Awaken: Clarity - Radical

Awaken: Clarity



Awaken: Clarity

Awaken Series

If you have your Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to Psalm 19. I want you to see a nonnegotiable in corporate worship that I believe is foundational for all the non-negotiables we have looked at. We are looking at 5 different non-negotiables in corporate worship. This is kind of the review. Three sermons ago we started by looking at Nehemiah 12. We looked at the importance in worship; the fact that we are not just a bunch of individual believers gathered together for worship. We are a community of faith that comes together for worship corporately. We talked about community. 

The sermon after that we looked at humility. We looked at Revelation 20 and we saw the radically God-centered nature of corporate worship. Everything revolves around His greatness. 

Then in the previous sermon, we dove into the dialog, conversation, between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4. We talked about honesty. We talked about the importance of coming before God honestly in our worship – in authenticity. So we have seen community, humility and honesty.

Now we look at clarity. Clarity is probably, out of this whole series, the thing I am most passionate about. It is the subject that I have spent the last 7 years of my own life studying and teaching – the need for clarity in God’s word at the center of our worship. I believe this is foundational for all the others. 

I had a couple of people call me during the time I was preparing for this sermon from different churches. One was talking about how the pastor was not even bringing a Bible to the pulpit any more; that he would stand up and give a 20 minute speech and never make even a mention of the Word. I spent this spring traveling in different places almost every weekend up until Easter talking about the clarity, the need for clarity in God’s Word. So many people have come up and said we are hungry for God’s Word but we are not diving in to God’s word as a church in the settings that they were in. I was down in New Orleans preaching and somebody asked me, “David why are you so passionate about God’s Word in our worship?” If you ask that question of me then you are in for a long conversation. Ultimately it all comes down to this if God’s Word is not central in our worship then we are not worshipping. If God’s Word is not at the center, at the focus, of our worship then we are not worshipping. I want you to see that unfold in Psalm 19. 

The foundational truth, to set the stage where we are headed, what we are going to see in Psalm 19 is this – worship involves a rhythm of revelation and response. We’re going to see this unfold – these two facets of worship in Psalm 19. The first part of what we see, we’re going to talk about revelation then we’re going to see how response flows from revelation. 

Psalm 19 is an incredible psalm. C. S. Lewis said it was his favorite of all the Psalms – said the lyrical poetry here is incomparable anywhere else in the world. It is just an incredible picture here is Psalm 19. It is really a microcosm, a condensed version, of Psalm 119 which is the longest chapter in the bible that emphasizes the word over and over and over again. What we are going to do is look at Psalm 19, the condensed version, and we are going to let that catapult us into Psalm 119 which we will look at a little bit later on.

So let’s start on Psalm 19:1. Get the picture here. 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps. 19:1-14).


Revelation and response – there is an interplay between these two things throughout the psalm. Think with me first about revelation. In this psalm it is talking about how God reveals Himself in two primary ways, through two primary avenues. 

God Reveals Himself Clearly in the World

First of all, God reveals Himself clearly through the world. That is verses 1 through 6. We get a picture of nature and how from the very beginning “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps. 19:1). The picture is of nature shouting of the greatness of God, continually shouting of the greatness of God. There is no place on this planet where nature is not shouting of the greatness of God. 

It is the same thing we see in Romans 1:18-20 talks about since the creation of the world, “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). The purpose of creation is to shout the glory of God. That is why in Luke 19 says if we don’t shout about the glory of God who will do it for us. The rocks will cry out for us. That is the whole purpose of creation, to shout of the glory of God. 

It is divided in these first 6 verses into the skies proclaiming His greatness and then the sun. There is a focus on the sun, an incredible picture of the sun rising on one side of the earth like a bridegroom coming from his pavilion, a bridegroom excited about his wedding, rises and it make its circuit to the other side like a champion running its course. There is no place on the face of this planet that is apart from its heat, that doesn’t feel the heat of the sun in some way. This is the picture of how God has not left His identity up in the air in all the world. He has shown who He is. 

The only problem is the way God reveals Himself in the world is limited. Yes, God shows His power and His greatness through creation but the way this whole psalm is structured when you get to verse 7 it is hitting a crescendo. The psalmist, David, almost redoubles in his joy and then he begins to talk about the law of the Lord and the precepts and the commands of the Lord. 

