Scripture Text – Psalm 119
The emphasis in this the longest psalm, and the basic theme, is on the vital ministry and practical use of the Word of God in the inner spiritual life of God’s children. It describes how the Word enables us to grow in holiness and handle the persecutions and pressures that always accompany an obedient walk of faith.
The Word of God performs many wonderful ministries in the life of the devoted believer. If we delight in His Word, learn it, treasure it within, and obey what it says, the Lord will work in us and through us to accomplish great things for His glory! Circumstances may change, but God and His Word remain the same.
Tav (Tau) – Hear My Prayer!
Please read Psalm 119:169-176 for the background to this section.
Except for 174, each of the verses is a prayer to the Lord, and the focus is on His wonderful ability to meet our needs as we trust Him. The word “your” [“Thy”] is often repeated and helps us understand the requests the psalmist was making.
I need your Word. We never outgrow our need for God’s Word, no matter how long we have been walking with Him. There is always something new to learn and we often see new applications of old truths. Believers who boast that they “know the Bible from cover to cover” are only revealing how little they know about God’s Word, for we shall spend eternity learning from His Word. The psalmist asked for understanding and deliverance, for he knew that the truth would set him free (John 8:32). After learning the statutes of God, he began to praise the Lord, for study and worship belong together. After Paul discussed the wonderful decrees of the Lord (Romans 9–11), he broke out in worship and praise (Romans 11:33–36).
I need your hand. We all know that “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and therefore does not have a body with hands, feet, and so forth. In order to reveal Himself to us, He uses the familiar to explain the unfamiliar, and therefore the Bible describes Him in human terms. The hand of the Lord is mentioned only here in the psalm, but it is found many times in the book of Psalms. The idols of the heathen have hands that do not move or feel (Psalm 115:7), but God’s hand is active on the behalf of His people. We are the sheep of His hand (Psalm 95:7), an image that Jesus used in John 10:28–29.
I need your salvation. In his case, “salvation” meant deliverance from his enemies who were threatening him, but “salvation” can also mean freedom from worry, the healing of a sickness, the provision of funds to pay a bill, or deliverance from Satanic oppression. As we saw in verse 166, our ultimate salvation is the return of Jesus Christ to deliver all creation from the bondage of sin.
I need your help. The writer prayed “Help me!” in verse 86, but God’s people are always crying for help. “My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped.” – Psalm 28:7. God’s hand can help us, but so can God’s judgments. “Judgments” is a synonym for the Word of God, but it can also refer to the working of God’s providence in this world (Psalm 105:7; Romans 11:33). Of course, 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 this world and of our lives, for there are no accidents in the life of the believer—only appointments. Our Father watches over us and accomplishes His will (Psalm 23:3; John 10:4; Romans 8:28).
I am your servant. He did not say that he had greatly sinned against the Lord or that he was rebelling against God’s will. At this point, he felt his own weakness and ignorance and expressed it in terms that were meaningful to him. In verse 110 he affirmed that he had not strayed away, but now he realized the danger of feeling overconfident (1 Corinthians 10:12). During the spiritual journey recorded in this psalm, the psalmist had experienced his ups and downs, but he had always stayed himself on the Word of God, and he did this to the very end.
The psalmist opened the psalm with a benediction, but he closed it with a warning, and both are important to the balanced Christian life. God gives us promises and assurances so we will not despair, but He gives us warnings that we might not presume. He was still the servant of God and not the servant of sin, and he still remembered God’s Word, so he would not stray for long. The Good Shepherd would find him and lead him back to the fold. He would anoint his wounds with healing oil and give him a long refreshing drink of water (Psalm 23:5).