Theme: Keeping Us on the Right Path
In this week’s lessons, we see that to love God’s Word is also to hate sin.
Scripture: Psalm 119:97-104
The second reason why the psalmist has come to love God’s law is that it has kept him on the path of righteousness. That is, it has kept him on the right path and off the wrong one. Earlier in the psalm the writer asked pointedly, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” (v. 9). He answered, “By living according to your word.” He is saying the same thing now (in verse 101), only he is stating it the other way around: “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your laws.” In other words, it is what one of the older evangelists wrote on the flyleaf of his Bible: “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.”
These verses are not saying that the best of many equally valuable ways for a young person or anyone else to keep his or her way pure is by studying God’s Word. They are saying that this is the only way. And the reason for this is that only the Word of God can tell us what the pure way is. A pure or right way is the opposite of a sinful way, and knowledge of sin requires a knowledge of God’s law by definition. What is sin? “Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God,” says the Westminster Shorter Catechism (answer to question 14). Apart from the law of God there may still be wrong behavior, but it can only be defined as a violation of the laws of the state, which is crime, or simply offenses against humanity, which is to break the law of nature. Only the law of God can tell us what offends God, hence, what sin is, and only the law of God can show us the right path in which to walk.
Moreover, only the Word of God can empower us to do it. To be sure, the law as law does not do it. The law exposes sin and condemns the sinner. But it is also true that the Spirit works through the whole of Scripture for our good. And what the Spirit does through Scripture is revive, illumine and empower the child of God first to believe the gospel of salvation by the work of Jesus Christ and then to live by his teachings.
The third reason why the psalmist says he has learned to love God’s law is that, when he studies it, he finds God to be his teacher: “I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me,” he says (v. 102).
In Hebrew, as in many languages, it is not necessary to have a pronoun before a verb, because the ending of the verb indicates whether the subject is “I” “you” (singular), “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” “you” (plural) or “they.” In this verse the ending is “you,” meaning God: “you taught me.” However, the verse also contains the additional separate pronoun “you,” which can only be in the verse for emphasis. This is why the New International Version adds the word “yourself,” saying, “for you yourself have taught me.” This is an important point, for it means that when the writer studied the Bible what he heard in it was not the words of other people, even though they had been used of God to record the revelation, but the voice of God himself. It is God who spoke to him. So also in our case. God speaks to us in Scripture, and this makes the Bible unlike any merely human book.
What is the only way to keep pure? Why?
Define sin. How can it be different from crime?
Explain what the Holy Spirit does through Scripture.
What one factor distinguishes the Bible from all other books written?
Observation: Additional words in Scripture placed solely for emphasis indicates something important that we should notice.
Prayer: Pray for God’s strength to conquer sin in your life.