God Reveals Himself Comprehensively in the Word

What we see is that God has revealed Himself clearly in the world but second, God has revealed Himself comprehensively, in other words in an even greater way, in the Word. What we see from verses 7 through 11 is a focus on God’s revelation in His Word and the greatness of the Word. What you see is different titles for the Word that are almost interchangeable: law, statutes, precepts, commands, fear, ordinances. These different words that we see in the Old Testament to describe the Word. Then after each of those titles we see descriptions: the law is perfect, the statutes are trustworthy. We see all these different descriptions and then we see the effects of the Word, which we are going to get to in a second. 

But I want us to think about each of those phrases. There are 6 successive phrases starting verse 7 that talk about what the law of the Lord is. I want you to see 6 attributes of the word. There are attributes to the Word that we need to see because they go right in the face of much of our contemporary worship philosophy; contemporary worship trends. 

First of all it says, “The law of the Lord is perfect” (Ps. 19:7). What that is saying is that the Word is sufficient – this idea of the law of the Lord, the Torah, the instruction of the Lord being perfect. It is not just saying that it is without error, without flaw, that we know. What it is talking about though is that it is complete. It is comprehensive. It is all that God desires for it to be. God is not up in heaven thinking I wish I would have added a 67th book to the Bible that would help people out in the 21st century. This is complete. This book is sufficient. It is all we need. 

This has been the cry of saints throughout history. Puritans at a time in England when it was illegal to have a copy of God’s word and the authorities were threatening to take copies of God’s Word away. The Puritan believers would rise up and say take our houses, take our lands, take our churches, take our children but don’t take our Bibles. It is all we need; that the priority in our lives, that the priority in our worship, the Bible, the Word of the living God is all that we need. I am concerned in our worship we have seen it necessary, maybe to use the Bible in our worship but the Bible plus other things. We need the Bible plus some good practical tips from the preacher about how to deal with this or that. We need the Bible plus pop psychology. We need the Bible plus the world. The Bible claims in and of itself to be sufficient. It is all we need. It is complete. It is perfect. The Word is sufficient.

Second, the Word is relevant. The next phrase, “The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy” (Ps. 19:7). This is David saying the statutes, the words of the Lord, are a rock upon which everything in my life is based. Now it is at this point that we have had a tendency to think in our day, “You know…the Bible is so far removed from the 21st century – is it really applicable to us?” There is a tendency to think, “You know you preachers, you think everything is so simplistic, it goes back to the Word; you don’t understand real life and the real struggles I am going through.” 

Well, I won’t pretend to understand all the struggles that are represented, but I will say this the Bible is a rock. It is a timeless rock. The Word is relevant. I don’t have to make the Bible relevant. I don’t have to spice up the Word as some would say that I need to do. The Word is relevant. I simply show its relevance. It is a rock. David who is writing this, think of all that he had been through his struggles with sin, his struggles with marriage, his struggles with children, he had a child who died, he had children who disobeyed him, rebelled against him. All the struggles and he says in the middle of it, “The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy. They are the rock upon which my life is based.” The Word is sufficient. The Word is relevant.

Third, the Word is good. “The precepts of the Lord are right” (Ps. 19:8)—in other words, good. This is where I would plead with you to put down the magazines and to put down the novels and turn off the TV and to get off the internet and get into the Word of God because all of these things no matter how much they help us in practical things are simply the words of man. This is the Word of God. The God of the universe who created all things, who knows you and me better than we know ourselves, who knows our family, who knows where all of eternity is headed toward, knows where all the future is headed toward, knows all that is going on in our culture; that God has chosen to speak to us. We are fools if we don’t sit at His feet and look at what He has to say. The Word is good because it is God’s Word. He has spoken to us and we need to listen. The Word is sufficient. The Word is relevant. The Word is good.

Next, the Word is clear. “The commands of the Lord”—the authoritative decrees that He gives—“are radiant” (Ps. 19:8). They bring a light. They are clear. What a corrective this is when one of the most common questions we ask in the church today is, “What is God’s will for my life?” “Preacher, how do I know God’s will for my life?” I’m not pretending this book will tell you exactly what career decision to make. It won’t tell you exactly when to make this move or that move. It won’t tell you exactly what to do in every single specific family situation, however, I am convinced that 95% of God’s will for our lives is right here in this book. He has shown us His will and I’m convinced that if we are faithful to give ourselves to the 95% He has shown to us maybe just maybe He will be faithful to show us the 5% that we don’t know. 

