Psalm 119 - Tau

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Psalm 119:169-176
I have really enjoyed our walk through Psalm 119.
Now we are in the 22nd and final section of this chapter.
Designated with the Hebrew Letter Tau (Tav), this last section takes a surprising turn.
Have you ever read a book or saw a movie and it was going along just fine, but then it took a sharp turn in a way that we never saw coming?
Psalm 119 ends kind of this way.
For 175 verses the psalmist is growing in the Lord, learning from and leaning on God’s Word as his strength.
He has been attacked and persecuted, even from his own rulers, but the Psalmist remains faithful in his obedience to the Law.
His very life seemed to hang in the balance at times.
But he never backed down from his convictions.
He realized that God’s Word is sufficient to every situation that he will face in his life.
So it is really surprising when we read in the very last verse him say, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep.”
Commentators and Bible students have tried to poor over this psalm and tried to explain away this verse.
They have said, that he is talking about his previous life when he wandered from God.
But I think it best to look at it literally.
The grammar of this word also suggests that it is happening now.
It would be similar to saying I am a goer astray…but that would just be awkward.
Bible Teacher John Phillips said, “It is the nature of a sheep to stray. It does not do it [stray] to be wicked or wanton. It does it because that is what a sheep is like. Likewise, it is human nature to go astray. Nobody has to take a course in theology to know that. Our sin nature is bent that way. It is not necessarily that we deliberately make up our minds to neglect our daily quiet time, the place of prayer, the gathering of God’s people. We just allow the crowding concerns of everyday life to loom too large. We do what comes naturally. We stray.
In spite of our best efforts and grandest intentions, we are still sheep and are prone to stray.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;   Prone to leave the God I love: Take my heart, oh, take and seal it   With Thy Spirit from above.
We have to stay vigilant and when we stray from God and His Word make a quick correction.
So When You Realize You Have Strayed...

I. Cry Out to God

169 Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: Give me understanding according to thy word.
170 Let my supplication come before thee: Deliver me according to thy word.
The psalmist realized his tendency to stray from God, so he cries out to Him and pours his heart out to Him.
The psalmist cries out for two specific things:

A. Give Me Understanding

Give me understanding according to thy word.
It means to be able to discern, perceive, observe, pay attention to.
He knew it could only come from God’s Word.
When we realize we have strayed we need to run back to Prayer and His Word.
Ask God to help you watch for those stumblingblocks, to help you see the way of escape and the willingness to take it.
Which is akin to the next specific thing he cries out for:

B. Deliver Me

“deliver me according to thy word.”
Both requests, for understanding and deliverance are according to Thy Word.
All throughout this chapter the psalmist has depended upon God’s Word.
He has grown closer to the Word, and has learned the sufficiency of the Word.
So it is no wonder that he realizes that his deliverance is going to come through the Sword of the Spirit.
After all that is where Jesus’ deliverance came from as our perfect example during His temptation.
So Cry out to God - and run to His Word.
Secondly, when we realize that we have strayed from God, after crying out to God,

II. Worship God

171 My lips shall utter praise, When thou hast taught me thy statutes.
172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: For all thy commandments are righteousness.
This may not seem like the natural response in this situation…that is because it is not.
It is a choice to worship, not a response.
The psalmist does not murmur, question God, or complain about his situation.
He determines (chooses) to praise God, why?
Because he realizes that his affliction has taught him God’s Word.
He will sing and worship about God’s Word as an endless testimony to God’s Righteous commandments.
VIDEO of sheep
When we find ourselves coming back to God after we have strayed, we need to pray for more understanding from God’s Word - it is sufficient.
We need God’s Spirit to guide us in all truth and help us discern God’s Word and apply it to our lives.
John 16:13 KJV
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
1 Corinthians 2:10–14 KJV
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Paul prayed for the Colossian believers that they would be filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding…and we need to pray the same thing.
Colossians 1:9 KJV
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Pray that God will deliver us from our enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil.
We are fighting enemies that we cannot see.
We battle everyday, many battle discouragement, depression, fear, doubt, or something else that is holding them captive.
Whatever it is you are battling, we can cry out to God for help and he will!
Pray that God will give us a spirit of true worship, no matter what is going on around us.
Matthew 7:7 KJV
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

III. Ask Help from God

173 Let thine hand help me; For I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; And thy law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; And let thy judgments help me.
The psalmist asks for God’s hand to help him.
The hand, often the right hand, is used in scripture as a symbol of His mighty power.
Ask for Help from God:

A. Because You Have Chosen His Word

For I have chosen thy precepts”
That is you have chosen to follow and live by His Word.
precepts is the word for instructions - you are following the directions.
I know men don’t like to do that, but when it comes to God’s directions we better listen!
If we chose our own directions, our own thoughts, our own understanding, we have no right to ask God for help.

