Psalm 119:1–8, 137–144 comment (0)
February 6, 2014
By Thomas L. Fuller
Related Scripture: Psalm 119:1–8, 137–144
Bible Studies for Life
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Why Should I Trust the Bible?
Psalm 119:1–8, 137–144
“Jesus loves me — this I know — for the Bible tells me so.” The words of this familiar children’s song express a truth that is foundational to believers of all ages: that it is only through the revelation of God’s Word in Scripture that we learn the truth about God, ourselves and the good news of Jesus Christ. But the trustworthiness of the Bible is an assertion we can only make by faith, by first acknowledging that Holy Scripture “has God for its author” (Baptist Faith & Message). This is the perspective of the psalmist, whose devotion to God’s law is soundly rooted in his love for the Lord.
Verse 137 perfectly illustrates this truth: “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” For the psalmist, the reliability of God’s Word is far from being a matter of academic speculation; it is the testimony borne from life experience, especially from his difficulties (139, 141, 143). In times of trouble, he has put God’s promises to the test; in times of persecution, he has remained mindful of God’s precepts; in times of anguish, he has delighted in God’s commandments. His verdict? The Lord is righteous, true and trustworthy, therefore God’s Word, in its various forms, are right and true.
It is only as we put God’s Word to the test that we can boldly proclaim its reliability. As the psalmist did so, his faith increased. The criteria for his conclusion were not being spared from troubles or having his circumstances substantially changed. But God, through the agency of His word, was faithful to uphold him, to bring him peace and to sustain him through life’s trials. In the closing verse of the passage, he prays, “Give me understanding that I may live.” While there will always be things we do not fully comprehend, and no end to questions for which we want definitive answers, God is faithful to provide just what we need through the agency of His Word and His Spirit.
The blessing of knowing God’s Word to be true and trustworthy is just that: a blessing that God alone can bestow. He does so as we “walk according to the law of the Lord,” as we “keep His statutes,” as we fully obey His precepts and decrees. This is not a righteousness based on works; right standing before God is not the matter in view here. Those who follow God’s Word and seek to do God’s will are “blessed,” i.e. they know the peace and joy that far surpass temporal happiness. Just as the psalmist prayed that he might be “steadfast” in keeping the Lord’s statutes, we too should seek with all our hearts to walk in the way of the Lord. Only then will we know the full measure of God’s goodness and the abundance of life only He can give. Only then will our worship of God become more than an event in which we participate, but a distinguishing mark of our lives.
Seeking to answer the question, “Why should I trust the Bible?” is futile apart from devotion to God and faithful obedience to the precepts and commands He has given in His word. Doing so may bring some measure of knowledge, but it will never bring understanding. Likewise professing faith in God’s Word is only pious rhetoric unless accompanied by obedience to it. Skeptics consistently seek to determine the Bible’s reliability on the basis of rational criteria, but the Lord in His wisdom has established the truth of His word as a blessed discovery one can only make by walking the path of faith. Hence Jesus’ first words to the disciples were not, “Do you believe the Bible?” but “Follow me.”