TAW - Supplication for Favor
(169) May my ringing cry come before your face, Yahweh. According to your word, give me understanding. (170) May my supplication for favor come before your face. According to your promise, deliver me. (171) Let my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. (172) Let my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. (173) May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. (174) I long for your salvation, Yahweh, and your law is my delight. (175) Let my soul live that I may praise you, and may your judgments sustain me. (176) I have wandered like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.
In this closing stanza of Psalm 119, the author expresses his heart’s desires with a series of strongly worded prayer requests. The force of his feelings is conveyed by his constant use of the jussive form of the verb, an imperatival construction which expresses intense yearning. Earlier in the psalm, we encountered a similar series of five successive jussives in the Yod Stanza (vss. 76-80). Here we find eight jussives strung together, five in successive verses (vss. 169-173) and three grouped together in one verse (vs. 175), all indicated by “may” or “let” in English.
Note the striking parallelisms found in the opening four verses of the stanza. First we find a focus on prayer that uses almost identical terms: “May my cry...may my supplication come before your face” (vss. 169 & 170). The same phrasing is found with regard to praise: “Let my lips overflow...let my tongue sing” (vss. 171 & 172). The remaining verses of the stanza repeat the same themes for the sake of emphasis. The psalmist closes with a confession of his need for God’s direction and deliverance.
I. Yearning expressed in petition (169 & 170)
II. Yearning expressed in praise (171 & 172)
III. Yearning for deliverance (173 & 174)
IV. Yearning for sustenance (175 & 176)
Our yearnings for Yahweh will be fulfilled as his Word draws us to him in both praise and petition.
The feelings we experience as we come to this final segment of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, might be compared to what marathon runners feel when they finally make it across the finish line after more than twenty-six miles and several hours of non-stop exercise. Most marathoners report a sense of total exhaustion combined with an exhilarating satisfaction at having completed such an effort. How fitting it is that this psalm should conclude with an emphasis on how God’s Word can meet the deepest longings of our hungry hearts! How appropriate that the psalmist in these final verses expresses a wide range of emotions regarding his relationship to Yahweh all the way from loud outbursts of praise (“ringing cry...lips overflowing with praise”) to quiet, introspective reflections (“I long for you...I have wandered like a lost sheep”)!
One thing the psalmist clearly wanted to accomplish by writing this long psalm was to create in his readers an unquenchable thirst for the truth of God’s Word. His goal was to evoke such a hunger in our hearts that we would never stop reading, searching, depending on the Word of God for our spiritual sustenance. That is why the psalmist concludes this great psalm by expressing his desire for a deepening experience of God and a greater appreciation for his Word in his life.
As we finish our study of Psalm 119, we might consider taking inventory of our devotion to Yahweh with questions like these:
- Am I daily seeking to grow in my relationship with God?
- Am I regularly spending time in his Word so that the nourishment of his revealed truth sustains me?
- Do I, like the psalmist, have an unquenchable longing for that which alone can enrich and satisfy my soul?
- Do I love Yahweh more every day, delighting in his presence and rejoicing in his care, seeking to live in such a way that he is glorified and honored?