Acts chapter 5 is one of my favorites in the whole Bible because it gives an amazing picture of the power and pluckiness of Jesus’ apostles. Momentous miracles of healing were taking place as needy people were brought to the apostles. But this upset the religious leaders so much that they had Peter and John arrested and thrown into prison. Then another miracle occurred. In the middle of the night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and commanded them to “go stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life [the gospel]” (Acts 5:20). Peter and John obeyed the angel, but the religious leaders again had them arrested and took them before the high council. The council accused them of filling Jerusalem with their doctrine and gave them a harsh reminder that they had been commanded not to teach about Jesus. Peter’s response to the charges was, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
I thought of this incident as I read the penultimate stanza of Psalm 119. Like the apostles, the psalmist was being persecuted, and like the apostles, he continued to stand on the Word of God. He was in awe of God’s Word and was reverently determined to obey it in spite of those who fought against it and harassed him. Take a look at what the psalmist wrote.
161 Princes persecute me without a cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your word.
162 I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
163 I hate and abhor lying,
But I love Your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation,
And I do Your commandments.
167 My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You.
Those who persecuted the psalmist were not just “nobodies”. He calls them “princes”. They were men who demanded earthly respect, and surely they had high opinions of themselves. But the psalmist was not in awe of them or the threatening and hateful words they hurled against him. He was in awe of [God’s] word (119:161). He hated the lies the persecutors spread against him (119:163), but his main emphasis in these eight verses is not on the persecutors but on God’s Word. Notice what he says about it.
I rejoice at Your word (119:162_
I love your law (119:163)
I praise You……seven times a day, because of your righteous judgments (119:164)
I hope for Your salvation (119:166)
I do your commandments (119:166)
I love them [Your commandments] exceedingly (119:167)
I keep Your precepts and your testimonies (119:168)
Don’t you love the psalmist’s positive hopefulness? And the apostles in Acts chapter 5 reflected that same positive hopefulness in God and His Word. I wonder how I might change the world if I had that same attitude of heart and mind? How might you? What difference would it make in our own lives if we loved God’s Word as much as the psalmist and the apostles did? The answer is right here in Psalm 119:165: Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. If we love God’s Word enough to rejoice in it, praise God multiple times a day because of it, obey it, and find our hope in it, we are promised great peace.
Does your heart ever long for great peace?
You’ve probably heard the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom”. It is a word often used as a greeting, and it is the word used here. Shalom is derived from a root word denoting wholeness, completeness, perfection. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace that bestows well‑being, tranquility of spirit, contentment with life, prosperity, consummate security, and amity with God. That does not mean life will be perfect. The Bible teaches us that problems, persecutions, and trials will come. But what it does mean is that when those things do come, we will have a peace about us that empowers us to deal with them triumphantly. God’s peace will be with us because of God’s presence with us! He will go before us and make the rough places smooth so we do not stumble. As the Amplified Bible puts it, God will go before us and level the mountains….shatter the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron (Isaiah 45:2).
Let us commit our lives to shalom by embracing God’s Word. Let us read it faithfully, rejoice in it, obey it, and praise God for it as its precepts and promises give us peace throughout the day. I believe that as we humbly and wholeheartedly commit to these simple acts, we will come to love God’s Word in the way the psalmist and the apostles did. We will have shalom, and by God’s grace we will spread it out to the world around us.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.