Do me a favor and please read Psalm 119:89-96
Our words today come to us with this theme of “time.” Words like “eternal”, “generations”, “endures”, “perish”, “preserved”, and “boundless.” All of these words (except for “perish”) give us this boundless, never-ending timelessness of God and his word. Why is that important? I’m glad you asked.
In many cultures, ancient Israel included, history mattered. Your namesake and the generations of your people that you can trace, life, and eternity, these were all things that meant something. It meant you had a past. It meant there was consistency. It meant there was a lineage, a depth, and a meaning. And these things still mean something today. We trace our history, our lineage, through DNA tests, through genealogy, and other things. And being able to know where we were, where we came from, and the people that were involved is encouraging and exciting. And there is a pride we feel if we can trace it even further than someone else. And here, in our text, the eternal word of God is not only the comfort of the psalmist but they recognize that it was the comfort of their people since the beginning of time. But here it isn’t pride. Here it is joy, peace, and comfort.
The psalmist not only recognizes the timelessness of God’s Law (all of Psalm 119 is about the “Law”) but in the recognition of God’s eternalness, the psalmist also declares that God’s word has been good since the beginning of time as well. But what’s even more challenging, and affirming, is that in the middle of these words and verses we have the contrast with God’s eternal-unchangingness with all the changes of the rest of the world. Generations change. Days change. The earth moves. God’s servants come and go. Life comes and goes. And the biggest comfort we have comes back that regardless of all that changes – God, and His Word, never does.
For you and me this means that God and his love has always been. It means we can read the Old Testament and see all that went on and always draw a line from those horrible events to God’s love. It means that since the beginning of time itself God has sought us, loved us, and wanted the best from, and for, us. It means that when we see Jesus, his love, his work, his grace we should see the Father – for if he is unchanging then in Christ we see him (John 14:9). It means that when the psalmist asks God to “save me, for I am yours;” (vs 94a) they’re not asking to be saved BECAUSE “I have sought out your precepts” (94b) it’s because they always have been and always will be “God’s” child.
I think what’s REALLY challenging for you and I is that if God’s word is eternal and it stands in the heavens, if God’s faithfulness is through all generations and that his “law endures to this day” then that means God’s law, his word, and his faithfulness is still true and evident today. This means we cannot read scripture and say, “Well, that was written a long time ago and it doesn’t mean anything today.” It means we cannot pick and choose which laws and rules we want to hold to and which ones we do not. We cannot cherry-pick the “feel good” texts, pull them out of context, or do anything with them. If we declare that God’s word is eternal then it has to remain eternal regardless of how WE feel. So if God tells me to love (and he does) then I love. If I am supposed to love my wife as Christ loved the church (and it does – and he died for her (the church)) then that means I do – with an unending, dying love like no other. What it also means is that regardless of what I’ve done or WILL DO – God’s love will always remain, endure, and be steadfast.
Praise be to God for THAT.
3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:
- What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
- What does an “unchanging” “un-perishing” God mean to you?
- Are there any texts that make you uncomfortable and that you wonder if they are still relevant today? How do we walk into those, understand context and meaning, and yet still find truth and relevance?