QOPH - I Call to You
(145) I call (to you) with all my heart. Answer me, Yahweh, and I will keep your decrees. (146) I call to you. Deliver me, and I will keep your statutes. (147) I rise before the dawn and cry out for help. I hope in your word. (148) My eyes remain open through the night watches so that I may meditate on your promises. (149) Hear my voice according to your steadfast love. Yahweh, revive me according to your judgments. (150) The pursuers of evil schemes draw near, but they are far from your law. (151) You are near, Yahweh, and all your commands are true. (152) Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them forever.
The most notable feature about this stanza is that only four Hebrew roots (basic three-letter word stems) are used to begin its eight verses. The same verb, “to call,” begins the first two verses (vss. 145 & 146). Likewise, one verb which means literally “to come in front” is found at the opening of the next two verses (vss. 147 & 148). First, it is translated “I rise” (vs. 147) and in the next “remain open” (vs. 148). This repetition of two verbs in four verses is without precedent in Psalm 119, providing a very strong emphasis. The adjectival form of this second verb is also found at the beginning of the final verse as the adverbial expression “long ago” (vs. 152).
Verse 149 opens with the noun “voice,” adding to the emphasis of calling out to the Lord in prayer (vss. 145 & 146). The verb meaning “approach” or “draw near” is found at the beginnings of verses 150 & 151. First, it is “the pursuers of evil schemes” who approach in a threatening way (vs. 150), and then the psalmist takes great comfort in remembering “You are near, Yahweh” (vs. 151). One other repetition should be noted. Three times the psalmist addresses Yahweh directly (vss. 145, 149, & 151), giving the stanza a sense of both urgency and intimacy. The author of the psalm is clearly seeking to emphasize the importance of a vital prayer life for those who love God’s Word.
I. What should I do: call on the Lord and obey him. (145 & 146)
II. When should I do it: when I feel most vulnerable. (147 & 148)
III. What should I ask: hear my voice…revive me. (149 & 150)
IV. How will I be comforted: by the nearness of God and his Word. (151 & 152)
An awareness of God’s presence, reinforced by meditating on his Word, enables us to cope with all that threatens us.
From time to time most of us have experienced insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty in falling or remaining asleep. This can be caused by many factors such as stress, illness, depression, overeating, worry, to name a few. Those who have trouble sleeping sometimes turn to medications. Others turn on the radio or read a book until they nod off. Whatever the cause, the insomniac knows that the next day will be more difficult because of the exhaustion and irritability that result from missing a good night’s sleep.
The author if Psalm 119 was apparently experiencing a period of sleeplessness and was lying awake during the night and rising long before his normal waking hour (vss. 147 & 148). He mentions one specific reason for this: “the pursuers of evil schemes draw near” (vs. 150). He describes two strategies he used to overcome this. First, he called out to Yahweh, unburdening his heart (vss. 145-147). Then, along with prayer, he meditated on Yahweh’s promises, rehearsing in his mind the truths he had committed to memory (vs. 148).
A personal testimony: I rarely have trouble sleeping, but if I do, I have found that praying and meditating on God’s Word are an almost guaranteed way to fall asleep or to get back to sleep once I wake up. Not only does this calm my heart, it clears my mind and gives me a restful night along with an awareness that the Lord is right there with me to protect and sustain me (vs. 151).