Our attitude toward God’s Word is important. The psalmist did not see God’s Word as restricting or irksome. Rather, it was a source of joy and rejoicing. Because they were the rejoicing of his heart, he took God’s testimonies as a heritage forever (111). He rejoiced in the way of God’s testimonies as much as in all riches (14), and rejoiced at God’s Word as one that found great spoil (162). To him the scriptures were more valuable than money (verses 14, 72, 127, 162) and brought more pleasure than the sweetness of honey (verse 103).
On Day 36 we read about delighting ourselves in God’s statutes. That’s action we take unto ourselves. We delight ourselves; we take the action to ourselves. No one can do it for us. It’s reflexive; if we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. One of the benefits of delight is that we remember what we delight in. How well these two go together. Delight prevents forgetfulness. The mind will run the way of the heart’s delight. Twice the psalmist vows to not forget God’s Word.
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
People were often vicious to him, but they couldn’t cause him to forget. “The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law” (61). Even when circumstances were beyond his control, he wouldn’t forget God’s Word. “For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes” (83). Neither did affliction distract him from his focus on remembering the law of God. “Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law” (153). Even when his life was in jeopardy, he still refused to forget God’s law. “My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law” (109).
Worldly men who are intent upon carnal interests forget the Word; it is not their delight. This indeed bothered the psalmist. He said, “My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words” (139). The duties of every day must be carried on with delight, regardless of our station in life. “I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts” (141). Indeed, the very last phrase of this magnificent psalm is a reminder that he does “not forget thy commandments” (176). What a magnificent way to close the psalm.
In addition to the nine uses of “forget,” there are three uses of “remember.” Once, the psalmist asks God to remember. “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope” (49). The other two occurrences are when the psalmist remembered, provided comfort, and fostered obedience. “I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself” (52). “I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law” (55).
Psalm 119 is replete with vows that the psalmist made to God. Here are some of them. He vowed to:
- Praise God with an upright heart (v. 7)
- Keep His statutes (vv. 8, 145)
- Meditate in His precepts (vv. 15, 78)
- Have respect for His ways (v. 15)
- Delight in His statutes (v. 16)
- Not forget His word (v. 16)
- Talk of His wondrous works (v. 27)
- Run the way of His commandments (v. 32)
- Consider His testimonies (v. 95)
- Keep the statutes to the end (v. 33)
- Keep His law (v. 34)
- Observe the law wholeheartedly (v. 34)
- Keep the law eternally (v. 44)
- Walk at liberty (v. 45)
- Speak of His testimonies before kings (v. 46)
- Delight in His commandments (v. 47)
- Surrender to obey commandments (v. 48)
- Meditate in His statutes (v. 48)
- Keep His words (v. 57)
- Give thanks to God because of His righteous judgments (v. 62)
- Keep His precepts wholeheartedly (vv. 69, 134)
- Never forget His precepts (v. 93)
- Keep his vows (v. 106)
- Keep His righteous judgments (v. 106)
- Keep the commandments (v. 115)
- Respect His statutes continually (v. 117)
- Keep His testimonies (v. 146)
- Not be ashamed of them (v. 46)
- Use his lips in praise (v. l71)
- Use his tongue to speak His word (v. 172)
Mankind has a propensity to bargain with God during troubles. There has been many a time when people have vowed or promised God one’s life, service, time, money, etc., if He would only deliver them from their present difficulty. Unfortunately, many forget to fulfill their vows when the difficulty has passed. Not so with the psalmist. He made it a definite act of the will to perform that which he had vowed. He realized that vowing to God is indeed a very serious matter. (Check the first four paragraphs on page 54 of the Handbook.)
I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people [repeated in verse 18].
Man may or may not fulfill his vows, but God will never retract or annul what He has unconditionally promised. He is faithful.
The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand…
27 For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
If something displeases us, we are glad if we can forget it. Indeed, we count it relief to free ourselves from thinking about it. On the other hand, when something pleases us, we are delighted to remember it and call it to mind. Jeremiah described the Word as the joy and rejoicing of his heart (Jer. 15:16), and Paul delighted in the law of God in the inward man (Romans 7:22). So we also delight to remember the awesomely wonderful Word of God.
By Wayne Clapp