HE - Longing for Truth
(33) Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your decrees. Then I will keep them to the end. (34) Give me understanding, and I will keep your law (Torah) and obey it with my whole heart. (35) Cause me to tread in the way of your commandments, for in them I delight. (36) Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. (37) Turn my eyes away from seeking what is worthless. Revive me according to your word. (38) Establish your word with your servant so that you become the object of fear. (39) Take away the reproach which I dread, for your judgments are good. (40) Behold, how I long for your precepts! Revive me in your righteousness.
In all but one of the verses in this stanza, the psalmist utilizes the Hebrew letter “he,” featured in this segment, to give his prayers a special thrust. He does this by adding “he” to the basic three-letter root of each of the Hebrew verbs which occur at the beginning of verses 32-39 to created a verbal form called the “hiphil.” Whenever the “hiphil” occurs, it intensifies the meaning, giving it a causative thrust. These seven verses, each opening with a “hiphil,” brings a heightened sense of urgency to the psalmist's prayer, thus communicating his earnestness to Yahweh.
Four words are emphasized by repetition: “I will keep” (vss. 33 & 34), “heart” (vss. 34 & 36), “revive” (vss. 37 & 40), and “turn” (vss. 36 & 37). One other word to note is “way” (vs. 35), a noun used five times in the preceding stanza (vss. 25-32). This “he” stanza essentially follows the pattern of the prior stanza, only this time, instead of describing his experiences, the psalmist shows how he turned his experiences into prayers. Note that this series of prayer requests builds to a climax in verse 40 where the psalmist exclaims, “How I long for your precepts!”
Earnestly longing for God’s truth:
- Expressed positively (33-35)
- Expressed negatively (36 & 37)
- Reiterated both positively and negatively (38 & 39)
- Brought to a climax (40)
Our longing for God’s truth intensifies as we grow in our appreciation of its potential to impact our lives.
Passion in prayer is something we all too often lack. Our communication with the Lord is far too frequently cerebral, carried on in an almost detached, impersonal manner. We might as well be sending Yahweh an email for all the emotion that is involved. Yet, the Lord wants us, encourages us, to express our deepest feelings and emotions to him in our praying. This is the only honest way to communicate with him from the heart.
The writer of Psalm 119 often conveys an emotional richness in his praying that amazes us with its depth of feeling. As we meditate on each verse in this stanza, we should allow the intensity of what the psalmist is feeling to probe the very core of our beings. We should seek to adopt the author’s passion as our own as we identify with his heartfelt expressions of love for and devotion to God.