Psalm 119 is an exaltation of the excellence of the Word of God. It is the longest of all the psalms (176 verses) and the longest chapter in the Bible. Some have called it the “Mt. Everest” of the Psalms, as it takes us to the very heights of God’s Word. And I feel that the 19th stanza (verses 145-152), which we are looking at this week is the crest of that mountain.
In this passage the psalmist is in prayer, and we are given a glimpse into how he prayed, why he prayed, when he prayed, and what his prayers were about. But most of all we learn about the important interconnection between prayer and God’s Word. Studying this short portion of Psalm 119 has been a great inspiration in my own prayer life. I hope it will be for you too.
145 I cry out with my whole heart;
Hear me, O Lord!
I will keep Your statutes.
146 I cry out to You;
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
148 My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.
150 They draw near who follow after wickedness;
They are far from Your law.
151 You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
152 Concerning Your testimonies,
I have known of old that You have founded them forever.
The psalmist’s prayers are whole-hearted, not half-hearted. He cries out to God (119:145, 146, 147) with his whole heart and in humble submission to God’s word (I will keep Your statutes, 119:145).
The psalmist prays to be saved (119:146), saved from error, saved from sin, saved from following his own selfish desires - saved from all these things so he would keep God’s Word (Your testimonies, 119:146).
The psalmist gets up early to pray, before the dawning of the morning (119:147), with hope in his heart - a hope anchored to God’s word (119:147). He continues to pray through the night watches (119:148) as he meditates on God’s word, the source of His hope.
He prays for God to hear his voice according to His lovingkindness (119:149). He does not ask to be heard because he is deserving but because of God’s lovingkindness. This is the Hebrew word “hesed”, a word intimately connected to God’s love for His people. It encompasses a gentle, unchanging, loyal love. Hesed is a grace that overlooks sins, imperfections, and unworthiness and it is an integral part of the Jewish “tikkun olam”, meaning “repair the world”, a concept that calls God’s people to responsibility in establishing “Godly qualities throughout the world.” God’s hesed is something that none of us deserve but all of us desperately need if we are to shine forth Godly qualities in our own lives. We learn about hesed in God’s Word and we come to experience it through prayer (like the psalmist’s) along with a hope that is anchored in God’s Word.
The psalmist went on to pray for God to revive him (119:149), to give him more life and give it in the way He judged best. The psalmist was aware of the ungodly who were all around him. He knew they were up to no good and had no love for God’s word - no desire to obey Him (119:150). But he was also aware that God was near to him and he had the strong conviction that His word is truth (119:151).
And so the psalmist prays with great confidence in God’s eternal and unchanging word (119:152). I have known of old probably means the psalmist had been learning about God’s word since he was young. He has learned from experience that it is true and forever, like a mountain that is immovable and eternally the same.
Through the centuries and down into the 21st century, there have always been those who try to water down God’s Word, find some new “interpretation”, or read their own ideas into it (eisegesis). But God’s Word, as the psalmist has discovered for himself, is unchanging. GOD'S WORD NEVER CHANGES! So will you cling to it, trust in it, and pray for the wisdom, strength, and purity of life to live by it? His Word and prayer are two precious gifts God has given us to help repair ourselves and repair the world.
With much love for God’s Word and thankfulness for prayer,
It seems that we hear a great deal about “fake news” these days, doesn’t it? If you regularly read the newspaper, watch network news, or spend much time on the internet, you've probably encountered some of it yourself. However, if you do much reading about history, you probably know that “fake news” is really nothing new. The news media has often been controlled, or at least swayed, by the pressure of politics or special interest groups, and even if we, the public, are not fed “fake news”, we are often denied the full truth. For those who value truth, this can be frustrating, even disheartening. How do we know for sure that what we read is true? Who can we count on to be right? All the time!!
We have been learning the answer to that question in making our way through Psalm 119. The psalmist has been lifting up God’s word as being trustworthy (119:42), sweeter than honey (119:103), the rejoicing of his heart (119:112), and a light to his path (119:105). He has found it to be the way of truth that keeps him from the way of lying (119:29-30), and the standard that keeps him from sin (119:11). God’s word teaches him good judgment and knowledge (119:66), makes him wiser than his enemies (119:98), and gives him more understanding than all his teachers (119:99). The psalmist’s conclusion about God’s Word is: all Your precepts concerning all things, I consider to be right (119:128) and God’s word is forever…. settled in heaven (119:89).
In the stanza we’re looking at this week, verses 137-144, the psalmist describes God’s word as being righteous and upright (119:137), faithful (119:138), and very pure (119:140). He proclaims, Your law is truth and Your testimonies are righteous forever (119:142, 144). It is in understanding God’s word that the psalmist finds life (119:144).
137 Righteous are You, O Lord,
And upright are Your judgments.
138 You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.
139 My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.
140 Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.
143 Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.
I hope, in this world of uncertainty, these words of the psalmist will assure you and uplift your soul. In a world where words are often vague, misleading, and disingenuous, those who fear God and follow Jesus Christ have an inexhaustible source of pure, untainted truth in God’s Word. Everything we find in God’s Word is righteous and fully trustworthy (119:138, NIV). When the psalmist says it is very pure, he means it has been tried, it has been tested, and it has been found to be free of all impurity. It is inerrant in all it says. It is incapable of being false. It is undiluted, unalloyed, clean, fresh, sparkling, one hundred percent truth.
At the end of the day, we do not find our life in news reports, whether true or “fake”. We find life in understanding the Word of Truth, the Holy Bible. And when we read and understand it, God’s Word becomes our delight in times of trouble (119:143). We come to love the Word because it strengthens us when we feel weak and small and despised in a world that has turned its back on God’s truth (119:139, 141). Won’t you take to heart what the psalmist is telling us? Each day, let it be God’s Word that teaches you, guides you, molds you, and uplifts you. Do not be swayed by those who have forgotten His words (119:139). It is God’s Word that will light your way and lift your soul.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.