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Merciful Lord (Part Two)

Sermon Date:September 17, 2017

Sermon Series:

Sermon Topics:Psalm 119

Author:Allen Burns

Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:25-32 Sermon Title: Merciful Lord (part 2) Sermon Text: Psalm 119 Memory Verse: Psalm 119:18 MAIN IDEA: Pray that the Lord mercifully establishes us in His Word so that we may be blessed.   NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio and video message differs from the manuscript. Thanks for understanding.  

Overview of Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is a very beautiful psalm. It is the longest Psalm in the Bible. It mentions the Word of God in every verse using words such as law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, and ordinances. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and 22 stanzas in the psalm; one for each letter. In the first stanza, each verse begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each verse of the second stanza begins with the second letter of the alphabet, and so forth. The psalm is very descriptive and filled with figurative language. When speaking of his anguish, the writer says that his soul cleaves to the dust (v. 25). His eyes shed streams of water (v. 136). He feels as a wineskin in the smoke, which is to feel like dried, wrinkly, leather (v. 83). The reason for his anguish is that he has many enemies. He is encircled by wicked and arrogant men who seek his harm (v. 157). They lay a snare hoping to trap and destroy him (v. 51, 61, 95, 110, 150). Although it is beautifully written, God does not have the psalm in the Bible solely for its literary value. We may learn a great deal about how we may call upon the Lord for help. The psalm teaches us how to pray. What is your situation this morning? Do you need God’s help? Are there people seeking to do you harm? Do people plot against you? Do you feel alone? Are you suffering? Is your soul is filled with grief? Do you feel like a dried, wrinkly, useless wineskin? Do you fill your pillow with tears over the pain and sorrow you experience? Do you need God’s help? If you need God’s help, you are not alone. We all need God’s help. Psalm 119 teaches us how we may pray to God and ask for His help. Our situation may not be the same as the writer of the psalm. He is being unjustly afflicted and oppressed by ungodly men. He knows God saves and shows mercy to those who serve Him. The writer of the psalm is crying out, “Help me God, because I love Your Word and those who seek to harm me are enemies of Your Word. Your Word promises me deliverance. Please save me.” There are over 75 prayer requests in Psalm 119. Let’s see how we may learn about prayer from this psalm.

Application for our lives

The main teaching of the psalm is this: Pray that the Lord mercifully establishes us in His Word so that we may be blessed. For our prayers to be effective, we must pray according to God’s Word. The psalm teaches us five ways we may pray according to God’s Word.

1-Pray knowing God is Faithful to His Word

In other words, we are to pray knowing that God will do what He says He will do. He gives us His Word and we are to believe what He says. God’s word is a covenant; an agreement. God always keeps His covenants. He never fails. Therefore, when we pray, it is important for us to know what God promises in His covenant. In other words, read the fine print. People sometimes accuse God of not following through on His promise. God always follows through on His promise. God never lies, men lie, but God never does. If we accuse God of not keeping His Word, we are calling God a liar and a covenant breaker. Don’t ever accuse God of not keep His promises. In the psalm, the writer reminds God of what He said He would do. He calls upon God to be faithful to His covenant twelve times in the psalm. Listen to a few of the twelve examples: 41 May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word; 49 Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. 76 O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant. 170 Let my supplication (my request) come before You; deliver me according to Your word. As he prays, he says to God, “I read Your Word, and Your Word promises deliverance to those who fear You. I fear You; therefore, You promise to deliver me. Please, don’t destroy my hope by not following through on Your promises. Do what You say You will do, according to the Word You give me.” It is important for us to know God’s Word and His promises. We may not ask God to do something He doesn’t promise. Sometimes, our prayer requests are expecting God to do something He never said He would do. We may have great confidence when we pray according to God’s Word. When we pray and ask God to be faithful to His Word, we are telling God we believe His Word is true (v. 160). Although our situation may not look great, our hope is not in our situation, but in God. It pleases God when we put our faith in His Word. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (He. 11:6). Pray with faith. If you don’t have faith, pray God gives you faith. Pray knowing God will always do what He promises.

