Our heavenly Father, as believers it is a prime concern how we may live this life. We want so much to know. We want to know from Your Word. We want to know not out of curiosity but out of pure desperation. We want to know not in some academic and detached way but we want to know personally, out of need. There are things that come into our experience every day, some so troubling as to make us question almost everything. And in those moments, Lord, we want to know. We want to know from Your Word, ‘what about Your steadfast love coming unto me?’ ‘How does a Christian live?’ So, I pray, teach us this day from Your Word. We ask all in Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to Psalm 119. We’re going to be looking at the section which runs from verses 41 to 48 as we continue our way through this great psalm on perhaps a new theme, “Not by Bread Alone.”
And yet again we meet a passage from God’s Holy Scriptures here that teaches us how to live. How ought you live the Christian life? Exactly how do you do it?
Psalm 119:41-48 Names of God Bible
41 Let your blessings reach me, O Yahweh.
Save me as you promised.
42 Then I will have an answer for the one who insults me
since I trust your word.
43 Do not take so much as a single word of truth from my mouth.
My hope is based on your regulations.
44 I will follow your teachings forever and ever.
45 I will walk around freely
because I sought out your guiding principles.
46 I will speak about your written instructions in the presence of kings
and not feel ashamed.
47 Your commandments, which I love, make me happy.
48 I lift my hands in prayer because of your commandments,
which I love.
I will reflect on your laws.
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
How do you live the Christian life? The length and breadth of this Psalm 119 answers not only unambiguously, it answers helpfully. You live the Christian life by faith. You live the Christian life by faith in God, you live the Christian life by faith in His promises, and you live the Christian life by faith in His Word.
I want to look at two things in this very rich passage (verses 41-48). I won’t be able to touch on all the things that the psalmist says in this short devotional, but there are three things that I very much want each of us to concentrate on as we think about how the writings of this psalmist helps us live the Christian life.
OUR SALVATION IS ACCORDING TO PROMISE AND THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS LIVED BY OUR FAITH, IT IS LIVED BY OUR HOPE AND IT IS LIVED BY LOVE.
And the first one is this, and you’ll see it especially in verse 41. Our salvation is from the Lord and our salvation is according to promise. It’s important for us as believers to get both of those things in our head. Our salvation is from the Lord ALONE and our salvation is according to promise. And what that means is this.
It means two things. It means that our trust must be deliberately, self consciously, specifically focused on the Lord and His Word. And secondly, it means that we must live by faith. Now think about that for just a moment.
Our salvation is from the Lord and our salvation is according to His promise.
That means that our trust must be in Him and in His Word and that we must live by faith. Look at verse 41. “Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise.”
Please notice here where the focus of the psalmist’s trust is decisively directed toward: “Let your steadfast love, let your lovingkindness, come to me, O LORD.”
The psalmist is squarely focused on the Lord here. We’ve seen him do this even with the language that he uses about God’s Law. He won’t even speak about the Law without speaking about God. It’s God’s Law, it’s God’s Word, it’s God’s rules, it’s God’s commands, it’s God’s statues. Over and over he’s reminding himself, “This isn’t just a word. It’s not just a word about God. It’s a word from God. It’s God’s Word. It belongs to Him.” He’s focusing himself on the Word as a Word from God. And here, he focuses the hope of his salvation upon the Lord.
And then he adds, “your salvation according to your promise.” Now what he’s teaching us here is that the only focus of our trust in the Christian life must be 100% deliberately on the Lord and His Word, especially His Word of promise.
And of course, the Psalmist emphasizes such a deliberate, decisive, and directed focus as being a very important aspect of the life of the generations of Israelites which he is writing to in his day and age. Such a magnitude of focused thought plants seeds of God’s inerrant truth in the immediate generation, then forward.
By extension, the Psalmist is reaching into our generations, our Christian life because the focus of our trust in the Christian life is to be deliberately on the Lord and His Word, especially His promises. This is yet another passage that authorizes you and to come to the Lord and plead for His salvation because He’s promised it to us! He’s promised, “Come to Me, ask for My lovingkindness; I’ll give you My salvation!” So we live by pleading those promises. (Matthew 11:28-30)
The first instinct of the believer in living the Christian life is to resort to the Lord, to trust in the Lord, to seek our salvation from Him and according to His Word by His promise. So that’s the first thing that I want you and me to see. That our salvation is from the Lord and our salvation is according to promise teaches us that the Christian life must be lived by trust in Him and in His Word.
But the second thing that I want you and I to see in connection with that first point that we’re looking at in verse 41 is simply this. That means, obviously, that the way we live the Christian life is by faith. The Christian life is lived by faith. We’re not just justified by faith; we live the Christian life by faith, we live it by hope and we live it by and with our love, and the longer you and I go on the Christian life the more we realize we have to live the Christian life by faith.
