Psalm 119 consists of 176 verses, the longest of any in the Bible, and it proclaims the glories of God’s word. Matthew Henry wrote that “this psalm may be considered as the statement of a believer’s experience,” meaning that David had experienced in his own life the need and importance of divine revelation. Another source described it as “the Christian’s A-B-C of the praise, love, power and use of the word of God . . . for here we have set forth in inexhaustible fullness what the word of God is to man, and how a man is to behave himself in relation to it.” When the Psalm is read, it is discovered that almost every verse in it mentions the word of God (with only four exceptions).
Using different terminology to describe various aspects of God’s word, David speaks of law, testimony, judgments, statutes, commandments, precepts, ordinances, etc., providing us with one of the greatest tributes ever written to God’s expressed will. Surely one of the most beautiful statements made is found in verse 18: “Open thou my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” Notice that David did not ask for a plainer law, feeling that it was something beyond his comprehension, but his desire was to have a heart that was open and receptive to the truth. After all, he didn’t want anything to hinder him from beholding those “wondrous things.” He went on to write, “Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (verses 129-130).
The truth is that Bible reading and studying the Scriptures involve an exercise that is both exciting and profitable! When people look upon it as being boring and a waste of time, it shows that they lack the understanding that David came to possess in his life. His attitude was, “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (verse 97), but what about us? If that is not our practice, it shows that we don’t love God’s word like the “sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam. 23:1) did, indicating a failure on our part to appreciate what we have been given. Let’s notice three specific areas where those “wondrous things” can be found.
THE WONDERS OF DOCTRINE
There are great doctrinal truths that are treated in God’s word, revealing things that need to be understood about God and our relationship to Him. When he expressed his desire to “behold wondrous things,” it’s interesting that David used the term “law” in that statement. Do you find that shocking? While liberals seem to hate the very concept of law itself, even denying that we are under any kind of law today, David spoke of “wondrous things out of thy law.” Another statement found in Psa. 19:7, for example, is representative of the whole revealed will of God– “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” This can be viewed as a general reference to the rule of God for the conduct of man, being “perfect” in its ability to guide and give us the understanding we need in spiritual matters.
Certainly the Law of Moses itself, which David lived under, contained many “wondrous things.” God being the author, it was “the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses” (Neh. 8:14). Paul informed the Galatians that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). Think of all the beautiful types, figures, and shadows that gave a picture of the coming Savior, helping us to understand who He was and what His heavenly mission accomplished. There is a lot that we can learn from the Old Testament about God’s view of justice, holiness, righteousness, and other things. No wonder Paul wrote in Rom. 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
One of the purposes of the law of Moses was to bring to man a consciousness of sin (Rom. 3:20), but it’s in the New Testament scriptures where the true remedy for sin is explained in clear and precise terms. God’s word declares many wondrous truths– the grace and love of God, what one must do to be saved, the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, what happens after death, the reality of heaven and hell, the second coming of Christ and the judgment day, the resurrection of the dead, and on and on it goes. No other book but the Bible can give you the information you need to these and other Bible topics! It can still be said today in all truthfulness, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105).
THE WONDERS OF PRECEPT
God’s word not only tells you what you need to know, but it also obligates you to live a certain way (bringing blessedness and dignity into your life). Using this term at least 21 times in this psalm, David said, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (verse 104). This word involves the idea “to take notice or care of a thing; to attend; to have respect to; to appoint; to visit.” It has reference to God’s commandments that take notice of our way, having respect to the whole of our life and conversation. You might say that they “visit” us in all the concerns and duties of life. God’s word is life-changing and practical because it deals with matters that affect both time and eternity.
Instead of despising God’s standard of conduct, we should have David’s godly attitude– “Behold, I have longed after thy precepts; quicken me in thy righteousness” (verse 40). There are many wondrous precepts in God’s word that bless and enrich our lives because they show us how to have supreme love for God and a right relationship with our fellow-man (Matt. 22:36-40). Instructions given on topics like marriage, parenting, morality, money, and health (respecting our bodies) have both earthly and eternal consequences. As Paul wrote in 1 Tim. 4:8, “For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Someone compared it to a tea bag: “The longer the tea bag sits in the cup of hot water, the stronger the tea becomes. The longer you steep yourself in God’s word, the stronger you will become. And the stronger you become, the more blessings you will receive.” That leads to our final point . . .
THE WONDERS OF PROMISE
Think of all the wonderful promises made to us in God’s word! Being the believer that he was, David declared, “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word” (verse 114). Since Peter described them as “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Pet. 1:4), that certainly fits the idea of something being “wondrous.” The reason we can hope in God’s word is because God is faithful and always keeps His promises (Heb. 10:23). However, we must remember that all spiritual blessings are found only “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3) and there is no promise of salvation to the unfaithful and disobedient (Matt. 7:21).
As we face the trials of life and near the end of life’s little day, the wondrous promise of eternal life is that source of great comfort unto us. Knowing that our “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58), we remain steadfast until we cross the river of death. We have already noticed that Rom. 15:4 talks about the “comfort of the scriptures.” Not only are we comforted by the assurance of our own salvation, but we also have hope that we will be reunited with those who have died in Christ. After assuring us that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (before living saints at Christ’s return take their flight to glory), Paul says that we’re all going to heaven together: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:17-18). Oh, what a wondrous promise!
Article by: Billy D Dickinson