2-Pray God Gives Understanding of His Word

The psalmist knows God’s Word, but he still prays for more understanding of Scripture. The most knowledgeable theologians always ask God for help to understand the Bible. We are always to ask for God to give us wisdom. The servant of God asks God 17 times to teach him and help him understand the Bible. 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. 27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts, so I will meditate on Your wonders. 34 Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart. 135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes. God wants us to know His Word. He doesn’t have to teach us, so we are to say, “I know you are good and full of mercy, will you teach me your Word (v. 64, 68)?” God is our Creator. Because He made us, we are to know His commands so we may obey (v. 73). We are God’s servant, so we need to know how we may serve Him and live according to His plan. God’s Word teaches that God’s purpose for our life is for our good (v. 66, 125). Therefore, we should know God’s purpose. Understanding God’s word brings us life (v. 33, 144). We know this is true because somebody told us about the gospel and knowing and believing the gospel brings everlasting life. Asking God for help in knowing His Word pleases God. God desires for us to know His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we may walk in a manner pleasing to Him, bearing fruit, and reflecting a life worthy of our Lord (Col. 1:9-12).

3-Pray God makes us Obedient to His Word

Knowing God’s Word does us no good if we are unwilling to obey what it says. Be doers of the Word and not hearers only. The writer of the Psalm knows those that who walk obey God’s Word receive the blessings of God. The psalm begins 1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. 2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. The psalmist knows this is true because of what is written in the Torah (Deut. 28). God said if His people are careful to keep the commandments and obey the Lord: 3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 4 “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. 5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. 7 “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways. 8 The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Immediately following, God says those who don’t obey His word are cursed. Everybody desires for God to bless them. Who desires to be cursed by God? We have to obey in order to be blessed. The psalmist asks the Lord for help to obey the law. Examples include: 10 With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. 29 Remove the false way from me, and graciously grant me Your law. 35-37 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. When we are established in the Word, walking according to God’s commands, it produces in us a fear of the Lord (v. 38). To fear the Lord means to have a reverence for God, a respect. When we fear the Lord, we believe there are consequences for disobedience. We need to ask God to forgive us for our sins and help us not to allow our sin to have dominion over our lives (v. 133). I am sure all of us have had times in our lives we felt ashamed before God. We feel guilty and unworthy of God answering our prayer. The solution is to ask God for His help. Our prayers should always include asking God to help us obey Him. Jesus tells us to pray that we are not led into temptation but delivered from evil (Mat. 6:9-13). We ask God to give us a good day and have the circumstances of life be in our favor. We ask God to relieve our pain and suffering or to grant healing. These requests are good, but if we desire for God’s Kingdom to come, we need to start by asking God to help us obey Him by putting to death the deeds of the flesh.

4-Pray God gives Strength and Revival to our Soul

Life is difficult and tiring. Do you get tired? We often grow weary in doing good. Much of our tiredness comes from emotional weariness. The psalmist asks God for strength and revival. Here are a few examples: 25 My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to Your word. 28 My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Your word. 88 Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth. 159 Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness. The psalmist is weary, and he asks God for strength according to God’s mercy. Nine times the servant asks God to give him strength. He knows the mercies of God are a great reservoir of strength (v. 149, 156). One of God’s primary ways of giving us strength is through His Word (v. 107). Reading of God’s promises will give us hope and lift our spirits. There is joy in reading the psalms. There is encouragement from reading the gospels and seeing the beauty of Jesus. The Bible says: Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Ps. 55:22) Jesus spoke about giving rest for the weary.  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30) Are we weak and heavy laden? Let’s bring our weariness to God and ask Him for strength and revival. Ask God for the strength to joyfully obey Him and walk according to His Word.

