John Nunnikhoven is a member of The Fellowship of Ailbe and has begun working toward what, Lord willing, will become a re-awakening of the Church as a body directed into living the Kingdom in the here and now as it awaits the yet to come.
Books by John Nunnikhoven
My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?” For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute? The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law.
All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.
Look at the progression that the Psalmist makes from the longing and despair to an air of progress to the fist shaking joy of the final sentence. It shouts with a sense of the reaping of the joys of the LORD’s testimonies.
Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies. May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame!
What a packed stanza. The first segment focuses on the Psalmist’s acknowledgement that the source of all his being originates from the LORD, God, the Almighty. Look at that last phrase, “that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” Do I ever stop, take a moment to thank and praise the LORD for the mess that I gotten myself into, to acknowledge that many times I needed a “slap up along side the head.” Midwestern slang!
Now look at the second stanza. It drips with the many acknowledgements of the LORD’s goodness. Join with me as I list these wonderful gifts:
- His promised steadfast love comforts me, without exception.
- His mercy is the source of my existence in its delight.
- He stands between me and the insolent, defending me from their falsehoods, leading me to meditate on His precepts.
- A plea to Him is that He will use me to lead others to Him.
- Finally, and most importantly, He will lead me into a blameless state before Him according to his statutes.
May the LORD, God, the Almighty bless you and keep you in the arms of His Love.
You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
How often, if ever, have I acknowledged that it was good for me to go through trials and tribulations? Never is a pretty good guess. I’m not one to revel in adversity. But there is a powerful lesson here, that I need to be very heedful of those times when “things don’t go to suit me and the world seems upside down.” (From an old nursery song) . That is the Holy Spirit calling, “Take heed, John, I’ve got a lesson for you, a lesson to help you learn to rely on the God-head’s goodness. We will carry you through the Slough of Despond but you must learn to trust us.”
Is the lesson intent to teach me that a very important element of Worship is trusting the LORD, God, the Almighty in all things? I must not assemble with my fellow saints while grumbling that the Trinity has let me down? I must examine my heart first, “Am I assembling with my brothers and sisters in an attitude of Thanksgiving and Worship?” If not, go and get my heart right with the LORD first. Then and only then, am I in a proper attitude of Worship.
The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules. I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts. The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!
Read Heth carefully, very carefully for it is a series of promises to the LORD, GOD the ALMIGHTY. “I promise...” Furthermore, I am calling on the promises to me. It is one thing for a worm to make a series of promises to the Almighty. It is quite another thing for that worm to demand that the Almighty keep His promises to the worm. Presumptive comes to mind!
Furthermore, these promises are made to the LORD in good faith. There was a custom in my childhood that if I made a promise to a friend with two fingers crossed behind my back, the promise was invalidated. DO NOT PLAY THAT GAME WITH THE LORD. If I promise to not forget His Law, I must do everything that’s possible for a frail human sinner to do to keep that promise.
Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.
I will keep your law continually, forever and ever, and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
The phrase that comes to mind as I let this stanza soak into my being is that it is it is a “Paean of Phrase.” Read it gently, slowly, then with passion chewing on each word and on others with similar meanings. Read it as you drop off at night so it will color your dreams.
Will Waw form a pattern in you as you approach each stanza of the 119th?
Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD. Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law. Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law, blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.
“Your promise gives me life” Look at that short phrase and the power that is imbedded in it!
- It is my protection against the derision of the insolent. A protection that enables me to walk in adherence to Your Word.
- Your rules have withstood the tests of time. They do not flitter with every gust that favors some new conception. Thus say the Lord—the same yesterday, the same today, the same tomorrow.
- What a blessing, when besieged by a bout of insomnia, to let the 10 Commandments flow over me and review the events of the day in the light of Your Word.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
We find another stanza that focuses our obedience on the directions of the LORD, God, the ALMIGHTY. In each statement the choice is mine! Will I obey or won’t I? He is willing and able to teach me, but am I willing to learn?
Look at this sentence “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Am I willing to allow Him to rate things? This is worthless, that is worth focusing on and making it a primary object of my relationship with Him?
Non-trivial, in fact of primary importance. So much so that it’s a stop the presses, we can go no further until we resolve the obedience challenge.
My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law. I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me, I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
Notice the force of the underlined phrase in the 1st paragraph. “MAKE me.” Doesn’t it jump out at you—it certainly does me. Our scribe is not pleading for understanding. He’s pleading for the LORD to take him in hand and transform him. He’s on his knees, begging for transformation.
Go through Daleth and put a check mark on every word or phrase that implies change/transformation. I get 11 or 12. We, like our scribe, need to be on our knees, pleading for the LORD’s favor.
Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from God, the Almighty.
I am struck by the beauty that is their Completeness. Rarely, very, very rarely does any work of man evoke the same emotion. Think of the endless shelves of law journals that pour out of our legislatures struggling to produce the same clarity that the the LORD produced in ten, simple, short statements.
A few works of art make the attempt. Rembrandt’s Night Watch comes to mind, as I stood before it almost 40 years ago. But it took a massive canvas to convey the story. Compare the 8 words in “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
How shall a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes. With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
I have been sitting, reading and rereading these 9 precious sentences. No, reveling is a better word! Praise the Lord, I have until the wee hours of Saturday morning before publication. However, one observation is already soaking in: These words, penned 2500 +/- years ago, were intended to be adsorbed, to become one with its readers. Look at the verbs, all summoning the reader into a personal relationship with this plan.
What does this have to do worshipping the LORD, the Almighty? Everything! It is a demanding call to enter into HIS Presence.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!
Lesson 1. We are commanded to keep the LORD, God, the Almighty’s precepts diligently. What’s a "precept"? How do I keep this diligently?
Precept—Alexa responds with “A rule or commandment for moral action”. Aha! My eyes are to be fixed (utterly attentive) upon the LORD, God, the Almighty’s commandments regarding my life as His representative. A tall order, indeed. And to be diligent in my pursuit of His Commandments. He is telling me that my #1 priority in life is know Him and His Word. NOTHING IS TO BE MORE IMPORTANT TO ME THAN TO BECOME CONVERSANT WITH HIS WORD!
I suspect that the Holy Spirit is going to provide more fuel for this fire in the coming days, but He has provided a very important ledge to jump from. I look forward to your reactions in the coming days as we process this leading together.
To start with a foundational conviction! The people of the Lord, God, the Almighty have been called by HIM for the sole purpose of praising HIM. To this end, He has provided the Holy Scriptures to guide us, His people, in every aspect of the proper form of Worship.
It is my intent to begin this study by examining Psalm 119 on a stanza by stanza basis, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal an understanding of the guidelines to Worship of the Triune God.
The plan is to publish each Saturday morning as an assist to our Lord’s Day Worship. The next step will be to apply the same approach to the other Psalms. Finally, the LORD permitting, an examination of the balance of the Holy Scriptures.
The English Standard Version will be the primary translation.