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Psalm 119:161–68

“I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law” (vv. 162–63).

Armies in the ancient world, just like many armies today, did not simply leave the city after the battle was over. Instead, they would take booty or spoil or treasure from the city. This wealth could include things such as silver and gold, valuable livestock, precious jewels, and other treasures, and the prospect of gaining such riches could be a valuable incentive to encourage soldiers to join the fight. Enjoying access to a large amount of treasure could change one’s life, so there was great rejoicing on the part of an army when it discovered a great deal of wealth after a battle. This was a reality even for the armies of Israel. God permitted them on many occasions to possess the treasure they found after an expedition (Deut. 20:14b).

In light of this background, we can see that the Word of God is described in today’s passage as nothing less than a great treasure. The psalmist remarks that he rejoices at the Lord’s Word “like one who finds great spoil” (v. 162). His response to the Scriptures indicates their tremendous value. They are to be treasured just as one might treasure a financial windfall that improves one’s economic status forever. Yet ultimately, Psalm 119 reveals that God’s Word should be treasured far more than material wealth. The psalmist sees the law of the Lord as better “than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (v. 72). This sentiment finds support in the teaching of Jesus. Even the finest earthly treasures are susceptible to theft and destruction. In other words, they do not last forever. However, the treasures we store up in heaven can never be lost (Matt. 6:19–21). If we build our lives on the solid foundation of God’s Word, the rain and winds may come, but they will not take away our reward (7:24–27).

That God’s Word is eternal explains why those who love it have “great peace” and “do not stumble” (Ps. 119:165). The surety of the Lord’s promises means that He will not and cannot fail to vindicate His servants (135:14). Others who endeavor to do what is right but do not love God’s Word are apt to fail when the pressure is on to do what is evil. They have no confidence that they will be rewarded for righteousness in the end, so it is easier to give in and compromise their principles. Those who love the Lord’s Word, on the other hand, are in a better position to stand for what is right and true. They know that any suffering they face for doing so is but temporary, for God will bless them in the end.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

If we are wise, then we will treasure the Word greatly just as the author of Psalm 119 did. Wise people put the most value in those things that endure, and nothing is more enduring than the Word of God. After all, it comes from and is sustained by the eternal Lord of creation. With the many distractions life sends our way, it is easy not to treasure God’s Word, so let us pray that the Holy Spirit would enable us to see the true value of the Scriptures.

For Further Study
  • Job 23:11–12
  • Psalm 19:7–10
  • Mark 13:31
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Humility of Understanding

Joyful Living in Light of Death

Keep Reading The Christian Sexual Ethic

From the November 2015 Issue
Nov 2015 Issue