As we’ve seen previously, the psalmist is writing about God’s word. He mentions it in nearly every verse of Psalm 119, speaking of His “ordinances”, “law”, “precepts”, “testimonies”, etc. (Check back to the 10/9/2016 blog on Psalm 119:1-8 to see all the different terms the psalmist uses in referring to God’s Word.) In the passage before us today, stanza 12 - verses 89-96, he also speaks of God’s faithfulness.
89 Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness endures throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.
91 They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.
92 If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.
94 I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.
95 The wicked wait for me to destroy me;
I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.
96 I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad.
You have probably noticed that in this life there is not much that is permanent. Most things we buy these days aren’t made to last. Sadly, friendships fail, success is fragile, people disappoint, and laws we rely upon to protect our rights change or are not enforced. But the psalmist tells us there are three things we can count on to be truly lasting, settled, enduring, and established. Those three things are God’s Word, His faithfulness, and the earth He created (119:1-2).
First, God’s word is forever…. settled in heaven (119:89). “Natsab”, the Hebrew word translated “settled”, means “stationary, fixed, permanent, with no sense of movement”. In other words, God’s Word is everlastingly the same. From the beginning of time, now and forever, it is unchanging, authoritative, and trustworthy. When people ignore it, despise it, refute it, and defy it, God’s Word does not change. God’s Word stands. It is still the same even when people hate it, twist it, torture it, try to suppress it, and sin against it. People want to have their own way, and when God’s Word does not fit in with their agenda, they disregard it and disdain those who follow it. But God’s Word will always stand and those who diligently keep it are secure in it and secure in God.
Secondly, God’s faithfulness endures throughout all generations (119:87). His faithfulness has endured the test of time. If you have read and studied the Bible, you know that is true. You know God was faithful to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, king David, to His chosen people, Israel, to Jesus, and to the apostles. If you have studied history, you know that God is always faithful to His people -- to those who love Him, call upon Him, and obey Him. If you study military history, you will be amazed and heartened by incidents that were clearly God’s intervention on behalf of those who looked to Him and trusted Him. (For example, read about George Washington and his troops after being defeated at the battle of Long Island and General Patton at the Battle for Bastogne during World War II. Those are just two of many examples!) As God has been faithful to past generations, He will be faithful to ours as well, and to our children who trust Him -- forever.
Thirdly, God established the earth, and it stands fast (119:87). The psalmist confirms God’s sovereignty in the creation of the world. He established (fixed in its place) the earth and it stands fast! “Stand fast” is a command issued by a military commander ordering troops to hold firm -- “hunker down” -- and refuse to abandon their position. Our Creator brought the earth into existence and holds it together by His power (Colossians 1:17). He has given the command for it to stand firm. Even though we sin and make it a terrible place, people do not determine the fate of the earth.
It is by God’s word that all things stand, for all that He has created is here to serve Him (119:91). We too are His servants and He has given us dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:26). This is an awesome responsibility the psalmist took to heart. He sought God through His “precepts” and found life (119:93). He told God, “I belong to You” (119:94) and sought to live the life of a saved man. The psalmist knew where salvation could be found and that gave him delight (119:92), as he entrusted his way to God’s law (119:92, precepts (119:93), and testimonies (119:95).
The psalmist has seen that nothing is perfect in this world - there is a limit to all perfection (119:96). Have you noticed that too? Perhaps on the first date with your spouse, you thought you had found the perfect partner. He or she was the most perfect date ever. But then you made a discovery.....nobody is perfect. Or perhaps you thought you found the perfect car, house, or job but ultimately discovered that even perfection has its limits.
On the other hand, God’s Word (commandment) is exceedingly broad (119:96). The Hebrew word translated “exceedingly” designates a superlative - something that is unsurpassed, and the word “broad” means “roomy in every direction.” So the psalmist is describing God’s Word as being wider, deeper, and higher, extending beyond what we can imagine. As one commentator observed, “Whereas our earthly experience of perfection is very limited, God’s Word is a perfection that is limitless.” (Bobby Stults, “Lamedh - Psalm 119:89-96” on Sermon Central).
Have you experienced the perfection of God’s Word by reading it daily, studying it, applying it to your life, and obeying it? If so, then you know that you can rely upon it. I hope you will commit to read it every morning and rely upon it as you go through your day. I pray that, like the psalmist, you will see the limitless perfection of God's Word and His faithfulness as He works in your life.