Attached is a study I did years ago for a home bible study which I was leading at the time. My interest in sending it to you is simply that in this day and age when there seems to be a lack of truth and knowledge about our God, that there be instruction on who He is and how to get to know Him. I personally believe that especially in these last days leading up to the rapture and subsequently after the rapture there is a dearth of examining just how to get to know our God and our Savior. After the rapture there will be those who will hunt for truth and I believe it will be nearly impossible to find, but just maybe some information will be retained whether over the internet or through bibles and personal studies that are left behind.
Knowing God - A simple primer on how to get to know Him.
I hope you find interest in them.
In tackling a subject so vast as this, you have to be careful that you stay within the parameters that can actually be verified with such documentation as we can accept as valid. Therefore I will be using as my sole source the Word of God. Primarily this study will use the NIV as the version of choice. From time to time another version such as the KJV may be used to shed additional light or to bring out shades of meanings that may not be as apparent in the NIV.
Any study which takes on a topic which seems beyond the bounds of human understanding needs to have some context which supports it’s premise, that we can know God. This is of course the premise of this study. So we need some statement or direction from the word of God to support this premise. This will then be the first step in beginning this study. Then we will proceed to see what the word of God lays out for our understanding. A study of this magnitude would be vain not to say that this topic is beyond the scope of any mortal to fully comprehend, thus it is a study of a lifetime which is never fully complete. Rather this study is a challenge to the reader to take this task upon himself or herself and make it a lifelong ambition.
So to the premise. The word of God instructs us to know Him. You might say that I cannot recall a single passage that has within it such a command. Therefore this is where this study will commence. We will begin with a study of the biblical injunction to know God. We will examine it first in the OT then we will look at the NT. In so doing we will see that this has always been the instruction throughout the history of mankind.
My People do not Know Me
There is a qualitative difference between the Old Testament understanding of what comprised knowledge and the New Testament which had a more complete understanding of what true knowledge consisted of. A primary word used in the OT for knowledge was “Dhath”. It literally is best translated as what can be comprehended by the five senses. The RSV translates it using the Latin word scientia, this being the word from which we get science. Dhath, could then be said to mean what can be understood with our mind or through contemplation (study) on a particular subject. It is used for wisdom, cunning, knowledge and insight. Dhath comes from the word Yada which means, acquired knowledge or understanding; to perceive or comprehend. Yada deals with the process of learning and Dhath is the knowledge gained via the process. The two words seem to be used interchangeably, but the best meaning for Dhath seems to be that knowledge which is gained.
I think we can also infer that Dhath implies a process. It deals with knowledge gained through learning. So to gain knowledge suggests that there is a process involved in order to attain it. For instance, I go to school in order to learn how to calculate a formula. Probably more basic and more in line with Old Testament, it means; I am apprenticed to a master in order to learn how to perform a task. In the learning process I gain Dhath, knowledge. Let’s look at an example in the OT.
1 Kings 7:13 King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram, 14 whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was a man of Tyre and a craftsman in bronze. Huram was highly skilled and experienced in all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.
The word used here for Huram’s experience was, Dhath, meaning that which he had learned from experience. He was an apprentice of his father, a craftsman in bronze. Huram was exceptionally skilled and did much of the bronze work on the temple of Solomon.
In Proverbs the writer speaking to his son suggests that practical knowledge is gained through study, and diligent searching. This is the scientific approach. Seeking, searching, and applying what is learned.
Proverbs 2:1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
That word knowledge in verse 5 is Dhath. Knowledge that is acquired or learned through diligent study, by listening to those who are wise, like his father, and by meditating on the wisdom thus gained, to further understand and comprehend the knowledge thus gained. You might say that this kind of knowledge is gained only through extreme diligence. It begins with accepting knowledge already learned from the father, stored up within the son’s mind. It continues by adding to it by applying himself diligently to seeking understanding, crying out for insight, searching for hidden nuggets of knowledge and is consummated by it’s acquisition.
In other words it is a difficult task, but not an impossible task. The writer goes on to inform his son that the knowledge thus gained will benefit him. Let’s look once again in Proverbs 2
Proverbs 2:9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse,
From knowledge comes wisdom, discretion, and understanding. Knowledge can then lead to wisdom, if properly applied. Application of knowledge is essential if knowledge is to be of value. Knowledge is the raw material, which is then refined by understanding or comprehension, and discretion. Wisdom is the final result after the refining is complete.
Knowledge has another source and that is insight, which is another shade of the meaning of Dhath. Insight comes from a number of sources. It can come directly from God or it can come as a result of a sudden flash of understanding. For example, I have two or more pieces of disparate information (knowledge) and suddenly I make an intuitive leap and tie this information into a complete piece of information or a whole.
