The Bible in Your Blood? (Psalm 119:11, 105)
The Bible in Your Blood?
Psalms 119:11, 105
(One Truth: Your Word is Truth)
March 19th, 2017
I. A One Truth Review
Over the last six months, God has taught and/or reminded you and me about just how precious and powerful His word really is. We have had the chance to inspect the pillars, to swim down to the moorings, to consider the biblical foundations of this One Truth by which we are called to live.
Do you remember? We learned from Matthew 4 that not one of us lives “by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. We learned from Proverbs 3 that God has called us to acknowledge His word “in all our ways” by trusting Him with “all our heart”. We learned from I Corinthians 10 that the goal of the word-informed life is to “do all to the glory of God”.
And the reality that drives us forward in all these ways is that, according to II Timothy 3, “all scripture is breathed-out by God”. The Bible is the living word of the living God. We also learned that our right response to this God-breathed word is summed up, according to Mark 12, in the two commands Jesus holds up above every other: to “love the Lord your God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength”, and to “love your neighbor as yourself”. But to do this, according to II Corinthians 5, we must walk by faith in God's word, not by sight.
So this morning we continue this journey; we continue to explore God's word regarding God's word. What does the word tell us about itself? What has God revealed to us about this revelation? Turn with me to Psalm 119, and let's find out.
II. The Passage: "Your Word in My Heart” (3:1-13)
Psalm 119 is both the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. Interestingly, at 176 verses, it is longer than fourteen OT books and seventeen NT books. As you would soon discover once you started reading this psalm, it is an expression of pure delight and confidence in the word of God.
Now we are going to focus on just two of Psalm 119's one-hundred and seventy-six verses. Let's consider what these two verses tell us about God's word. Look first to verse 11...I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you...
Now turn over to verse 105. We read, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
I love these two verses together because I believe they reveal three things: the 'where' of the word, the 'why' of the word, and the 'how' of the word. Let's see how those three points help us understand these verses. First of all, looking back at Psalm 119:11, we discover...
1. The Where of the Word (v. 11a)
In the first half of that verse, the writer makes this confession before God: I have stored up your word in my heart...
Now, right away we're faced with a question. What does it mean to “store up” God's word in your heart? Some people, including me, have used this verse to encourage others to memorize Scripture. But is that what the writer is saying? Is he simply saying, “I have memorized your word”?
Well, I believe that is a part of it. But think about the two keywords in that first half of verse 11: the first is the verb “to store up”. Other translations render that Hebrew word as “laid up”, or “hidden”, or “treasured”. But notice here how it is paired up with the other keyword, the word “heart”. This is more than a mental retention of words. Listen to two other verses where this “stored up” word is used:
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. (Job 23:12)
My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you;  keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;  bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:1-3)
Did you notice there the sense of “storing up” God's word in connection with the heart? The heart is the center of your inner life. It is the seat of your affections and desires and appetites and priorities and ambitions and will. Just listen to how this writer talk about his “heart”:
Ps. 119:10 - With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Ps. 119:32 - I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
Ps. 119:112 - I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.
And so storing up God's word in your heart is a process involving both awe and desire, marvel and memory, treasuring and clinging. It is like a hungry man facing a long winter who finds an orchard of delicious fruit. He not only eats, but he stores up this fruit, because he knows he will need it to survive. In light of his need, and in light of how well that fruit meets his need, he stockpiles as much as he can.
Do you feel that way about God's word? The 'where' of the word is in your heart. That's where God wants it to end up. He wants His word inside of you. Have you thought about it that way before? He wants it so inside of you, we could say figuratively, that if you were cut, you would bleed the word.
Now you may not completely understand how to get His word inside you in that way, but it has to begin with fully embracing that fact; to wholeheartedly accept and submit to God's agenda of word-infusion; of Scripture transfusion. But all this leads us to the second point...
2. The Why of the Word (v. 11b)
The psalmist says, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
If the 'where' of the word is your heart, the 'why' of the word must be the workings and out-workings of the heart. The long winter of our need, for which we store up God's word, for which we stockpile, is a life under the tyranny of sin and self.
The word reveals how Jesus taught his followers to pray: “May your kingdom come; may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
We treasure up the word of God when we treasure the will of God over our own. As long as you are dominated by the desire to want your will above everything else, you will not store up the word in your heart. Why would you? You have what you need. You are all set. Your cupboards are full of your own designs and devices and determination and dreams.
But the psalmist recognized his desperate need as a sinner, and that God's word was his only hope for transformation and obedience.
Do you want deliverance from living a me-centered life in this God-centered universe? Are you sick and tired of the 'dead-end' of your own self-effort? Are you feeling the hunger pains of sin's empty promises? Are you weary and worn out from living for yourself, relying on yourself, straining by yourself?
God's word is the answer. It is food for the hungry. It is hope for the hopeless. It is light. And that brings us to our third point...
3. The How of the Word (v. 105)
Do you remember what Psalm 119, verse 105 told us: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
If the 'why' of the word is God's will, for your good, for my good, then the 'how' of the word is illumination. God illuminates our minds to see and understand Him and his ways.