There are so many things that you and I cannot make sense of in this life by sight. By sight they simply do not get around to making sense. And so you have to live by faith. And that is a constant refrain from the Word of God itself.
The passage that Paul quotes from Habakkuk when he’s explaining the doctrine of justification by faith says, Habakkuk 2:4, “The just shall live by faith.” And it is just as true that we are saved by the instrument of faith, receiving the grace of God offered to us in Jesus Christ as He is given to us in the Gospel, it is as true that we are justified by that instrument of faith or according to that instrument of faith but it is also true that we live the Christian life by faith.
The just, those who are declared just by God ALONE, live how? By faith!
Paul says the same thing in Romans chapter 1:17 — “The righteous shall live by faith.” Or think of what he says in Galatians 2:20. “The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Or in Hebrews 10:38 — “My righteous one shall live by faith.” Or in Hebrews 11, the whole point of the whole chapter of which is, “How do you live this life as a believer?” you live by faith! That’s why we are called by God to be believers!
But it’s incredibly hard sometimes, 100% hard sometimes. (Romans 7:14-25)
There are many, many people who call themselves Christians and who are in fact Christians who struggle with that and they struggle with that for a variety of reasons. They will struggle with meeting worldly morals and cultural ethics. They will, as Holy Scriptures requires of them, to align them all up with God. It is the pressure which is asserted from a socio cultural necessity or traditional, “acceptable best practices”, which meets head-on, impacting with God’s Truth. Then it becomes a grave question unto the believer: Which one do I prioritize?
And so I presented my case to Father, Son and Holy Spirit through Prayer, for the truthfulness and the authority and the inerrancy of the Word of God, which ultimately rests upon the fact that my Savior believes God’s whole Word is true.
Matthew 5:17-19 ESV
Christ Came to Fulfill the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
And if my Savior believes the whole Bible is true, it is an act of devotion on my part to believe that the Bible is true. If I’m going to put the whole of my hopes on Jesus and Jesus believes the Bible is true that pretty much does it for me.
But, as Paul wrote in Romans 7:14-25, there are thousands of questions, many absolutely legitimate, which can bother the hearts and minds of believers. You and I run across passages that run against your grain. You and I come to places in the Word of God where God asks you and me to do hard things, come across passages that seem to pose contradictions. What do we do? We walk by faith!
Our salvation is of the Lord. Our salvation is by the Word. Our salvation is according to promise. Therefore the Christian life is lived by faith in the Lord, in His Word, especially in His promise, and do not miss that the Christian life is lived by faith. That’s the first big message that I want you to see in this psalm.
WE MUST BE PREPARED TO BEAR REPROACH FOR THE SAKE OF THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD
The second one is this. And really there’s a sense in which this second point is one of the main themes of this whole section.
Look at verses 42 and 46. The psalmist says that he’s going to trust in the Lord in His lovingkindness, in His salvation, in His Word, and in His promise. Why?
Verse 42 — “then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me.”
Ah-ha! Now we see the context in which he’s making this declaration. He’s standing up for the Lord, he’s standing for the Word, and he’s expecting to be taunted, mocked, ridiculed, made fun of! And then we see it again.
Look at verse 46. “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame.” By the way, over and over as I’ve read that verse over the last several days, I’ve wondered to myself, “I wonder if Paul meditated on Psalm 119 verse 46 after he made his determination to go before Caesar’s Supreme Court in Rome and testify to the Gospel. I wonder if that verse was one of the verses that he meditated on. “Lord, I will testify to You before kings.”
Clearly the context is a testimony that the Psalmist fears could bring shame and reproach upon him in the eyes of his enemies. And so what do we learn from this psalm? We learn that we must be prepared to bear reproach for the sake of God, the Gospel, and the truth of God’s Word. That is hugely important. It is hugely important for all of us who are alive in this ‘cancel culture’ day and age.
It is especially important for you my younger friends and readers. You are already living in a culture where to believe things that two thousand years of believers have believed will bring reproach on you, you might be ‘cancelled!”
But, fear not, for the ancient authors of our scriptural passages have addressed this very real concern. Read, Study, Pray and Meditate through: 1 Peter 3:8-22 and James 1:1-17, John 16:25-33, and John 17 – Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer). And please do not limit yourself to these few passages listed here. There are many such promises throughout the length and breadth of Holy Scriptures.
Romans 15:4-6 ESV
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us now Pray,
Let your love, God, shape my life
with salvation, exactly as you promised;
Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery
because I trusted your Word.
Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—
your commandments are what I depend on.
Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me,
guard it now, guard it ever;
And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces
as I look for your truth and your wisdom;
Then I’ll tell the world what I find,
speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed.
I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!—
relishing every fragment of your counsel.
In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.