The Book of Psalms

Wednesday: Obedience While Waiting


Theme: Peace and Security
In this week’s lessons, we see that obedience, Bible study, and prayer lead to true freedom. 
Scripture: Psalm 119:153-168
The psalmist learned various things about God as he studied his Word. In yesterday’s study we looked at two things the psalmist learned, including that (1) God is merciful, and that (2) God’s Word is true. In today’s study we continue with two more points. 
3. Personal peace comes from personal obedience (v. 165). The third thing the psalmist learned from his study of the Bible is that peace is the reward of those who obey God’s law. In the Hebrew of this verse, “peace” is the word shalom. Like “salvation” to which it is closely linked, shalom is a large, embracing word for the good that comes to one God favors.1 It has to do with personal well-being in all respects. On the spiritual level it embraces “peace with God” through the work of Jesus Christ. On the material level it can mean prosperity. On the personal level it has to do with a tranquil state of mind that comes from placing one’s entire hope in God’s Word. Alexander Maclaren speaks of it as encompassing “a restful heart…a submitted will…an obedient life… [and] freedom from temptations.”2
We should note, however, that the verse does not promise peace to those who perfectly keep God’s law, for who can keep it? It promises peace to those who “love” God’s law, which means, I suppose, those who love it because they have found God to be merciful by reading it. 
4. The obedient are secure (v. 165). The fourth thing the psalmist says he learned by reading the Bible is that those who obey God’s Word are secure. “Nothing can make them stumble.” Where else can we find security in this life? Nowhere else, of course. Our only true security is in God. 
I think here of a wonderful section of Saint Augustine’s The City of God in which that great father of the church reflects on the uncertainties of this life:
What numberless casualties threaten our bodies…extremes of heat and cold, storms, floods, inundations, lightening, thunder, hail, earthquakes, houses falling; or from the stumbling, or shying, or vice of horses; from countless poisons in fruits, water, air, animals; from the painful or even deadly bites of wild animals; from the madness which a mad dog communicates, so that even the animal which of all others is most gentle and friendly to its own master, becomes an object of intenser fear than a lion or dragon, and the man whom it has by chance infected with this pestilential contagion becomes so rabid, that his parents, wife, children, dread him more than any wild beast! What disasters are suffered by those who travel by land or sea? What man can go out of his own house without being exposed on all hands to unforeseen accidents? Returning home sound in limb, he slips on his own doorstep, breaks his leg, and never recovers. What can seem safer than a man sitting in his chair? Eli the priest fell from his, and broke his neck.3
Surely there is no security for any of us in this life except in loving and living by the unshakable and eternal Word of God. 
1″Peace” is linked to “salvation” even here, since verse 166 (“I wait for your salvation, O LORD”) follows immediately on verse 165 (“Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble”). 
2Alexander Maclaren, “Submission and Peace” in Expositions of Holy Scripture, vol. 3, The Psalms, Isaiah 1-48 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), section 2, Psalms 51-145, pp. 329-335. 
3Saint Augustine, The City of God, book 22, chapter 22, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, vol. 2, ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), p. 500. 
Study Questions: 

What is the reward to those who obey God’s law? What does this mean on different levels? 
What do we learn about security in this lesson? 

Review: Review the four things the psalmist has learned about true obedience. Are these things you still have to learn? If so, write down these lessons and put them in a place where you will be reminded of them as you study God’s Word.
Key Point: Surely there is no security for any of us in this life except in loving and living by the unshakable and eternal Word of God.

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