Psalm 119 is divided into 22 different sections. With each section containing 8 verses, the first letter of each verse is the letter which gives its name to the section.
Each section title are the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. More than likely this was to aid in the memorisation of the Psalm, all they need do was think on their alphabet to then remember the corresponding verse. There are seven other Psalms which follow this acrostic pattern.
The whole Psalm has its focus around the laws and Word of God, how one should keep to them. The dangers if they are not kept to and the blessings received if they are adhered to. In fact, in the whole Psalm there are only two verses out of the 176 that do not explicitly mention a term or description of Gods word.
For this first blog we can look at the first section of the verse :
“Thy statutes have been my songs…”
We can look at it under three headings :
1- The statutes of God.
2- The Law fulfilled in Christ.
3- The song of the Christian.
1.Firstly we can look at the statutes of God.
In the Psalm the Psalmist uses a variety of terms to describe the word of God – He uses the terms :
Law/ testimonies/ precepts/ commandments/ ordnances and promises. But here we have the statues of God, the statues of God mean those things that have been set in stone, the things that will never be altered. Those things which God have eternally decreed. The first time we see God giving statues to his people is on Mount Sinai, with Moses reviving the ten commandments on the tablets of stone. God had before this given instructions to his people, and promises to individuals.But this is the first time God provided a statute to his people as a whole.
Although we do refer to them as commandments, God’s word refers to them as statutes and rules, Deuteronomy 5 verse 1 : “And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them.1”
(It must be noted though that these descriptions for Gods Word do often overlap, and in different translations different words are used for them.)
But The ten commandments were, in the most literal sense, statutes from God. They were engraved both physically on stone but also eternally engraved on the hearts and minds of all those who become followers of Christ. The writer of Hebrews refers to this when he quotes Jeremiah chapter 31 and verse 33 : “I will put my laws into their hearts and in their minds I will write them. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people ”. A work which can only be done by the spirit working in the life of the Christian.
So that is the definition of the statutes of God, those things which he has declared. They are a clear communicated prescription of what one should do, those things that will never end, the statutes are written in eternity and will last as long as eternity itself.
So what then are the consequences for following or for not following the statutes of God ?
If we live a life that follows the statutes that God has set down then we are offered this promise from God, Leviticus chapter 26: 11-12: “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”
But if we do not follow the statutes that God set down then in 1Kings 9: 6-8, we see set before us part of the punishment :
“But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins. “
So you see not following the statutes of God have serious consequences, but the truth is that by ourselves we cannot hope to follow these statutes we fall so very short of them. But we are not left in this hopeless situation, we have been given a solution in Christ.
2. Two “The Law Fulfilled in Christ” As we said earlier the statutes were part of this overarching Law of God, all of the statutes and ordinances, precepts and commandments and promises that he has set.
It can be often hard understanding how the law of the Old testament can be reconciled with Jesus, how to understand that in Him was the whole law of God fulfilled.
As we have it in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 17 :
““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.”
So in order to see how Christ fulfilled the law we can again look at the law of God as we find it in the Old testament. We will of course find many divers laws ,commandments and promises all given by God throughout the Old testament.
One way in which we can seek to better understand the Law is by grouping it under three different headings, and then looking at each heading as a whole.
This separation of the law under three different headings can be found in both the works of Calvin and in the ‘Westminster Confession of Faith’. For each separation of the law we can look at the ‘Westminster Confession of Faith’ wording of it, what type of instruction it contained and how it was fulfilled in Christ.
The three separations :
A. The Moral Law
B. The Ceremonial Law
C. The Civic Law
It must first be said that all the laws do not perfectly fit into one of the three categories but whether they fit into one category or more than one it does not matter, for they were all fulfilled through Christ.
A. Firstly the moral law:
“This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables: the first four commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six, our duty to man.”
