Wisdom Learned Must Be Shared

A brief study of Psalm 119:73-80, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 23 Aug 2013


The 10th song in Psalm 119 is characterised by the Hebrew Yodh (y). The Yodh is the smallest of the Hebrew alphabet. The Lord Jesus highlights its smallness when He testifies that “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). The Jot is the Yodh.

One of the most biblically significant words that begin with Yodh is the word arey: (yare) which means “to fear.” We find this word beginning verse 74—

74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.

Providentially this verse may perhaps be considered the key to understanding this song. For this song has to do with the relationship of the singer with others whom he interacts with.

We may entitle it with the proposition, “Wisdom Learned Must be Shared.” It expresses the desire of our Lord, the greater David, to be a positive example,—of walking by God’s wisdom,—to all who fear and love God. This is a desire that all of us who are united to Christ should have. Hence we are given these words to sing in union with Christ.

We may discern two parts in this song. In the first part, we are given to express our conviction that God is good and that whatever trials He sends will be good for us and for others around us. In the second part, we are given to express our desire to see discernable good coming out of the trials.

1. Our Conviction that
God is Good

73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. 74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. 75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. 

Three things are said in these three verses, and I believe they are inter-related.

First we are given in verse 73 to acknowledge that God is our Maker, and therefore he alone can give us the understanding and wisdom necessary to walk in His ways. Our Saviour would have been able to take these words in His lips for His human body was indeed fashioned by the Father (cf. Heb 10:5); and He also had to grow in wisdom (Lk 2:52). But if this is so for our Lord, how much more for us?

Secondly, we are given to confess in verse 74 that as God cultivates understanding and wisdom in us through trials, we shall become a blessing to others who fear Him. We would not grow in wisdom in trials except we learn to hope in God’s Word and so seek wisdom from him. James says:

 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (Jas 1:2-6).

To ask in faith is to ask with hope upon God’s word (v. 74b). When we do so in trials, we find ourselves growing in the wisdom of the Lord, and we find ourselves being a blessing to others who fear the Lord. The apostle Paul reminds us that the Lord “[comforts] us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor 1:4). Has this been your experience?

Experience testifies, does it not, that when by the grace of God we maintain a good attitude in trials, we will be a blessing to others who fear the Lord. They will be glad when they see us. Those who fear the Lord will speak often to one another (Mal 3:16) as they share the blessing of God upon them to one another.

And so thirdly, we are given to confess, in verse 74, of our assurance that God’s judgements or dealings are right, and that He has afflicted us in faithfulness. He never afflicts His children in wrath, but always in love and faithfulness. He afflicted His Son in faithfulness to His promise. He afflicts us in faithfulness to the same promise to do good to us. The wicked has no such assurance when they suffer trials, but those who are in Christ can always have the assurance that God meant every trial for their good. Therefore, we can sing these words with confidence.

But consider now the second part of this song where we are given to express…

2. Our Desire to See
God’s Beneficence

Here are 5 statements of desire or 5 things we hope to see as the Lord enables us to respond to His dealings in a godly way.

First, and very generally, we desire to be made aware of God’s covenant loving-kindness, verse 76—

Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. 

The word rendered “merciful kindness” is the Hebrew checed, which speaks of God’s mercies for His people. The wicked will not experience it, so they will derive no comfort from it. But one united to Christ can derive comfort from it. How does he derive comfort from it? He derives comfort from it in two ways. First, he enjoys God’s providential blessing which is reserved only for His covenant people. Secondly, he enjoys an assurance of God’s covenant love in his heart. This sense is wrought by the Holy Spirit bringing to mind the word of God hid in the heart.

Secondly and related to the first point, we are given to express our desire to experience the compassion of our Lord, verse 77—

Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.

The word translated “tender mercies” is the Hebrew racham, which carries the idea of pity, compassion and love. This is somewhat different from checed, which is about God’s covenant lovingkindness. Checed is what God bestows because He is a faithful covenant-keeping God. Racham is what God bestows because His compassion fails not. We need to remind ourselves of God’s checed when we are faced with uncertainties and troubles in our life. We need to remind ourselves of God’s racham when sorrows attend our soul and tears fill our eyes for one reason or another. God’s racham comes unto us by way of the Spirit shedding abroad the love of God in our heart so that we are reminded of our compassionate Saviour who was tempted at all points like as we are. God’s racham also comes to us through brethren in Christ who are instrumental in making perfect the love of God (1 Jn 4:17) by laying down their lives for our benefit.

Thirdly, we given to sing of our desire to see the proud humbled, verse 78—

Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.

Vengeance belongs to the Lord. We may not take matters in our own hand when we are persecuted or dealt unfairly by the proud. But we can pray. We can pray that they would be humbled and brought to shame. This would be how our Saviour would have prayed for His tormentors. Unless they are brought to shame, they would never find salvation. So let us pray for the humbling of the proud not only as recompense for their wickedness, but as a means to turn them from self-confidence and personal doom.

But now, fourthly, we are given to sing conversely of our desire that those who fear the Lord will turn to us to befriend us, verse 79—

Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.

Earlier, in verse 74, we are given to testify that as the Lord cultivate wisdom in us through trials, we shall become a blessing to those who fear God. But this can only be so if those who fear God are brought into contact with us and become our friends. And so here we are given to sing and to pray that the Lord will lead them to us: “Let those that fear thee turn unto me…

Finally, we are given to sing of our desire that our heart remains sound in God’s word and that we have no occasion to be ashamed, verse 80—

Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.

If we would be a blessing to others to teach them by our example, then we need to be ourselves sound in God’s law, and consistent in our walk so that we do not have to be ashamed of the Word of God.

This is our desire. This is our prayer.

Conclusion

This is the 10th strophe of Psalm 119. Oh may the Lord grant us that our heart will beat with the same heavenly heartbeat as our Saviour whose song we are given to sing.

As you grasp the meaning of this song, you will no doubt feel that you do not meet up to the high ideals of this song. How often do you think about being a blessing to others when you undergo trials? How often have you consciously pray that God will bring those who fear Him into your life that you may talk with one another about God’s mercies in your life.

But thank God for this reminder. And thank God that though we failed and cannot sing this song with full sincerity by ourselves, we can sing it confidently in union with Christ. Christ is the perfect man. He is the man whose heart is on display in this song. He did for us what we ought to have done. He is what we ought to be. By Him alone we have acceptance of God. By His Spirit we are made more and more like Him as we sing His Word.

Oh may the Lord make use of His own word to cultivate in our heart the same desire to be blessed that we may be a blessing! Amen.