Forever Settled Is Thy Word!

A brief study of Psalm 119:89-96, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 20 Sep 2013


 “LAMED. Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. 90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.   91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants. 92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. 93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. 94 I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. 95 The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies. 96 I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad” (Psalm 119:89-96)

The 12th stanza of Psalm 119 is demarcated by the Hebrew letter Lamed (l). But curiously, this letter is not used significantly in most of the statements in this song. With the exception of verse 92, where the letter is used for luwle (aleWl) which is translated as “unless” all other statements begin with the Hebrew le (l]) which is the preposition that may be translated as “to”, “for”, or “in regards to”.

There are, however, two verses where the preposition is used somewhat significantly to frame the thought in this song. I am refering to verses 89 and verse 93. Both of these verses begin with the word le-olam (µl;/[l]) which many be translated “to eternity” or simply “forever.” Verse 89 reads “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Verse 93 may be rendered, “[For ever, I will not] forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.” We will say more about this in a moment.

But for now, you will see from these two verses that this song carries the theme of the permanance and endurance of the Word of God in the life of God’s children. We may entitle this song, “Forever Settled is Thy Word.

There are three parts to this song. Firstly, from verses 89-91, we have Confession of the Durability of God’s Word. Secondly, from verses 92-95, we have a Testimony of the Relevance of God’s Word. Thirdly, we have a Declaration of the Broadness of God’s Word.

1. Confession of the Durability
of God’s Word

89 Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. 90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. 91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.

Here are three things said about the permanence of God’s Word.

a. First, we see that the Word has been set in place and will forever remain.

89 Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

The idea here is that the Word of God has been planted in heaven and will remain firm and established forever and ever. When man makes law, the laws can be changed, updated or repealed. But God’s law is permanent. It is the foundation of everything related to creation and especially to man. It will always remain true, and its promises will be forever sure.

The Lord Jesus is affirming this verity when He says: “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mt 5:18). He should know, for He is the Word of God (Jn 1:1). It is He who reveals God’s Word to us, and he is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb 13:8).

b. Secondly, we see that the promises of God endures from generation to generation:

90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations:…

The faithfulness of God is essentially the promises of God in his Word. What has God promised? He has promised life and blessing upon obedience and righteousness. He has promised eternal life. This promise is extended from generation to generation. It was the promise extended to Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to David. The same promise is extended through John the Baptist and the apostles. The same promise is unto us.

God is not a man that He should change His mind. As Moses puts it:

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it?  or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num 23:19).

c. Thirdly, we see how the Word of God will always accomplish its purpose even as it endures from generation to generation.

90b …thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. 91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.

The permanence of God’s Word is illustrated by how the earth has stood fast from generation to generation. Man of power and even nations have come and gone, but the mountains, the oceans, the rivers and much of the earth remains the same. “Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.

We stand in awe at the fact that we can still see the same mountains that our ancient fathers saw in their childhood. But the Word of God is even more sure, for the Word went before the creation of the world. God created the world by the power of His word of creation, and He continues to govern the world by the word of His power of providence.

The earth and all that is in the earth: the seasons, the rivers, the oceans, the cycles of water, the cycles of life and death, etc are under God’s authority. All these continue like clockwork according to God’s ordinance. God has ordained, and so they obey like dutiful servants.

God’s word is durable. It continues to abide. It continues to be relevant. It continues to exert its power.

2. Testimony of the Relevance
of God’s Word

Here are again three things given for us to testify of how God’s enduring word is relevant us.

a. First, we are given to testify of how the Word of God saw us through past afflictions:

92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.

Our Lord Jesus would have personally testified to the truth of this statement. Those of us who have suffered afflictions as believers would, no doubt, have experienced the same. Had it not been that the Word of God guided, comforted us, assured us in our affliction, we would have sunk so low we could not get up. Sorrow would have overwhelmed our heart. Hopelessness would have descended upon us. The burden would have been too great to bear.

Thank God for His Word, for His law, for His promises, for His assurances. Thank God for His enduring Word holding us up from underneath as everlasting arms (Dt 33:27).

Had it not been that God enabled us by the Spirit of Christ to delight in His word, Oh how we would have sunken a thousand times, never to get up again!

b. And so secondly, we are given to testify we will never forget God’s Word:

93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.

How can I forget God’s word? It was the word of God that first made me alive. As Peter puts it, we were “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1Pt 1:23).

God’s word brought life to me who was dead in sin and trespasses. And not only so, but God’s Word continues to revive me and give me a life that is meaningful, abundant and free. How can I ever forget God’s word when the life that I life today is life because of the Word of God!

I will not forget His word forever. I will ever live for His word, and I long for the day when nothing shall hinder me in my enjoyment of God’s Word.

c.But today there are yet trials to overcome. Therefore we are given thirdly, to plead with the Lord to help us in our troubles:

94 I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. 95 The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.

This is both a testimony and a plea. God’s children are those who love God and obey His commandments. Therefore those who love God and seek to obey His commandments can have the assurance that they belong to God and therefore He will hear their cries and deliver them through every dangerous circumstance in life.

Thus our Saviour says in Psalm 40—

8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.…  13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil” (Ps 40:8, 13-14).

So it is in our text. As our Lord used these words, so those who are united with Him and who like Him love God’s word may use them. The Father will hear our cries. He will help us however difficult the circumstance may be. Only believe. Only trust him step by step of the way.

Indeed let us trust him in every aspects of life even as we are finally given in this song to sing of the broadness of God’s Word.

3. Declaration of the Broadness
of God’s Word

96 I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.

The word “end” here is not a reference to the goal or to the fact of existence, but rather to the limit or extent. In other words, the idea here is that nothing is perfect in this world even if it appears to be perfect by the standards of man.

But how do we come to this conclusion. What is it to be perfect? Well, only God is perfect. And only God’s way and God’s standard is perfect. Psalm 18:30a—“As for God, His way is perfect.”

In other words, something is truly perfect only when it meets the perfect standard set in God’s word. But God’s word, or God’s commandment “is exceeding broad.” It covers everything in life.

Thus a man may think himself perfect, but when considered against the word of God, he falls miserably short. An idea of man may seem to be perfect, but when compared against the word of God, appears to be foolishness. Something created by man may appear perfect, but when weighed against the standard of God reveals its flaws.

The fact is all things in this world are imperfect. They can get better, they can get worst. Only God and His ways are perfect. All may change but God never. The best things of this world are imperfect and temporary.

But God and his Word is perfect and endures forever. Thank God this is so, otherwise the children of God can never have any real and lasting comfort and confidence in this life. For if God’s Word is a shifting sand or turns like the wind as is man’s opinion, then would we not be miserable and exasperated as we seek to do that which is right.

And God’s word touches every aspects of life so that if we trust in the word of God then we find stability and confidence in all that we do.

Conclusion

This is the 12th song of Psalm 119. The Christian life cannot be divorced from the Word of God. Indeed, without the word of God, our lives have no directions, not standard and no assurances. Thank God for the Word of God. Thank God for this psalm which our Lord has given us that we may sing in union with Him to express our appreciation of the durability, relevance and broadness of the Word of God. Amen.