Unstumbling

Psalm 119 is known as the longest chapter of the Bible, an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet, and a work of art exalting the worth of God’s truth. In 176 verses, only three fail to make mention of Scripture (using a plethora of synonyms). This morning it was verse 165 that enveloped my heart and met me where I am.

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

The words that follow will rotate through vantage points of this short statement, repeating it and unwrapping the treasure of each word.

“GREAT peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

The peace that comes from loving truth is not mere tranquility or placidity of soul. It is “great”, significant, powerful, and impacting peace (as we’ll see later). To me, that’s huge, because the turmoil of life can be intimidating and the temptation to replace God with something less is persistent. Praise God that this peace is great!

“Great PEACE have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

Loving law would seem to produce many things for a person–intelligence, righteousness, even arrogance–but an affection for God’s law brings “peace”. And what does the Lord Jesus say about this peace? “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Our peace and lack of heart’s trouble comes from the promises within the law. God won’t forsake us; He sent His Son to prove that; and He’s coming back to take us home. That’s true peace.

“Great peace have THOSE who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

I might be making too much out of this one, but I find encouragement in the plurality of “those”. That means I’m not alone. In fact, it reminds me of Elijah in 1 Kings. He’s hiding from Jezebel in a cave, crying to the Lord about being alone in his love for the one true God and His truth. But what does God say to him? “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). The Lord had secured 7,000 others to let Elijah know he wasn’t alone. Isolation can be one of my strongest enemies, but the truth is that others are right where I am.

“Great peace have those who LOVE Your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

Love. It’s a word we use for ice cream, baseball, clothes, and the weather. Less often does it find it’s true definition of selfless devotion and unwavering affection. The bearers of this love don’t see God’s law as a burden or restrictive. They run to it for safety; they embrace it as a heavenly gift. I believe God’s Word. I’m zealous for it. But I”m pretty sure I don’t love it as defined above (at least not always). Lord, kindle more love within me for Your truth.

“Great peace have those who love YOUR LAW; nothing can make them stumble.”

We’ve already covered a lot of what the “law” is, so we’ll put the emphasis on “Your” and the two combined. It’s not “the” law or “a” law as if it were impersonal. Rather, this is directly tied to and dependent on the Author and Giver of it. This law is inextricably linked to God’s character. Loving God’s law is loving His holiness, which is loving Him, because through the law we know our God. This isn’t a bunch of rules. It’s the biography and expression of our Father.

“Great peace have those who love Your law; NOTHING can make them stumble.”

If I put you to sleep in the last couple points, wake up here! To me, “nothing” is the rally cry of this verse. What can trip up those who love the Lord and His Word? Nothing! What can knock me down when I’m anchored to the truth? Nothing! You have no idea how uplifting that! “…if God is for us, who can be against us?…Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:31b,33). In this spiritual battle called “life”, we have God on our side! I know I forget it, which is when I stumble, but if I’ll just remember…

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can MAKE them stumble.”

I mostly covered this in the one before, but the key here is that nothing can force us to stumble, when we love the Lord above all. Vixens can woo us, and sirens may call, but none are irresistible. We have a choice. I have a choice.

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them STUMBLE.”

This word sets verse 165 apart from most of the rest of chapter 119. The others praise the Scriptures or decry the wicked, but this one acknowledges our weakness. Here, the psalmist sees the wickedness within. Without love for the law, we would be those who deserve judgment and death. Outside of the fulfillment of the law in Christ, we would be excluded from the fellowship of God. Lord, apart from You, we only stumble in darkness. Open our eyes to Your light.

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.” ~Psalm 119:165 ESV

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