B. Because You Long for Deliverance

174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; And thy law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; And let thy judgments help me.
When we come back to the Lord there is a hunger to do right.
There are times that I confess my sin, but I’m not quite there yet.
I’m still upset about what was said to me to be sorrowful about what I said back.
I chose the path of the sharp tongue rather than the soft answer.
But when true repentance comes, godly sorrow is there.
Then we “long for His salvation”…we long for his “judgments to help me.
In the Psalmists case, he is quite possibly facing death.
But the psalmist expresses his desire to live.
Let my soul live
he wanted to live so he could continue to praise God.
He called out for a just outcome to his situation, praying that God’s righteous laws would sustain his side.
The use of judgments in 175 shows that he was asking for God’s righteous laws to prevail so he could be set free.
You know, nothing is too hard for God.
The God who made us is powerful enough to sustain us.
It doesn’t matter what we face — Physical or mental sickness, persecution, marriage problems, addiction, abuse, fear or doubt, depression, financial challenges, or any number of other circumstances — It is not beyond God’s ability to take care of our need.
It may be beyond our abilities, but it is not beyond His.
Ephesians 3:20 KJV
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
The power that spoke the universe into existance and raised Christ from the dead is available to us.
We need to just stop depending on our own strength and lean fully on Him instead.
We will see that He has power sufficient for every challenge we face.
Philippians 4:13 KJV
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

IV. Confess to God

176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; For I do not forget thy commandments.
The psalmist ended his prayer with confession that, like a lost sheep, he had strayed.
We don’t know how or when he strayed, but he did.
So When you stray...

A. Ask God to Seek You

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant;
In response to his going astray, the psalmist asked God to seek him, His servant.
the verb seek shows that he is asking God to continually and repeatedly seek for him.
The psalmist is talking about his tendency to wander from God.
Having gone astray sometime in the past he expects that he will go astray again in the future.
So he is asking God to search for him until He finds him.
As many times as is necessary.
He wants God to bring him back to the fold.

B. Do Not Forget God’s Word

“For I do not forget thy commandments.
The psalmist refers to himself as the Lord’s servant and he states that he could not completely forget God’s Word.
As a genuine believer, he would not totally depart from God.
He counted on the fact that God would search for him if he strayed adn restore him to the path of righteousness.
Charles Spurgeon said about this, “He was not like a dog, that somehow or other can find its way back; but he was like a lost sheep, which goes further and further away from home; yet still he was a sheep, and the Lord’s sheep, His property, and precious in His sight, and therefore he hoped to be sought in order to be restored.
However far he might have wandered he was still not only a sheep, but [also] God’s “servant,” and therefore he desired to be in his Master’s house again, and once more honored with commission for his Lord. Had he been only a lost sheep he would not have prayed to be sought; but being also a “servant” he had the power to pray. He cries, “Seek thy servant,” and hopes to be not only sought, but [also] forgiven, accepted, and taken into work again by his gracious Master.”
We need to work at staying close to Christ.
Dad trying to lose me in the store.
But we need to stay close, and follow Him!
We need His power to overcome temptation.
We need to hear Him so we can be taught through prayer and meditation on His Word.
We need to be faithful to church attendance and service for Him.
No matter how long we have been saved, or how much we have memorized or studied God’s Word, or how many trials we have endured…you are not beyond the possibility of straying from God.
Without even realizing it…when we get our eyes distracted by the shining things of life…we drift away from God; gradually lose close fellowship with Him.
Before we know it we are so far from God that we are no longer following Him.
We can not longer sense His leadership in our lives, or hear that still small voice, or get through to Him in prayer, or feel His power.
When we realize we have strayed Cry out to God, Purposefully Worship Him, Ask Him for Help, and confess that we have sinned.
Like the prodigal son we need to say,
Luke 15:18 KJV
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
Praise the Lord
1 John 1:9 KJV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Praise the Lord that he is the faithful shepherd who loves His sheep.
It is wonderul to know that he will leave the ninety and nine to find the one who is lost.
Matthew 18:12–13 KJV
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
I read a great conclusion to this Psalm written by Bible commentator Donald M. Williams:
“Throughout this extensive prayer-meditation, we have seen that the Word, the testimonies, the statutes, the precepts, the commandments, and the law of God have been the psalmist’s preoccupation. From the eternal self-revelation of the living God he has received truth, salvation, righteousness, justice, and peace. These are all words of the covenant. They express the gifts that [the LORD], King of Israel, has bestowed upon His people. Through them they are made secure, shown how to walk, defended from their enemies, and prepared for life eternal. The importance of God’s Word cannot be stressed enough. It reveals the very nature of God as the God who speaks. Through His Word He is shown to be personal and to desire a personal relationship with us as He addresses us. By His Word we can know Him substantially. By His Word we can also know His will for our lives; we can learn how to live.”
Let us stay in His Word
Read It
Study it
Meditate on it
and Memorize it
Let us stay in prayer
and All day long
Let us Call Upon God for
and understanding
David Powlison said in his book Speaking the Truth in LovePsalm 119 is actually not about the topic of getting Scripture into your life. Instead, it is the honest words that erupt when what God says gets into you. It’s not an exhortation to Bible study; it’s an outcry of faith…Psalm 119 is the thoughtful outcry that rises when real life meets real God.
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