“Why God Fulfills His Promises When You Obey”

(Psalm 119:81-88)

I. Introduction.
A. Orientation.

Last time, we saw several reasons why we should obey God:

That’s why He made us.

To encourage others through our personal example.

To encourage others when they see the blessings God gives for obedience.

This evening, let’s look more closely at relationship between God’s promises and
our obedience.

Does He require obedience before He will give us His promises?

Why does He require this?

We’ll look at two things:

1. First, that God does fulfill His promises when you obey.

2. Second, why He requires obedience before He will.

II. Sermon.
A. First, God fulfills His promises when you obey.

Our passage shows a connection between obedience and blessing –

We saw earlier that the psalmist was under attack.

Here we see he also knew what he had to do

Before he could expect God to deliver him according to His promise.

1. He tells us he was growing progressively weaker under a very severe attack:

“My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word” (v. 81).

He wasn’t asking for eternal salvation – the assumption is he already had that –

But salvation from a temporal/physical enemy, as we’ll see below.

Trials that go on for a long time, without a break,

Can take their toll on your spiritual wellbeing.

This was the case with him.

And yet, he didn’t lose hope – why?

Because he was keeping his eyes on the Lord.

He was looking to Him, with the expectation that He would deliver him.

He had his eye on God’s promise.

Again, remember Faith’s Checkbook:

If God promises you something, you can ask for it and know He will give it:

Though sometimes, like the psalmist, you need to wait.

2. The next verse shows us the intensity with which he sought the Lord for this

“My eyes fail with longing for Your word, while I say, ‘When will You comfort
me?’” (v. 82).

He didn’t just seek the Lord – but sought Him with tears.

Most are only brought to tears when their hearts are strongly moved.

This was the case with the psalmist –

He really wanted the Lord to step in and deliver Him.

He intensely desired His salvation.

This is the kind of prayer the Lord answers:

The kind that takes hold of Him,

The kind that looks to Him and won’t let go until it receives the blessing.

We shouldn’t expect the Lord to hear and answer our prayers,

Unless we really want Him to.

If we’re not that interested, He’s not that interested.

Let’s be encouraged by this earnestly to seek the Lord for His blessings.

3. This attack was also taking its toll on his body:

“I have become like a wineskin in the smoke” (v. 83).

A wineskin, when it’s exposed to smoke, dries out/shrivels.

David talks about how his sin drained away his vitality/strength,

Like “the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:4).

Prolonged suffering can do the same to your health.

Some of you may know what he’s talking about –

It’s hard to live under that kind of pressure for very long

Without feeling its effects on your life.

4. This attack had been going on for some time.

The psalmist was beginning to wonder when the Lord was going to get involved

And put an end to it according to His promise.

He appears to have wondered whether He was going to survive it.

“How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on
those who persecute me?” (v. 84).

The Lord will often stretch us to the very limit

In the trials He has planned for us

Because if He doesn’t, we’ll never grow.

Don’t be surprised if your trials not only become more intense as you walk with

But also last longer.

5. Who were his persecutors? We’re only told in general terms:

They are characterized as the proud:

“The arrogant have dug pits for me, men who are not in accord with Your law”
(v. 85).

They were those who thought themselves above the Law,

Who were too full of themselves, too full of the world,

Too important in their own eyes to submit to God.

They sound a lot like Satan – Lucifer was too proud to submit to God, and so he
was cast down.

His children are just as he is – too proud to submit.

But so that we’re not tempted to do the same,

Don’t forget what the Law is: the true definition of love.

Whenever you don’t obey it, not only do you offend God

You also hurt your neighbor.

As we saw this morning, if you want to know Jesus – if you want to be like Him

You need to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

6. What specific form did their attack take?

Interestingly, it wasn’t a physical attack, but verbal –

The most common method the enemy uses:

“They have persecuted me with a lie; help me!” (v. 86).

Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

He uses lies – psychological warfare – against the saints.

You’ve probably lived long enough to know how debilitating slander can be,

When there are so many who tend to believe the lies –

Especially when they were close friends.

Be careful what you say about others,

The words you speak can be much more damaging than any physical pain you
might inflict.

The end result is that these lies almost did him in:

“They almost destroyed me on earth” (v. 87).

