Love of God and His Word

By R. J. Rushdoony
April 13, 2022

Good morning, friends. Our Scripture today is Psalm 119:1–40. This psalm has many familiar verses and here are a few of them:

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed there according to thy word. (v. 9)
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
(v. 11)
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. (v. 16)
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. (v. 18)
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thou thy commandments from me. (v. 19)
My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. (v. 25)
Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. (v. 40)

One characteristic of this psalm stands out immediately. This is the longest psalm in the Bible, with 176 verses, and every verse except number 122 refers to the will of God as it is revealed in His Word, the Bible. Ten different words are used for this revealed will of God. It is called law, word, sayings, commandment, statutes, judgments or ordinances, precepts or injunctions, testimony, way, and path. The obvious and passionate fact is this: the deep and overriding love of the psalmist for God and His Word. The psalmist declares emphatically, “This I have had,” i.e., the major blessing of my life, “that I have kept thy precepts” (v. 56, JPS). The experience of faithfulness gives him a deeper and more passionate desire for greater faithfulness, and for this he looks to God and His Word.

This psalm is an important one precisely because our modern weakness lies at this point. The psalmist loved, studied, and obeyed the Word of God. For all too many Christians nowadays, the Bible is a dusty book. Worse than that, for many its contents are taken with a grain of salt and a double dose of cynicism.

To take the Bible other than on its own declared value is to deny the claims it makes. When the Bible says one thing and we say another, we declare the Bible to be wrong or counterfeit and our word to be true. There is no point in evading the force of this issue: whose word shall we accept?

Nothing you and I can say about God has any value apart from Scripture. None of us can know God except as He reveals Himself to us in the person of His only begotten Son and through His Word, the Bible. To set ourselves up above His Word in criticism or judgment is to exalt our word above God and to declare His Word to be counterfeit. This is not faith, but unbelief; not strength, but weakness.

The strength of the psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 is simply this: his unreserved devotion to and love of the revealed will of God. And this love shines through in every verse.

Let’s consider this matter of love briefly. When two people are in love, they not only enjoy being together but they also enjoy talking with one another. Good friends can stand in a doorway, unwilling to say goodnight, and talk for another hour and enjoy every minute of it. It’s not the subject matter alone. The same topic can be deadly dull with someone else; it’s the sense of communion that is a part of all talk with people we love.

It is this sense of delight in every word of God which rings out in Psalm 119. “Thy testimonies,” the writer declares, “also are my delight and my counselors” (v. 24).

The word and will of God is not only his joy but, in time of trouble, his consolation. He looks to the Lord and says:

My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according to thy word. (v. 28)
My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. (v. 25)

The psalmist declares (vv. 145ff.) that he, on occasion of deep suffering, cried through the night and arose with this conviction: “Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are true” (v. 151, RSV). His basic faith and assurance is this: God is sovereign and all powerful. In His hands are all things, and He governs the destinies of all men. Yet this almighty and infinite God is also the God who approaches man and talks to him on his own level of understanding.

As a result, he says with joy, as he contemplates the majesty and the nearness of God:

Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (vv. 164–165)

This last phrase, nothing shall offend them, is better translated, they shall have no occasion for stumbling. Life will not trip us up and leave us fallen and offended if we delight in God’s Word and make it our meditation and our daily bread.

How can we have this peace and this victorious life that does not stumble as it meets God’s providence and His dealings? The psalmist sees no way other than through the Word of God, Scripture.

If we lack this peace and victory, we can ask, and it shall be given. We can pray with the psalmist, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (v. 18).

Taken from Good Morning, Friends, Vol. 3, pp. 73-16.

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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