Theme: Walking as a Christian
In this week’s lessons, this portion of Psalm 119 shows that there are absolutes by which believers must live, which are contrary to what the world puts forth.
Scripture: Psalm 119:113-128
Have you ever noticed how novelists make use of the way a person walks to highlight his or her character? Proud men walk erect, their heads held high. Beautiful women glide or float. Evil villains slouch, sneak, creep or swagger. The need to describe different ways of walking has enriched our language. The Oxford Thesaurus lists dozens of synonyms for walking: trek, shuffle, ramble, march, roam, wander and others. But English is not the best of the world’s languages in this respect. According to Eugene A. Nida of the American Bible Society, the Zulu language has at least 120 words for walking: to walk pompously, to walk with a swagger, to walk crouched down as when hunting a wild animal, to walk in tight clothes, and so on.
How should Christians walk? The Bible tells us “to walk worthy” of our calling (Eph. 4:1, KJV), “uprightly” (Isa. 57:2) and “in the light” (1 John 1:7). Micah 6:8 says, “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In the section of Psalm 119 to which we come now (the samekh and ayin stanzas, vv. 113-128) the writer is concerned with his walk, and the burden of his concern is that it be according to God’s Word. This important theme was actually introduced a stanza before this, with the nun stanza (vv. 105-112), beginning with the words: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (v. 105). In that study, we looked at those words in terms of the Bible’s clarity. Yet they also have to do with walking along a right path, and that is the theme that continues through verse 128, which wraps up this line of thought by stating, “I hate every wrong path.”
In regard to the believer’s walk, the point of stanza fourteen (vv. 105-112) is that if we are to walk as God wants us to walk, we must be able to see the right way clearly. We will never be able to see it by ourselves since this is a dark world, we have no natural light in ourselves and there are deviating paths. We can only see the right path if the Word of God shines on it and lights it up for us. The Bible does this. It teaches us the way we should go and actually enables us to walk in it.
This stanza has two ideas in regard to walking, one positive and the other negative. As far as the positive idea is concerned, the psalmist says that he has taken an oath to “follow your righteous laws” (v. 106). That is, he has determined to obey the Bible’s teaching. The Bible shows him the right path to follow. The negative idea is in verse 110:
The wicked have set a snare for me,
but I have not strayed from your precepts.
I think here of the Apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy in his second letter. In chapter three he warns Timothy of “terrible times in the last days,” noting that the world will be filled with vices. “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” This is an apt description of the kind of world we live in. But what is even worse is that these vices will be in the church, for they will exist in those who have “a form of godliness” but deny “its power” (vv. 1-5).
What is Timothy to do in such terrible times? How can he keep to the right path and avoid falling into the snares that will be set for him by the wicked? It is by continuing in what he has learned from the Bible. The Bible is not like other books. It is God’s book, and it alone will make his way plain. As Paul goes on to tell Timothy later in that same chapter, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (vv. 16, 17).
And there are those positive and negative points again. Teaching and training are the positive terms. Rebuking and correcting are the negatives. We need both if we are to walk in the right path and avoid the wrong ones.
Describe how a Christian is to walk. What is the psalmist’s concern with his walk?
How do we see the right path?
What are the positive and negative ideas in regard to walking?
What is Paul’s description of the last days? Who is being described?
Reflection: Review the list from 2 Timothy 3:1-5. When have you acted in any of these ways? Do you have a method for keeping to the right path in evil times?
Key Point: The Bible is not like other books. It is God’s book, and it alone will make his way plain.