7. What was the psalmist’s response to this attack?

Did he grow bitter and resentful?

Did he retaliate? Return evil for evil?

Did he lie about them and slander them?

Try to get even?

It’s so tempting to want to do this when someone does it to you.

But he didn’t.

What did he do?

He remembered what God said to do: “I do not forget Your statutes” (v. 83).

Because He knew it was the right thing: “All Your commandments are faithful”
(v. 86).

He continued to obey, “But as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts” (v. 87).

And even asked for additional strength so he could, “Revive me according to
Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth” (v.

Why was he so intent on obeying under such a temptation to retaliate?

First, because he loved the Lord and wanted to honor Him.

But second, because he knew the Lord would only deliver him if he obeyed.

Obedience is the condition that must be met before the Lord will give what He
has promised.

B. Why does God require obedience before He will give you what He promised?

Is it because He requires payment?

Do His blessings have to be earned?

1. From one perspective, the answer is yes.

He doesn’t give salvation apart from obedience –

This is true of both temporal and eternal salvation.

His righteous requirements had to be met before you could enter heaven.

But here again is the grace of God:

You didn’t have to meet those requirements or provide those works –

Jesus did it all and gives it to you as a free gift,

If you’ll only turn from your sins, trust Him and receive it.


The same is true with regard to all the blessings that flow from salvation:

They only come through obedience – but not your obedience.

Jesus has purchased them all for you – if you’re trusting Him.

2. And yet, from another perspective, even if you have been saved by Christ’s

You still need to obey if you are to receive them, for at least two reasons:

a. The first is the same reason you will obey if you are saved: evidence.

You’re not justified by your works, but you are not justified without them:

Your works are the evidence that you have trusted Christ –

Jesus makes all who trust Him good trees that bear good fruit (Matt. 7:17) –

He cleans your life up from the inside out by His Spirit.

Your obedience reveals that you are the heir of the promise of salvation –

As we read this morning in James, “Show me your faith without the works,
and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

What’s true of the promise of salvation is true with regard to the other

Your obedience shows they all belong to you –

So many who profess to know Jesus only want His promises –

They read the Bible only to see what they can expect God to give them.

They forget they must also obey.

Thomas Shepard reminds us that if you want to embrace the promises,

You must embrace the commandments/obedience as well.

It is the evidence that you’ve truly trusted Jesus –

And it too is purely of His grace.

If you don’t want to obey Jesus,

You also can’t expect Him to give you the promises, because you’re not His.

b. The second reason you need to obey, is one we’ve seen a great deal of

So I’ll only mention it in passing:

If you don’t obey, the Lord will often withhold His blessings as an act of

He typically doesn’t bless if you’re living in disobedience,

So that you will repent and begin again to obey.

One of the ways He disciplines is by bringing difficulty:

Why would He remove it, if the reason He brought it was to get you to

You must obey, if you are to expect to receive His promises.

You don’t even need to be in sin for this to happen,

If the Lord wants to teach you something,

He will bring the difficulty and expect you to hold fast to Him.

3. And so, if you’re experiencing difficult times,

Or looking to the Lord for some promise that He doesn’t seem to grant,

Examine yourself in these two areas:

Are you His child?

Are you trusting Jesus alone for your salvation?

Does your life show that you are?

The promises don’t belong to you until you do.

And are you obeying Him? Are you repenting?

He won’t give you the promise until you do.

If you have trusted Him and are obeying,

You can know He hears you.

John writes, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in
deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure
our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater
than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn
us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from
Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing
in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His
Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one
who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by
this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:18-

But remember, you may be doing what you need to do

And still not receive what He promised,

Because it isn’t the right time –

There may be something more He wants to teach you through the wait.

If that’s the case, seek to learn what He wants you to learn

And then He will give you what you have asked.

Let’s all be encouraged by this to love and trust Him more

That we might obey Him more.

The more you love Him, the more you will obey.

And the more you obey, the more you will see the fulfillment of His promises.

The key is love: don’t let your heart be divided between Jesus and anything

To the degree that it is, you will quench the Spirit’s work in your heart and
weaken that love.

If you want to receive God’s promises,

Then devote yourself to Him; delight in Him; and He will give you the desires
of your heart. Amen.


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