AYIN - Time to Act
(121) I have done what is righteous and just. Do not abandon me to my oppressors. (122) Pledge to your servant what is good. Do not let the insolent oppress me. (123) My eyes fail, looking for your salvation and your righteous promises. (124) Deal with your servant according to your love, and teach me your decrees. (125) I am your servant. Give me understanding so that I may know your statutes. (126) Time to act, Yahweh! Your law is being broken. (127) Because I love your commands more than gold, more than refined gold, (128) and because I esteem all your precepts as truth, I hate all paths of deception.
Several words in this stanza are repeated for emphasis. First, one verb appears three times, translated from Hebrew by three different English terms: “I have done” (vs. 121), “Deal with your servant” (vs. 124), “Time to act, Yahweh” (vs. 126). “Your servant” appears three times, speaking of the relationship which gives the psalmist the right to make his appeal to God (vss. 122, 124, & 125). “Oppress/oppressor” occurs twice (vss. 121 & 122) referring to those guilty of breaking God’s law (vs. 126). The last two verses are linked by the repetition of “because” (vss. 127 & 128).
Two unusual characteristics of this stanza should be noted. First, the opening two verses fail to make specific references to God’s Word. However, the phrases “what is righteous and just” and “what is good” both describe the impact that God’s Word should have in the lives of those who obey it (vss. 121 & 122). Then, this is one of the rare times in Psalm 119 where two verses form one sentence, one unit of thought (vss. 127 & 128).
The first six verses of the stanza all contain prayers to Yahweh, climaxing in the bold demand, “Time to act, Yahweh” (vs. 126). This serves as a climax toward which the previous verses build. The final two verses, expressing one thought, close the stanza with a description of the psalmist’s resulting emotional state: “Because I love your commands, I hate all paths of deception” (vss. 127 & 128). Note how this echoes the opening verse of the previous stanza where the psalmist contrasts his loathing for evildoers with his love for God’s law (vs. 113).
I. How to pray when opposed by enemies:
- for protection (121 & 122)
- for patience (123)
- for direction and discernment (124 & 125)
- for God to act quickly (126)
II. Declaring my love for God’s Word and hatred for sin (127 & 128)
Those who love God’s truth and hate evil should pray boldly for God to act.
The psalmist’s outspoken boldness in praying, especially his insistence on Yahweh taking action, is what should rivet our attention in this stanza. We sense here the same depth of feeling we find in the previous stanza where the psalmist also expresses strong emotions. Moved by a hatred for sin and a love for God’s righteousness, the author calls on Yahweh to intervene in what has apparently become for him an intolerably difficult situation.
Do we ever reach this level of urgency in our praying or are we so resigned to the status quo that we fail to show our desire to see God work powerfully? This is not a passion we should try to manufacture. God is never impressed by those who work themselves into an emotional froth in an effort to persuade him to respond favorably to their requests. However, when we share his animosity toward sin and his heart for righteousness, we cannot keep from being moved to deep feelings of frustration and grief, yearning for his truth to prevail.
In giving his disciples a template for prayer, Jesus taught them to make the following request: “May your Kingdom come. May your will be done” (Mt. 6:10). He did not intend for them to repeat those words as a formula, a pious wish that might someday in the distant future be fulfilled. Jesus desired for his disciples to long actively for the speedy coming of God’s Kingdom when God’s truth will prevail over the forces of evil in this Satan-dominated world. “Time for you to act, Yahweh!” cried the Psalmist. We respond with a similar sense of urgency, “Yes, Lord! Maranatha! Time for you to return to earth and establish your rule!”