169 Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word. 170 Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. 171 My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes. 172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. 173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts. 174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
When I truly look at God’s statutes, the commandments, and measure myself; when I meditate on this Word…I can’t help but be changed and realize how bad it is. How bad I am, how much I need Him, and how much I need to call upon Him. It wasn’t until I got into the Word regularly and God started opening my eyes that I understood deep down at a heart level just how sinful and flawed I was. And that understanding helps me to also see just a little of what David is saying in these verses today.
When I read this passage, I hear a man (the psalmist) calling upon God; but also a man singing praises. This passage is a prayer to the Lord and the focus of the psalmist’s prayer is on God’s wonderful ability to meet his needs as he trusted Him. I love all of Psalm 119 but when I read this passage it became personal!!! Because the needs of the psalmist are the same things I need. They are the same things you need.
What did Psalmist need? He said:
– I need Your Word. We never outgrow our need for God’s Word, no matter how long we walk with Him. There will always be something new. The psalmist asked for understanding and deliverance, for he knew that the truth would set him free (John 8:32)
– I need Your Hand. The idols of his world have hands that do not move or feel, but God’s hand is active on behalf of His people. His hand is righteous.
– I need Your salvation. Our ultimate salvation was found on the cross when Jesus died and then was put in that tomb and then raised on that third day. But I believe our need for His salvation means even more than that. Here salvation also meant deliverance from his enemies who were threatening him, but salvation can mean freedom from worry, healing from sickness, provision of funds to pay a bill or deliverance from satanic oppression.
– I need Your help. The writer prayed HELP ME earlier in verse 86 and isn’t that our cry. God’s hand can help us but so can His judgments. Judgments is another word for the Word of God, but it can also refer to the working of God’s providence in this world. The two go together because God always obeys His own Word when He works in this world. God helps us as He arranges the affairs of His world and our lives. He will accomplish His will.
– My Pastor (Jeff Johnson) said that the word “Tau” means “covenant” (an agreement between two people; to promise or pledge) and right in the middle of this prayer the Psalmist agrees to something. The Psalmist says, “teach me thy Word” and I will do two things: I will praise thee (my lips shall utter praise when thou has taught me thy statutes vs.171) and I will speak Your Word (my tongue shall speak of thy word vs. 172). Now that is a prayer God will answer. When you are in the Word you can’t help but let out that Word through your mouth. Study of the Word, preaching the Word, praise, and worship all belong together.
For years, I was good at doing. Doing specifically for God. I loved Him and I was grateful for His grace and I wanted to do something. I grew up learning the Bible…but the Bible, this Word hadn’t permeated my heart. I didn’t get it. And so, the doing took place of praise flowing out of my heart and onto my lips. There was no praise because there was not understanding, or admittance, of God’s statutes. It is not about our doing but we know we are not to just sit around doing nothing. God has a work He expects us to do on this earth. It says in Revelation 22:12 says,
When we meditate on the Word our hearts are changed and the overflow of our heart is love and the overflow of our love is praise and speaking His Word and then we DO…. God wants us to LOVE HIM and PRAISE HIM and then be obedient to what He tells us to DO but the doing comes as a “byproduct” of our love and praise from a heart that has meditated on His Word.
During the spiritual journey of the Psalmist that we read of in Psalm 119 we know that though he had many ups and downs, he always stayed himself on the Word of God. Now, how fitting is the last verse of 119? After 175 verses of proclaiming how great God’s Word is; how we treasure it; how we seek to follow with our whole heart, still the psalmist ended up saying and we also in our journey to be honest at times we must say… I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
– I need to know and declare, “I am Thy servant.” The psalmist admitted he had gone astray. He did not say that he had greatly sinned against the Lord or that he was rebelling. But even still, he had come to know through it all his own weakness and ignorance. I need to come to that place too. The servant had strayed BUT he knew he was still the servant of God and not the servant of sin, and he still remembered God’s Word and he has asked for help, so he won’t stray for long.
When the Word is opened to you because you have meditated on it and it becomes alive in your hearts too… you can’t help but realize that even though you too are prone to wander and stray and rebel…when you called upon Him for HELP He will come and in Him there is FORGIVENESS. ACCEPTANCE. LOVE. And that will bring you to your knees in worship. For WHO He is, and what He has done for us.
What is in your hearts today? Are praise and the Word pouring forth from your heart to your mouth? If not, why?
for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. ~ Luke 6:45