The moral law was quite simply the ten commandments given by God to Moses and the people of Israel. Commandments on how we should live a life that is God pleasing and strives to give him the glory ,and to love and assist those around us.
But of course we simply cannot hope to fulfil perfectly these 10 commandments. And in failing to fulfil this law of God we are condemned to Death.
So How was the moral law fulfilled in Christ ?
Well we have that in Romans 7: 4-6:
“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work kin our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
Because Christ lived a perfect life that fully completed and fulfilled the law, if we are in him, if we are saved, we are new creatures. Christ in his life and his actions perfectly fulfilled all the ten commandments. If we are in him then our transgressions of these laws no longer condemn us to death. We are covered by him.
B. Secondly we have the Ceremonial law:
“ Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits;and partly, holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the New Testament.”
As we just read,The Ceremonial law contained all the many sacrifices that God required from the Children of Israel, it also contained the strict and precise rules by which the priests were to serve God and the people also.
But all these sacrifices and regulations were there to point towards Christ , to the final Sacrifice.
So in Christ living and then dying on the cross, and of course being raised again, he perfectly completed all the sacrifices. As we have it in Hebrews Chapter 10: 11-13:
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
If you take the time to look at the sacrifices and look at just how perfectly they pointed towards this final sacrifice, it is a humbling and incredible study.
C. So thirdly the Civic Law, or the judicial Law “To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now…”
The civic laws were the laws of the land along with the commandments which carried with them a form of penal punishment. (There are of course some overlaps here with the previous two separations.)
It also include all the laws concerning land, and the division of it. Any law which affected the life of the people of Israel.
But with the coming of Christ, the lords people now was made up form people from many different nations. It was no longer exclusive to Israel, the Gospel was to reach Gentiles, in far countries.
The Laws which had been established to suit a singular nation in certain time, could now no longer apply to many peoples in many nations living in different times.
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
Some commentators say Shiloh means peace other say it means sent, Spurgeon says that regardless which word is picked it is clear that this verse is referring to Christ.
When Christ comes the sceptre of judicial law is to depart.
Therefore in his coming Christ fulfilled all the Law, so that all those who believed and trusted in him would not be held accountable as law breakers. And therefore not liable to be condemned to death because of that sin.
3.The Song of the Christian.
In the verse that we had, the Psalmist is giving praise to God for his statutes, proclaiming that Gods statutes, Gods law was a like a song for him. The word used here for song is used else where to describe a sweet song, and the singing of birds.
For the Psalmist Gods law is not some monotonous chant, it is a melodious song of praise.
The song that the world offers is not a song of joy, we cannot make a song out of what the world offers .The song of the world is comprised of disappointments, sadness, pride, sin and death.
The Song of the Christian is comprised from the very words of the creator of the universe.
But the Psalmist did not have the complete law. The law was not yet fulfilled. But in Christ we have the completed law. Colossians 2 verse 9-10:
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.”
If The psalmist had such joy over a law that was not yet complete, then how much more should we rejoice with a law that is fulfilled ?
If we love Christ and trust in him:
-We need not make constant sacrifices, that will never truly atone for our sins.
-All the many times that we break the moral law, all the many times that we break the commandments of God it does not get counted against us.
The Christian has countless reasons to rejoice, despite their daily sin, they are eternally forgiven by God. Washed clean in the blood of Jesus.
But if you are reading this and you are not Christian, then the truth is you are still under the law. Every time you break on of the commandments it is counted against you every single sin being placed against your name. And the Bible is clear about living a life without Jesus Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death…” And if that was the end of the story then reading that would be shattering for all of us as we have all sinned, but then we have the second half of the verse: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
There is hope , no matter how bad , how sinful you you think you are.No matter how old or how no young. No matter what excuse you might use for not being a Christian. If you call out to Jesus ask him to forgive you, then God is faithful to his promises. And he offers eternal life to you, offered freely.
Please think about that before you sleep tonight. If you do you could start tomorrow as new creation, living the life that you were created to live.