The Treasure of God’s Word
The Treasure of God’s Word
I remember growing up with great movies and shows about hunting for treasure. Indiana Jones and his incredible explorations. Rafting down rivers, running away from boulders, falling into snake pits, and of course eating monkey brains, all in hopes of gaining incredible treasures from the past.
Or The Goonies, a group of teenagers going after the legend of pirate One-Eyed-Willy, running from a group of robbers and their mama, going down water slides, playing organs of bones, all in hopes of finding the pirates lost treasure and securing their families houses.
National Treasure with codes hidden by the forefathers of the country to preserve ancient treasures. Taking the Declaration of Independence to save it from bad guys, piecing puzzles together in the Independence Hall.
These movies opened up my eyes in wonder. Finding hidden treasures in what seemed ordinary life. The possibility of adventure, great finds, and something worth risking everything for. Treasure brings great assets into our lives. Treasure is worth giving other things for. When I say treasure what comes to your mind.
Does the Bible come to mind? Do you think of it as a treasure or do you just see an ordinary book? Is it worth taking risks to get into? Is there anything valuable in there. And if I am honest there are days where it seems like a burden, or perhaps much less important to my day's tasks.
Does reading the Bible seem like drudgery. You do it when you have nothing better to do. We are in a psalm today that is on the Bible. God’s word. It teaches that God’s word is a treasure we ought to hunger for, seek after, prize and internalize. It is a change to how many people view the Bible. This reflects the great change that comes with conversion. It is seeing God’s word for what it is.
The longest psalm in the Psalter. It is about God’s word (the word, the torah. Law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgements, word, promise. Scripture). The longest song for Israel is about the Bible. It is 176 verses. Composed of 22 eight line stanzas. It is an acrostic with the first line of each stanza starting with the letter of the alphabet. It combines truth and beauty.
This psalm points to the priority of God’s word in the life of a believer. We need to hear this psalm because we are all in danger of neglecting God’s word. Giving our lives to going after the wrong things.
Because of the length of this psalm we are not going to read all of it. I want to highlight a few things from it and then talk about the implications.
First, I want to mention a few things we find in God’s word, treasures:
God’s word has a vital place in our relationship with God. God’s presence is mediated to us through his word. Since The Fall we cannot be in God’s presence because of our sin. Our relationship with God is severed through sin but God in his mercy pursues us. We don’t know him face to face but we know him through his word and his spirit.
In this psalm you immediately see the importance of God’s word.
[Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! (Psalm 119:1-3 ESV)
If you want to obey God you follow his word. Those who walk in his ways do no wrong. If you follow God’s word you follow God. You are blessed when you walk according to his word.
It means there is an objective nature to our relationship with God. For most people today their walk with God is subjective. They do whatever feels right to them. There is no objective truth. Often times this is just a way to justify not pursuing God. There are parts of life that are subjective, but parts are objective.
Level in the house. Amanda hangs a picture and it might look good to me. If you want it straight you use a level. It is objective. Not debatable.
Are you doing what honors God? "Yeah, sure.” Is that a subjective response? Can you point to his word where you are doing what he calls you to do. Is the word your level for life. For what is OK and what is not OK. Let the objective provide the framework for the subjective.
This is how we conform our life to God. Typically we want God to fulfill our desires. Means we want him to conform to our desires. We are the standard and he needs to adjust to us. We are God and he is the servant. That’s not the way it is.
We need to follow God, and we do that by obeying his word:
[How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psa 119:9 ESV).
A lot of things that are debatable in life. Should I have taken this job, that job, done this or that.
Commitment to God’s word. Resolves to not neglect God’s word v16.
[I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psa 119:16 ESV)
Does not turn from the word 102. What have you resolved to not neglect? I don’t mind neglecting my garden, my desk is a bit unkept. I wash my car once a year whether it needs it or not. I don't mind neglecting those things. I don't feel anything is lost by doing that.
There is blessing in following God through his word and there are problems when we go outside of it. In this psalm what happens when we go out.
put to shame v6, 31
utterly forsaken v8
sin against you v11
Follow worthless things 37
disgrace I dread.
These things are bondage. Do you want to avoid shame, being forsaken, disgraced. Turn to God’s word. There is liberation. Being bound by God’s word is the most liberating thing you can do. It frees you to be who God has made you to be.
