Psalm 119 – Zayin

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Scripture Text – Psalm 119

The emphasis in this the longest psalm, and the basic theme, is on the vital ministry and practical use of the Word of God in the inner spiritual life of God’s children. It describes how the Word enables us to grow in holiness and handle the persecutions and pressures that always accompany an obedient walk of faith.

The Word of God performs many wonderful ministries in the life of the devoted believer. If we delight in His Word, learn it, treasure it within, and obey what it says, the Lord will work in us and through us to accomplish great things for His glory! Circumstances may change, but God and His Word remain the same.

Zayin – The Ministry of Memory

Please read Psalm 119:49-56 for the background to this section.

If the psalmist was a priest or a Levite, and he probably was, then he was required to be an expert on the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy means “second law.” The book records Moses’s “farewell speech” that he gave to prepare the new generation of Israelites for the conquest of Canaan. After forty years of wandering, the nation would stop being nomads and would become settlers, but new generations would come along and be prone to forget the lessons of the past. In Deuteronomy, you find the word “remember” fifteen times and the word “forget” fourteen times. Some things in the past we must forget (Philippians 3:12–14), but some things we must never forget. “He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana).

God remembers His people. When applied to the Lord, the word “remember” means “to pay attention to, to work on behalf of.” Being omniscient, God cannot forget anything, but He can decide not to “remember it against us” (Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17). That is the negative side; the positive side is that He “remembers” to do us good and give us His blessing. He remembered Noah and delivered him (Genesis 8:1); He remembered Abraham and delivered Lot (Genesis 19:29); He remembered Rachel and Hannah and enabled them to conceive (Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:19). Remembering is not recalling, for God never forgets; it is relating to His people in a special way. The psalmist prayed that God would use the Word to work on his behalf. The writer had hope because of the promises God had given to him, and he prayed that those promises would be fulfilled. When Daniel found in the prophecy of Jeremiah the promise of Israel’s deliverance from captivity, he immediately began to pray for the promise to be fulfilled (Daniel 9). True faith not only believes the promises but also prays for God to work. In his believing and praying, the writer found encouragement and he did not abandon his faith or run away from his problems. He was revived with new life!

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His people remember God’s Word. How could this spiritual leader know the “ancient laws” that God gave Moses centuries before? The nation had preserved the Word (Deuteronomy 31:24–29) and taught it to each new generation (Deuteronomy 4:1–14), and this is the obligation of the church today (2 Timothy 2:2). Unless the Word of God is honored, taught, and obeyed in a church, that congregation is one generation short of extinction. The psalmist was indignant at what the “wicked” were doing as they abandoned Israel’s spiritual heritage, and he wept over their evil deeds. Anger alone can be very destructive, but anger plus love produces anguish, and anguish can lead to constructive action. His response was to turn God’s statutes into songs and to use the Word to praise the Lord (see also Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). He did not consider God’s law a burden to bear; he saw the Word as a blessing to share—and he sang it! Praise that is not based on the truth of Scripture is unacceptable to the Lord. We are on a difficult pilgrimage from earth to heaven, and we need God’s songs to encourage us and to help us witness to others along the way (Acts 16:22–34). We are strangers on the earth, and the Bible is our guidebook to this world and to ourselves.

His people remember His name. The name of God—Jehovah, Yahweh—is full of meaning and power. To translate it only as “I AM” is to miss much of the dynamic that it contains (Exodus 6:1–3). God’s name Yahweh speaks not only of His existence and His eternality, but also of His sovereignty, His power, and the dynamic working out of His will in this world. The ancient Jewish people so revered His name that they feared to use it and substituted Adonai, lest they sin against their God. In the book of Psalms alone, there are more than one hundred references to the name of the Lord. We are to love His name (Psalm 5:11), sing praises to His name (Psalms 7:17; 9:2; 18:49), and glorify His name (Psalm 29:2). It is through His great name that we triumph over our enemies (Psalms 44:5; 54:1; 118:10–12), so we should always call on His name for help (Psalm 116:4, 13, 17). To remember His name is to encourage our hearts to trust Him, obey Him, and not be afraid. “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10.

To remember God’s name is to ask Him to remember us and work on our behalf. We must do this when we are in the darkness and afraid, or when we are lonely and discouraged (Psalm 42:6). “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10. If you want to know how strong His name is, be sure to imitate the psalmist and make it your practice to trust and honor His name in every aspect of life, not just during emergencies.

To Be Continued

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Adapted and modified excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Exultant, “Be” Commentary Series.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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