God has not left us. This is good news. He has not left us to wander around in the fog of human opinion trying to find out who He is and how to lead our lives. He has shown us. He has given us His Word and it is clear. He has shown us His character over and over and over again. God’s character whether it is His justice or His patience or His wrath or His love, His omniscience is clear in His Word. He has shown us who He is in His Word. The Word is sufficient, relevant, good, clear. 

The Word is holy. This is one of my favorite parts of this chapter, verse 9, the fear of the Lord. We have seen the law, the statutes, the precepts, the commands and now the fear of the Lord. That is the title that is given to this book. “The fear of the Lord is pure” (Ps. 19:9). The Bible is described as the fear, the awe, of the Lord. 

One of the things that I have heard in some contemporary discussions of worship is that if we put too much emphasis on the Word then we will begin to worship the Word. The question I want to ask based on Scripture is, “Is that a problem?” Psalm 56:4 says, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust.” It says I will praise the Word of God. Psalm 56:10, “In God, whose word I praise.” It repeats the same phrase. You get over to Psalm 119, which is the development of Psalm 19 expanded. It says, “I love your law.” It says, “My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws” (Ps. 119:120). I stand in awe of your laws. You get to Psalm 138:2. That verse says that God has exalted above all things His name and His Word. He puts His Word on the same plane that He puts His name in Psalm 138:2. Why? Because the Word is the revelation of who God is. 

It is why Jesus when He came to the world and was introduced in the Book of John, it said, in the beginning, was the what? The Word. Jesus is the Word. He is the revelation of God. This is the picture of the Word being holy and inciting fear in us; reverence and respect and awe for who He is. I don’t think we’re in danger of putting too much emphasis on the Word in our worship today. If we’re going to err on any side let’s err on the side of taking God at His Word and putting it at the center of our worship. 

It is sufficient, relevant, good, clear, holy and finally the Word is true. “The ordinances of the Lord”—this is a reference to His verdicts and decrees—“are sure and altogether righteous” (Ps. 19:9). They are true. This is one of the reasons why the Word must be central in our worship because we live in a culture that is increasingly skeptical of truth and throwing out the idea that there is no absolute truth. There is no rock upon which we can stand on. Nothing we can know for sure. It is only true for you. What is true for you may not be true for me. Truth is all relative. That is not what the Word claims. The Word claims to be sure and altogether righteous, altogether true. 

All of these are characteristics of the Word of God: sufficient, relevant, good, clear, holy and true. Now that is the title of the descriptions, attributes, of the Word of God. What I want you to see is what happens after every single one of those descriptions what we see are a result or an effect of the fruit of the Word. We have seen revelation. Now let’s think about response. 


The Effects of God’s Revelation…

What happens in response to God’s Word? Well in verse 7, it said the law of the Lord is perfect. We saw there that the Word is sufficient, but look at the response – “reviving the soul.” Think about this effect of God’s revelation. 

The Word transforms us—reviving the soul, restoring the soul, refreshing the soul, transforming the soul. The picture of soul throughout the Old Testament – when this word is mentioned in the Hebrew it is a picture of the whole person. This verse is showing that the law of the Lord is comprehensive. It is complete. It is sufficient and it is sufficient to restore us, revive us, transform our souls. We cannot grow into the image of Christ apart from God’s Word. 

That is why; don’t miss it that is why we are destined, to live defeated Christian lives if we try to live it apart from God’s Word. Because this is the avenue through which God transforms us. If we try to live the Christian life apart from God’s Word then we will end up trying to meet all the rules and regulations and do the right things but it will be empty because God is not transforming our soul through His Word. The only way we can have victory over sin is for God to transform our souls through His Word. That is what He does. That is one effect. 

Second, the Word makes us wise. That next phrase in verse 7 – “the statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7). Wisdom all throughout Scripture is based on the application of God’s Word and God’s will to daily living. This book is enough to make us wise. I remind you again that it is not this book plus the wisdom of the world that will make us wise. It is not this book plus a pop psychologist that is going to help us out. It is not this book plus this Christian book from the Christian bookstore that is going to help us out. The Word is enough to make us wise for godly living. We have got to believe this. We have got to see the claims that the Word is making. It is able to make wise the simple, the simplest of us. It makes us wise if we trust in it. The Word makes us wise.