Hope. Comfort, mercy, v75-77
Hope four times. Comfort seven times.
Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant. (Psa 119:76 ESV)
It’s good to know God’s steadfast love. How do you know God is love? What would you point to for that? Do you know it because you saw a bird fly through your garden on a beautiful fall morning? You see something of God’s goodness in that. But what if I told you I saw your bird get eaten by a cat? Is God still good?
If you are trusting in subjective expressions you have no real hope. Yes, we see God’s goodness in creation. It’s fun to bird watch in a garden, and you may feel something of God’s love there but it is an inadequate foundation for your faith and life. God reveals who he is explicitly only in Scripture. We know God’s steadfast love in his word. We have accounts of God revealing himself.
["The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exo 34:7 ESV)(Exo 34:6 ESV)
We hear this in the Bible. We also see it in the historical accounts of Scripture where God is faithful to his people even as they fail. He is there when they return. Scripture interprets history, nature and everything else.
[Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope. (Psa 119:49 ESV)
[This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life. (Psa 119:50 ESV)
God’s promise is what we stand on. Many people stand on things that God has not promised. We stand on the things he has promised to us in his word.
Strength and endurance. V92, 161, 162
Related to hope is strength to keep pressing on when it is hard.
[If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction (Psa 119:92 ESV)
God’s promise lets us know things will end well. May not be the way we want or like but it will be ok. Delight in his law gives us hope in all circumstances. Marriage. Work. Family. He kept pressing on.
[For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. (Psa 119:83 ESV).
Smoke could dry out the skin, making it brittle, cracked and useless. Road hard and put up wet. But he has not forgotten God’s statutes. Give us assurance in the unknown.
[Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. (Psa 119:89 NIV)
If you know God is faithful, he calls you to do something, it is easier to stand strong in it. It may be with raising your kids. It may be trusting God for a spouse, not giving into world/sex.
Those are some things we find in God’s word. Now I want to mention a couple things about how we approach the word.
Note his goal in reading God’s word is not to just get it done. A lot of things in society cater to people simply going through the motions. Some classes you take you simply need to show up, check off a box, and there is little real evaluation. Online classes, had one friend who didn’t know the answer and was really curious if anyone actually read the test (and fairly confident that no one did) so she wrote down how to bake a cake. You can come to God’s word with the approach of let me get it done. That is not the point. No relationship will grow with that. That's just disrespectful to the person. Same here.
[Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psa 119:97 ESV)
When you love something you think about it. You consider it.
[I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. V11.
Kale. Powerful in nuturition. You want to get the nutrients inside of yourself. Same with God’s word. It is not enough to just be around it. You have to take it in.
There is an eagerness and hunger in his attitude. I wonder how much some of us would enjoy being around this guy. I think we might call him fanatical. You can’t escape the fact that he is hungry for God.
[148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night
that I might meditate on your promises.
He is up all night and is not watching Jimmy Fallon. He is in God’s word. I'm sure there were games and entertainment that he could have spent time on, probably not quite like today, but it was there. And he is up thinking through God’s word.
[In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. (Psa 119:14 ESV)
He delights in God’s word like it were a treasure. We have seen what God’s word keeps us from: disgrace, sin, shame. It leads to hope and joy. Don't we go after money and treasure because we believe it can give us all those things. The things we really want in life come through a relationship with God.
[I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. (Psa 119:60 ESV)
He also is quick to do what God’s word says. A lot of times we delay when we don’t really want to do something. We put it off and then we forget about it. Cleaning the sink. Fervor.
He even said it was good for him to be afflicted because through that he grew in his understanding of God!
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. (Psa 119:71 ESV).
He is desperate to know God. Some treat Christianity as a hobby, and it is a terrible hobby. It is terrible because it pushes into the entirety of your life. Some want to keep it on the fringes, do it when it is convenient. Christ wants everything, and it starts to push in on you and you have to work hard to keep it out. Come up with excuses for not going all in. The psalmist faith is not a hobby. It is his everything.
This psalm switches between statements of fact, of praise, of exclamation and also prayer. It reminds when we read God’s word we pray. It is a reflection of our longing to know him, longing to honor him, longing to follow. We are not just praying God keep me healthy, wealthy, and wise. We want to know him.
[Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. (Psa 119:27 NIV)
[Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. (Psa 119:33 ESV)
[Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. (Psa 119:35 ESV)
[Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psa 119:18 ESV)
Don’t assume you know everything. Proud people never grow. Frustrating being around them. They are not moved by anything. “Yes, I knew that.” Prayer is reflective of that hunger for God. It is a yearning.
V18 is wonderfully refreshing. I think it is an acknowledgment that sometimes we do not see wonderful things in God’s word. We need to know it is there.
Growing in your walk with God is a process. It's a relationship. Enjoy the process. Move into the process. Don't approach God like Siri. Look if Siri doesn’t give you what you want right away you say she’s broken, worthless and you go get another app. You don't have a relationship with Siri. You are not trying to get to know her. We want to know God. Walk with him. We read, pray, wait, contemplate, mediate. Think over and over.
[Why does God give us the Bible? "The truly staggering answer which the Bible gives to this questions is... to make friends with us." JI Packer
If (God) was to succeed in making friends, it was absolutely necessary that he should speak to us; for the only way to make friends with a person is by talking to him and getting him to talk back to you. Friendship without conversation is a contradiction in terms." Packer
A man with whom I never speak will never be my friend.
Read God’s word.
That is profound, isn’t it. And yet so many people do not read it. Don’t have time? That is fine. Just do this. Just spend half the amount of time that you spend on fantasy football by reading God’s word. How about half the time you spend watching tv, scrolling through facebook, listening to sermons. I'm not saying don’t watch tv or don't play fantasy football. Do those. But give back half of what you do in the word.
What are we going to say when we stand before God. I don't want him to say, “Why did you do… didn't you know you weren’t supposed to…” and then I say, “well I didn't know I wasn’t supposed to.” And he is going to say, “why didn’t you read my word?” There is no excuse. Maybe the reason we don’t read our Bibles is we don’t want to know what it says.
Also when you read the bible.
Pick a book and start in chapter 1. Next read chapter 2. Don't let your devotions consist of the verse of the day. That's good but there is so much more. Get to understand the context. Get to know the story line. The Bible is full of drama, interaction, it builds and develops. The larger context will open up those verses of the day.
Read with a pen in hand. That may seem like sacrilege but do it. When something is important underline. If you don't understand something put a question mark next to it. If you really need to hear something put an exclamation point. And once a week go back and look at some of that. Memorize the verses that ministered to you
Go back and review sermons. I used to do this a lot on Mondays. I would read the passage and look at the main points from the sermon.
Read it with others
Impact. If you believe God’s word can change your life you will read it. If you believe it will change others you will read it with them. It is a powerful thing to read God’s word with others and talk about how it affects us. This is what Christians do!
Small groups. Provide a time and context to learn and grow with others. We value that so we want to value small groups. Time to read and pray with others.
Discipleship: Do people who know you know God’s word is your rock, light? Are you reading it with them. Christian witness perishes when this is lost. People want to be in ministry but aren’t leading others in God’s word. People say they want to know God but they ignore his word.
How are you leading others in knowing God’s word. In family time read it with others. Get in relationships with others where you are reading and talking about God’s word.
Do what it says.
Write down the things you need to do.
What do I need to believe differently? Don’t make excuses or delay.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning then stop complaining.
Sing a new song. Then sing!
Baptize and I haven't been baptized. Get baptized.
Write down one thing you need to do differently. Right down one thing you need to think differently.
Sometimes there are blatant things we need to address. If you are lying and it says don't lie then stop. Sometimes there are things you grow weary of doing. Maybe it is going to church. You traveled, vacationed, and weeks have gone by now. You read in his word to not give up meeting together, then you get to church.
Maybe you are getting worn down by others and the wrong things they are doing.
But the key question is how do you view God’s word. Do you view it like the psalmists? Is it simply an ordinary book that doesn’t seem worth the effort to pick up. Or is it a treasure chest, full of wisdom, truth, power that will bring you rewards greater than any amount of money can bring.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (Psa 119:16 NIV)
What benefits have you found in reading God’s word?
What is your attitude toward God’s word? What might help you have the same attitude as the psalmist?
What is one thing you need to do in response to this message? What is one thing you need to think differently about in response to this message?