Theme: Standing on the Rock
In this week’s lessons from Psalm 119, we see the endurance of God’s Word and its saving power.
Scripture: Psalm 119:89-96
The last verse of this section stands alone as a summary statement that links the truth that God’s law is eternal (vv. 89-91) with the salvation that is ours through believing and acting on God’s commands (vv. 92-95):
To all perfection I see a limit;but your commands are boundless (v. 96).
Earlier in the stanza he wrote of God, “You established the earth, and it endures” (v. 90), earthly physical laws thus corresponding to the Word of God in heaven. But here he seems to acknowledge that even this apparently stable earth will disappear at last, as Jesus affirmed years later (“Heaven and earth will pass away,” Matt. 24:35). All that is merely of this earth and merely material shall pass away. “To all perfection I see a limit” (v. 96), he says. But like Jesus, the psalmist also knew that there is one thing that will remain forever, and that is God’s Word. Jesus said, adding to the words I have just quoted, “But my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35). The psalmist said, “But your commands are boundless.”
Derek Kidner wrote of this summarizing statement, “This verse could well be a summary of Ecclesiastes, where every earthly enterprise has its day and comes to nothing, and where only in God and his commandments do we get beyond these frustrating limits.”1
So why don’t we stand on this foundation and build upon it? If you wanted to build a house and had a choice between a solid rock and sand for your foundation, wouldn’t you choose the solid rock? If you were investing for your retirement years and had a choice between a proven blue chip firm and a fly-by-night over-the-counter adventure, wouldn’t you choose the blue chip firm? Why, then, should you do differently with your life, which is of far greater value than a house or a bank account? Why should you not build upon a foundation that will stand firm when the tempests of life come (see Matt. 7:24-27)?
I like what the great Anglican Bishop John Charles Ryle said on one occasion when it was pointed out to him that the Bible was under attack by the higher critics. Ryle said, “Give me the plenary, verbal theory of biblical inspiration with all its difficulties, rather than the doubt. I accept the difficulties and I humbly wait for their solution. But while I wait, I am standing on rock.”
1Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1975), pp. 426, 427.
Identify two thoughts that are linked by verse 96.
What will happen to the earth? What will remain?
How long does God’s Word last? Why is that important?
Application: On what kinds of foundations do unbelievers build their lives and place their hopes? In what ways might Christians do this to some extent as well, and why do they fall into this kind of thinking?
For Further Study: Psalm 119 is an important chapter in teaching what the Bible says about itself. If you would like to add James Boice’s series on the Psalms to your own library, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering the complete three-volume set at 25% off the regular price.