J.Calvin on Psalm 119:116 – “…True stability is to be found no where else but in the word of God.”

JCalvinPic1Today we may also meditate on and benefit from these thoughts of the great Reformer and Bible student, John Calvin. Here are his comments on v.116 of the fifteenth section of Psalm 119. May they also serve to encourage us to hope in God’s sure Word.

116. Sustain me by thy word, and I shall live.

…Thus the sense would be, ‘Sustain me according to the promise which thou hast made to me, or, as thou hast promised to me.’ And, undoubtedly, whenever God stretches out his hand to us to raise us up when we are fallen, or supports us with his hand, he fulfills his promises. The prophet, however, seems to pray, that constancy of faith may be given him, to enable him to continue steadfast in the divine word. We are said to fall from God’s word when we fall from the faith of it; and in like manner, so long as we repose upon the truth and certainty of it, he is our sustainer.

But, as the prophet well knew that there is not strength in man adequate to this, he asks from God ability to persevere as the singular gift of the Holy Spirit. It follows, then, that true stability is to be found no where else but in the word of God; and that no man can steadfastly lean upon it but he who is strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must therefore always beseech God, who alone is the author and finisher of faith, to maintain in us this grace.

Farther, when the Psalmist places life in faith, he teaches, that all that men promise themselves without the word is mere falsehood. It is therefore the Lord alone who quickens us by his word, even as it is said in Habakkuk, (Habakkuk 2:4,) “The just shall live by faith.” Both passages have the same meaning. After Habakkuk has derided the foolish confidence of the flesh, with which men are generally inflated, and as manifested in their raising themselves on high that they may fall with the greater violence, he shows, that the faithful alone, whom the word of God sustains, stand upon safe and sure ground.

Taken from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library website.

Sunday Worship Preparation: Psalm 119(o)

Psalm119oFor our Sunday worship preparation this Lord’s Day, we consider the fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119, titled “Samech” after the Hebrew letter with which each verse begins (comparable to our “s”). Once more we are faced with the beautiful testimony of the inspired psalmist as he expresses his love for the Lord and for His holy law, by which he means the entire Word of his God.

As we meditate on this section today, let us apply it specifically to our worship, though it also has application to our entire week of work.  Here is the Word of God for us today:

SAMECH.

113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.

114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.

116 Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.

117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.

118 Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.

119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.

120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

There are familiar themes in these eight verses of Psalm 119. We hear the psalmist state outright his love for God’s law (vss.113, 119) and his resolve to keep them faithfully (vss.115, 117). He once again makes reference to his enemies and to the wicked about him (vss.118, 119) – even speaking directly to them, v.115.

But notice that he also calmly places himself in the hands of His sovereign Lord and seeks His aid, vss.114, 116, 117). As we have seen before, even with his strong and confident testimony the psalmist never puts his trust in himself and walks on his own through life. Always he is hoping in his God and in His sure Word. Constantly he is praying to the One Who holds him up and keeps him safe. Is it the same with us? If we are sure of our stand on God’s Word, is it because we are so sure of our standing on the Lord? If we are faithful in our commitment to keep God’s law, is it because our faith in wholly resting on God and His grace? Confident we ought to be, but never self-confident. Let our confidence with regard to our calling arise alone from our trust in the One Who has called us.

The verse which stands out in this stanza, however, is the last one, v.120. Read it again, carefully. Let it sink in deeply into our souls. Apply it to our calling to worship the Lord today. Dare we say it? Can we say it? Is our love for the Lord the love that inspires godly fear of Him? Do we so love our God that we stand in awe of Him, with quaking bodies and trembling hearts? And do we so fear the Lord that we also are afraid of (i.e., honor, revere, and respect) His judgments? Or have we too become so casual and careless in our worship, that there is no fear of God before our eyes and no trembling in His august presence? How do we act when His law is read? How do we respond when a portion of His Scripture is read? Stubborn ears, obstinate wills, wandering minds, vain thoughts, and trampling feet (as in walking all over God’s Word)? Shame on us!

Let the psalmist’s testimony convict us – and lead us to conversion! Let his words drive us to the Word, Jesus Christ! And for Christ’s sake let us seek the God of mercy for forgiveness and the God of grace for the fear we need to come into His presence properly and to treat His Word the way it ought to be treated. Yes, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps.111:10).

Have a rich and prosperous day of rest in the fellowship of the Lord and His people.

For a musical meditation on this section of Psalm 119, you may find this versification in the Psalter used in the PRC (#335). Visit the link to find the piano accompaniment to these lyrics:

1. Deceit and falsehood I abhor,
But love Thy law, Thy truth revealed;
My steadfast hope is in Thy word;
Thou art my refuge and my shield;
The paths of sin I have not trod,
But kept the precepts of my God.

2. According to Thy gracious word
Uphold me, Lord, deliver me;
O do not let me be ashamed
Of patient hope and trust in Thee;
O hold Thou me, and I shall stand
And ever follow Thy command.

3. The froward Thou hast set at nought
Who vainly wander from the right;
The wicked Thou dost count as dross;
Thy just decrees are my delight;
For fear of Thee I stand in awe
And reverence Thy most holy law.