I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me. Ps. 119:93
Marvelous Word of God!
Wonderful, because it is God that speaks, and it is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. . . .
Glorious, too, because of its infinite perfection, for always God speaks concerning Himself, and through that Word addressed to us He reveals; Himself as the holy one of Israel, as GOD, the incomparable one!
That Word is the theme of this entire psalm, but more particularly in this section.
We remember that the one hundred and nineteenth psalm is divided into twenty-two sections according to the number of characters in the Hebrew alphabet, and that each of these sections has its own main theme. The beauty and power and glory of the Word of God is the chief subject of this part. The poet beholds the Word of God in the heavens. It is established there forever. It is revealed in God’s faithfulness upon earth throughout all generations, for by it He established the earth, and it abideth. All creation reveals that Word of God, for it is only through the ordinances of the Most High that heaven and earth continue, and all creatures are His servants, obeying His precepts. That Word of God, too, has been the delight of the poet: he rejoiced in it, relied on it, kept it, hoped in it, put all his trust in it; and it kept him from perishing in his afflictions. And seeking the Word of God, he was conscious of being God’s servant, and found confidence to pray: Save me! The wicked waited for him to accomplish his utter destruction, and that, too, because of that Word of God which he loved; yet, he would continue to regard and keep it. An end to all perfection he had seen, but the perfection of the Word of God is broad beyond his comprehension. . . .
And thus also in the ninety-third verse: “I will never forget thy precepts.”
“For with them thou hast quickened me!” Wonderful Word of God!
But emphatically as Thy precepts!
Precepts, not as a prescription, not as a code of laws and ordinances which a man may nail to the wall of his office, or carry in his pocket; which he may consult occasionally to refresh his memory, and which he may keep and obey, or, perhaps, when there is no one near to enforce them, violate to his own advantage or, at least, with impunity.
Yea, precepts, not even as the mere record of divine ordinances and revelations as we have them in the Bible, and may learn them by heart, useful and salutary, yea, indispensable though that may be.
But precepts as the living and powerful and quick and efficacious Word of God, the Word which God Himself speaks, even though it be through the Word that is preached.
Of that Word the poet is speaking here. That Word, as precepts, was the means whereby God Himself quickened him. God spoke it to Him and he lived. And, therefore, that Word, as precept, he will never forget.
By different names that one Word may be called, and in this psalm it is designated by different terms. It is simply the Word of God, or His law, or His commandment, or His statutes, or His testimonies, or His promises. And here that same Word of God is indicated by the term “precepts.”
Essentially, that Word of God is one, even as God is one. It is always the revelation of God to us, for by His Word God speaks, concerning Himself, and concerning no one and nothing else. He spoke concerning Himself through the prophets of the old dispensation; and in these latter days He has spoken to us through His Son. He speaks concerning Himself in the Word of creation, and in the Word of providence, for the heavens declare the glory of God and, the firmament sheweth His handiwork; day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. And the wrath of God is revealed from heaven over all iniquity and ungodliness of men that hold the truth in unrighteousness. And He speaks concerning Himself in the Word of the gospel, the Word He speaks through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the Word that makes Him known as the God of our salvation, full of grace and truth.
Yet, as that Word of God addresses us, it has different aspects.
It comes to us in the form of rich and glorious promises, of salvation and redemption, of the forgiveness of sin and eternal righteousness, of the adoption unto children and heirs, of deliverance from the dominion of sin and death, of the resurrection and eternal glory, of the inheritance incorruptible and undefinable and unfadable, of the new Jerusalem and the new creation. And all these promises are one in Christ Jesus. For even in the promises the Word of God speaks of Him, and by it He promises Himself and His fellowship: I will be thy God!
And it reaches us in the form of precepts, equally rich and wonderful, in which the God of our salvation calls us to repent and believe, to come to Him and drink, to rise from the dead and live, to come forth out of darkness into His marvelous light, to forsake iniquity and love righteousness, to seek, not the things that are below, but the things that are above, to put off the old and to put on the new man, to be faithful even unto death, to walk as children of light, to fight the good fight, of faith, to trust in Him, to tell His wonders, to proclaim His praises. And again, all these precepts are fundamentally one. For also in the Word of His precepts God speaks of Himself to us. He wills that we will Him, that we shall hunger and thirst for Him: Love Me!
And once more, these precepts as the one precept, and these promises as the one promise, are the one Word of God!
For the one cannot be divorced from the other.
He that hears the Word of God as precept, hears it also as the promise.
And only in the way of the precept can the promise be attained!
For in the keeping of His Word there is great reward!
For God is one, and His Word is one. Never does He speak the Word of precept without the Word of promise; nor does He ever utter His Word of promise without the Word of precept.
And it is always He that speaks it, efficaciously.
And as He speaks His Word, precept and promise, we hear and are saved!
Of that one Word of God, from the aspect of precept, with which, however, the promise is inseparably and immediately connected, the poet speaks here.
These precepts of His God were wonderful to him
Never would he forget them!
For by them God had quickened him!
Mighty Word of God!
Quick and powerful is the Word!
As such the poet had experienced it.
And it is because of that experience that he is able to vow, that he is absolutely assured that he will never forget the precepts of his God.
For with them thou hast quickened me!
The Word of God he had experienced in its quickening power, in its power to make alive. To him it had been a word of resurrection never to be forgotten.
