LAMEDH — Anchored to Eternity
(89) Forever, Yahweh, your word stands firm in the heavens. (90) Your faithfulness (extends) to all generations. You established the earth, and it endures. (91) Your judgments endure to this day, for all things are your servants. (92) If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (93) I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have revived me. (94) I am yours. Deliver me, for I have sought out your precepts. (95) The wicked lie in wait to destroy me. I will diligently consider your testimonies. (96) To all perfection I see a limit, yet your commands are boundless.
The second half of Psalm 119 begins with a more upbeat tone, a welcome change from the anguish expressed in the previous stanza. Two repeated words in Hebrew set the mood for this segment: “forever” (used twice in vss. 89 & 93) and “endure” (also occurring twice in vss. 90 & 91). As the first word in the stanza, “forever” receives special emphasis as the psalmist praises Yahweh for the eternality of his revelation made known in the heavens. The second use of “forever” is not so obvious. The psalmist applies this word to himself where he declares in a literal rendering of the Hebrew: “I will forever not forget your precepts” (vs. 93). Good English usage renders this, “I will never forget.”
Two uses of “endure” are found in successive verses. First, the word describes the earth which God created as an enduring testimony to his great power (vs. 90). Then it describes God’s judgments which provide an enduring testimony to his great wisdom (vs. 91). These two verses lead us to the message of this stanza. Having focused on the enduring quality of God’s Word (vss. 89-91), the psalmist considers his own life and essentially says, “I need God’s stability in my unstable life” (vss. 92-95). Four key words convey this sense of need: “perish” (vs. 92), “revive” (vs. 93), “deliver” (vs. 94), and “destroy” (vs. 95). The final verse functions as a summary in which the psalmist comes to the conclusion that he has failed to find anything perfect in his own life’s experience with one exception, the enduring revelation of an eternal God.
I. The eternal stability of God is seen in
- his Word. (89)
- his faithful dealing with all he has created. (90)
- his enduring judgments. (91)
II. The pslamist’s need for the stability God’s Word provides is seen in
- his fear of perishing apart from God’s Word. (92)
- his testimony of being revived by God’s Word. (93)
- his need for deliverance from destruction. (94 & 95)
III. Summary: God’s enduring Word counters all our instability. (96)
In the midst of life’s uncertainties, we find stability in God’s eternal Word.
In many parts of the world, people are accustomed to saying something like, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” This cliché appropriately describes a world in constant flux, characterized by change and instability. The only thing that remains the same is that nothing ever remains the same. Gone are the days when a breadwinner would keep the same job, stay with the same company, remain securely employed for an entire career. Gone are the days when a family can expect to live in the same house for more than a couple years, where kids can expect to graduate from a high school in the same district in which they began. Bob Dylan’s popular song, The Times They Are a-Changin’, has become more relevant every year since he composed it in 1964.
We all feel the need to be anchored to something that gives our lives stability and lasting significance. The author of this psalm focuses on an anchor which remains as firm today as it was three thousand years ago, God’s unchanging Word. This Word is eternal because it was spoken by an eternal God who is immutable, that is, constant and never changing. It is deeply encouraging to be reminded that in the midst of our world’s instability and the frailty of our lives we are anchored to the One of whom the author of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).