THE GUIDING WORD OF GOD: PSALM 119:105-112

Psalm 119  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A sermon discussing the guidance offered by the Word of God

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THE GUIDING WORD OF GOD: PSALM 119:105-112

We see in this section of Psalm 119, though in general through the entirety of the psalm itself, a focus on the guidance provided through God’s Word.
Guidance is an important aspect for a follower of Jesus Christ. We need to be guided on a multitude of issues. They range from how we worship corporately as a church to individually as followers of Jesus. We need guidance on how to govern the church as well as our individual lives. We need guidance on issues of morality and ethics.
Like the compass, which has helped trackers, explorers, and all sorts of individuals navigate the vast wildernesses of our wonderful planet since before Christ’s birth, God’s Word helps us navigate the different issues and challenges of life.
We are so desperate for guidance, and our gracious God has provided it in the form of His written Word. The opening verse, 105, offers an excellent summary and spring board for the rest of this section. We will look at the following aspects:
I. GUIDANCE COMES FROM THE WORD OF GOD- 105
II. GUIDANCE FOR PURPOSE- 106
III. GUIDANCE FOR CRISES- 107
IV. GUIDANCE FOR WORSHIP- 108
V. GUIDANCE FOR UNCERTAINTIES- 109
VI. GUIDANCE FOR CONFLICT- 110
VII. GUIDANCE FOR JOY- 111
VIII. GUIDANCE FOR LONGEVITY- 112

I. GUIDANCE COMES FROM THE WORD OF GOD- 105

The foundational principle behind the guidance we have from God is His Word. And it is truly foundational for our understanding of daily life as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Consider, for a moment, the importance of a lamp and light for walking. During the day time it makes no difference. However, when it is dark, it is almost impossible to walk with any confidence. Even when you “know the layout of the land,” like your living room, you must tread with caution. For a child may have left a pile of Legos in the floor unbeknownst to you. This will have tragic and painful ramifications for your feet.
We walk in a dark world. It is a world that is ruled by the prince of darkness (see passages such as Eph. 6:12; Rev. 12:9; and Acts 26:18), it is important to have light for our path.
Furthermore, though we have been saved by God’s glorious grace, we struggle against the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19), against the “darkness of [our] understanding,” as Paul discusses in Eph. 4:18. We need the guidance of the Word of God to navigate our own struggles in sanctification (the process by which we become more like Christ), as well as the worship of God and our interactions with the world.
Theologians refer to this important teaching as the sufficiency of Scripture. That is, Scripture is able to meet the needs of human beings. We have referenced the London Baptist Confession of Faith before, but their brief paragraph is so helpful, particularly for this present discussion.
“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.”—London Baptist Confession of Faith I:6
God’s Word is our guide. This verse led Joel James to describe God’s Word in this fashion,
“God’s Word is not a book of theoretical or arcane philosophical musings, mutterings, and meditations. It deals in a highly practical manner with the real problems of daily life, as anyone who has ever read the book of Proverbs can testify.”—Joel James, “Counsel with Confidence,” 28
And it is upon the foundation of God’s Word that we have guidance, which leads us to the various aspects for which we are given guidance. The first being Guidance for Purpose.

II. GUIDANCE FOR PURPOSE- 106

This aspect is important for many reasons, but before we dive into those I want to briefly discuss the role of oaths in Scripture. Oaths were frequently used in the Ancient Near East, and are commonly found in the Bible. The Lexham Bible Dictionary states, “Oaths functioned at the religious, legal, and individual levels as a means of binding the oath taker to his or her word. Oaths were used to confirm the truthfulness of an individual’s word, bind individuals in a contract, or confirm God’s intent to act according to His Word.”
Oaths were a serious matter, as attested to by passages such as Matt. 5:33-37; James 5:12; Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-23. One did not take an oath lightly.
Though oaths were serious, they were still made. One example of a foolish oath was that made between Israel and the Gibeonites in Joshua chapter nine. Ruth made an oath with her mother-in-law, Naomi, in Ruth 1:16-18.
Oaths tied the individual into some commitment, and in this verse it ties the psalmist into the commitment to keep God’s righteous rules. His oath gave him purpose.
There is a dearth of purpose in churches in the US. Some churches exist to entertain congregants, so they put on amazing light shows and use fog machines. Other churches exist to serve the poor and needy of the community. Others see the importance of the church in determining and protecting the moral landscape of the nation. And I am sure we could find a host of other “purposes” for which people think the church exists.
The Scriptures offer us guidance for purpose, though. As Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung describe it,
“The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”—Greg Gilbert & Kevin DeYoung, “What is the Mission of the Church?,” 62
And where do they get that definition for the mission (or, purpose) of the church? From the Bible! Likewise, it is from the Bible that we get our individual purposes. Passages such as Romans 6, 8, Ephesians 4:22-24, and 1 Pet. 1:13-25 offer us guidance as to our purposes. And you may ask yourself, “How does this give me purpose for choosing a job? or making a tough decision?” How does God’s Word offer guidance in that?
There is much that could be said here, but briefly I want to offer five principles from Joel James’ book about decision making (or, guidance) from God’s Word.
“1. Pray for wisdom, not signs (Prov. 2:6-8; 16:3).
“2. Gather information. (Prov. 13:16; 21:5; 14:15; 15:22; 12:15)”
“3. Does the Bible speak directly to the decision? (Prov. 21:30)”
“4. Does the Bible speak indirectly to the decision? (Ps. 119:24, 105)”
“5. All other things being equal, do what you want.”—Joel James, “Counsel with Confidence,” 76-77
God’s Word offers guidance for purpose, it gives us many reasons to live and how to live. The problem is not that the Scriptures do not provide the guidance necessary for life and godliness, the problem is that Christians often do not do the necessary work to find that guidance.
Perhaps we need to recommit ourselves to study the Scriptures as Jonathan Edwards once resolved to do,
“Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”—J. Edwards
We see that Guidance comes from the Word of God, and that we have guidance for purpose (to keep the Word). Now let us turn our attention to guidance for crises.

