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The Power of the Law of the Lord

October 17, 2006

(Sermon Excerpt – Psalm 19)

In the Hebrew text of Psalm 19:7-9 the word of the Lord is praised in tightly compact phrases.  It takes the English versions 60+ words to say what is in Hebrew only 30 words arranged in six lines of five words each.  It’s a 6 x 5 box.  It makes for interesting meditation, let me try to reproduce it here.

law                       LORD   perfect            turning           soul

testimonies         LORD   trustworthy   wizening         simple

precepts              LORD   upright            rejoicing         heart

commandment     LORD   pure                enlightening   eyes

fear                       LORD   clean               standing         forever

judgments            LORD   true                righteous        altogether

There are so many possible ways to meditate on these verses.  You could line up the nouns and think about all the different names given to the Scripture. You could line up the adjectives and think of all its different intrinsic qualities.  You could see if you could discover the connection horizontally b/w the subjects and predicates.  You could look for development vertically from line to line.  But I like verbs.  Verbs are where the action is at. So I want us to consider the effects that are ascribed to the Scripture.  The power of the word in our lives.  

The first one named is the foundation of all the rest.  “The law of the Lord is perfect (or blameless cf. v.13) restoring the soul, or converting the soul.  lit.  turning soul to God and his holiness.  word used for repentance in the prophets.  The law of the Lord turns the soul, converts it, is the means through which the soul is given repentance. 

And I believe this is the work of an instant.  I have become convinced that you cannot be in the process of repenting.  You cannot as Elijah said, be halting between two opinions.  If Baal is God, serve him, if YHWH is God, serve Him.  If you believe sin is good and God is evil, then pursue sin.  But if you believe God is good and sin is evil, then turn and seek Him.  A man cannot serve two masters.  You cannot be half-turned.   (theme of Hosea, he called the Israelites of his day half turned, but it is clear that half turned is no repentance) So repentance happens in a moment and it is a work the word of God in your soul.  The law of the Lord turns the soul and restores the soul.  There was a first time this happened to you, whether or not you remember the day and the hour.  At some point every Christian was cut to the heart by the hearing or reading of the word of God and their soul was turned from sin to become a seeker of God.    

And time and again in the Christian life when we backslide into sin the remedy is the same, a sudden turning from sin must occur when we are pierced by the word of God.  If you feel you are backsliding, I want you to know that you will not ease your way out of this sin.  You must snap out of it.  There must be a radical turning and I pray that this psalm this morning might be the word that turns and restores your soul.  I have no promise that after this radical turning you will never fall again.  In fact, if you do not go on walking by the Spirit and abiding in the Word you most certainly will fall.  But then you must again seek the same remedy of radical repentance and you must seek it in the Word of God.  

The second effect of the word of God in our lives is that it makes us wise.   The word “simple”  = open, naïve, easily led astray, blown and tossed by wind as opposed to sure, stable, faithful, trustworthy.   The wise man builds house upon the rock.  But you can’t tell the difference b/w the two houses until the storms come.   Then the wise man’s house stands because it is built upon the sure foundation of the word of God.  

Third effect, rejoicing the heart.  Fourth effect, enlightening the eyes.  seemed out of order to me at first because I was thinking of light to the eyes as guidance, wisdom.  But after studying the phrase I learned that enlightening the eyes is actually an intensified way of saying rejoicing the heart.  It is a picture of radiant joy, of having our eyes brightened as when Jonathan ate honey in 1 Sam 14, same phrase.  It is a word used in the psalms of God’s face shining upon us. Ecc 8:1  A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam. So note the progression: the Word turns us from sin, gives us wisdom to build for the long-term and produces in us radiant joy.   This joy of the Lord is our strength and therefore nothing is more important in our Christian lives than getting our souls happy in God.  Unhappy people will not persevere in prayer and unhappy people will not be fruitful in witness.  And as a church we groan until revival praying and bold witness characterize our lives.  But we are powerless without joy and we are joyless without the word. 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. egana permalink
    October 18, 2006 10:07 pm

    how can there be NO COMMENTS on this? This is an EXCELLENT meditation! it deserves at the very least a hearty AMEN!


    my work here is done…

  2. blondie permalink
    October 19, 2006 6:44 am

    I love our God! I asked the Lord this morning to help me in my meditation on him and to help me as I pray. These 30 words from Psalm 19 and the sentence at the end…”Unhappy people will not persevere in prayer and unhappy people will not be fruitful in witness.” have more than filled up my time and thoughts for the day.

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