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,