LOVE FOR GOD’S WORD

Edited from a Prayer Meeting exhortation by bro Sim Yeow Meng on 25 May 2001


“Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”
(Psalm 119:127–128)


In these words, the Psalmist speaks of his love for God’s commandments. From the word “therefore,” we may see that his words in these verses are connected to his preceding words. Prior to these words, he was saying in verse 126, “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.” Here, we see the Psalmist calling upon God to act, for men have disregarded His Law. And by reason of that, he says, “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold….”


In other words, he sees the sinful ways of those who have no regard for God’s Law; how they have departed from the ways of God. He sees how terrible it is a thing when men abandon what God has commanded and laid down for them. When men go contrary to the Word of God, they wander further and further away from God, and draw nearer and nearer to ruin. They head for ways of destruction. God will act against men who break His Law. He will judge the offenders of His holy Law—it is only a matter of time. But now as the Psalmist beholds widespread disregard for the Law of God, his heart burns with jealousy for God’s glory. And so he hastens God to act quickly, and at the same time announces how his love for the commandments of God has been rekindled!


This is why he says, “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold.” He loves God’s commandments above gold, because he sees the great contrast between the excellency of God’s commandments as compared to the ways of destruction and ruin which he observes in the lives of those who make void God’s Law. The commandments of God come from God, and in them, man hears the voice of God. Through them, man learns wisdom and understanding from the mouth of God. With them, comes the knowledge of God: His nature, His will and His attributes. And thus, by them, man may be led to the everlasting way (Ps 139:24). Therefore, the Psalmist says he loves God’s commandments above gold.


Above Gold, yea Above Fine Gold


Why above gold, we may ask? It is because gold is the chief desire of men in the world. With it, a man may obtain many good things in life,—honour, pleasures, comforts and ease of the flesh,—things that men in the world would desire. Hence, many give themselves fully in the seeking and pursuing of it.


But for the Psalmist, God’s commandments are far more valuable and desirable than gold, even fine gold. He says, “I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold.”


Gold may buy a man a life of comforts and ease, but that only, and no further. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, it was said to the rich man, “Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (Lk 16:25).


But unlike gold, the commandments of God show a man the way to a blessed everlasting life. In Galatians 3:24, we are told that the Law of God is a schoolmaster that leads a man to Christ, to be justified by faith: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” And after leading us to Christ, they show us the way that is right and acceptable to God, that man should walk in, for the Psalmist also says: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps 119:105).


When our heart begins to be surged with pride by our successes and attainments in the world every now and then, and swells with conceit and haughtiness, God’s commandments faithfully reveal to us our true state: How it is wretched, vile and helpless before God. And they lead us to the way of God by directing us to Christ the Redeemer of sinners. When our mind is influenced and swayed away by the various ungodly influences and lawlessness of the world, and wander away from our walk with God, God’s commandments steadfastly direct our feet back to Him. And when sin and the things of the world tempt us, God’s commandments unfailingly admonish us to turn from the way of perishing and ruin.


Therefore, it may be seen how excellent the commandments of God are! If Achan had loved God’s commandments above gold, yea above fine gold, he and his family would not have ended up in that sad state. If the world loves the commandments of God above gold, there would not be so many who have fallen into a temptation and snare, and many a foolish and hurtful lust, being drown in destruction and perdition (1 Tim 6:9).


“The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:10), says the Apostle Paul. Knowing this, surely we ought to love God’s commandments far above gold, to escape and flee from that mighty snare of the world and of the love of riches.


The Psalmist says, “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold” (Ps 119:126–127).


The more men make void God’s Law, the more we ought to love God’s commandments. The more we see the world increasing in sin and ungodliness, and the stronger that current, the more we should consider soberly, carefully and fearfully, the ruinous end of such a life, and the excellence of the Law of God and, with great love, cleave to it.


Charles Bridge, when commenting on this verse, draws a very apt lesson from it. He says,

The image brings the miser before us. His heart and treasure are in his gold. With what delight he counts it! With what watchfulness he keeps it! Hiding it in safe custody, lest he should be despoiled of that which is dearer to him than life. Such should Christians be: spiritual misers: counting their treasure, which is above fine gold; and “hiding it in their heart,” in safe keeping, where the great despoiler shall not be able to reach it. Oh Christians, how much more is your portion to you than the miser’s treasure. Hide it, watch it, retain it. You need not be afraid of covetousness in spiritual things: rather covet earnestly to increase your store (Comm. in loc.).


