We are continuing on a journey to expand on some of the practical applications of God’s word to our life. In a previous post (read it here), I listed eight:
The word produces a reverence for God.
The word makes us wise.
The word gives us direction for life.
The word gives us peace.
How does the word produce a reverence for God?
Psalm 119:38 – Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.
The word “establish” is quwm. It is used as an imperative; the psalmist is telling God that this is what he needs Him to do for him. It is used in the “Hiphil” tense, which is a causative verb. In this context, it means to cause to stand, set, station, or establish; to make binding; to carry out, give effect to. In essence, the psalmist is saying, “Cause your word to be established to me.”
Other translations of this verse give us an idea of the meaning:
Reassure me of your promise (NLT)
Fulfill your promise(NIV)
Confirm your promise(ESV)
The “word” in verse 38 is imrah, meaning utterance or speech. It can mean a promise, or can also refer to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. When the psalmist was writing, the only written word would have been the Torah. For application to us, “word” refers to the complete word of God – Old and New Testament.
When God confirms and fulfills His word, what is the expected effect? It produces reverence for God.
“Reverence” is the Hebrew word yir’ah, meaning fear, terror, respect, reverence, piety.
We can relate to this verse. What kind of person do we respect the most? The one who keeps his word! There’s not many things that will cause us to lose respect for someone more than catching them in a lie. Whether it is a direct lie to us, a betrayal, or just never getting around to doing what you promised to do, we have little respect for a person who can’t keep his word. We don’t like them as friends, we don’t want them as employees, and we certainly don’t want to be in a relationship with them!
It used to be that a person’s word was his bond. If you said you would do something, then a handshake was good enough to seal the deal. Both parties would walk away satisfied that the terms of the contract would be fulfilled. Sadly, that is not true in our world anymore. A quick google search revealed that there are over 900,000 lawyers in the U.S. today – one for every 300 Americans! The United States has more lawyers per capita than any other country in the world! We’ve lost our ability to trust one another, and probably for good reason, as lying is as commonplace as talking.
But God always keeps His word! He speaks truth, and He is truth.
Psalm 111:7 – The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are sure.
Psalm 115:1 – Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.
Psalm 117:2 – For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 119:151 – You are near, O Lord, and all Your commandments are truth.
Psalm 119:160 – The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
God deserves our reverence and our respect because He always tells us the truth, and keeps His promises. But what else causes us to respect someone? It is their character. We can listen to someone tell us what a fine, upstanding person he/she is, but the truth is, words are only words unless they are backed up by a person’s actions.
We’ve discussed on this blog many of the character attributes of God – things that are true about His nature:
He is all loving;
He is all wise;
He is all-knowing;
He is faithful;
He is kind;
He is holy;
He is sovereign;
He is supreme;
He is all-powerful.
How do we know these things about God? What has He done to prove what the Word speaks of Him?
John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. … For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jesus is the Word!
He is the living, breathing, physical manifestation of the radiance of God. What God says, Jesus is, because He is God.
Jesus is the promise that the Word speaks of. The psalmist asked God to “fulfill Your promise to me,” to “confirm Your word to me.” In sending Jesus to accomplish our salvation, God fulfilled His promise. He established His Word, and He established Jesus as the Word.
God did not simply tell us about all of His wonderful attributes in the Word, He put them on display in living color, in Jesus!
We know what love is, because of Jesus loved us enough to lay down His life for us!
We know what holiness is, because Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life!
We know what power is, because Jesus rose from the dead!
We know what wisdom is, because Jesus fulfilled the greatest rescue plan of all eternity!
We know what grace is, because Jesus offers Himself freely for all men!
We know what knowledge is, because Jesus accepts us knowing everything about us!
We know what sovereignty is, because Jesus fulfilled the sovereign plan of God, predestined from eternity past!
Jesus, the living Word, is the confirmation, the establishment of all of God’s promises, of all that God has ever spoken to mankind, and we bow in reverence before Him.
So how is the written Word established, or confirmed, to us, so that we have a respect and reverence for God?
John 16:13 – But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
John 17:17 – Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, enlightens God’s written and spoken Word to us, so that we can understand it. He takes the written Word of God, and points us to Jesus, the living Word of God.
We serve an amazing God. He has revealed Himself as a Triune God – not three gods, but One God, the Most High God. But He has manifested Himself in three ways, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that human flesh could attain to a relationship with Him. He truly has kept His promises!
In my own personal life, the study of God’s Word continues to produce a reverence for Him. The more I learn about Him, the more the Spirit enlightens my mind and my heart, the more I grow to love Jesus, the more I respect and revere God.
Oh, the beauty and the wonder of this God we serve – revealed in the beauty and wonder of His written Word, and in Jesus.
Do you revere Him today?
I pray that you do, for He is worthy.