Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham September 15, 2019

Introduction: It has been so beneficial to begin a study of the Westminster Confession of Faith at our church. That confession begins with a high view of the Holy Scriptures, holding firmly that all 66 books of the Old and New Testament are the full, complete and only Word of God. Most fittingly, then, let’s turn to the Psalm which exalts that Word for this week’s Bible notes – Psalm 119. Let’s also celebrate in this Psalm how it directs us into vital communion with the LORD of the Scriptures. For the Psalmist, communion with God and a high view of the Bible go hand in hand. Our focus, therefore, will be on specific verses which show the power of the Word of God to guide our feet, mold our hearts and fill our minds with the pursuit of the LORD as our God and Savior. This is what keeps us from falling away – that in the Scriptures our hearts are ravished by finding the LORD Himself on the pages of holy writ! May it be so this week.

Mon/Tues: read Psalm 118:28-119:2 and Psalm 110:3. How glorious to see God fix the Psalmist’s life on both faith in the Word and a increasing desire for fellowship with the living God. These are the two inseparable foundation stones of living, active piety – walking according to the Word of the LORD, yea, even running in the path of His commands (Psalm 119:32 NIV), and finding at the same time the very God we seek in the pathway of the Holy Scriptures! No wonder, then, that God inspires the authors of the Psalms to often end one Psalm in the same way that the next one begins: by exalting God as “my God” (Psalm 118:28), whom I can seek with my whole heart (Psalm 119:2)! All through Psalm 119, then, the Psalmist celebrates both the Word of God and finding God as His God. Consider these verses in which both a loving concern for his relationship with God (in bold print), and a high view of the Bible go hand-in-hand:

I will praise you with an upright heart,

when I learn your righteous rules.

I will keep your statutes;

do not utterly forsake me!

How can a young man keep his way pure?

By guarding it according to your word.

10 With my whole heart I seek you;

let me not wander from your commandments!

11 I have stored up your word in my heart,

that I might not sin against you.

Reflection and Prayer: Is there any better way to begin this week than to rejoice that God has preserved our hunger for Himself? Oh, may it never be true of our experience or our doctrine that we are satisfied with merely a love for God’s rules without a hunger for His presence! Thank, you, Lord, that when it comes to your defeating our enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil, you are able to defeat these foes so resoundly because you ensure that we as your people remain, “willing in the day of your power” (Ps 110:3)! Thank you that you win our hearts, and give us such a taste of your goodness (Psalm 34:8), that we will not depart from you or your Word! God’s covenant of grace is sealed in the hearts of

Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham September 15, 2019

His own, who love His Word and love fellowship with Him! May it ever be true! Sing about such a ravishing of love for God Himself in our hearts, using hymn # 491:

Take me, O my Father, take me;
Take me, save me, through Thy Son;
That which Thou wouldst have me, make me,
Let Thy will in me be done.
Long from Thee my footsteps straying,
Thorny proved the way I trod;
Weary come I now, and praying,
Take me to Thy love, my God.

Fruitless years with grief recalling,
Humbly I confess my sin;
At Thy feet, O Father, falling,
To Thy household take me in.
Freely now to Thee I proffer
This relenting heart of mine;
Freely life and love I offer,
Gift unworthy love like Thine.

Once the world’s Redeemer, dying,
Bore our sins upon the tree;
On that sacrifice relying,
Now I look in hope to Thee:
Father, take me; all forgiving,
Fold me to Thy loving breast;
In Thy love forever living
I must be forever blest.

Weds/Thurs: read Psalm 119:2-6 and Romans 7:14-17. The honest admission by the Psalmist is that he has not kept the Law of God in such a way as to be called ‘blameless’. His shame follows him, even while he exalts the Word and the Law of God! This is why he cries out in verse 5, “Oh that my ways were steadfast in keeping God’s commands… then I would not be put to shame” (NIV). He longs to see his ways, “directed to keep God’s statutes.” (KJV). This is not merely a pious wish, but a revelation in Scripture of how the Psalmist sees his broken life of struggling faith. He would agree with the verdict on his life which Paul levels against his own spiritual struggle as a disciple in Romans 7:14-17 – He delights in God’s law (which only a regenerate but struggling saved sinner can do) – even while seeing that his own sin nature continues to rebel against it!

What, then, is the answer to such a level of despair in oneself before the holy and exalted Law of God? Thomas Manton give it to us in his comments on verses 5, as quoted in Charles Spurgeon’s ‘Treasury of David’. We are, in short, to “turn God’s precepts”, (which expose our guilt), “into prayers” asking God to drive us to Christ for daily forgiveness and renewed holy living! This is how Manton puts it:

“It is the use and duty of the people of God to turn precepts into prayers. That this is the practice of God’s children appears: ‘Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God’ (Jeremiah 31:18). God had said, ‘Turn back to me, and you shall live,’ and

Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham September 15, 2019

they (in turn) ask it of God, ‘Turn us,’ as he required it of them. It was Austin’s prayer, Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis, ‘Give what thou requirest, and require what thou wilt.’”

(Such prayer) “Is the duty of the saints; for, 1st, It suits with the Gospel covenant, where precepts and promises go hand in hand; where God gives what he commands, and works all our works in us and for us. They are not conditions of the covenant only, but a part of it. What God hath required at our hands, that we may desire at his hands.”

“God is no Pharaoh, to require brick where he giveth no straw. The articles of the new covenant are not only put into the form of precepts, but promises. The law gives no strength to perform anything, but the Gospel offers grace. Secondly, Because, by this means, the ends of God are fulfilled. Why doth God require what we cannot perform by our own strength? He does it, (1.) To keep up his right. (2.) To convince us of our impotency, and that, upon a trial, without his grace we cannot do his work. (3.) That the creature may express his readiness to obey. (4.) To bring us to lie at his feet for grace.” Thomas Manton.

Fri/Sat: read Psalm 119:32-40. There is a momentum in the believer’s life that is made alive by the Word of God; an impetus which carries the hearts and minds of believers forward into fresh and renewed hope for their lives. For example, in Psalm 119 we read of the ‘path’ on which the believer’s feet ‘run’ as they pursue the delights of God’s Word. Such momentum reveals itself in verse 32, and in other parts of this Psalm too. For example:

“Teach me to follow the way of your statutes, and I will keep it to the end” (verse 33);

“Make me walk in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it” (verse 35);

“I walk in freedom for I have sought your precepts” (verse 45);

“I turn my feet toward your statutes when I think on my ways” (verse 59);

“I made haste and do not delay to keep your commandments” (verse 60);

“I have not strayed from your precepts, though the wicked have laid a snare for me” (verse 110).

Thus the focus throughout Psalm 119 is on the ‘way of pilgrimage’, into which the Word of God leads our weak and straying feet. We are prone to wander in our own lost ways of unbelief and fear. But through His Word God reclaims our minds and our feet to increasingly delight to think on God’s thoughts as found in His Word. Oh, may the Lord give us willing minds and feet to stay in His Word, and like Jacob wrestling of old, “not to let go” of that Word until we find God’s blessing in it!

What resolution and commitment to that Word God needs to give us! “Turn us, mind and heart, Lord, to a love towards and a constant openness to, your Word. Amen.”