Third, the Word satisfies us. “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart” (Ps. 19:8). It fills our heart with joy. That is what the Word claims to do. You get down to verse 10 it says, “…more precious than gold, much pure gold.” Think about that with me – more precious than gold, than much pure gold; more precious than money. The psalmist here, it is only like he has inherited millions of dollars but it is just the Word that he has in his hands. What a picture we need to see in our culture of materialism where everything is aimed at more and more and more money and more and more and more comforts. 

One of the tempting things when we hear children quoting Scripture, quoting all of the Psalms and Isaiah, different verses, one of the tempting things is for us to think, “I wish I had a young mind like that so that I could memorize Scripture.” You may have thought, “I wish I was able to memorize like that.” The real temptation is for us to walk away and say, “I can’t memorize Scripture.” I want to say I believe that is a lie straight from the adversary. 

I won’t pretend that everyone has the exact same ability, capacity, to memorize. I know that may be different. Let me ask you a question. What if I told you that between now and midnight tonight I would give you $1,000 for every single verse you can memorize, could you learn to memorize pretty quick? Could you do that? 

God help us not to be at a point in our Christianity where money would motivate us more than the value of God’s Word would motivate us. The question is not can we memorize. The question is, is it valuable enough to fill our minds with. That is the question we need to come face to face with whenever we start to think that I cannot memorize. It is more precious than gold. 

Then it says, “Sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb” (Ps. 19:10). What a picture there. That doesn’t seem to translate to our day. Let’s translate it – “more fulfilling than a great big porterhouse steak and loaded baked potato on the side.” This fills our souls in a much deeper way than that ever could. We are pretty regular when it comes to eating. A few times a day every day this week, most likely, we will be eating. What if God’s Word was the sustenance of our souls like that? “Man does not live on bread alone but on”—what? “Every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). This is the sustenance for our soul and it satisfies us. Just like we crave food even deeper, God help us to crave your word. It satisfies us. The Word transforms us. It makes us wise. It satisfies us. 

The Word enlightens us. “The commands of the Lord are radiant”—here is the result, the response—“giving light to the eyes” in a world of darkness and confusion (Ps. 19:8). In a world where there are many times when we find ourselves not knowing what to do, where to go, the Word is our light. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a” (Ps. 119:105)—what? A light to our path. It enlightens us.

Next, the Word awes us. “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever” (Ps. 19:9). We talked about how the Word is holy, how we stand in awe of God’s laws. Do you remember Nehemiah 8? We have spent some time there before looking over Nehemiah 8, an incredible scene, when Ezra the scribe comes out in front of the people of God. They had all assembled. He comes out with the Book of the Law, which is the first five books of the Old Testament at that point. He opens up the book. All it says is, “Ezra opened the book” in Nehemiah 8 and here is what the people did. As soon as he opened the book they all stood up. Everybody stood up just when the book was open they stood up. They started raising their hands. They started shouting out, amen, amen. Then they bowed down with their faces to the ground all because he opened the book. That is all he did. They stood up, raised their hands, shout out and then bowed down with their faces to the ground. 

The question we need to think about a couple of thousand years later is, “In our worship when do we normally respond like that?” When do we stand; maybe raise our hands and shout out maybe if we are really extreme bow down with our faces to the ground? We do that in response to what? In response to songs, in response to music. Is that a bad thing? No. Nehemiah 12 we looked at a few sermons ago – that is definitely not a bad thing. 

However, it does beg the question, “What would happen if we were the kind of people who stood in awe of God’s word like that?” What if it didn’t take the strum of a certain chord or a certain song to come on to cause us to rise up and to lift up our hands? What if all it took was the reading of God’s Word, the opening of God’s Word to incite such reverence and awe in us that we rise to our feet, we lift up our hands, we shout out amen, amen, and we may even bow down with our faces to the ground? God make us a people who are awed by His Word. The Word awes us.

Finally, the Word makes us righteous. “The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous” (Ps. 19:9). The picture that unfolds is how the psalmist, David, sees his sin in the law. The law exposes his sin. It exposes his need for a redeemer. What we see is the picture of the law making us righteous through the redemption that God provides. It is a picture of the king to come after David, Christ, who would fulfill the law perfectly. He would redeem us from our sin. He would make us righteous. The Word makes us righteous. 

