Preserved by the Word: Psalm cxix, part 8.
We come to part 8 of Psalm 119 and the psalmist continues his extravagant praise of the Word of God and the God of the Word. Truly, there’s no possession like that of God. Nothing can compare to him. All the wealth, riches, and extravagance of the world is but a fleck of dust when juxtaposed against the all-surpassing worth, honor, and glory of God.
The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules. I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts. The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes! (Ps 119:57–64)
One of the more remarkable truths of Jesus’s perfect redemption is that God becomes yours. When you get saved, you get God. It’s what makes your salvation so precious. Jesus your Advocate makes it possible that God is your Assurance.
The perfect possession.
The psalmist declares, “The Lord is my portion.” (Ps 119:57) There’s no possession like the Lord your God. Have faith that he is your “portion” and you have all. As John Mason says, “Get him for your portion and you have all; then you have infinite wisdom to direct you, infinite knowledge to teach you, infinite mercy to pity and save you, infinite love to care and comfort you, and infinite power to protect and keep you.”1 Make God your all and you’ll have everything you need.
Such a portion preserves the believer throughout the storms and trials of life. When the devil tempts you to regret over past sin, spout back, “The Lord is my portion.” When you’re tempted by the praise and adulation of men to think more of yourself, remember, “The Lord is my portion.” When you’re tempted to fret over lost loved ones and friends, be succored that “The Lord is my portion.” When you’re tempted to disbelieve the truth of the gospel and take the matters of peace and satisfaction into your own hands, remember, “The Lord is my portion.” Whenever you’re beguiled into disbelieving God, be ever more certain that “The Lord is my portion.” He’s your ever-loving, ever-present Friend. He’s all you need. The believer who knows God will fervently and earnestly seek him out. He will vow, as the psalmist here, to keep God’s words and to be forever enraptured by his promises. (Ps 119:57–58) The soul who is captured by grace will cry, “More! More!”
Christ, the hunter.
The confession of the psalmist at the opening of this section is that the Lord is his “portion,” his sufficiency. The Lord meets all the needs of the ones he loves. The sufficiency of the Savior knows no bounds. The reach of his grace is not shortened; in the Word is declared unto us the infinity of God’s mercy. Such mercy and grace are exceedingly sufficient to meet you wherever you are. When you, like the psalmist, think on your ways and realize how far you’ve strayed, it is the testimony of God’s grace that will support and sustain you and cause you to know that he is the raiser of the stumblers, the healer of the sick, the rescuer of the lost, the Savior of sinners. (Ps 119:59; Lk 4:18; Mk 2:17; 1 Tm 1:15) God keeps and seeks out his own, even while they’re running from him. When we flee, God pursues. When we run away from him, he chases us down, all the way to the cross. Like the shepherd after the lost sheep, Jesus, the “Hound of Heaven,” hunts us down and brings us back home.
This is the preservation of the Word of God. It’s revealing and exposing; it’s a mirror of truth. It shows you your flaws while simultaneously pointing you to the Flawless One who gives you his perfection. The psalmist came to the Word and then, came to himself: “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” (Ps 119:59–60) God’s Word of Grace, that is, the gospel, is our support and sustenance. As Edmund Calamy says, “The promises [of God] are a Christian’s magna charta for heaven.”2 The assurances, testimonies, and words of the Lord are the rest and relief of the troubled soul. When worries, doubts, and troubles alarm and awaken you, your cry in the darkness is, “Be gracious to me according to your promise!” Having Jesus as your all-sufficiency can make you sing in the middle of the night — in the eye of the storm. (Ps 119:62)
Making room for praise.
Such a thankfulness for God’s ever-present mercy drives out fear and makes room for praise. “Hasten” and “not delay” in seeking refuge and solace in the Word. (Ps 119:59) Do not wait to examine the directives of God. To delay in keeping God’s Word is to break God’s Word — to delay is to deny. (Ps 119:60) The urgency of the gospel should motivate us to put off procrastination and garb ourselves in praise. We have no other standing before God other than an undeserving yet fully favored and finally forgiven rogue. Such a state should cause the heart to burst out in praise at the infinite preservation of God and his Word. Utter dependence on God cultivates humility, prayer, and praise.
The whole creation is filled with his unmerited favor. (Ps 119:64) “Yes,” writes Elon Foster, “mercy is in the air which we breathe, the daily light which shines upon us, the gracious rain of God’s inheritance; it is the public spring for all the thirsty, the common hospital for all the needy; all the streets of the church are paved with these stones.”3 You’re never beyond the range of God’s extension of mercy. Praise God for the infinite preservation of his own!
John Mason, Select Remains of the Rev. John Mason, edited by Dr. Watts (London: Religious Tract Society, 1830), 57–58.
Edmund Calamy, The Godly Man’s Ark: City of Refuge in the Day of His Distress (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1865), 102.
Elon Foster, New Cyclopædia of Prose Illustrations: Adapted to Christian Teaching (New York: W. C. Palmer, Jr. & Co., 1875), 449.