Concerning All Things to be Right


The Psalmist adds, moreover, “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Ps 119:128).


This is the second part of his response to the fact that man made void God’s Law. We see the word “therefore” here again.


From the evil and wicked works of those who go contrary to God’s Law and make it void, he sees the rightness of God’s precepts. And he esteems all of them to be right.


Now, when we remind ourselves that the Psalmist was inspired of the Holy Spirit when he penned these words, we can rightly conclude that he is correct in his estimation of God’s precepts in these words, that is, all of God’s precepts are right.


And if all of God’s precepts are right, then we may see the infallibility and inerrancy of God’s Word in this verse. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he does not say that he esteems some of God’s precepts to be right, but all of them concerning all things to be so. Thus from here, it may be seen the error of those who deny the truth of God’s Word; or deny its infallibility and inerrancy, be it a doctrinal statement or a statement relating to geography, history or science. And not merely so, it may also be seen the mistake of those who are indifferent to the Scripture; those who have no love for the Scripture. Not only are those who are antagonistic against the Word of God erroneous, but equally erring are those who are neutral to it, who have neither passion nor regard for it.


In 2 Thessalonians 2:8–11, we are told that in the last days, when the Antichrist is revealed, many shall be deceived and shall believe a lie and perish. And the reason for their ruin, we note, is because they “received not the love of the truth” (v. 10). Many are in a slumber, many in a dreamy state.


We see how contrary is the Psalmist to such a state of men. He does not only esteem all the precepts to be right, but he also hates false ways. He says, “I hate every false way,” that is, every way that is contrary to God’s Word. His approval of the precepts of God is not merely in his mind, but it is also in his heart and life—he says, “I hate every false way.”


We may observe that he does not simply read the Word of God, but he considers it, he meditates upon it and contemplates on what it teaches, and then measures and assesses the words and works of men according to it. Thus he is able to discern what is true and what is false, and thereafter hates every falsehood. He carefully ponders over the Word of God, reflects upon it and studies it, seeking to understand it. In other words, he does not go away after hearing and reading the Word of God and forget it, but he seeks to digest it, so to speak. He does not behold his natural face in a glass, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was (Jas 1:23–24).


The result is a strict obedience of God’s Word. We note the words “all” and “every” in his words. He esteems all precepts of God concerning all things to be right, and hates every false way. He does not obey some and disobey the rest. He hates every way contrary to divine revelation. Though only Christ could obey thoroughly and perfectly, the Psalmist could affirm with a clear conscience, that he loves the commandments of God and esteems all that God has revealed to be right, and therefore by implication, desires with his whole heart, and makes every attempt with God’s help to keep His commandments.


Conclusion and Applications


Now to sum up, there are a few lessons that we may learn here. The first is that we ought not to be disinterested in or indifferent to the Word of God. God has given us a special revelation. We would deprive ourselves of it, should we be indifferent to, or disinterested in, it. Our disinterest and indifference will only hurt us and land us in great harm. Rather, God’s Word, His laws and His commandments are excellent and to be loved, and that above fine gold. We ought to endeavour to develop a great and growing love for it, one that is above all our earthly treasures. We ought to seek for a passion for it. It is only when we do so that we shall be able to cleave to God and walk aright with Him all the days of our life here.


Secondly, as we do so, we ought also to consider a corresponding hatred of all things contrary to the Scripture. We cannot love God’s Word as well as things contrary to it at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. The Lord teaches us that no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will hold to one, and despise the other. We will either love God and hate sin, or love sin and despise God. We ought not to indulge in any sin. Rather, we ought to learn to hate sin.


Finally, we may also consider the manner we should receive the Word of God. We see the degree in which the Psalmist possessed the Word of God in his heart. He does not only say that he dislikes or is unhappy with false ways, but that he hates false ways, and every one of them. We see the depth in which the Word of God has affected him. His heart is so well aligned with God’s ways. This should call us to consider how we should receive the Word of God. After hearing or reading it, time and efforts should be spent recalling it, meditating upon it, pondering over it, and seeking to impress it upon our heart, to the transforming of our mind and life. And just as the Psalmist obeys God with a thorough and complete obedience, we may also grow in our obedience of God, walking with Him as Enoch did.

—Sim Yeow Meng (edited by J.J. Lim)