Now we have attributes of God here, revelation. We have responses, effects, of that revelation. Revelation and response. The Word is sufficient, relevant, good, clear, holy and true. It transforms us. It makes us wise. It satisfies us. It enlightens us. It awes us. It makes us righteous. If those things are true then why would we not want to put the Word at the center of our worship? Why would we come to the contemporary worship trends that we have seen over the last few years in the church to discussions about how we can spice up the Word in our worship; how we can use other means to make our worship more relevant to people? 

I am convinced that what we have done in contemporary worship trends is that we have taken this biblical picture of revelation and response and we have completely thrown revelation out the window. What happens is we come in for our worship and we sing songs that our sung many times because of the way they sound and what they incite in us as opposed to the biblical or theological foundation that roots them. We have created a system where we put words on a screen and we all sing them without even giving second thought to whether or not they are biblical; whether or not they square with the Word of God. We sing songs and then it is all too common to come to a time where we study God’s Word and maybe if we do bring a Bible up we read a verse or two and then we go into saying our thoughts, our opinions, our stories – the entertainment value of that – and maybe every once in a while come back to the word and at best take the Word and help it support what we desire to say. Then to end we have response times in our worship but the question we have to ask is, “At that point what are we responding to?” The danger is that we are responding to ourselves because we have minimized the revelation of God and we have nothing left to respond to. Our worship has all of a sudden become self-centered, hollow, and I am convinced offensive to God if His revelation is minimized. 

When the Word is Absent in Our Worship…

Now the pressure is on in corporate worship and on those who are leading corporate worship. Every week if the Word is going to be absent in our worship then we have got to manufacture something Sunday morning in and Sunday morning out. We have got to live up to the pressure week by week of creating the emotions that we desire and creating the effects that we desire. 

When the Word is absent in our worship all that is going to lead to is a manufactured response. Don’t miss it. With what we sing and what we say in our worship we will teach each other about God, but if His Word is not the center of our singing and His Word is not the center of our praying, if his Word is not the center of our preaching in worship then what we will do is we will sing and pray and talk about God like we think He is. We will give our thoughts and our opinions about who God is and we will create God to be who we think he is a god who thinks like us, who looks like us, who acts us, a god who is a lot like us. The danger there is, when that happens and when we come together for worship we think we are worshipping God but the reality is we are only worshipping ourselves. 

When the Word is absent in worship then the response will only be manufactured and the result will be pleasing to self. Stripping worship of the revelation of God and focusing on our response and thinking that God is most honored in that is a huge mistake. 

When the Word is Apparent in Our Worship…

However, when the Word of God is at the center of our worship, when it is apparent in our worship then the response is not manufactured. The response is authentic. I would even say automatic. Here is the beauty of this whole picture. When God’s revelation, when His Word, is exposed then response flows from that. We don’t have to manufacture anything because He is leading the response. He is directing the response. In His Word we have seen it over and over again in these different attributes, in these different effects. It will transform us. It will satisfy us. It will make us wise. It will awe us. The Word will do the work for us if we let it. 

If we trust the Word to do the work for us then the response will be authentic and the result will be pleasing to God. When we get to the end then like the psalmist we will say, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). As a result if we want to experience true biblical worship and response to God in worship then we must maximize His revelation. His Word must saturate our worship. This is where our worship will go so much deeper than we ever could have accomplished trying to do it through our own means. 

I mentioned that I was in New Orleans. New Orleans has been known to flood. Having lived there for 5 or 6 years, I knew that when it rains hard there, there is no where for that water to go but up. So a buddy of mine and I got in our car on Friday morning and we were driving and it began to rain. It was not raining but just started to rain when we got in the car. It started to pour down rain and all of a sudden we saw water on the roads beginning to rise more and more and more. All of a sudden we found ourselves engulfed in more and more and more water. The water was starting to come up on the tires. We were driving through making a wake wherever we were driving. 

The dangerous thing about that whole driving situation in New Orleans at that point is that you don’t know, there are a lot of bumps in the road so you don’t know how deep the water is at different places in the road. You can find yourself all of a sudden immersed in water. 

We were almost to my friend’s house and about to take a left on to his street. We couldn’t tell how deep it was on that street. There were a couple of cars in front of us and we said to each other, it would really be nice if one of these cars would turn down that street. It could help us out a little to show us the way. Fortunately for us, not so fortunate for the guy in front of us, he took a left down that street. He got about 15 feet down the street and all of a sudden he goes down a little bit and his van is immersed in water and gets stuck. We take that as God’s sign to us that we should not go down that street at this point so we pull up on the median and decide to wait things out there. This van is just sitting in the middle of a puddle of water that spans the entire street. 