One of the greatest gifts God can give any person are, paradoxically, the eyes to see that we can ultimately see nothing on our own; the realization that, in our sin, we are only groping in the darkness. Jesus told His opponents,
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” (John 9:41)
And later the same writer, the Apostle John, spoke about this blindness, this darkness...
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (I John 2:11)
The word has the illumination we need. Paul talked about this illumination when he wrote:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
How is your mind renewed? How do you “discern what is the will of God”? Through knowing and living out the word of God. Only the light of God's word can reveal the path of loving God and loving your neighbor.
Only the light of God's word reveals what it means to “do all to the glory of God”. Only the light of God's word can reveal how good, and great, and gracious God really is. How good, great, and gracious the gospel really is.
If you had a map leading to the most valuable treasure on earth, what would you do with it? Would you set on your bookshelf or night stand, and say, “Oh, one of these days I'll get to that. Too many other things going on right now.” I don't think so. You would devote yourself to letting that map show you the way. You would look to its illumination.
Brothers and sisters, friends, I ask you, what greater treasure could there be than God and eternal life with Him through Jesus Christ? If you believe that, then let the light of His word show you the way, each day, to the fullness of these very things.
III. From Pauper to Prince
So let's think about this for a minute: the 'where' of the word is your heart. The 'why' of the word is God's will and your good. The 'how' of the word is illumination...light to your path.
But as we've been talking about, it is not enough to know these things. It's not enough to hear me say it; it's not enough to understand it and affirm it; it's not enough to take notes about it, or tell someone else, “that was a good message”. And it's not enough for me to preach about, even passionately.
What is enough? That, more and more, you would find yourself in the Bible, AND that, more and more, you would find the Bible in you.
What does that mean? It means that your times in God's word are times of prayer and learning and wrestling and satisfaction. It means you are truly nourished by the word. AND because of that, it means that you begin to see things differently.
You begin to see your life and the world around through the lens of Scripture.
It means you begin to assess your feelings and desires and priorities and ambitions and judgments and decisions in light of what God wants, not simply what you want. You begin to see, more and more, the gaping chasm between God's ways and the world's ways. It means you begin to see that your instincts and impulses are biblical; that you are beginning to think the Bible.
It means that your life inevitably begins to change, so that you becoming more and more like Jesus, and less and less like the world. But that is a process; it takes time. It is a battle.
What is enough? That, more and more, you would find yourself in the Bible, AND that, more and more, you would find the Bible in you.
Last week, in talking about the church, I said we are “like a pauper learning he is really a prince...[that] God is calling us to grow up in the reality of our true identity.”
Well, if we stick with that illustration, I think it also helps us understand this “you in the Bible, and the Bible in you” dynamic. You see, the pauper who finds out he is really a prince must learn two things: 1) his own royal story, and 2) what it means to reign.
The same is true for us when it comes to reading the Bible. If you have responded to the Good News about Jesus with a remorseful, but trusting heart, then Scripture is how you learn about who you really are; about your new identity in Jesus Christ. The Bible is the history of our people, that is people of faith; the people of God. And as we go to His word, we discover that it is in knowing God that we truly know ourselves.
But also like the ex-pauper who is now a prince, we go to the Bible in order to understand what it means to walk in this new life. What does it mean to move through this world each day as a child of God, as a follower of Jesus, as a worshiper, as a kingdom of priests? What great blessing we forfeit when we fail to learn and/or follow the guidance of God when it comes to things like marriage, work, finances, friendships, sexuality, family, feelings, politics, and even suffering. In all those areas (and more!), God wants us to walk by the light of His word.
Today or tomorrow, I would challenge you to sit down with the word, maybe with Psalm 119, or maybe a passage from our Three-a-Day readings, and read and pray in light of what we've talked this morning. Ask God to help you be in the Bible, more and more, AND, that the Bible would be IN you, more and more.
The only heart in which that can happen is the new heart Jesus Christ died to give you. As the OT prophets said, it is a new heart of flesh, not the old heart of stone. And because it is flesh, because it is soft, it is able to learn and be formed. It is because of the cross of Jesus that the words of Jesus can change us.
Two days ago, the world celebrated St. Patrick's Day. You may not know much about Patrick, who was born in England in 387 AD, but listen to what one writer tells us about his true legacy:
“We have no idea if Patrick read any other books than the Bible, for that is the only book he ever quotes...Patrick’s love for the written words of the Bible was passed on to the Celtic church, which became the most learned body of churches in Western Europe during the early Middle Ages. When Patrick came to Ireland he would have found a society that was by and large mostly illiterate, but within two generations, the Celtic church was the most literate body of churches in Western Europe. One of Patrick’s great gifts to the Irish was literacy.” (Michael A. G. Haykin)
Literacy is an amazing gift. But literacy built around the word of God is a priceless gift, for it leads us to the greatest of all treasures. Again, listen to God's word to you about God's word:
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you...Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
other sermons in this series