Have you ever had your children give you hints about something they want. In young children usually their hints are very transparent, but as they get older sometimes they get more sophisticated. My son for example tells me that he likes a certain kind of music. A couple of days later he calls and tells me he will be home for his birthday and oh by the way did you know that he had just acquired a new CD player. Later he tells me that in purchasing his CD player he had exhausted his finances and so had been unable to purchase new music. Can you see what this is leading up to. It’s his birthday and he will be home, he has a new CD player, and a week or so earlier he had said he liked a certain kind of music. You make the sudden and perhaps not quite intuitive jump of understanding that he wants you to purchase that music that he mentioned earlier for his birthday. This is one way of acquiring insight. There is yet another and we will examine this next.
1 Kings 4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.
Daniel 5:11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. King Nebuchadnezzar your father--your father the king, I say--appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.
Daniel 9: 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes……
21 while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, "Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.
This kind of knowledge comes directly from God and can be learned or communicated directly to an individual. In the case of Solomon, God increased supernaturally his ability to gain insight. In the case of Daniel, He not only gave him great wisdom but communicated through a messenger the exact insight that he needed. In both situations however that insight comes directly from God.
So on to the premise of this writing which is that we are instructed in the word of God to know God. Let’s start with a verse of scripture that we have already read and build from their.
Proverbs 2:5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
The writer instructed his son to receive his words and that if he followed his instructions that ultimately he would find the knowledge of God. There is yet another example to be found in Proverbs.
Prov 9: 9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
It is this knowledge which I wish to pursue in this study. Knowledge of this kind however cannot be found by or through a book or by some great teachers lectures. It can only be found as a result of a personal, diligent and careful search for it by those who wish to acquire it. It is found in the Holy Scriptures, it is discovered in the mighty works of God, and it is found by listening to a still small voice. This study will therefore seek only to show the biblical injunctions to find knowledge and the proscribed methods that the bible reveals.
In Hosea we have an unusual passage, one that is not often quoted. It is a complaint from God concerning His people. We’ll use the KJV for this reading.
Hosea 4:1 HEAR the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
God had a controversy with the children of Israel. I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty fearful if God said He had a controversy with me. His controversy stemmed from the ignorance and the fruit of ignorance which was in the land.
He said there was not truth, (emeth) nor mercy, (chesed), nor knowledge (dhath) of God in the land. Let me amplify a bit by using definitions in place of words. He said, there was no truth, stability, continuance, sureness, no faithfulness, nor mercy, forgiveness, love, kindness, nor knowledge, insight, understanding, wisdom in the land. These are shades of meanings that can be applied to those words. The KJV renders them faithfulness, love, and acknowledgement of God. They didn’t recognize Him anymore as their leader!
God’s controversy with them was that they no longer acknowledged Him as their divine leader, and as a result those characteristics most closely associated with Him were no longer present within them. You cannot emulate that which you do not know. God was pretty upset to say the least let’s look at verse six.
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
God’s people were being destroyed because of the very knowledge that although they had access to, they had rejected. God said that because of this they would be destroyed and He would not help them, in fact he would ignore not only them but their children also.
Hosea 5:4 They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord.
They have prostituted themselves and followed other God’s and they refuse to return unto God. And how could they? They did not know the Lord. The source of their destruction was God Himself. In chapter 6 Hosea pleads with the people and begs them to turn and God would cease His retribution upon them.
Hosea 6:1 COME, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
Hosea speaking as a prophet and mouthpiece of God was begging the children of Israel to return. He promised healing if only they would do so. That the judgements came directly from God is explicit.
Hosea 6:5 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.
I have slain them by the words of my mouth. That is God speaking. Judgement belongs to God and His judgements are severe.
God now speaks plainly and tells them what they lacked.
Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
I desire mercy (chesed) and I desire knowledge (dhath). Chesed is one of the most sacred words in the Old Testament and it is much like Charis in the New Testament and speaks of a quality of love that is exceptional. Forgiveness, mercy, unbounded love are what this word implies. For them to be able to do so they had to know Him, and this they clearly lacked. For this lack of knowledge, God was pouring out His wrath on a disobedient Israel. It would lead ultimately to it’s dissolution as a nation and they would become wanderers in this world.
Hosea 8:2 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.
Hosea 8:14 For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.
