PE - Prayer Intensified
(129) Wonderful are your statutes. Therefore, my soul obeys them. (130) The unfolding of your words gives light. It gives understanding to the gullible. (131) I open wide my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. (132) Turn to me and have mercy on me, just as you would on all who love your name. (133) Direct my footsteps according to your word. Let no iniquity gain mastery over me. (134) Ransom me from the oppression of man so that I may obey your precepts. (135) Cause your face to shine on your servant and teach me your decrees. (136) Streams of water flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.
One word alone is repeated in this stanza, and its occurrences actually constitute a play on words. The second verse begins with a term which means “unfolding” and closes with the word for “simple” (vs. 130). Both derive from the same Hebrew root which means “to open.” In other words, when the Scriptures are opened, they illuminate the hearts of those who are too open, that is, gullible or easily deceived.
As the psalmist pours out his heart to the Lord in earnest prayer (vss. 132-135), he uses several imperatives indicating the urgency of his requests. Two other physically graphic images heighten the emotional pitch of the stanza. First, the psalmist so yearns for God’s truth that he pictures himself like a baby bird in a nest, mouth agape, begging the mother for food (vs. 131). In the concluding verse he describes his distress over the world’s disregard for God’s law with the exaggerated statement, “Streams of water flow from my eyes” (vs. 136). This PE stanza reiterates the thoughts expressed in the previous AYIN stanza with an increase in intensity, like transposing the final verse of a hymn into a higher key.
I. Praising God for his Word (129-131)
II. Praying for God to act (132-135)
III. Perturbed by those who disregard God’s Word (136)
The more we love God’s Word, the bolder our praying and the deeper our passion will be for his truth.
One legacy of the Book of Psalms, especially Psalm 119, is the permission they give us to express our emotions fully and freely to the Lord. The authors of the psalms were never reticent to display how they were feeling about God’s greatness and the beauty of his Word, about those who had faithfully kept his commands as well as those who had flagrantly rebelled against him. The negative over-reaction among many followers of Jesus toward charismatic enthusiasm has tragically caused many Bible-believing Christians to distrust their feelings and to shrink from expressing their heartfelt emotions to the Lord whether in public worship or in private devotion. While that fear is gradually fading away, many of us still tend to repress rather than express outward displays of passion for God.
If the psalmist could open his mouth and pant like an animal for God’s righteousness and then express his grief by weeping floods of tears over the rebellion of fallen sinners, why should we not feel free to do the same if we are genuinely led by the Spirit of God to do so? Certainly this is not something that should be staged or manufactured, but when genuine emotions push their way to the surface, we should not forbid their expression in ways that honor the Lord.