5-Pray for God’s Justice

Before we talk about how the psalmist prays for improving his situation, I hope we notice how much he prays to improve himself. Too often our prayers are pointing at everything around us, but fail to point at our own heart asking God to fix us. What are we to do when we are surrounded by people who seek our destruction? Of course, we will ask God for help. Asking God to be just is the most frequent of his prayer requests. The psalmist how sees people forsake God’s law and he is filled burning indignation (v. 53). Their flagrant sin and defiance of God’s law is an insult to the God he loves. He prays God will bring justice to the wicked. 86 … They have persecuted me with a lie; help me! 84 … When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me? 126 It is time for the LORD to act, for they have broken Your law. In addition to praying that God will bring justice to those who are evil, he asks God to take away his reproach and shame and restore his reputation. 22 Take away reproach and contempt from me, for I observe Your testimonies. 31 I cling to Your testimonies; O Lord, do not put me to shame! 153 Look upon my affliction and rescue me, for I do not forget Your law. He seeks for his reputation to be restored in the community of believers. 74 May those who fear You see me and be glad, because I wait for Your word. Injustice happens all the time. False accusations are brought against the prophets, apostles, and God’s people throughout the Scripture. Jesus is falsely accused throughout His ministry. We should not be surprised when we are treated unfairly. Sometimes we need justice brought to situations in our life. Sometimes we see the need for justice in the life of others. Pray for God to bring justice. Remember, God promises justice. But, He brings justice in His time and according to His viewpoint. God is perfectly just. All around us acts of wickedness cause disruption and chaos. It is because of wickedness there is crime, racism, poverty, and war. Evildoers act wickedly and seek to bring harm to the innocent. Because of that, we need to pray for God’s justice. When we ask for God to be just, we are praying for His kingdom to come. God’s kingdom is pure, righteous, and holy. We are to pray that God keeps us from evil.

Summary

When children are very little, they ask their parents for things which are unimportant. They make requests which are foolish and lacking wisdom. We expect our children, as they get older, to mature in their requests. God expects us to mature in knowing how to pray. The content of our prayers reveals the depth of our spiritual understanding and maturity. If you have never sought to mature in prayer, now is the time to start. Psalm 119 is not an all-inclusive teaching on prayer, there are other examples of how to pray in the Bible, but it is a good place to start. This psalm is an excellent example of prayer and worth imitating. All too often our prayers reflect an interest in personal comfort and convenience. Help me get to Texas safely. Give my friend a job. Help my cousin not to be sick. Help me sell some property or my business. God loves us and does care about our health, safety, where we live, and with giving us enough money to live. These are all good things. But, God cares about much more. God cares for our spiritual well-being. God may grant me a safe trip to Chicago, He may help me sell a home, or help my cousin to be healed. But if in the process of those things, I do not grow in my understanding of God nor do I become more obedient, I have gained nothing. It is much better to have a right relationship with God than to be healthy. It is much better to seek God’s kingdom to come than it is for our safe arrival to New Jersey. Knowing God’s Word is better than being accepted to an ivy league university. Jesus died to bring us to restore us to God. Jesus died to free us from sin so we may be more like Him. He came so God’s plan is accomplished. Our plan for the world is not best. God’s plan is what is best. Our prayers need to ask God for the best.
  1. Ask God to make us like Jesus (conform us into the image of Christ).
  2. Ask God to help us to live so we accomplish His goals (His Kingdom) and not our goals.
In heaven, which is a place of perfection, we will know God’s Word and we will obey it perfectly. God’s word is accomplished perfectly. We will all be like Jesus. Being like Jesus is the closest we ever get to heaven while living on earth. Seeking God’s will is always best. We do not always understand God’s will, so we ask Him to teach us. We read of God’s promises of blessing is for those who observe His testimonies and who seek Him with all their heart. So, we pray, cause me to walk according to Your word. We are unable to walk according to the Lord’s commands unless the Lord works in our heart. So we pray, conform us to the image of Christ. Make our heart be inclined to Your will. Remove wicked ways from us. We read how God who rescues the Israelites from Egypt. We see how Jesus sets the captive free and gives strength to the weary. We see how God promises deliverance from affliction and oppression. We are unable to bring justice and deliverance, so we ask the Lord to bring His kingdom to come and for His will to be done in our lives. We plead to God and ask, “Act now. Be just. Save me.” Our only hope is that God is merciful to help us be like His Son. We need to cry out to the One who writes the book on mercy, and say, “Merciful One, have mercy on me.” Pray that the Lord mercifully establishes us in His Word so that we may be blessed.