III. GUIDANCE FOR CRISES- 107

Difficulties come into all our lives. While at times they are minor annoyances (such as waiting at the DMV), we usually experience something more severe.
It could be the death of a loved one, a diagnosis from the doctor that does not bode well, a family member estranged from God, or many other significant issues.
The psalmist mentions being “severely afflicted.” The word conveys intense suffering, not unlike the slavery endured by the Israelites under Egyptian oppression.
This, as I am sure you know, is far different than those minor irritations. I would dare say it is a crisis. In the Crisis Intervention Handbook, A. R. Roberts defines a crisis as,
Crisis is “an acute disruption of psychological homeostasis in which one’s usual coping mechanisms fail and there exists evidence of distress and functional impairment. It is the subjective reaction to a stressful life experience that compromises the individual’s stability and ability to cope or function.”—A. R. Roberts, Crisis Intervention Handbook
This severe affliction has the potential to disrupt our psychological homeostasis, preventing us from coping with it as we normally would. In other words, all other resources have been exhausted and there seems to be no way out of the present situation.
Now, Roberts offers a Seven-Stage Crisis Intervention Model, which presents some helpful tools. However, the one key Individual missing from Roberts’ plan is God.
You see, God’s Word provides guidance for difficulties. Where does the psalmist turn to? To God’s Word, which, incidentally, give him life. It is God’s Word that guides us during those times of crises, which is a point that we simply do not have the time to engage at the moment. There is also guidance for worship.

IV. GUIDANCE FOR WORSHIP- 108

The psalmist mentions freewill offerings of praise. Freewill offerings were offerings offered freely by the offeree to God in an expression of gratitude for deliverance or of God’s goodness (Psalm 54:6-7; 56:12-13; 66:13-15, for example).
Offerings involve worship, and gratitude is one expression of worship. The Word of God offers us guidance for worship!
In their book, With Reverence and Awe, D. G. Hart and John R. Meuther write, “The simple test for good worship, then, is whether it conforms to the Bible.” (77)
The London Baptist Confession of Faith offers helpful commentary here,
“The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.”—LBCF, XXII:1
In other words, the Scriptures offer us guidance for worship. Notice the psalmist’s request that God would accept his freewill offering. Right after that prayer he asks God to teach me your rules. He knew that God’s Word contained the guidance for His Worship.
This has profound implications for our church and us individually. What does the Scripture say a church service should look like? What is involved in a worship service? How should I worship God?
All of these questions are answered in the Word of God. Like a compass guiding the traveler to his destination, God’s Word brings us to His feet in humble, biblical worship (corporately and individually).
God’s Word also provides Guidance for Uncertainties.

V. GUIDANCE FOR UNCERTAINTIES- 109

The psalmist speaks of holding his life in his hands continually. This is a reference to the constant danger of death. Death is an uncertainty, for it can come for any of us at any time.
The expression of the psalmist implies imminent danger of death. And while you and I may not be in imminent danger, we do not know when we will die. It is an uncertainty.
In the midst of this uncertainty, though, the psalmist makes room for God’s Word. It provides guidance for him during uncertainties. Matthew Henry comments upon this verse, “In the multitude of his cares for his own safety he finds room in his head and heart for the Word of God, and has that in his mind as fresh as ever and where that dwells richly it will be a well of living water.” (580)
God’s Word provides guidance in times of uncertainty. Expanding the uncertainty beyond the threat of death, we see God’s guidance when we unexpectedly lose a job, find out about a medical concern, or many other uncertainties. Ultimately God’s Word anchors our hearts and minds to the truth that God reigns, and as promised in Rom. 8:28 works things out for good, including those uncertainties. As with the previous aspects, there is much that could be said here, but for now let’s press on.

