Sermon by Joe Kester · Jan 05, 2020 · My Bible Year Series

With the beginning of the new year and the My Bible Year initiative, let’s take some time to encourage and exhort one another to a deeper love of God’s word. Psalm 119 seemed like the perfect passage of Scripture to unfold as we begin 2020.

Psalm 119 is an extended meditation on the truth and beauty and goodness of God’s word. In addition to its length, the psalm is also noteworthy for its structure. This is perhaps the most artistic and most elaborately composed poem in Scripture.

Psalm 119 displays the beauty of God’s word, and it demonstrates for us the appropriate response to that beauty. My sermon in one sentence is this:

Because God gives life according to his word, it is the Christian’s duty to love God’s word.

Before we look at the appropriate response to God’s word, we need to first understand what it is.

This psalm overflows with praise for God’s word. God’s word is good (39), righteous (75), sure (86), firmly fixed (89), exceedingly broad (96), a lamp and a light (105), wonderful (129), well tried (140), true (142), and righteous forever (142). Verse 160 brings all of this together when it declares,

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”

Psalm 119:160

In addition to the qualities of God’s word, this psalm also tells us of its effects.

David repeatedly brings out one primary effect of God’s word, which is that it gives life. The Spirit of God gives life according to God’s word, and this is accomplished as Scripture bears testimony about the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

All of Scripture is about Christ. This includes the Old Testament, Moses and the Prophets. It includes the Psalms. It includes the law about which David writes in Psalm 119. The beauty of God’s word, even to an Old Testament believer like David, was and is in its pointing to the promised Messiah.

In John 5, Jesus warns believers against our tendency to cut Christ out of our Scripture reading. The word of God will give us life only as we see that it is all pointing to Christ and as we respond by coming to him. When reading the Old Testament, it is necessary to draw a line from the passage to Christ, and then from Christ to oneself. It is often discouraging, confusing, and wrong to draw a line directly to oneself from a passage being read.

It is not only true that all of Scripture is about Christ. It is also true that Scripture alone can give us a saving knowledge of Christ.

It is only in Scripture where we find the gospel. The Bible alone contains the good news of God’s plan of salvation for his people. We may be able to arrive at a knowledge of God’s holiness and our sinfulness apart from this book, but we must look to this book to know how those two undeniable realities may be reconciled. It is only in the pages of Scripture that we begin to trace the outlines of grace. No shadow of the cross can be found in nature, in philosophy, in Hollywood. If you want to know what to do with your sin, how you may be reconciled to a holy God, what hope there is for a sinner like you, the Bible alone must be your comfort and guide.

In light of what God’s word is, and what it can and will accomplish in us, what is the right response on our part? The answer is simple: we ought to love the word of God.

I believe that some of the most valuable lessons we can take away from Psalm 119 are in what it looks like, practically, to love the word of God.

We see David engaging in six attitudes and actions which each indicate his deep love for the word of God. These actions are not a checklist. The goal is not to master one and move on to the next. The six are inextricably linked, as you’ll see, and we only grow in one as we grow in all.

We express our love for God’s word as we:

  • Obey it (112)
  • Learn it (34)
  • Trust it (52)
  • Meditate on it (11)
  • Speak it (13)
  • Delight in it (103)

Delighting in God’s word is perhaps the most challenging of the six attitudes and actions. How do I train myself to delight in something that doesn’t always seem sweet? It has been helpful for me to think about two different kinds of delight.

On the one hand, there is something I would call “big delight.” That is the delight that comes suddenly, unexpectedly. It’s the delight of Christmas morning; the delight of my daughter running through the house in a tutu. Big delight is the natural response to overwhelming moments of beauty and sweetness. You don’t know when this kind of delight will come. It’s impossible to predict or control. The Bible has this kind of delight for us, and we ought to feel it on occasion.

But it is not the only kind of delight we should expect.

There is another kind of delight that I would call “slow delight.” This is the sweetness of traditions and memories and patience. It’s the delight of “Sunflower Swirls”, a sweet baked good my mother-in-law has made for more than twenty years. Now, at Christmas, when we eat it together, we remember all of the preceding years of sharing it with family and friends and neighbors. It did not begin with this sweetness, but it has it now. The Bible has this kind of delight for us, too, but it will take time and patience to build.

My encouragement to you is that, if you do not feel delight in God’s word at first, keep reading! There is a deep, soul-stirring sweetness to God’s word that can only be ours with time.

Because God gives life according to his word, it is the Christian’s duty to love God’s word.