I saw that picture and thought about what we were studying and I couldn’t help but think, God make us the kind of church that is so saturated with your Word in our worship that it overwhelms us; that is overtakes us; that we get stuck in it every once in a while. Isn’t it a good thing to get into the Word and realize that there might be some places that we go that we take some steps a little too deep and it takes us places where we may not have been ready to go but we realize at that point that God is drawing us deeper into a knowledge of Him, deeper into His greatness, deeper into what it means to walk the Christian life. God help us to get stuck, saturated by His Word in our worship. Not to the point where it is ruining us like it was ruining that guy’s car but to the point where it is a good thing. We are saturated with His Word. 

Do you want to know God? Do we want to know the God we worship? Are we willing to be a church that trusts God to do the work through His Word in our worship; to relieve ourselves of the pressure to manufacture something week by week in corporate worship and simply to say we are going to be clear about God’s Word in what we sing. We are going to be clear about God’s Word in what we pray. We are going to be clear about God’s Word in what we preach. We are going to let God show His power through His Word. I am praying that God will use us as a faith family to show what happens when a people trust in His Word and put the Word at the center of our worship. It is supreme. 

I told a few different people, and I am at a point in my life and my ministry and I believe we are at a point in our church where if He does not come through in His Word we will fall flat on our faces. But I have got to believe that God is honored in that. 

The Foundational Question:

So the foundational question is this, “Will we, as a faith family, will we ignore the Word in our worship? Will we minimize it, or will we let the Word ignite our worship? Will it be the clarity, the foundation, which provides the framework for everything in our worship?”

I want you to turn with me over to Psalm 119. With that picture, revelation and response in your mind and in your heart, I want us to look at Psalm 119. I want us to see how the Word of God ignites the worship of God. I want you to hear the heart of this psalmist talk about all the words we have just seen – precepts, statues, commands of the Lord – the law of the Lord. He talks about its affect in his life, its affect in suffering, its affect in bringing joy and satisfaction and transforming him and awing him and making him righteous. I want you to see that unfold. 

Psalm 119, we mentioned earlier, it is a pretty long chapter. It is divided into different sections according to the Hebrew alphabet. I invite you to see the heart of this psalmist. I pray that God would make us a people that stand in awe of His Word. His Word, may it ignite our worship. Psalm 119. 

א Aleph

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong;
    they walk in his ways.
You have laid down precepts
    that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
    in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
    when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
    as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
    do not utterly forsake me.

ב Beth

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
    all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word.

ג Gimel

Do good to your servant, and I will live;
    I will obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth;
    do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
    for your laws at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed
    and who stray from your commands.
Remove from me scorn and contempt,
    for I keep your statutes.
Though rulers sit together and slander me,
    your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
    they are my counselors.

ד Daleth

I am laid low in the dust;
    preserve my life according to your word.
I recounted my ways and you answered me;
    teach me your decrees.
Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;
    then I will meditate on your wonders.
My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways;
    be gracious to me through your law.
I have chosen the way of truth;
    I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have set my heart free.

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees;
    then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
    Preserve my life in your righteousness.

ו Waw

May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord,
    your salvation according to your promise;
then I will answer the one who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love,
    and I meditate on your decrees.

ז Zayin

Remember your word to your servant,
    for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
    Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me without restraint,
    but I do not turn from your law.
I remember your ancient laws, O Lord,
    and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
    who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song
    wherever I lodge.
In the night I remember your name, O Lord,
    and I will keep your law.
This has been my practice:
    I obey your precepts.

ח Heth

You are my portion, O Lord;
    I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
    and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
    to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
    I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
    for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
    to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, O Lord;
    teach me your decrees.

ט Teth

Do good to your servant
    according to your word, O Lord.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
    for I believe in your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good;
    teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
    I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
    but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
    than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

י Yodh

Your hands made me and formed me;
    give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
    for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous,
    and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort,
    according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
    for your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
    but I will meditate on your precepts.
May those who fear you turn to me,
    those who understand your statutes.
May my heart be blameless toward your decrees,
    that I may not be put to shame.