VI. GUIDANCE FOR CONFLICT- 110

God’s Word also offers guidance for conflict. The psalmist describes an enemy. This enemy is his enemy because of the psalmist’s relationship with God. We have witnessed this several times in our study of Psalm 119.
The Scriptures offer a wonderful depth of guidance for handing conflict, not just for enemies of the faith (though it certainly offers a tremendous amount of wealth concerning that topic), but also for conflicts between brothers and sisters in Christ. The book of Proverbs stands out as packed with guidance for relational issues.
But think of Christ’s exposition of the Law in Matthew 5:38-42. He mentions the command to turn the cheek, to not retaliate. Christ practiced what He preached, and according to 1 Peter 2:23 we learn of the way Christ did so, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” Christ was so focused on the Word of God He knew that God was in control.
He entrusted Himself to God. And God’s Word provides the same guidance for us. But as the psalms in general, and this one specifically, cover the gamut of human emotions and experiences, we will now shift from the crises and conflicts to the joys and longevity of a follower of Jesus Christ who is guided by the Word of God.

VII. GUIDANCE FOR JOY- 111

The Word of God guides the believer into joy, true and everlasting joy found only in God.
The reason we can say that God’s Word is a guidance for joy is that God’s Word is joy!
The psalmist says, “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” There are two points in this verse, one is the eternality of God’s Word and the joy that comes from God’s Word.
First, God’s Word is a heritage, a time-spanning gift of God to all. God’s Word outlasts all governments, corporations, laws, people, kings, and the list could go on. Empires and dictators that have sought to destroy God’s Word have expired while God’s Word stands.
Jesus puts it like this, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18)
The Scriptures direct us toward right living, which produces true joy, regardless of present circumstances. In our present society, people seek for joy in all sorts of expressions. However, they fail (due to the ignorance that is in them, Eph. 4:18) to grasp the source of true joy.
God’s Word provides guidance for joy, and now let’s look at the last one, Guidance for Longevity.

VIII. GUIDANCE FOR LONGEVITY- 112

The last point that the psalmist makes in our portion of Psalm 119 is that God’s Word offers guidance for longevity.
Guidance for longevity comes from the Word of God. The way that we stay faithful (or, persevere), is through a solid commitment to God’s truth.
Have you ever learned of popular leaders in the faith deserting the faith? People like Josh Harris, Rob Bell, and other leaders who have since left the faith.
How do we stop that? By staying faithful to God’s Word! We all know of people who have grown up with us in Church and have left it. They failed to commit to God and His Word.
Believer, you must turn to the Word of God for guidance for longevity. The psalmist was in it for the long run. When he was discouraged, he turned to God’s Word. When he was hurting, he turned to God’s Word. When he was doubtful, he turned to God’s Word.
God’s Word offers guidance for longevity.
Application
Now, with a sermon this broad it would be impossible to offer substantial thoughts for application. Rather, I want to offer a few principles that you can go back and apply to the different aspects of guidance.
From these, then, you can develop your own, tailored-fit applications.
First, begin by praying for God to reveal the area in which you need guidance the most. Use Psalm 139:23-24 and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in which you have leaned on your own understanding rather than trusting the LORD.
Next, confess any sin to God and any individual(s) involved. This is key, as Christ emphasizes restoration over the offering of gifts (Matt. 5:23-24).
Next, study the verse connected with the guidance you need. There are several ways you can do this. You can Google verses that address that specific topic. You can also use the cross references in your Bible (if they are available). A concordance can also provide fruit. Additionally, study Bibles are excellent tools.
Once you have studied that aspect of guidance, tailor it to you. For an example, if you need guidance for joy, then perhaps you could write something like this, “In order to focus on God as my joy, any time I enjoy something good (such as food, a good night of sleep, time with children) I will spend significant time thanking God for it, as well as remembering that my relationship with God far exceeds the joy experienced. Any time I feel joyless, I will meditate on the grace God has shown me in Jesus Christ, reading Ephesians 2:1-10 as a grounding passage.”
We could go on, but that should suffice as an example. Also, I would love to help you with this, if you should need it.
Finally, commit it to God in prayer. Routinely pray (depending upon the severity of the need or the intensity of the problem, it will vary) that God will enable you to turn to His Word in humble obedience, for guidance.
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