Psalm 119:72 – “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
One of my college professors had the most extraordinary home I’ve ever been in. The home was designed to look like a miniature European castle. It had a mote, a dungeon, a great hall with coats of armor, weapons, and more. It was kind of a spooky place.
In his dungeon was a treasure chest. The chest was overflowing with coins. It had the appearance of being full of gold and silver. I’ll never forget that treasure chest. When I asked him where all the coins came from he told me, “When I go to another country, I always visit the bank. I ask the bank if they have any coins that are no longer in use. (In the 1980s many countries changed their currency and were left with worthless coins.) I’ll give them $10 US and they will give me a bag full of coins.”
So, the coins, were worthless. But, the picture, was priceless. And, priceless is exactly how David would describe the the Word of God. It is more valuable to David than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. The average reader of David’s writing would have never seen that much wealth in his or her lifetime. So, the image that David is giving in Psalm 119:72, is that God’s Word trumps all. It is worth more than anything that the world will ever see.
Do you treat it that way? Tonight Heather Flies and I will be speaking to our volunteer youth staff. We’re talking about the heart of the youth worker. In preparation for tonight I looked on my bookshelf for one of the books in youth ministry that encouraged and developed my thinking on youth ministry back when I began. It’s called Back to the Heart of Youth Work, by Dewey Bertolini, and has long since gone out of print. I couldn’t find the book on my shelf, so I bought it for .99 on Amazon.com from a used book dealer. It was fun to reopen the pages of a book that meant so much to me early in my ministry. I love Bertolini’s book because of the first two chapters. These chapters deal with the personal spiritual condition of the youth worker’s heart.
In Chapter One, Bertolini talks about Psalm 119. While writing about Knowing God, Bertolini says, “Three clearly defined qualities characterize one who has a heart of knowing God. Each of these must develop in our own lives if we are to take the first step towards being good servants.
1. Constantly nourish yourself on the Word of God (1 Timothy 4:6).
Effective youth ministry must begin here. To attempt to lead a person spiritually while at the same time neglecting one’s own spiritual life would be a travesty. Any leader who fails to take nourishment daily from the Word of God will most certainly degenerate into a voice from a vacuum. It is much too easy and tragically too common to become so busy doing ministry that we forfeit the greatest privilege and most essential priority of all: our own personal walk with God.
Scan Psalm 119. It’s 176 verses express in the clearest of terms the psamist’s heartfelt commitment to the truth of the Word of God. Does your heart echo these same thoughts? ‘How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways’ (vs. 2-3). God’s ways, as expressed in His Word, are:
– to be kept diligently (v. 4);
– to be rejoiced in and delighted in (vv. 14, 16)
– filled with wondrous things (v. 18)
– our counselors (v. 24)
– a reviving force and strengthening power (vv. 25, 28)
– to be cleaved to and trusted in (vv. 31, 42)
– to be kept continually forever and ever (v. 44)
– to be proclaimed without any shame (v. 46)
– to be loved (v. 48)
– our comfort (v. 50)
– the songs in the house of our pilgrimage (v. 54)
– righteous judgments (v. 62)
– better than thousands of gold pieces (v. 72) – TODAY’S VERSE!
– faithful and forever settled (v. 86, 89)
– never to be forgotten (v. 93)
– making us wiser than our enemies (v. 98)
– giving us more insight than our teachers (v. 99)
– giving us more understanding than the aged (v. 100)
– sweeter than honey to our mouths (v. 103)
– a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths (v. 105)
– the rejoicing of our hearts (v. 111)
– our hope (v. 114)
– wonderful and longed for (vv. 129, 131)
– pure (v. 140)
– truth (v. 151)
– founded by God forever (v. 152)
– awesome (v. 161)
– the songs of our tongues (v. 172).
Let’s be honest. Does Psalm 119 accurately express our consistent attitude toward the Bible? Or do we tragically neglect God’s Word? In a world permeated by seducing spirits disseminating doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1), we servants of Jesus Christ must daily saturate ourselves with the truth of the Word of God. To do anything less renders us poor servants, having committed a sin of omission of gargantuan proportions.”
May all of us love God and His Word like this. May we recognize how awesome is the treasure that we have in it. May we become treasure hunters, never being content with less than knowing and loving God and His Word.
Thank You for the treasure of Your Word. You are more precious than all the gold, silver and wealth of this earth and all of the universe. Help us to love You like You long to be loved. Help us to grow to love Your Word more and more, every day.
In Jesus’ name,