Hosea 9:17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
Here is a progression of thought. Israel cries, we do know you, but God denies it. Israel hath forgotten his Maker. Result, God destroys their cities and causes them to wander among the nations. Is this not what has been occurring for the last 2,000 years. Israel called itself the Diaspora, the dispersed. Why were they dispersed? Because they rejected the true knowledge of God. Although Israel was unfaithful, God remains faithful and His love is absolute. Therefore He promises them restoration, but for that to come, Israel had to pay a horrible price and they had to return unto the Lord. Hosea concludes by saying who is wise…
Hosea 14:9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
The ways of the wise, understanding and prudent are the ways of the Lord and the just walk in them. In other words if you know the ways of the Lord when you will be preserved. I want to know Him and I want to know His ways! How about you?
What caused them to forget?
Before answering that question, let’s look at what they were commanded to do so that they would not forget, and what it was they were to remember.
Deuteronomy (Deut) 5:28 The LORD heard you when you spoke to me and the LORD said to me, "I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!
In Deuteronomy chapter 5 we have the giving of the 10 commandments for the second time. They were preparing to go into the promised land and now God tells them that if all was to go well with them as long as they never forgot to keep His commands always. In the next chapter He gives them a Holy command which will ensure their remembering. It is called by the Jews the Shema. It means to hear in the sense of obedience. Let’s read and savor the text.
Deut 6:1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.
Implied within the Shema was not just hearing but obedience to that which was heard. Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey…
Deut 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
This is the actual meaning of the Shema. Hear, O Israel: That is the first part, hearing. Now for the doing. Love the LORD your God with what? All your heart, soul, and strength. In other words all that is within you. Hear and do. Now for the remembering part.
Deut 6: 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Knowledge is passed on through word of mouth, through writing, through repetition, and through meditation upon it. God was being specific. This knowledge was too important to entrust it to just memory. It had to be taught, and written down and repeated often, so that it would not be lost.
Deut 6: 10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you--a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant--then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
God is warning them, be careful; be very careful. God is a jealous God, and if you forget Him, He will destroy you. Isn’t that just what we read in Hosea? God is not to be taken lightly. His commands were crafted carefully to teach them about Himself. They were designed to insure that He would not be forgotten or set aside. Yet this is exactly what happened. When did this happen?
When they failed to follow his instructions to teach the children, repeatedly, to write them down, and to meditate upon them day and night. Knowledge is fragile it must be passed on, repeated, remembered; it must be treasured or it will fade away and disappear. It happened quickly let’s look.
Judges 2:8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
It wasn’t a long time after Joshua who had seen the covenant repeated just prior to entering the land of Canaan til he died. Probably only 30 or 40 years went by before he died. It wasn’t long after his death and the death of the other elders who had been with him, that the generation born in the land of Canaan begin to forget and with their forgetting they sinned and went after other Gods. Notice the result; the Lord was against them and defeated them. God fought against them, just like He said He would. It is a dangerous thing to forget God. He never forgets, and He always does what He promises.
What caused them to forget? Laziness! It is as simple as that. They failed to teach their children, to instruct them daily and to meditate upon His instructions and they lost the knowledge of God.
Are we sometimes lazy, do we forget to read the word of God, or to pray, to spend time communing with God? Are we better then them? Be very careful how you answer that question. Think about it before you do. You may find out that you are not quite as faithful as you perceive yourself to be.
A Man after God’s own Heart
This chapter and the next few are going to be exploring some concepts which a certain man who is identified in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart, developed. Of course the identity of this man is well known, so I won’t keep it a secret. We are of course speaking of David, who is called by that sobriquet in Acts 13.
Acts 13:22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' 1 Sam 13:14
How would you like to have the Sovereign Lord God say that of you? I have found _____ a man after my own heart! What a distinction, God said he’s my man, he understands my heart and he will do everything I want him to do. Can that be said of you? Think about it as we explore what made David so unique that God would identify him in this way. My desire is that what was said of David may also said of me. It should also be yours.
Just who was David anyway? Can we learn from his life what caused him to be identified by God with such a distinction?
David was a shepherd boy who lived with his father Jesse in the town of Bethlehem. He was the youngest of 8 sons and thus probably never stood to be much more than a servant in his own home. With 7 brothers ahead of him, he didn’t stand a chance at inheriting the family birthright, or much of any kind of inheritance for that matter. Still when Samuel saw him for the first time he saw a handsome and rugged lad, and God told Samuel to anoint him as King. It says in 1 Samuel 16:13 …and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. There was something that God saw that made him love David right from the outset, so much so that the Holy Spirit took a great liking to him and came upon him with power. David was special, so that must be the answer to our question from above, right?
Well in a way he was special, but what made him distinctive is a quality that we need to explore. We all know the story of David and Goliath, but what about David’s conversation with Saul before he slew the giant.
1 Sam 17: 32 David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." 33 Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth."
