Are You Keepers of the Word?
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Delivered By
Pastor Ed Dinkins
Delivered On
May 5, 2013
Central Passage
Pslams 119:57-64
Subject
First Sunday Service
Description

The following commentary, "Learning Obedience",  comes from the blog of a former Pastor, Shawne Thomas (www.shawnethomas.com) who studied and offered his thoughts on Pslams 119:57-64:

 "Psalm 119:57-64 teaches us much about obedience.  As you may know, Psalm 119 is an acrostic – the first word in each eight-verse section of the Psalm begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  (Many of your Bibles will have the sections labeled ”Aleph”, “Beth”, etc., and ending with “Tau”, which are the names of the Hebrew letters.)  Additionally, you can often see in each section of 8 verses, some kind of theme.  The theme of :57-64 is obedience.  We learn a number of things about obedience from these verses: 

I.  The MOTIVE for obedience:

:57  “The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words”.

     When it says “The LORD is my portion”, it is an analogy to the division of the Promised Land among the people of Israel.  Every family got a portion of land, which was given to them by lot.  What the Psalmist was saying here is that his ‘portion’ was the LORD – HE was his inheritance.  We see this same idea expressed in several places in scripture:  

     So when the Psalmist says here in Psalm 119 “The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words”, he is saying that is going to obey God because He is his highest good; his greatest treasure.  This is his motive for obeying.  And it should be ours too.

     It is important that we understand what our motive for obedience should be.  We are NOT to obey God in order to somehow gain favor with Him, as a “credit” that will make us right with Him, or gain us a place in heaven.  Unfortunately, I think that “credit” is really at the heart of many people’s obedience to God: “Look how I read my Bible every day; Look how many times I go to church; look how much money I give; look how I abstain from this or that” – as if God were going to be impressed by what we are doing!  We are not to obey God to try to gain “credit” with Him and be made right with Him.  Rather, genuine Christians obey because we are already made right with Him; because He is our greatest good – and we want to do all that we can to obey Him because He is.

     It would be like the only son of a rich father, heir to the family business, who loved his father and wanted to perform his wishes.  He wouldn’t obey in order to inherit the family business; he already had that.  He would just want to obey because he loved his dad.  That should our motive for obeying the Lord.  We should obey our God in the same way: because we love Him, and we don’t want anything to come between us and Him, which might hinder the relationship between us and the most important person in our lives.  Because God Himself is our ultimate reward, we should want to obey Him.  This is the motive of our obedience. 

II.  The EVALUATION of obedience

:59 “I considered my ways, and turned my feet to your testimonies.”

     If you are going to be serious about obeying God, you have to consider your ways.  How are you doing in your obedience to God?  Unfortunately, many of us don’t really stop and consider how we are living. Many of us just live from day to day without really taking time to stop and “consider our ways”, and evaluate how we are doing in our obedience to God. 

     The Psalmist says here: “I considered my ways.”  How do you think he did that?  Undoubtedly he did it in the word of God.  Verse 64 here says “Teach me Your statutes.” This whole Psalm is a tribute to the word of God.  Surely he continually looked into the scriptures to see what God had commanded, and how his life measured up to it.  He “considered his ways” in the word of God.  Are you doing that?  You shouldn’t just “read your Bible” every day – but use it to help you really “consider your ways” as you read it: are you DOING what it commands you to do?  Are you doing what it commands you NOT to do?  Don’t just “read the word”; “consider your ways” as you read it.  And then do what he says here: “TURN YOUR FEET to OBEY His testimonies”!  If you don’t do that, you are wasting your time in the word of God.  James tells us in Chapter 1 that we are not to just “look in the mirror” of the word and walk away – we are to CHANGE the way we do things because of what we see there.  Use the scriptures every day to help you “consider” – and change – your ways. 

III.  The MOMENT of obedience

:60  “I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments”

When God gives us a command to obey, we need to obey it immediately.  There are often very good reasons to obey God immediately.  We see examples of that in scripture.    We need to realize that it is important for us to obey God instantly.  If we delay, we may miss a witnessing opportunity.  If we postpone obedience, we might place ourselves in a position of temptation that God wanted to spare us from.  If we wait, we might miss a providential provision God wants to give us – or give someone else through us!    We do not always know what is depending upon our obedience. 

