the Law of Love and the Commandments of God or are we to truly abide in Christ and live in every way for His wonderful grace and forgiveness by obeying the Testaments of forgiveness, service to each other and loving to obey His every command?
John tells us that “We know that every one who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” (1 John 5:18 ESV). But then, if we continue to sin then are we rejecting Christ? Are we then still held in control by Satan? Are we carrying the ways of the world and rejecting the ways of Jesus? Were we ever truly “Saved”? And Angels weep and all the saints in Heaven and the very Salvation of Jesus mourn because we have made a choice to follow after Evil rather than Righteousness. On This very sad understanding I leave you; Repent and sin no more! Go forth and do godly works, speak with godly lips and live in the most godly way seeking after the things of God and reject the desires of the world and the death that it can only offer.