34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."
What audacity. Was he merely and nearly fatally proud or did he have an insight into something that all of the soldiers in that camp should have had?
Deut 33:26 There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. 27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, 'Destroy him!' 28 So Israel will live in safety alone; Jacob's spring is secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew. 29 Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places.”
Maybe David new of this blessing that Moses gave the people just before he died. I don’t know for sure but David certainly had confidence that God would help him. He spoke of the lion and the bear and recognized the divine providence that protected him in those encounters. He saw in God that shield and that glorious sword which would cause the enemies of God’s people to cower. I think that is what David saw and what the soldiers of Saul had forgotten. They were doing the cowering instead of vice versa. So David who had experience God’s deliverance from the bear and the lion proceeds to attack and kill the giant. He knew his God and that his God was able to perform that which he promised and he stood on that promised and succeeded where trained men of war had failed.
1 Sam 17: 45 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands." 48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
David acknowledged that the battle wasn’t his but was God’s and gave Him the glory. His part in the battle was almost incidental because the battle belonged to God. I said almost because it wasn’t entirely incidental. God needed there to be a man who would acknowledge and seek him and depend on him. What were all those Israeli soldiers doing out there you have to wonder.
Somebody taught David to recognize God and His provisions. Someone taught David the stories of Moses and the children of Israel because when he went out to fight, he fought with a confidence that was completely lacking in any other Israeli that day. Perhaps that confidence came from his teaching when he was just a small boy. We aren’t told, so I will not be presumptuous and state that that was the case. Whatever the source of David’s instruction it certainly took, for we have from his hands some of the greatest insights and knowledge concerning our relationship with God that exists. The Psalms tell us a tremendous amount of information concerning our relationship with Almighty God. They reveal much of David’s heart, let’s examine it.
Ps 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
David learned an important lesson. He understood what God was saying back in Deuteronomy chapter 6. He said Blessed is that man who delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on it day and night.
Ps 18:1… I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
He wasn’t afraid to say I love you Lord and recognize that his protection came from God. He saw God’s handiwork in all that was around him.
Ps 19:11 For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
In the first six verses David says that creation itself displays the knowledge of God. In verse 7 he says the law reveals God. He goes on to say that there is knowledge of God all around him. In the precepts, commands, ordinances, and yes even in the fear of the Lord there is much to be learned.
Why was David a man after God’s own heart? Because he saw the hand of the Lord over every aspect of man’s life. He recognized God’s limitless nature and desired to know as much about Him as he could. David knew he could trust God and he perfected praise to God.
Ps 56: 11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 I am under vows to you, O God; I will present my thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
David vowed his life to God and trusted in God’s divine protection.
Ps 57: 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. 8 Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
The songs of David are beautiful and full of insight into his nature and character. Praise flowed naturally from his lips. That is a part of why David was a man after God’s own heart. David had his failings. He sinned terribly during his life time as a King, but he constantly recognized his failings and some of the greatest Psalms come from his recognition of his sinful condition. Ps 51 for example. There was another aspect however of David’s greatness and this is what we want to spend the next chapter looking at.
How did David become so Wise?
Ps 119: Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. 4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. 5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. 8 I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.
Who are the blessed in these passages? Those who walk according to the law. Those who keep his statutes with their whole heart. Those who are steadfast in their obedience. Keep these things in mind as we explore verses 9-16 in this chapter.
Ps 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
David in verse 9 asks a basic question. In the KJV it says, How can a young man cleanse his way? The word way is Orach and it speaks about a man’s path or the direction he takes in life. David is asking how do I keep my foot on the correct path, the pure path, the path that leads to God. He immediately answers the question, and this is what we will explore.
His answer is simple by living according to your word. There is more of course but the rest is directions on how to go about performing that simple task.
Verse 10 begins, I will seek you with all my heart. David recognized something that is absolutely essential. David wanted to know his God and that required steadfastness, or if you like purpose combined with determination. I will absolutely seek you with all my heart. Nothing will hinder me on this quest to know you. The KJV says, with my whole heart. David was commited to this cause, I will seek you!
David now goes on in verse 11 to recognize a second and very important element in this process of getting to know God. That is that he must have a source from which he can learn about him. He says, I have hidden your word in my heart… How can you know about someone? By what is written about that person, especially if what is written is an autobiography and the one who is writing is absolutely truthful. God is, and the Word is His autobiography to mankind. David understood this and said I will treasure that word and I will store it in my heart. How do you store knowledge in your heart? By learning it, memorizing it, meditating on it. David was committed to learning that word. And Why?
That I might not sin against thee. Sin separates us from God and David wanted to get as close as he could to God. So sin had to be eliminated as best as he could. He did this by treasuring God’s word and keeping it.
