Every Word. Living by Every Word from His Mouth

Deuteronomy 8:3 says that the God of Israel, . . .

“humbled you and let you be hungry and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.”

Jesus quoted this very verse when he was tempted in the wilderness by Satan (Matthew 4:4). Look at it again. We don’t live by bread alone, we live by everything that proceeds from the mouth of Yahweh. Absurd right? Clearly people live without the word of God. I know tons of people who live without the word of God. Truth be told, I know tons of people who live their lives without any reference or attention to the word of God. So what is being said here? What does it mean that we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God?

Well, here are two options, both of which I think make sense.

One, listen to what the apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:17:

“He is before all things,
And in Him all things hold together.”

Here the apostle Paul seems to be saying that Jesus holds the world and all that is in it by the word of His power. Indeed, the writer to the Hebrews writes those exact words in the first chapter of his letter. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrew. 1:3).

But that’s not what I think is meant here. It may be an option but I think there is a second and better option.

Second, we LIVE by every word that comes from the mouth of God. That is, we really live only when our lives are lived in compliance with the will of God as revealed in His word. Frankly, this makes perfect sense. God loves His people and wants them to flourish so He gives guidance to His people in how we are to live. The Bible calls this guidance hochma or wisdom.


hochma, the Bible’s word for wisdom, could be defined this way, “living in such a way that God receives maximum glory and humans gain maximum flourishing.” We live, we really live when we live the way that God intended for us to live, in a vital and living relationship with the greatest being in the universe—-Yahweh, the Lord of host. Which leads me to a pivotal verse in psalm 119.

Psalm 119 is an extraordinary psalm. First it is the longest psalm in the Bible—-a hundred and seventy-six verses long. Second, is a piece of art. In each 8-verse stanza of 16 lines, the odd numbered lines each begin with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So the first stanza has 16 lines, 8 of which that begin with “aleph”, and the second stanza 16 lines and eight lines that begin with “beth” and so on, all the way through the alphabet. This is almost impossible to do since in Hebrew, the letter “vav’ has almost no words that begin with it! Since the alphabet only has 22 letters, you have 88 verses in the first half and 88 verses in the second half. Which means that the last verse of the first half and the first verse of the second half are the middle two verses of the psalm.

A well know oddity of the psalm is that all but two verses, mention the word of God in some way. (See if you can find them!) But let’s look at those two middle verses.

88 In your lovingkindness give me life,
    that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.
89 Forever, O Lord, your word
    is firmly fixed in the heavens.

One verse, the ending verse of verse 88 is a prayer that asks God, on the basis of  His lovingkindness to give life, and ties that life to obedience to God’s testimonies. So the psalmist is asking God to help him obey so that his life is substantive. One verse, (89) the beginning verse of the second half, declares that the word of God is “firmly fixed”, i.e., established, settled, and unchanging, “in the heavens.”  So the middle verses of the entire psalm point to value of every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  

Remember that.
Live by that.

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