J.Calvin on Psalm 119:130 – “…No man who surrenders himself to the teaching of God, will lose his labor in his school.”

JCalvinPic1Reflecting on the seventeenth section of Psalm 119 today (vss.129-136), we may also benefit from these thoughts of the Reformer John Calvin on vs.130. Here he relates how profitable it is to be a true Protestant student of the Word of God – a good reminder for us in this Reformation-remembrance month.

130. The entrance of thy word is light. The amount is, that the light of the truth revealed in God’s word, is so distinct that the very first sight of it illuminates the mind.

…It is as if the Prophet had — “Not only do those who have attained an accurate acquaintance with the whole law, and who have made the study of it the business of their lives, discern there a clear light, but also those who have studied it even very imperfectly, and who have only, so to speak, entered the porch.” Now we must reason from the less to the greater. If tyroes and novices begin to be enlightened at their first entrance, what will be the case when a man is admitted to a full and perfect knowledge?

In the second clause the Prophet unfolds his meaning more fully. By little ones he denotes such as neither excel in ingenuity nor are endued with wisdom, but rather are unskilled in letters, and unrefined by education. Of such he affirms that, as soon as they have learned the first principles of the law of God, they will be endued with understanding.

It ought to have a most powerful influence in exciting in us an earnest desire to become acquainted with the law of God, when we are told that even those who, in the estimation of the world, are fools, and contemptible simpletons, provided they apply their minds to this subject, acquire from it wisdom sufficient to lead them to eternal salvation. Although it is not given to all men to attain to the highest degree in this wisdom, yet it is common to all the godly to profit so far as to know the certain and unerring rule by which to regulate their life. Thus no man who surrenders himself to the teaching of God, will lose his labor in his school, for from his first entrance he will reap inestimable fruit.

Meanwhile we are warned, that all who follow their own understanding, wander in darkness. By affirming that the little ones are enlightened, David intimates, that it is only when men, divested of all self confidence, submit themselves with humble and docile minds to God, that they are in a proper state for becoming proficient scholars in the study of the divine law.

Let the Papists mock, as they are accustomed to do, because we would have the Scriptures to be read by all men without exception; yet it is no falsehood which God utters by the mouth of David, when he affirms that the light of his truth is exhibited to fools. God will not, therefore, disappoint the desire of such as acknowledge their own ignorance, and submit themselves humbly to his teaching.

Sunday Worship Preparation: Psalm 119q (Pe)

Psalm119qAs we come to another Lord’s Day on our pilgrim journey to the eternal rest, we are up to the seventeenth section of Psalm 119, comprising vss.129-136. Each of the lines in this stanza begin with the Hebrew letter “pe” (or “peh”), comparable to our “p” and “ph” sound.

Once again we are set face to face with a beautiful Word of God through the inspired psalmist. Let’s meditate on these lines as we prepare to worship today:


129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.

130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.

132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.

133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

134 Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.

135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.

136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

Reflecting on this passage, we find several familiar strains: praise for and love of God’s holy law (vss.129, 131); desire for keeping God’s commandments and prayer for God’s grace to do so (vss.132, 133, 135); grief over the rebellion of men and prayer for strength in the face of their oppression (vss.134, 136).

Hearing these cords from the psalmist’s heart again, we are called to examine our own hearts and see whether we find the same in our hearts and in our mouths. Do we praise God’s law and love it? Do we want to walk in God’s precepts daily and do we seek our God for the grace to do so? And do we grieve over the lawlessness and rebellion about us, such that we too pray for strength to fight sin and be faithful servants of our Lord and Savior?

Preparing to enter the Lord’s house of worship, we well know our sin and shortcomings. “Our sins rise up against us, prevailing day by day”, we sing. Which makes the cry for mercy all the more necessary (v.132). Mercy in Jesus Christ, our perfect Law-Curse-Bearer, who shed his precious blood for us rebellious people. Mercy for Christ’s sake, our perfect Law-Keeper, who kept the law perfectly for us and imputes His flawless righteousness to us by faith alone. Mercy that makes us thankful and fills us with praise to the God of our salvation. So that we pray and praise, sing and praise, and give and praise. Let us then worship our sovereign King this day, according to the multitude of His mercy to us sinners.

If you desire to meditate on this section of Psalm 119 through music and wish to sing its lines, I direct you to this Psalter, where you will find this versification. At the bottom of this page you will find piano accompaniment:

1. Thy wondrous testimonies, Lord,
My soul will keep and greatly praise;
Thy word, by faithful lips proclaimed,
To simplest minds the truth conveys.

2. I thirst for Thy commandments, Lord,
And for Thy mercy press my claim;
O look on me, and show the grace
Displayed to all who love Thy Name.

3. Direct my footsteps in Thy word,
From sin’s dominion save my soul,
From man’s oppression set me free,
That I may yield to Thy control.

4. O make Thy face to shine on me,
And teach me all Thy laws to keep;
Because Thy statutes are despised,
With overwhelming grief I weep.

Final Day of PR Seminary’s HC Conference

The following is what I posted on the PRC website last evening about the final day of the PR Seminary’s HC Conference held this past weekend. For more pictures, visit that news item page (click on the headline below).

Seminary Heidelberg Catechism Conference: Saturday’s Closing Session

PA193712Saturday morning was the closing session of the HC Conference held at Hudsonville PRC. Once again there were two great speeches, with Rev.Angus Stewart of the Covenant PRC of Ballymena, N.Ireland going first and speaking on the irenic/polemical nature of the HC. Explaining these two terms, Rev.Stewart taught us that the catechism could be called a “war and peace” manual, since it teaches us both how to battle against the errors that oppose the Reformed faith (from Roman Catholicism to Lutheranism to Anabaptism) as well as how to maintain true peace in the church – unity in the truth of the gospel. To listen to pastor Stewart’s message, visit this page at Hudsonville PRC’s Sermonaudio site.


Prof.R.Dykstra closed out the conference by addressing us on the HC’s teaching on God’s covenant. Proving that the HC is firmly grounded in the biblical and Reformed doctrine of God’s sovereign covenant, even though it is only mentioned specifically four times, Prof.Dykstra also showed us the nature of this covenant doctrine: not an agreement but a relationship of friendship; not conditional but unconditional; not general (for all) but particular (for the elect). In other words, the covenant doctrine found in the HC is that of sovereign grace! And he showed us how this was in harmony with what the chief writers of the HC, Ursinus and Olevianus, openly taught, both before and after the HC was written. To listen to Prof.Dykstra’s speech, visit this page at Hudsonville PRC’s Sermonaudio page.

Even though the numbers were a little less for this session, we still had a good crowd, and we learned afterward that over 200 people were also listening on the live-stream! All of the speeches were also video-taped and the videos will be made available in the near future.

Hudsonville PRC proved to be a most gracious host for the conference and all those involved in its planning and preparation are to be thanked for all their hard work in making this PR Seminary-sponsored conference a big success.

P.S. All the audio recordings of the six speeches may be found in one place on this special page on Sermonaudio.