Saturday, January 27
I Desperately Need God’s Help
169 Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word.
170 Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word.
171 My lips shall utter praise, For You teach me Your statutes.
172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.
173 Let Your hand become my help, For I have chosen Your precepts.
174 I long for Your salvation, O LORD, And Your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; And let Your judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.
Psalm 119:169-176 is the twenty-second stanza of this psalm, and every line or verse begins with the twenty-second letter of the Hebrew alphabet “TAV”, in the Hebrew Bible. The psalmist finishes this longest psalm and chapter in the Bible with a prayer, a plea, a cry for help. And once again, he is assured and confident that God will answer his request and meet his every need because of the promises and truths that he finds in the Word of God. Like the rest of the psalm, every verse in this closing stanza mentions and refers to “Your word”, “Your statutes”, Your commandments”, “Your precepts”, “Your salvation”, “Your law”, and “Your judgments”.
It is obvious that the psalmist desperately needs God’s help and so do we! Years ago, I read that real prayer is simply a sense of helplessness and I agree! I actually wake up every morning with a plea for God’s help, and throughout the day continue to recognize that I need His help and will not make it without His help! In these verses today, the psalmist specifically recognizes his needs and asks for God’s help in several ways.
First in verses 169-172, he acknowledges his need for God’s 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.
Next, he prayed that he needed God’s helping hand (v. 173). 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 idols of the heathen have hands that do not move or feel (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.
He also prayed and shared his longing for God’s salvation (v. 174). In his case, "salvation" meant deliverance from his enemies who were threatening him, but "salvation" can 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.
In verse 175, he believed that God’s judgements would help him. "Judgments" is a synonym for the Word of God, but it can also refer to the working of God's providence in this world (105:7; Rom. 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 (23:3; John 10:4; Rom. 8:28).
Finally in verse 176, the psalmist recognizes his tendency to stray away from God like a lost sheep, and he needed God to seek him because he was His servant. God gives us promises and assurances so we will not despair, but He also gives us warnings that we might not presume. The psalmist was still the servant of God and not the servant of sin, and he still remembered God's Word and His commandments, so he would not stray for long. He knew that 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).
I trust that Psalm 119 has been as big a blessing to you as it has been to me, and I pray that it has encouraged you to spend time every day in God’s Word!