Guarding the Word

“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119:2)

In the remarkable 119th psalm, there are 176 verses (the longest chapter in the Bible) and 176 references to the written Word of God. Eight different Hebrew words are used for the Scriptures, respectively translated (in the King James Version) “law,” “testimonies,” “precepts,” “statutes,” “commandments,” “judgments,” and two words translated “word” or “words.” Furthermore, this psalm contains 28 admonitions to “keep” the Word, and these are applied to each of the above eight aspects of the Scriptures. The first is in our text, where we are exhorted to keep His testimonies. Note the others also in the following examples.

“Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently” (v. 4); “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” (v. 5); “Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word” (Hebrew dabar, v. 17).

“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law” (v. 34); “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” (v. 60); “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments” (v. 106); “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Hebrew imrah, v. 67).

This means much more than simply obeying His commands, though this is certainly included. Both words translated “keep” or “kept” in the 28 admonitions noted above basically mean “guard” or “preserve,” as in Psalm 41:2, where both words are used: “The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive.”

In these verses and many others throughout the Bible, therefore, we are commanded not merely to obey and proclaim God’s Word, but also to guard, preserve, and defend it against all its many enemies. HMM

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