Thirdly when one is trying to learn about something it is often handy to have a teacher and David recognized this as well.
He said, “Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me thy decrees. David took a rather straightforward approach to this need. He said in effect, they are your statutes, Lord you teach me. Isn’t that bold. He recognized his need for an instructor and said what better instructor could there be then the one who penciled the instructions.
Fourthly, David said something that we need to realize is absolutely essential.
Ps 119:16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
Did you see it? He was committed. I will not neglect your word, I will perform all that you have said. I’ll do it, is what we would say today.
Let’s just briefly review: 1 I am dedicated to the proposistion that I want to know you more. 2 I need a source of instruction 3 I need an instructor. 4 I am committed to perform all that I’ve learned. David was dedicated to the proposition that he wanted to follow paths that lead to God and thus he dug out the instruction manual. In this case the books of Moses and perhaps some of the stories that he had learned from the stories of Joshua and the Judges. He took that instruction to heart, learning it and memorizing it. He asked God to make his understanding to be fruitful, to instruct him; and make him wise. Then he committed himself to a course of action. I will do it.
The premise in Ps 119 was blessed are they who keep your testimonies and that seek him with the whole heart. The process was natural. I will do it. I will read your word and learn it. I will listen for the voice of your Holy Spirit. I will commit myself to follow that which I have learned. The remainder of Psalms 119 the longest chapter in the Bible is simply restating over and over again the same basic premise. I will, I will, I will, I will do it. Here is just a sampling:
Ps 119: 24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.
Ps 119: 33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. 35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
Ps 119: 48 I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.
Ps 119: 56 This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.
Ps 119: 64 The earth is filled with your love, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
Ps 119: 81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.
Ps 119: 97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
Ps 119: 98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. 100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. 101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. 102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Nun 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. 106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. 107 I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word. 108 Accept, O LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.
Ps 119: 166 I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands. 167 I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. 168 I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.
We could easily just write out the entire 176 verses but this sampling should do.
What was true then is still true today. A man could learn a lot by reading it. If you want your path to God to be clear and resolute then you must take to heart what David knew back then. And we have something David didn’t have now. We have the whole counsel of God. We have the Old and the New Testament some 66 books containing concepts of God that not even David had available to him in that day. We have the books of the prophets. We have the Proverbs of Solomon. More is revealed about God, by God in the book of Isaiah then in any other book in the OT. We have the story of Christ contained in the 4 Gospels, the wisdom of Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude. David would have delighted to have been able to read these writers works. And yes we have available the Holy Spirit to guide and teach and lead us in the paths of righteousness.
Can you get dedicated to walking those paths. If you are sincere in wanting to, then you will read your Bible, pray asking for discernment, and you will commit yourself to following after that goal. The goal is simple, I want to know you Lord. The path, that takes work, and steadfast commitment. Think about it. Then do it.
A More Complete Knowledge
Rom 1: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Rom 1: 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
This is perhaps an interesting start to a chapter which purports to be dealing with a more complete knowledge. I think, however that it is important to establish a NT precedent that is comparable to Hosea 4 & 6, before we begin. Paul in writing to the Romans says clearly that God has made it possible to understand and know Him just from the evidence that surrounds them, but for some reason they do not even think it worthwhile to retain such knowledge so God has given them over to a depraved mind. Who has done this thing? God has. These men are now without excuse and await a terrible judgement to come, as we shall see.
Paul poses an interesting question in Romans and we need to follow through with it. Let’s take a look at Pauls question to the Jews in Chapter 2 of Romans.
Rom 2: 17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-- 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
Paul in talking to the Jews about the law asks a very basic question. You say you know God and brag about relationship with Him. You claim to have superior knowledge, but do you keep the law.
Remember when we talked about the path to God we said that commitment to the course you were on was a part of that process of knowing Him.
Now these questions he posed were rhetorical in nature in that Paul already knew the answer. The answer was simply, they were not. Yet let’s not be quick to pull back our bow strings and point our arrows of scorn at these Jews.
2Co.13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…
Paul is asking an interesting question, are you living according to what you know? Are you being obedient to the truth that you have?
We are about to embark on a journey of knowledge which will reveal more truth concerning who God is and reveal more knowledge about God then David ever had available to him. Are you desiring to be identified as a man after God’s own heart? Then be aware that you are without excuse if embarking on this journey you learn that your life just might need some Holy Spirit rearranging and then you fail to commit yourself to that path. God is looking for a man or a woman after His own heart, and that is sure to produce change in the life of the individual who sets himself upon that course.
Micah 6: 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.