Psalm 119:129-136

May 22, 2020

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.

The Point: 

We need God’s protection, God’s saving mercy, and His guidance to get through the Christian life.  

How do we feel in the recitation of this Psalm? 

There comes a point in the life of a Christian man when he cannot go on without getting into God’s Word.  It would be far too dangerous to leave the house without doing family worship and committing the family to God in prayer first. Perhaps he is finally made aware of the real spiritual dangers lurking, the demonic powers that threaten, the worldly influences, and the weakness of the flesh. He pants for the commandments of God, like a man who crawls across the desert floor seeking water.  There is a desperation in the tone of the Psalmist as he seeks to know the truths of God’s Word. 

What does this Psalm say? 

Verses 129-131. 

When the Psalmist considers the truths of God’s Word, he stands in awe of their beauty, balance, wisdom, and sheer truthfulness. There is nothing with which to compare it! Not everybody recognizes truth, and so they are not impressed with what God has given us.  But the Spirit-filled man can see the truthfulness of God’s Word standing out in the midst of a million dark heresies that lead men astray. 

Until one is struck by the appropriateness and truthfulness of God’s laws, he will not be drawn into living by these laws. God’s truth is as beautiful as His magnificent creation.  Why not glory in the Word and works of God as we glory in God Himself?  

The church is one of the few places in the world where a humble day worker can sit on the same pew with a college professor, and they both may be improved at the same time. In fact, the day worker may point out to the college professor something of God’s truth and thereby change the educated professor’s life. He merely picks up the flashlight of God’s Word, flicks it on, and points it at the world around him.  

Verses 132-135.  

After speaking of the blessing of God’s truth, the Psalmist comes back to plead for God’s mercy. Both are necessary for our salvation and life.  Verse 132 contains an obvious truism: those who hate God cannot expect God’s mercy. This introduces an interesting question, however.  How does one who hates God come to love God, but by His mercy? Once a sinner is awake to his need for mercy, he seeks the God of mercy and spends the rest of his life pleading for God’s mercy.  This is an excellent definition of the true believer.  

During the great apostasy in the West, it has become a little unclear as to what constitutes a Christian. Fakes and frauds are everywhere now. The true Christian is not the person who just gets baptized and checks off a few boxes on a list of external rituals given to him by a church.  He is a man who “orders his steps” by the Word of God, living by “the book.” He is the brother of Christ who “does the will of the Father” (Matt. 12:50), because he is released from the bondage of sin. If sin is the transgression of the law, then bondage to sin is to always transgress the law.  When we operate by a principle of grace (rather than law), we are released from the bondage of sin (Rom. 6:14).  This means that we are finally freed from sin and free to keep the commandments of God. When we are operating by the principle of grace, we are set free from the bondage of sin and we are enabled to keep God’s law. 

Another consequence of this bondage to sin is the oppression of tyrants and other wicked men (vs. 134). It is difficult for the godly man to function in an ungodly company that violates God’s commandments, desecrates the Sabbath day, lies and cheats on contracts, and rewards homosexual behavior. How much better would it be if the man could own his own company, and be freed from the oppressive corporations that curtail his freedom and force him to participate in a system that thwarts God’s laws!  This is the blessing of the free family economy. Christians are likewise dismayed when they are forced to support the abortion holocaust with their tax money, something that would have been reprehensible to the common citizens of the 1770s. “Deliver me from the oppression of man so will I keep thy precepts!”  This is the continual prayer of the righteous man in our day. 

The modern expression of the faith usually sets relationship at odds with rules. As an example, the most popular “Christian” book of the last decade The Shack, depicts God the Father as an African woman who tells everybody, “I’m not about rules.  I’m about relationship.”  The Bible knows nothing of this religious perspective. At least twenty times throughout the Old and New Testaments, we find the injunction to love God and keep His commandments. Verse 135 in the present text is no different.  The Psalmist seeks both relationship and rules from God.  He prays that God’s face would shine toward him, showing him great favor, while at the same time he would submit to the commandments of God. 

Verse 136. 

Here is a striking verse. It is one thing that we be pained at our own disobedience, but it is quite another to weep over the sins of others.  Naturally, the Psalmist must first weep for his own sins, so as not to play the part of the hypocrite.  When political and religious leaders fall into gross, public sin, as is sadly commonplace in our day, it should tear our hearts out. The damage they do to their families, ministries, and the macro-church is hard to measure.  No doubt, we will someday understand the true impact of all the stories of child molestation, adultery, divorce, and homosexuality among church leaders.  The filter-down effect on millions of people is inestimable.  If the leaders are characterized by such sins, what will the rank and file look like? True believers will not and cannot minimize the dreadfulness of these sins.  They must cause great consternation, and drive believers to their knees for God’s mercy upon the church in the Western World and our corrupted nations. 

How do we apply this Psalm to our lives? 

Does any sin or idolatry have the upper hand in our lives?  This is one of the most basic tests of true spiritual life. Should a man be bound to the sin of lust, drunkenness, or unforgiving, vengeful bitterness, he has little reason to believe that he has been touched by the cleansing blood of Christ.  But, if he can feel the chains loosening a bit here and a bit there; if he can wiggle the index finger on his right hand and his left toe, then this glorious freedom will finally dawn on him, the highest freedom of all!  

How does this Psalm teach us to worship God? 

The solid preaching of the Word of God actually protects and preserves us in this Christian life.  Those who avoid family worship and church worship on Sundays are dead meat to the corruption of the world. Within a year or two of abandoning the teaching of the Word, whatever superficial life was found in these plants rooted in the rocky soil is all shriveled up. But those who are truly converted will hunger and thirst after the solid preaching of the Word, and they will seek it out throughout the week too. 

Questions: 

1. What exactly does the Psalmist find wonderful and awe-inspiring? 

2. What must happen before a man can love and serve the true God? 

3. What is the most fundamental form of bondage that enslaves men? 

4. How does the oppression of men prevent a man from living a righteous life? 

5. How does the Psalmist speak of his relationship with God in verse 135? 

Family Discussion Questions: 

1. How do we react to our own sin?  How do we react to the sins of others? What is a proper reaction? 

2. Have you sensed a release from the bondage of your sin?  What does this release look like?