(2) The second desire is found in Psalm 19:10 where we read, "More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." In verses 1-6 we have the witness of creation to the Creator. In verses 7-14 we have the witness of the law or the word of God. What is here said of the law is true of all the word of God. In Rom. 7:12 we read, "The law is holy ... just and good." The same is true of all of God's word. The first thing he says is, "The law of the Lord is perfect." It could not be otherwise since it is the law of Jehovah. The word "perfect" used here is the same Hebrew word used in Ex. 12:5, "Your lamb shall be without blemish." What is said of the Living Word (1 Pet. 1: 19) is equally true of the written word. Higher criticism has sought to find flaws, discrepancies, contradictions and inconsistencies in this blessed book and have found none. It is the unerring word of the eternal God. "Every word of God is pure" (Prov. 30:5). The word of God is perfect in these two aspects. It has no flaw and nothing can be added to it; it is complete. As we think of the various words used to describe the word of God, perfect, sure right, pure, clean and true, and what it is able to do for us, no wonder the psalmist expressed himself in these words, "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold." Anything the world has to offer is not to be compared to this blessed word. It is like the Lord Himself, it has no compeer
The man who wrote Psalm 119 expressed himself in a similar way in verses 20, 40, and 131. In verse 20 we read, "My soul breaketh (or is crushed) for the longing (desire) that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times.' Here we have intensity of desire. A constant longing desire for the word of God. This dear man indited by the Holy Spirit has much to say about the word of God. In verse 130 he says, 'The entrance (or opening) of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.' Reminds us of Luke 24 where the Lord opening the scriptures opened their understanding. In verse 105 we read, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." A sure guide will keep us from stumbling. In verse 1 1 we have these words, 'Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.' How necessary its preserving power over sin in our lives! Before we leave this lovely psalm let me draw your attention to verses 162 and 165. 'I rejoice at Thy word, as one that findeth great spoil" (verse 162). It has riches untold. In verse 165 we read, "Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them.' What a desirable condition of soul!
In 1 Pet. 2:2 we read, 'As newborn babes, desire (or long for) the sincere (or spiritual) milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." In the family of God we have babes, young children, young men and fathers, different stages of development and growth. If we would grow and continue to grow, then there must be that evident desire witnessed in the unweaned babe feeding at the mother's breast. Life has to be sustained, nourished and developed. This can only be so, as we feed upon the word of God. The last word Peter has to write by the Spirit of God is found in 2 Pet. 3:18, 'Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." May the Lord deepen and strengthen a real desire in our hearts to spend time with His precious word. This is one of the great lacks in our day; we spend so little time with this precious book, the word of God. Some we have known were spoken of as men of the Book. It is the most precious thing in the world; it is the eternal word of the living God. It is for ever settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). When heaven and earth have passed away this blessed word abides. It is the unerring, unchanging and unchangeable word of God.
Dear young brethren I would appeal to you, make time and spend time with this precious book. The Christ of God will become more precious to you, and your soul will be greatly enriched with the treasures of heaven. All else is mere tinsel and toy, soon to vanish for ever. Remember the words of the aged apostle to that younger man Timothy, his genuine son in the faith, "Be diligent in these things: give thyself wholly to them; that thy progress may be manifest unto all' (1 Tim. 4:15 R.V.).
(3) The third desire has to do with the house of God. In Psalm 27:4 David expressed these words, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in His temple." His desire was for the house of God, and the God of the house. The house of God in David's day was no ornate thing. It was the tent he pitched into which he brought the ark of the covenant. The ark was a symbol of the presence of God in the midst of His people and is a lovely type of the person of Christ. The house of God was the place of God's choice, where He was pleased to place His name.
This truth is brought before us very clearly in Deuteronomy. Israel is about to pass over the river Jordan into the land of promise, and Moses said, "There shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there ... Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes" (Deut. 12:11-14). That place evidently was Shiloh, which means rest or tranquility (josh. 18:1).
Approximately 270 years have passed when we come to the days of Eli recorded in I Sam. 1. What a change! The priests, the sons of Eli, were wicked men, sons of Belial. They knew not the Lord, so much so that men abhorred the offering of the Lord. By contrast we have Hannah's exercise and prayer and Samuel brought up to the house of the Lord as a little lad ministering to Eli, the high priest, then the ark taken into captivity never again to return to Shiloh. In Psalm 78:60-61 we read, 'He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among men; and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand."
God speaking to His people in the days of Jeremiah the prophet said, "Is this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? I, even 1, have seen it saith the Lord. But go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel" (Jer. 7:11-12). What happened in Shiloh was about to happen in the temple in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel exposes the awful condition of things in the temple, the house of God, and shows us the glory of the God of Israel departing. In Psalm 89:7 we read, "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him," and in Psalm 93:5, "Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh Thine house, 0 Lord, for ever." God hates sin, and we see that fully expressed on the cross. God cannot and will not dwell where sin is practiced or tolerated. God is holy and such is the character of God's house. In Psalm 122:1 David said, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into (or unto) the house of the Lord." There was no place more precious to the heart of David. He loved the house of God (Psalm 26:8).
In our New Testament God's local assembly is spoken of as the house of God. In 1 Tim. 3:15 we read, "These things write I unto thee ... that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is church of the living God, pillar and stay of the truth" (R.V.). Never let us forget this important truth; it is God's house, and all must be according to God and His word. It is the place where Christ is Lord, the presidency of the Holy Spirit and the absolute authority of the word of God acknowledged.
I have been in God's assembly for many years and despite weakness and failure, I never have had the desire for any other place. What has kept me and continues to keep me there is the fact that it is the place of God's choice, and the place where He has been pleased to place His name (Matt. 18:20). We desire to be there because He has promised to be in our midst. He is our gathering center; He is the center of attraction.
I wonder what God's assembly means to you? It means everything to the Lord. The man who penned Psalm 84 said, "A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand (out of them). I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" (verse 10). The writer of Hebrews gives us this exhortation, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is" (Heb. 10:25). Thank God we live in a land where we enjoy the liberty of gathering together without hindrance of any kind. It is different with many of our beloved brethren in Christ in some other lands. The desire is theirs to gather together, but the powers that be forbid them; and to try to do so means suffering, sometimes imprisonment, or labour camps and possibly other sadistic ways. Dear brethren, let us take full advantage of the privileges that are ours in this favored land.
To be continued