Thursday, October 19, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #8

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In October I hope to cover the next eight verses of the Psalm.

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law    and observe it with my whole heart.35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    for I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,    and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;    and give me life in your ways.38 Confirm to your servant your promise,    that you may be feared.39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,    for your rules are good.40 Behold, I long for your precepts;    in your righteousness give me life!

Sermon 43 (Psalm 119:38)

  • How can the word be more stable than it is? Ans. I answer—It is sure in regard of God, from whom it comes, and in itself. In regard of the things propounded, it cannot be more or less stable, it cannot be fast and loose; but in regard of us, it may be more or less established. And that two ways— 1. By the inward assurance of the Spirit increasing our faith. 2. By the outward performance of what is promised.
  • Great is the weakness of our faith, as appears by our fears, doubts, distrusts; so that we need to be assured more and more.
  • Every event which falls out according to the word is a notable testimony of the truth of it, and a seal to confirm and strengthen our faith.
  • Three ways may this be made good: [1.] The making good of some promises at one time strengthens our faith in expecting the like favour at another. [2.] The accomplishment of one promise confirms another; for God, that keepeth touch at one time, will do so at another: [3.] When the word is performed in part, it assureth us of the performance of the whole; it is an earnest given us of all the rest: 2 Cor. 1:10, For all the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen.’ A Christian hath a great many promises, and they are a-performing daily. God is delivering, comforting, protecting him, speaking peace to his conscience; but the greater part are yet to be performed.
  • Doct. That it is a matter of great consequence to have the word of God established to us, or to be confirmed in a certain belief of his promises.
  • It is very convenient that we should build strongly upon a strong foundation, that sure truths shall be entertained with a certain faith, and things taken as they are uttered.
  • The word of God is stable in itself, but if we are not persuaded it is so, we are soon shaken with temptations.
  • As faith without the promises is nothing but groundless and fruitless conceit, so the promises yield us no comfort without faith.
  • 2. The necessity of it will appear if we consider—(1.) How natural unbelief is to us all; and (2.) How weak the faith of most is. [1.] If we consider how natural unbelief is to us; it is a sin we suck in with our milk. When our first parents sinned against God, his word was not believed, and thereupon the sin was committed, Gen. 3:4.
  • The necessity of establishment in the word of God will appear if we consider how weak the faith of most is. There are few that entertain the word as a sure and certain truth. There are several degrees of assent; there is conjecture, opinion, weak faith, and faith that is stronger, and that which comes up to an assurance of understanding, as the apostle calls it.
  • When once the word is established to us, we shall know how to live and how to die, and upon what terms to maintain comfort and holiness; whereas otherwise men live loosely and carelessly:
  • Until the word of God be owned as a divine and infallible truth, it hath no efficacy upon us. When it is received merely by conjecture, as a possible truth, it works but weakly. Ay! but then it profits when we receive the word of God as the word of God, as a certain truth; when the soul comes to determine, Surely these are truths in which I am deeply concerned, upon which my eternal life or death doth depend. Without this God can have no service, and we no comfort, but are at a great uncertainty of spirit. On the other side, let me tell you that all our coldness in duty, and ail our boldness in sinning, it comes from unbelief.
  • If holiness doth not flourish, there is a worm at the root, atheism and unbelief lies at the heart, and the want of such an assent to those great and glorious promises which God hath made known to us in Christ.
  • Every day God is fulfilling one promise or another, to train us up-to look for more at his hands. That we may trust him for our inheritance and our final blessing, he first giveth us a proof of his truth in lesser matters. The more you observe the dealings of God with your own souls, and the fulfilling his word to you, the more will your heart be confirmed against atheism, and established in the belief of the divine authority of the scripture. It concerns us much to look to this, that our hearts be firmly settled against atheism, especially when such errors are abroad, and divisions in the church, and the name of God is blasphemed.
  • But rather, secondly, you may observe the character that he puts upon himself, Thy servant. David was a king, but at the throne of grace he styles himself God’s servant, the fittest title that he could use when he prays for grace.’
  • Doct. He that is a servant of God may seek and expect grace from him.
  • 1. Who is God’s servant. 2. Why we must use this plea when we come to have promises accomplished.
  • Who is God’s servant? I answer—He that dedicates himself to God’s use, and he that lives under a sense and conscience of his dedication.
  • When you have given up yourselves to God’s service, you must not walk as you list, but as your master pleaseth.
  • Those that would have the word to be established, why must they be servants of the Lord?
  • The word of God was appointed to this use, to plant the fear of God in our hearts, and to increase our reverence of God. Not that we may play the wanton with promises, and feed our lusts with them.
  • The more any is given to the fear of God, the more assurance they have of God’s love, and readiness to hear them at the throne of grace. That man is indeed God’s servant who is devoted to his fear. There may be weaknesses and failings, but for the main he is swayed by the fear of God.
  • 1. What it is to fear God. 2. Why this is a sure note of God’s servant, because it removes all the lets of obedience.
  • 1. What it is to fear God. There is a servile and a filial fear; a fear of wrath, which the worst may have: James 2:19, The devils believe and tremble;’ and a fear of offending, which the best must have: Prov. 28:14, Blessed is he that feareth alway;’ a reverent disposition of heart towards God as our sovereign lord and master, yea, as our father in Jesus Christ.
  • For the first of these:— [1.] A fear of wrath. Every fear of wrath is not sinful; it is a duty rather than a sin. All God’s children are bound to have a tender sense of God’s wrath or displeasure against sin, to make them awful and serious in the spiritual life; as in Heb. 12:27, Let us serve God with reverence and godly fear.’ 
  • There is a filial fear, a fear of reverence. This fear of God was in Christ as mediator, Isa. 11:1, 2. Among other graces there reckoned up which do belong to Jehovah the branch,’ to Christ Jesus, this is one, The fear of the Lord.’ Christ as man had a reverent affection to his Father whom he served, and this fear it continueth to all eternity in the blessed spirits that are in heaven. The saints and angels have this kind of fear, a dread of the holy God, and a reverent and awful respect to his majesty. It is an essential respect which passeth between the creature and the creator, and can never be abolished. Now, this fear of reverence consisteth in a high esteem of God, of his majesty, glory, power, and in the sense and continual thoughts of his presence; and then a loathness to sin against God, or to offend in his sight, to do anything that is unseemly when God is a looker-on.
  • What! can a man sin freely that lives in the sight of the holy God, when he hath a deep sense of his excellency imprinted on his heart? This is that fear which is the note of God’s servants.
  • The fear of God is one of the radical and essential graces which belong to a Christian; it is a mighty restraint from sin. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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