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A Profile Of The Godly Man (Ps. 119)

This psalm gives us great encouragement Because the psalmist was, like ourselves, a man very conscious of failure. Yet he was a godly man.

Some think the writer was Daniel. A godly man is not perfect in the sense of being sinless, neither is he a sinner in the sense of being deliberately so. We select only a few verses out of the 176 in the psalm for this profile of the godly man.

Desire for Reviving:

He was often cast down in spirit because he was so conscious of the strength of his fleshly nature, as are all men and women of faith, and cried to God, "My soul cleaveth unto the dust" (v.25). He remembered the day when he experienced the quickening power of the Word of God, "This is my comfort in my affliction: for Thy Word hath quickened me" (v.50). He was born of the Spirit and became aware of the corruption of the old nature, and because of that there arise to God repeatedly those supplicating cries, "Quicken Thou me". We, too, know the cry "Quicken me". How important to be right with God. We all want revival, but it starts with ME. 0 God, revive me! Make me to live.

Paul knew the experience of being cast down perhaps in greater measure than any of us, "0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" He answers his own question in a glad assurance begotten of the Spirit of God, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 7:24,25). We take comfort and press on in the knowledge that godly men and women have uttered the same yearning cries.

Cleansing by the Word:

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" The psalmist answers his own question: "By taking heed thereto (i.e. to his way) according to Thy Word" (v.9). The Word of God has a cleansing effect on our lives. Peter says to obedient disciples, "Ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren". Because "to step aside is human" God has provided that when we sin, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). How wonderful! And "how rich the precious blood once spilt"! The writer of the psalm knew that there is a rich blessing for those "who walk in the Law of the Lord... that seek Him with the whole heart. Yea, they do no unrighteousness.. that is, not habitually. They walk in His ways" (it is, their habit of life). The psalmist longed, "Oh that my ways were established to observe Thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all Thy commandments" (vv. 1-6).

His Love for God's Word:

The Word of God was everything to the psalmist. "The Law of Thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver" (v.72). "How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! Yea' sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (v.103). "Thy Word have I laid up in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee".

How full of contradictions the Scriptures seem to the natural man! Yet to the man of God there are no contradictions. Like Isaiah and Peter the psalmist had times when he was so conscious of the holiness of God that he exclaimed; "My flesh trembleth for fear of Thee' and I am afraid of Thy judgements" (v.120). As he viewed the inequities and evils of this life he cried out to God, "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgements at all times" (v.20). How true and compatible also are the statements, "I rejoice at Thy Word, as one that findeth great spoil" (v.162) and "My heart standeth in awe of Thy words" (v.161).

Even those who are not great students have times in their daily reading of Scripture when their heart rejoices as if God has spoken personally to them. Also there are portions that cause us to experience joy, reverence and awe for God and His Word. That the infinitely holy God should so love a world of sinners like you and me that He gave His only Begotten Son to suffer for our sins on the Cross of Calvary, is most awesome; and that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life is most joyous. Consider again, "My heart standeth in awe of Thy words". Do we today "stand in awe" of the words of God? Have we lost something of the love, reverence and awe that we ought to have for the Word of God?

The heart of the Godly Man:

The heart of this man of God reveals his spiritual stature. How high do we reach when standing alongside him? "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgements at all times" (v.20) and "I have longed for Thy salvation, 0 LORD; and Thy Law is my delight" (v.174). Many of us can relate to the second, but few of us to the first of these heart longings.

"Mine eyes run down with rivers of water, because they observe not Thy Law (v.136). Surely he is referring to some of God's ancient people.

How like tenderhearted Jeremiah, "Mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD's flock is taken captive" (Jer. 13:17). We remember how the Lord Himself wept over Jerusalem, because its people knew not the time of their visitation. Paul, too, had a heart like his Master. "I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:1-3). The godly minister, John Welsh, lived in Scotland over 300 years ago. On one occasion, shortly after retiring for the night, he rose up and went to another room. His wife, a considerable time later, went to see why he was absent so long and found him weeping and praying. She remonstrated with him. "Woman", he replied in the custom of his times, "I am responsible for more than 300 souls and I know not how it is with many of them". Do we have such tender hearts?

The godly man however was not a weeping weakling who lacked strength of purpose. The psalmist had known times when the going got tough. "The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not swerved from Thy Law" (v.51). Again, "They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not Thy precepts" (v.87). He drew his strength from God; he knew, as we do, that the arm of flesh will fail and prayed, "Strengthen Thou me", assured that the faithful God (v.90) would do in the present as He had done in the past. These and other verses show that he had purposed in his heart to serve God according to His Word, cost what it may. Like the Lord he was steadfastly minded to do the will of God.

His Habit of Meditation:

Meditation is something that all of us can do. Much study is a weariness of the flesh, but meditation can be engaged in throughout the day. The Hebrew word used in Psalm 119 is not the word used in Joshua 1:8 or Psalm 1:2 (which has the thought of murmuring in pleasure) but a word which according to Dr. Strong means "to ponder i.e. (')y implication) converse..." Seven times the psalmist uses this verb. He speaks of meditating in "Thy precepts", "Thy statutes", "Thy Word", "Thy wondrous works" and "Thy Law is my meditation all the day". During the day he turned over in his mind some portion of the Word. "Thy testimonies ... are my counsellors ~V margin, the men of my counsel)" (v.24).

Knowing God and His Word:

He prayed "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law", for he is conscious of hidden depths in the Word of God and his need of spiritual insight. He also knew that "the opening (AV entrance) of Thy words giveth light; It gives understanding to the simple". How glad the two on the road to Emmaus were, how their heart burned within them, while He spoke to them in the way, while He opened to them the Scriptures. And on our pilgrim journey we, too, can have like experiences.

Exchanging thoughts of God and His Word with godly companions can be very enriching, and so the psalmist says, "I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that observe Thy precepts" (v.63). He knew the need for separation from the "proud that are cursed, which do wander from Thy commandments" (v.21). Like his companions he confesses, "I am a sojourner in the earth" (v.19). Because he was godly he suffered persecution from the men of this world and sometimes wondered how long he could stand it: "How many are the days of Thy servant? When wilt Thou execute judgement on them that persecute me?" He rejoiced in the knowledge that, "The LORD is my portion" (v.57), and therefore he gladly declared with upturned face to God, "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage". Many of us who are not great singers know times when a song of praise and thanksgiving rises from our hearts and we spontaneously "sing" to "the Lord of all" (even if slightly off tune); how we wish we could sing with all our being! - like the skylark.

Confidence in God:

"Thou art good, and doest good" (v.68). "I know, 0 LORD, that Thy judgements are righteous, and that in faithfulness Thou hart afflicted me" (v.75). This is the language of the men and women of faith in God of all ages who also individually say, "I am Thine, save me" (v.94), and "Thou art my Hiding Place and my Shield" (v.114), and earnestly desiring spiritual health, pray, "Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant" (v.135).