In the last post, we observed how David set a foundation for the importance of God’s word in our lives through his longest composition, Psalm 119. The entire Psalm is David’s love song for the word of God. We moved quickly through the first half and now we are going to zero in on the last section, Psalm 119:169-176.
Within this segment of 119, we will find encouragement as we are built up through the truths it contains. Let’s jump into the text.
Verse 169: Let my cry come before You, O Lord;
Give me understanding according to Your word.
Here we see David referring to the ‘word,’ and we will see it in the next verse as well. But, what I want to focus on, is that David is crying out to God. He’s not demanding that God make this understanding happen. Rather, he is asking in a way that shows he is living in reverence before his Creator. In a sense he is saying, “Here is my petition, and here is what I want from you.”
David wants understanding. According to what? According to the warm fuzzy feeling in his heart? No. According to a ‘special revelation’ download? No. He is asking for it according to God’s word. David wanted to grow in his understanding and knowledge and he wanted that growth to come through God’s word.
Verse 170: Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.
David is calling out to the Lord for deliverance, but an important point to see here is that David is not dictating how that deliverance should be accomplished. This might be a challenge for us when our own gut reaction is to say, “God, I’ve cried out to you and I want you to fix my problems…here’s how.”
David asks for God’s deliverance but he knows the avenue that deliverance comes through. God’s word. What does this mean practically for us? First, God’s word contains how he will deliver us. We can actually read the ways in which God will choose to deliver us. And second, we can rest assured that God’s deliverance is good, which is why David was longing for it.
This should be our prayer as well: Deliver me, Lord, according to your word.
Verse 171: Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.
Have you ever wondered what causes us to worship? What causes us to praise God? David is asking God to let his lips bring forth that praise—because of what God was teaching him through his statutes.
This is powerful. If you are struggling with how to praise God, if you are struggling with your heart not praising, then the answer is (as we saw in the last post) held within the word. Dive into God’s word. It will cultivate a sense of reverence within you. It will create in you the desire to praise God.Understanding the word of God will spark praise in our hearts. #biblestudy Click To Tweet
Look at David’s perspective in the second half of this same verse. He says, “Teach me your statutes.” Who is teaching the statutes? God is. This can be another challenge for us because some have the tendency to say, “That’s right. God teaches me what I need to know. I don’t need the Church. I don’t need the pastor. I only need God.”
While it is true that God tells us through his word that he will teach us his statutes, God also tells us through the same word that he has given us the Church, pastors, teachers, prophets, apostles, and evangelists in order to equip us.
It is merely stubborn pride that leads us toward any conclusion which would say, “I don’t need anybody outside of my own relationship with God.” In most cases, taking this path only leads to the individual believer’s detriment as they believe and live out wrong ideas.
We have established that God teaches us his statutes. But how does he do it? Through his word, through his pastors, through his teachers, through fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Through iron sharpening iron.
Instead of walking the arrogant path, we must plant our feet firmly on the path of humility. The humble path will lead to the knowledge and understanding that God’s ways are righteous. And this understanding will lead us to praise.Instead of walking the arrogant path, we must plant our feet firmly on the path of humility. God will teach us through his word and through each other. #christianliving Click To Tweet
Verse 173: Let Your hand be ready to help me,
For I have chosen Your precepts.
In my view, this is a very interesting verse. First, David has clearly told us that he chose something [God’s precepts]. He wanted to follow God’s precepts and had in fact chosen to do that very thing. But, he also asked for something [God’s help]. This might sound very give and take, and in actuality, it is. Give and take is a very real aspect to our relationship with the God of the universe. We see this in Hebrews when we are told that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
Our salvation is of God alone and we should all understand that. But, God is also a rewarder of those who seek him. Not only did the writer of Hebrews tell us this in the New Testament, but the writer of 2 Chronicles also told us this in the Old Testament (see 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may support those whose heart is completely His.”)
Both of these writers are reflecting the truth of the Shema in the Old Testament and Jesus’s words in the New:
Shema: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
God is actively looking for people who fulfill the Shema, who fulfill Jesus’s words. He is looking for them so that he can strongly support them. Why? Because he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. And this truth is why David could say in verse 173, “I am choosing your ways, Lord. Back me up when I need help. Help me when I need it because I have chosen your precepts.”Our salvation is of God alone and we should all understand that. But, God is also a rewarder of those who seek him. Click To Tweet
Verse 174: I long for Your salvation, O Lord,
And Your law is my delight.
This verse echoes an earlier verse (Psalm 119:166). What is David saying? He is repeating the same sentiment from verse 166. David placed his hope in God’s salvation while he followed God’s commands. David knew that salvation comes from God alone but he also knew that in light of mercy, God expects us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing. What does this tell us? For one, it tells us that David understood the Gospel better than we do today.
When was the last time we echoed these words? You’ve most likely heard someone say, “I love the word of God. I just don’t like it.” It’s time for the Church to repent. It’s time for us to say with David, “I long for your salvation, your law is my delight.”
In our final post, we will hit the last two verses of Psalm 119. These verses are powerful and will help rightly shape our view of the word of God. Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.