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The Scriptorium

The Price of Liberty

Be vigilant. Always. Psalm 119.95

Psalm 119.89-96 (5)

Pray Psalm 119.95.
The wicked wait for me to destroy me,
But I will consider Your testimonies.

Psalm 119.95, 96.
Be Still, My Soul)
The wicked lie in wait to trouble me, but to Your testimonies I will cling!
In them perfection I delight to witness, to know the peace and joy to me they bring.
Your holy Word is broad exceedingly; my faith, my trust, my hope in You I sing!

Read Psalm 119.89-96; meditate on verse 95.


1. What were “the wicked” trying to do?

2. How did the psalmist intend to protect himself?

Thomas Jefferson is often cited as the author of that oft-heard sentiment, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Many have used that quote throughout the years, typically as a political call for a strong national defense. But the true origin of the saying is from Irish patriot John Philpot Curran (1750-1817). His original version demonstrates the spiritual truth appealed to in Psalm 119.95: “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”

Count on it: Spiritual forces of wickedness and enemies of the Gospel will be unrelenting in their quest to turn you from the Lord and His Law and take you captive for sin. And they can be very subtle; hence, Peter’s call for vigilance against their wiles and assaults: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5.7).

The psalmist tells us where resistance to these assaults and victory over them can be found. The NKJV translation “consider” is too weak for the Hebrew verb, אֶתְבּוֹנָֽן et-boh-NAHN. The reflexive form of the verb implies the kind of sober and vigilant considering that Peter commends, not just a casual “Yeah, I thought about it.” I would translate this “attend to” or “be diligent about” to indicate the seriousness with which this psalmist turned to the “testimonies” of the Lord – His Law and Word – to find the wisdom, guidance, promises, and power to stay on the pathway of the Lord.

This is a full-time calling: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5.15). We’ll have to fight to preserve the liberty we have in Christ Jesus, and that fight begins in vigilance and clinging to God’s Word.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
As we have seen, there is a stronger side to the word consider. It has determination. As in, “I will love You, O LORD, my strength” (Ps. 18.1).

So to say, “I will think about God and His Word instead of thinking about the wicked”, would be fair. I am determined not to dwell on the wicked. I am determined to dwell on the precious promises of God.

Wisdom, in God’s Word, speaks to us:
“Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things;
for my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; nothing crooked or perverse is in them.
They are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge” (Prov. 8.6-9).

Those words. Yes, on those, I will determinedly think. Nothing, and no one, will destroy me when I consider God’s care for me, His righteousness, His understanding, and His knowledge.

“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men…” (1 Pet. 2.15).

Our determined faith is in the Creator whose Word is faithfully settled. The heavens and the earth abide because His commands are obeyed here as they are there. All creation are His servants (Ps. 119.89-91).

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Ps. 8.3, 4)

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Is. 26.3).

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1.7).

Determined to attend to and be diligent about Him. In all His glory. In His Word.

For reflection
1. What can you do to make sure that you will always “consider” God’s Word when temptations or trials arise?

2. What can Christians do for one another to make “considering” God’s Word a fruitful, daily discipline?

3. Whom will you encourage today in this work of “considering” God’s Word? How?

To consider God's testimonies is, in this place, equivalent to applying our minds to the word of God, which sustains us against all assaults, effectually allays all fears, and restrains us from following any perverse counsels. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.95

Pray Psalm 119.89-91.
Call on the Lord to help you know His Presence with you throughout the day. Thank Him for His faithfulness and for all the provision He makes for you throughout the day. Keep your focus on Him as you go into your Personal Mission Field.

Psalm 119.89-91.
Be Still, My Soul)
Forever, Lord, Your Word abides in heaven; Your faithfulness to every age is sure.
You made the earth; to us it has been given, and it abides, because Your Word is pure.
All of creation serves Your holy pleasure, thus we, Your servants, by Your grace endure.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Psalm 119 by clicking here.

What is the Law of God and how should we learn and obey it? Two books can help. The Law of God arranges the statutes and precepts of God’s Law under their appropriate number of the Ten Commandments. This book is an excellent tool for meditating on God’s Law and thinking about its application in our time. The Ground for Christian Ethics, on the other hand, explains why the Law matters and how we are to use it. You can order free copies of each of these here and here.

If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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