In this section the psalmist declares his awe for the Word of God he had come to love. It doesn’t matter what people do or what the circumstances are, nothing should alter our reverence for God and His Word. While most people stand in awe of powerful people, our heart is awed by God’s Word. After seeing the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Nebuchadnezzar was humbled, realizing that God “changed the king’s word” (Daniel 3:28). God can still “change the king’s word” today. When we esteem it like Job did, above all our necessary food (Job 23:12), it can become the joy and rejoicing of our hearts like it was for Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:16).
Psalms 119:161,162 [SCHIN]:
Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
The more reverence we have for the word of God, the more joy we shall find in it. The psalmist found joy and rejoicing in the wonderful Word of God and describes the degree of that pleasure as “great spoil.” This alludes to victory over the enemy. One doesn’t get “spoil” without facing the enemy. Not only is there pleasure and honor in a conquest, but the “spoil” is the great advantage realized afterward. The plunder adds much to the joy. By the word of God we become more than conquerors.
It is comforting to experience His love and His life in deeper and more meaningful ways. That’s the spoil I take from life. Do you take spoil from the battles you fight? I want God working in me to will and to do of His good pleasure. My greatest reward is to enjoy the pleasure of His company.
I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
The psalmist uses a double expression, “hate and abhor,” to express indescribable loathing. How can one stand in awe of God’s Word or rejoice at it without despising every way contrary to it. Love for the Word of God causes the godly to “hate and abhor lying” and begin to recognize the way that God exercises His “righteous judgments” on those who dare to flaunt their wickedness. Perfect praise erupts from a heart that recognizes the righteous character of God’s judgments.
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
Loving the Word of God and walking in obedience to it brings great peace—peace with God, peace within yourself, and peace with others. Notice that it doesn’t say, “Great peace have they which keep thy law.” It says those who love it. The psalmist never seems to run out of reasons to profess his love for God’s law. Great peace and freedom from offense are certainly wonderful benefits of that love. The psalmist’s hope for and expectation of salvation is bolstered as he does as God commands him.
My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
Reveling in the wonder and awe of the scriptures brings a stable “hope for our salvation.” This fosters a love for the scriptures which encourages obedience. Those who understand that “all our ways are before Him” are more likely to love and keep the precepts and testimonies of the Lord. The psalmist understood the conclusion of the whole matter of which Ecclesiastes reminds us:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear [reverence] God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
What would you think of someone who had a priceless treasure, but treated it as something of little value? The Bible is such a neglected, priceless treasure. Unfortunately, people don’t study it, meditate on it, or even spend a few minutes a day to hear what the Lord has to say to them. They have no awe or reverence for it. It is obvious that the psalmist loved God’s Word and treasured it highly. It would behoove us to follow his lead.
By Wayne Clapp