כ Kaph

My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
    but I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
    I say, “When will you comfort me?”
Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
    I do not forget your decrees.
How long must your servant wait?
    When will you punish my persecutors?
The arrogant dig pitfalls for me,
    contrary to your law.
All your commands are trustworthy;
    help me, for men persecute me without cause.
They almost wiped me from the earth,
    but I have not forsaken your precepts.
Preserve my life according to your love,
    and I will obey the statutes of your mouth.

ל Lamedh

Your word, O Lord, is eternal;
    it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
    you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
    for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
    I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
    for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
    I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
    but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit;
    but your commands are boundless.

מ Mem

Oh, how I love your law!
    I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
    for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
    for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
    for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
    so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
    for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path.

נ Nun

Your word is a lamp to my feet
    and a light for my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.
Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end.

ס Samekh

I hate double-minded men,
    but I love your law.
You are my refuge and my shield;
    I have put my hope in your word.
Away from me, you evildoers,
    that I may keep the commands of my God!
Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live;
    do not let my hopes be dashed.
Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
    I will always have regard for your decrees.
You reject all who stray from your decrees,
    for their deceitfulness is in vain.
All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
    therefore I love your statutes.
My flesh trembles in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your laws.

ע Ayin

I have done what is righteous and just;
    do not leave me to my oppressors.
Ensure your servant’s well-being;
    let not the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
    looking for your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant according to your love
    and teach me your decrees.
I am your servant; give me discernment
    that I may understand your statutes.
It is time for you to act, O Lord;
    your law is being broken.
Because I love your commands
    more than gold, more than pure gold,
and because I consider all your precepts right,
    I hate every wrong path.

פ Pe

Your statutes are wonderful;
    therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
    it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
    longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
    as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
    let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of men,
    that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant
    and teach me your decrees.
Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
    for your law is not obeyed.

צ Tsadhe

Righteous are you, O Lord,
    and your laws are right.
The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
    they are fully trustworthy.
My zeal wears me out,
    for my enemies ignore your words.
Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
    and your servant loves them.
Though I am lowly and despised,
    I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting
    and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
    but your commands are my delight.
Your statutes are forever right;
    give me understanding that I may live.

ק Qoph

I call with all my heart; answer me, O Lord,
    and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me
    and I will keep your statutes.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
    I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
    that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
    preserve my life, O Lord, according to your laws.
Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
    but they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, O Lord,
    and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes
    that you established them to last forever.

ר Resh

Look upon my suffering and deliver me,
    for I have not forgotten your law.
Defend my cause and redeem me;
    preserve my life according to your promise.
Salvation is far from the wicked,
    for they do not seek out your decrees.
Your compassion is great, O Lord;
    preserve my life according to your laws.
Many are the foes who persecute me,
    but I have not turned from your statutes.
I look on the faithless with loathing,
    for they do not obey your word.
See how I love your precepts;
    preserve my life, O Lord, according to your love.
All your words are true;
    all your righteous laws are eternal.

ש Sin and Shin

Rulers persecute me without cause,
    but my heart trembles at your word.
I rejoice in your promise
    like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood
    but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you
    for your righteous laws.
Great peace have they who love your law,
    and nothing can make them stumble.
I wait for your salvation, O Lord,
    and I follow your commands.
I obey your statutes,
    for I love them greatly.
I obey your precepts and your statutes,
    for all my ways are known to you.

ת Taw

May my cry come before you, O Lord;
    give me understanding according to your word.
May my supplication come before you;
    deliver me according to your promise.
May my lips overflow with praise,
    for you teach me your decrees.
May my tongue sing of your word,
    for all your commands are righteous.
May your hand be ready to help me,
    for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O Lord,
    and your law is my delight.
Let me live that I may praise you,
    and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep.
    Seek your servant,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

God help us to see that the Word is good and the Word does the work. God make us a people who trust in that, who believe that. As a result, make us a people who cry for the Word in our worship, who say we don’t want entertainment, we don’t want stories, and we don’t want this or that. We want to know God. We want to see His glory. We want to magnify His greatness. We want to be transformed. We want our souls to be revived. We want to be restored in the image of Christ. We want to be satisfied in a way that nothing in this world could ever satisfy us. 

Only His Word could do that. We want to be in awe of it. God make us a people that tremble at His voice and that flows into singing of His greatness. Revelation and response.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!