Session 9 — Mark Dever
Note: Throughout the week, as we liveblog the general sessions, we will be using a time-stamp method. This will give readers an approximate sense of key statements that were made throughout the session, as well as allowing them to trace the flow of the argument. (Also, if readers want to listen to any key moments by downloading the audio, these time-stamps will make it easier to track down certain statements in the audio file.) However, what follows is not intended to be a full or exact transcript of what was said.
8:00 When people say they don’t believe the Bible, they can mean a number of things:
1) Translation — We all understand that translation can be done accurately.
2) Transmission — A good source on this is F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
3) Trustworthiness — Are the accounts trustworthy? Have they been accurately written down?
4) Truth — But is what Jesus said really true? That is where you ultimately want to drive people.
That is just a little sidebar for you.
The doctrine of inerrancy is not a new question. It is a hugely important doctrine for us to get a hold of.
8:05 Some preachers are intimidated by Psalm 119. But the Bible’s longest chapter ought to be carefully contemplated.
Background: We don’t know who wrote it. It could be David. It seems to me to be someone in the exile (perhaps Jeremiah).
There is a stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The entire alphabet can be used up before we come to the end of our ability of praising God for His law.
The deliberateness of this Psalm is an art-form that demonstrates thoughtfulness. There is a beauty in this Psalm that illustrates the order and beauty of a life conforms to the law of God.
[Reading of Psalm 119 — This was a wonderful time of extended meditation on the truth of all 176 verses of this majestic Psalm.]
8:23 Four questions that will help us profit from this Psalm.
1) What is God’s law? It is more than just the Ten Commandments. This is God’s Word. The commandments and statutes that are being celebrated in this Psalm have to do with all of God’s Word.
2) What is God’s Word like? We see time and time again, ringing throughout this Psalm, that God’s Word is true (vv. 29, 142, 151). God’s Word is also shown to be good, which means that the truth is good. His rules and promises are righteous. There is nothing wrong about the way He has revealed to us the truth of salvation.
8:26 God’s Word will never change or expire. It is from “of old.” It is ancient. There is in no sense that God’s Word is failing. God’s Word has been founded forever (vv. 152, 160).
God’s Word is true, good, and it endures forever. It is like this because God is like this. He is true, and good, and eternal.
V. 137 — God is righteous and His rules are also righteous. They are like He is. They reflect Him. Through the truth of God’s commandments, the Lord is near (v. 151).
Please don’t misunderstand: the Bible is not God. But apart from the Bible, there is no way for us to know Him in salvation. Apart from this Word, there is no way to know God except in judgment.
Thus, to attack the Word of God is to attack God. And to honor the Word of God is to honor God.
3) What does God’s Word do? God does things through His Word. Generally, what God does is to bless. The Psalm begins with this emphasis in vv. 1-2.
How does teaching someone God’s statutes bless them? There are many ways. Here are five:
(a) God’s Word inspires awe (vv. 161, 164, 171)
(b) God’s Word causes us to grieve over our sin (v. 136)
(c) God’s Word helps us to stay pure (vv. 9, 11, 101)
(d) God’s Word gives hope to the hopeless (vv. 111, 162, 165) and light and understanding to those in need of wisdom (vv. 66, 104, 105, 130)
8:37 This kind of Psalm should never be read as a call for us to save ourselves or pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
All of Psalm 119 is really a prayer. It is full of lots of small prayers to the Lord for Him to teach us His Word and open our eyes (vv. 27, 29, 73). The psalmist prays, in verse 36, that the Lord would keep him from his own pursuit of selfish gain.
Have you prayed about your own study of the Word of God. I’ll tell you what is more important than all of the commentaries in your study. It’s prayer.
8:40 In v. 24, the Psalmist notes that the Word of God is his delight. Are you taking the Bible as your counselor in life?
Do we take time in our church services to praying and reading God’s Word in public? I think it is very kind of God to counsel us in His Word that listening to God means reading His Word. He is speaking to us in His Word.
The most amazing thing He gives us in His Word is life (vv. 50, 93). It was God’s own Spirit that gave you life and the desire for His Word. The only way someone is ever saved is through the Word of God.
8:45 The chief worship we can offer to God is to hear His Word and respond in obedience. That is what we see in Psalm 119.
That brings me to a fifth blessing:
(e) for those in trouble, God gives deliverance.
The Lord shows us so much about Himself by what He reveals in His Word.
4) How should we respond?
I see five basic responses in this Psalm.
(a) Obey (v. 88)
(b) Love it (v. 14) — This is seen in the sheer length of the Psalm
(c) Meditate on it (vv. 97, 154, 172)
(d) Trust it (v. 42) — The promises of God were well-tried in the hands of the Psalmist.
(e) Fear the God whose Word it is (v. 120) — God’s Word brings us into a kind of contact with God Himself which, by His grace, wakes us up spiritually as we begin to understand more about our own wickedness and more about His goodness and perfection. That sense of moral distance between us and God becomes more apparent.
8:50 Even after we come to believe the gospel, we are left with a sense of the true difference between God and us, and between His holiness and our unworthiness. We develop a trembling gratitude even as we consider His mercy and grace toward us (cf. Psalm 111:10).
Psalm 119 is not just talking about the Bible — the written Word of God. The written Word of God points to something greater than itself: namely, God the Son, the incarnate Word of God (Heb. 1:1; John 1:14).
We ought to obey God’s Word. Doing so reflects our submission to the One who obeyed the Word of God perfectly, whose righteousness is imputed to us.
The first two verses talk about living blamelessly. Who has lived more blamelessly than the Lord Jesus Christ? The only One who has ever perfectly followed the way of His Father, “blessed should be His way” (v. 1). Yet, that is not how Jesus was treated. He was killed. The only One who ever kept the law perfectly was put to death.
Are there foreshadowings of Christ’s life in Psalm 119?
(v. 99) He was more wise than His teachers.
(v. 136) He wept over the wickedness of Jerusalem.
(v. 53) His indignation in cleansing the temple.
(vv. 95, 157) Can you see the foreshadowing of the hatred of His enemies.
(v. 143) Do you hear echoes of Gethsemane?
(vv. 61, 69) Echoes of His suffering for righteousness sake.
(vv. 83-87, 121-124) Echoes of persecution from His enemies.
(v. 161) Echoes of Pilate and Herod persecuting Christ.
(v. 75) Echoes of His perfect faithfulness.
(v. 112) Echoes of His cry on the cross, “It is finished!”
(vv. 107,149, 153-154) Echoes of the Resurrection.
9:00 In this Psalm, we see anticipations of Christ: the One who lived perfectly and was cursed for us so that in Him we might be blessed eternally.