How Firm a Foundation!

Lamed (l) Stanza (89-96)

My wife and I recently watched a movie based on a true story of some young adventurers who went deep into the Amazon jungle. At one point, the party of four split up; two going out on foot, the other two built a raft and were going out by way of the river. The two who took the raft were unable to get off at a little beach before they hit vicious rapids, which threatened to take them into a canyon. The canyon promised certain death. In desperation they jumped out of the raft into the dangerous rushing waters, where they were pummeled by the violent waves. Drowning seemed imminent. But one adventurer was smashed into a rock. Upon contact, he held on for dear life. The rock was his salvation and enabled him to get safely to shore.

Spurgeon captures the contrast between the previous stanza (81-88) and this one (89-96), “After tossing about on a sea of trouble the psalmist here leaps to shore and stands upon a rock.”[1] Sometimes in God’s providence, the Christian is thrown against the rock of God’s Word and clings for dear life. But once to safety he often needs to return to that rock and remind himself of its properties which made it a firm, stable, and safe place in his time of trouble. The Psalmist does exactly that.

The Firm Foundation (89-91)

89 Forever, O Lord,

Your word is settled in heaven.

90 Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;

You established the earth, and it stands.

91 They stand this day according to Your ordinances,

For all things are Your servants.

God’s Word is an eternal Word, just as God Himself is eternal. God’s Word is settled, it stands firm, in heaven. Delitzsch notes, “It has heaven as its standing place and therefore also has the qualities of heaven, and before all others, heaven-like stability.”[2] What a contrast to the temporary and unstable things of earth.

We can have such incredible confidence in the eternal, sure, steadfast and faithful Word because God Himself is faithful. God’s faithfulness continues to all generations, that is, it is permanent. The Psalmist points to the establishment of the earth as proof. God made the earth and it stands because of His faithfulness; God gave His Word and it stands because of His faithfulness. There is no distinction between the character of God and the nature of His Word.

All things created by God stand according to His Word. “The heavens were made by the Word of the LORD, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth… He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence… The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation” (Psalm 33:6, 9, 11, HCSB). Everything exists to serve the Creator. It is this faithful God who has given us His Word.

The Word is our Delight and our Life (92-93)

92 If Your law had not been my delight,

Then I would have perished in my affliction.

93 I will never forget Your precepts,

For by them You have revived me.

There is strength when we delight it the Word. There is weakness, indeed, powerlessness, when we don’t. The Psalmist looks back on the tumult of his trials and he is certain that he would have been shattered into pieces but delight in the Word gave ballast to his soul on the stormy sea. He then confesses he will never forget God’s Word. Matthew Henry said, “The best evidence of our love to the Word of God is never to forget it.”[3]

The Word revived him, it gave him life. You can’t forget what has saved you. I know this firsthand. The day after my brain surgery my heart stopped. I sensed the presence and peace of God. “Lord, my life in Your hands,” was my constant refrain. My nurse, a man named Jeff, was among those who revived me and saved my life. This year, on the second anniversary of my surgery, Ariel and I went to UCSF Hospital and found Jeff. With tears I told him, “You may not remember me, but I will never forget you.”

How can a Christian forget the Word which has saved him? Which has given her comfort and hope? Which has brought correction and repentance? May we say to the Word of God, “I will never forget you.”

Salvation and Destruction (94-95)

94 I am Yours, save me;

For I have sought Your precepts.

95 The wicked wait for me to destroy me;

I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.

The Psalmist has confidence that he belongs to the Lord, therefore, with urgency he pleads, “save me.” He sees a powerful connection between the reality that he belongs to God and the direction of his life. That connection, relationship and direction, gives him a sense of anticipation of what God will do for him.

The next verse reminds us of his perpetual suffering. But instead of an imprecation at this point, he reorients himself to the Word and commits himself to its consideration. The wicked are there. They are always there. But they won’t get me to get my gaze off God’s Word.

The Perfection of the Word (96)

96 I have seen a limit to all perfection;

Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Everything on earth is limited. This is the Psalmist’s empirical observation about creation. It all has limits. But not so with the Word of God. God’s Word extends beyond the bounds of so-called perfection here on earth. It gives perspective on eternity, it is true in every part, nothing in it is tainted or corrupted. The Psalmist ends this stanza right where he began, the faithful reliability of God’s Word.

Application

The Word of God reflects the very character of God. It is eternal, it is perfect, it is settled, firm, and reliable. Like the God who gave it, it is faithful. In our times of crisis, we cling to the rock of God’s Word. When we are stabilized, we can step back and marvel at the beauty and wonder of the rock. We can explore the places where our fingers dug in, in desperation. We can examine the contours which provided safety. Spurgeon, in his wonderful way, said, “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.” The waves force on us the experiential reminder, “How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.”

[1] Spurgeon, II. 218.

[2] Delitzsch, 254.

[3] Henry, 705.