God’s precepts to him had been: Arise from the dead! And he had heard, and obeyed. And he lived!
And thus it is the experience of every child of God. By His Word God has caused him to live, to rise from the dead.
By nature we are dead, and we lie in the midst of death. For we have sinned, and the Word of God kills the sinner: the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And death had come at once. For as the Word of God is quick to make alive, so it is quick and powerful to kill. And thin death implies that our whole nature is become hopelessly corrupt, hopelessly that is, as far as man is concerned. His mind is darkened, so that even the light that is in him is darkness, and he loves the darkness of the lie rather than the light of the truth. His will is perverse, so that he is always inclined to wallow in iniquity, and can nevermore choose that which is good. AH his inclinations and desires are impure, so that he hankers after the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. From the heart his whole life is motivated by enmity against God: he cannot, he will not, and he cannot will to love God!
Such is his death!
And this death is the Word of God!
Exactly that is; the horror of death. It is the Word of God spoken to us by Himself, quick and powerful to kill!
The Word of His wrath!
Cursed is every one that abideth not in my Word, in the Word of my precept! And who shall resist or overcome the Word of God? And if it be impossible, and it is, to overcome the Word of God, how shall man wrest himself from the clutches of this death and escape? He cannot. There is no way out, as far as he is concerned. It is impossible for him to live.
Yet, what is impossible with man, is possible with God!
And what is more, it must become evident that things are impossible with man, in order that no flesh should glory in His presence, and that it may become clearly manifest that He is God, the Lord, who calleth the things that are not as if they were, and who quickeneth the dead! If it be the Word of God that kills us, and keeps us in the bonds of death, no word of man, but only the same Word of God is able to deliver us, and to raise us from the dead!
And that Word He spoke, and speaks!
He spoke it according to his eternal good pleasure, freely, sovereignly, as the Lord!
He spoke it through His Son. Even as in the beginning He spoke through the eternal Word, and the heavens and the earth were created, so in these last days He spoke through His Son, Whom He appointed heir of the world, and salvation, deliverance from sin and death, eternal righteousness and life, were established for ever. He spoke as the God of our salvation, who loved us, freely, sovereignly, from before the foundation of the world. He spoke, and the Son assumed the flesh and blood of the children: the Word became flesh. He spoke, and He was made sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. He spoke, and the Son descended into the deepest depth of hell and damnation, bearing the curse that was upon us, and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice of obedience. He spoke, and the world was reconciled unto Him, their sins being blotted out for ever, and everlasting righteousness: being obtained through the blood of the cross. He spoke, and the Son was raised from the dead, was taken up into the highest heaven, was exalted at the right hand of God, was given the promise of the Spirit, returning unto His own, that to them this: Word of life, this Word of quickening, the Word of the resurrection from the dead, might be spoken. . . .
The Word of God through His Son!
The Word of salvation!
The Word of righteousness overcoming sin, of life overcoming death, of grace overcoming wrath, of sovereign election, of light out of darkness, of eternal glory out of everlasting desolation!
Arise from the dead! Come and drink! Eat, and your soul shall live! All ye that are thirsty, come to the waters! See, ye blind! Hear, ye deaf! Be cleansed, ye lepers! Leap, ye lame! Live, ye dead! Love Me! . . . .
The precepts of the God of our salvation!
That Word the poet had experienced!
O, make no mistake! He had not read about it. He had not heard the word of man, the word of some preacher, calling him, begging him, urging him to hear and to obey, offering him grace and salvation if only he would hear and come. How vain? how utterly futile that would be over against the Word of God that held him subject to the power of death! No word of man, no offer of salvation, no begging of a preacher, could have been of any avail to quicken him.
No, but God had spoken His own Word to him: By them thou hast quickened me!
And he had heard, not the word of man, but the Word of God!
He had experienced that Word as quick and powerful to make alive!
His mind had been enlightened, his: heart and will and all his inclinations had been radically changed, so that the enmity against God that was in his heart was overcome, he longed for forgiveness and righteousness, for life and the love of God. . . .
And the promise had followed the precept!
Through the power of the Word of God as precept came the faith to embrace the promise!
The Word of the commandment gave the power to obey!
He had risen from the dead, and he lived!
Quickened by the Word of God!
Never will I forget!
Does the poet here offer a vow, make a pledge?
And, if he does, is not the vow a rash one for a sinful man to make?
Yes and No!
A vow, indeed; but not a pledge that is based on the weak and deceitful choice of the will of sinful man, but rather on the faithfulness of that same Word of God that quickeneth him, and raised him from the dead.
A vow, but first of all the expression of an inner assurance: never will it be possible for me to forget thy precepts! And only as a result of that assurance does he make the pledge to remember God’s precepts, always.
There are things we cannot forget. There are things we would be glad to forget, but which remain constantly in our memory. And there are things we rejoice in recalling and contemplating all our life. Things there are, of such tremendous importance, that they remain engraven upon the record of our mind, and the memory of which we take with us to the grave.
Such a profound experience was the quickening from the death into life of which the poet speaks. Never would he forget the Word by which he had been raised from the dead. Still more. The experience continued. Still that Word remained with him. Still it called him. Still it quickened him, day by day. And he knows that that Word will never fail him. How then can he forget?
He will remember it, keep it in mind, have his delight in it, walk in its way. He may stumble, but never will he finally forget. . . .
For the Word of God is faithful!
Even unto the end!