       But even if we do not know of specific outcomes which may be affected by our delayed obedience, it is important to obey God immediately because He is our King, and He deserves our instant obedience.  To delay is rebellion against Him, and we must not allow that disobedience to hinder our fellowship with Him.  We need to get in the habit of instant obedience. 

     Is there something God has told you to do?  Is there an area of your life that you know you need to correct, to get in line with His word?  Has He impressed on you the importance of helping someone with something, or to minister in some way, or to forgive someone, or to pray for something?  Don’t say, “I’ll do it some time.”  Do it now.  Remember the old expression: delayed obedience is disobedience!  The time of our obedience must be now!

IV.  :61 The TRIAL of obedience

:61 “The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your Law”

     Here the Psalmist tells us that even though he finds himself in midst of the most difficult trials, he is still committed to obey God.  “The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your Law.”  Evil men had evidently trapped him in some way – but he said that was no excuse for him not to keep God’s word.  Trials and difficulties are not to be used as an excuse to compromise the standards He has given you.  It is easy to throw morality to the wind in the face of emergencies, and say: “Well, I just had to do this because I had no other choice; I had to save myself.”

       Sometimes God allows our obedience to be put on trial, to see if we will obey Him no matter what.  Saul failed his test.  The patriarch Abraham passed his – he put his most precious son on the altar when God tested him.  You and I will also come to times when our obedience is tested by our circumstances. Maybe your obedience to God is being tested by some circumstances right now.  Ask God for His grace to help you obey Him even when it is most difficult – that you might pass the trial of your obedience. 

V.  The FELLOWSHIP of obedience.

:63  “I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts”.

     Here is an important point: the people you fellowship with will either encourage or hinder your obedience! 

     I Corinthians 15:33 says “Bad company corrupts good morals.”  The Bible is not shy about saying that the people you hang out with will affect the way you walk with God.  How many testimonies have you heard from people who said that their “friends” dragged them down, back into drugs, alcohol, crime, etc.  The fact is, there are people of whom you need to say, “I can’t hang out with them.”  There are people whom you can try to witness to, and minister to – but they can’t be your closest friends.  The people you are really friends with need to be people who are seeking to obey God like you are. 

     Now a number of you here tonight might say: “I would never hang out with people who are doing drugs, or who drink, or who are openly immoral.”  But that is not the extent of the application of this text.  He says, “I am a companion … of those who keep your precepts.”  You should purposefully look for people to include in your life who are seeking to obey God the way that you want to.  Unfortunately, many of us who would never be caught with so-called “ungodly” friends are still being dragged down by so-called “Christian” friends who are not committed to obedience.  There are many Christians and church members who are compromised, lackadaisical, and lukewarm in their obedience to God.  Some of you need to respond to this scripture and re-evaluate some of the friendships you currently have.  You need to purposefully spend time with people who will encourage your obedience to God, not hinder it.  One of the most important commitments you can make to obedience is that your friendships will be with people who are serious about obeying God’s word.  If you do not, it will be virtually impossible for you to consistently obey.

VI.  GRACE and obedience

:58 “I entreated Thy favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Thy word.       

     These words “favor” and “gracious” are similar; they both have to do with the grace of God.  What does that have to do with obedience?  It makes an important point: in the middle of this segment of Psalm 119 which talks about the importance of obeying God, it reminds us that as importance as obedience is – we are not saved by our obedience, but by the grace of God.  Despite all that he says about WHY he obeys, and how quickly he must obey, etc., yet when it comes down to it, he knows he is not saved by his obedience, but he calls on the grace of God to save him.  “Be gracious to me according to Thy word.”  Those words “Be gracious” are, interestingly enough, the very same words which David uses to open Psalm 51, where he confesses his sin with Bathsheba, and asks for God’s grace and forgiveness.  There is no trace of hope of salvation by works in Psalm 51; David totally throws himself on the grace of God. 

     And that is just what the Psalmist does here in Psalm 119, too.  He demonstrates in this Psalm how important obedience is – and it is!  But he also knows that his hope for salvation does not rest on his obedience, but upon the grace of God.

     And that is where our hope must be, too.  Obedience is important to you – but you also must realize that you will never be saved by your obedience.  You will only be saved by the grace of God, as Ephesians 2 says: “It is by grace that you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” 

     It is vitally important that you obey God – but despite all your best efforts, you WILL fall short.  And when you do, you can find comfort that you are not saved by your obedience, but by throwing yourself on the grace of God, which will always be there for you!"

 

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