“For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).
“Get your head in the game,” he yelled, and the players knew exactly what the coach meant. Daydreaming, young Johnny had let the ball go past him into right field.
“Get your head out of the sand,” he warned, and the wife knew exactly what the counselor meant. Her husband had been ignoring their child’s unruliness for years, and it showed.
“Get your head out of the clouds,” his dad advised. Unrealistic and full of pipe dreams, the boy needed a reality check before heading out into the real world.
Three sayings. Which is the wisest?
It depends which one is the most real–the game, the sand, or the clouds. For most of us, the game seems the most real. The results are immediate and felt. Success is seen, applauded, and enjoyed. To win the game seems wiser than dreaming about the clouds or hiding in the sand. Correct?
Forever, God’s word stands firm and tall in the heavens (v. 89). By that same word, the earth below received its permanency and stands (v. 90). Both realms reflect the enduring faithfulness of God to generation upon generation of human inhabitants, playing their little games in their little arenas. Both stand to this day according to the sheer authority of the Sovereign God, because both are His servants (v. 91). Therefore, if we ourselves wish to endure, we need to get our head out of the sand and out of the game, and into the clouds, where His words stands and never falls. There alone is certainty. There alone is reality, and the wise take it to heart.
Forever, the wise take it to heart, never to forget (v. 93a). They have seen that the precepts of God are a matter of life and death–life, because “with them thou hast quickened me” (v. 93b); and death, because “unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction” (v. 92). Please note: The key ingredient is delight. Mere knowledge, let alone dutiful church attendance or ignorant parroting, saved no one. Many will “perish,” noted the apostle, “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). In contrast, those who research the word and pay careful attention to it, with an eye towards obedience, may cry out with confidence, “I am thine, save me!” (v. 94; cf. 1 John 3:18-22).
Delight. Love. Research. Attentive consideration. These are the marks of the saved. The rest perish.
In light of such facts, how shall we be comforted? When the majority of churchgoers remain ignorant of their Bibles and attend church with less and less frequency, asking no questions and seeking no answers, are the faithful pastors of our land supposed to take heart from the mere name “Christian” or the claim of a decision made years ago. Where is the delight? Where is the love? Where is the research and the careful attention to God’s word? Alas, the world is full of sports and frivolous entertainment. Is it not time for us to get our head out of the game and into the clouds?
The bookends on this stanza are breathtaking, due perhaps to the position of this stanza as the midpoint of the psalm:
“For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (v. 89).
“I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad” (v. 96).
Time and space. In both, the word is boundless. Eternal in time; infinite in space. No matter what you compare to the word, let that something go the max and make it last as long as it can, it will still fall short. In contrast, the commandment is not only broad, but exceedingly broad (v. 96).
In light of the contrast between perishing and being saved, it is intriguing to ponder the possibility that the “commandment” here is eternal life, which God promises through the reign of His Son Jesus Christ, on the basis of the Cross, to all who believe (cf. Psalm 133:3; John 3:16; 12:49-50). If so, who would not research it, pay careful attention to it, and delight in it? Is it not time for you to embrace the love of the truth, so that you too will be saved?