Psalm 119:81-84 — Our Whole Being Longs for God

We Have No Other Hope

Psalms 119:81  Kaph My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.

The Kaph octave begins with a description of deep longing. The word for long in verses 81 and 82 is the same word used in verse 87 where the psalmist laments that the insolent have almost made an end to him. We get the idea that the soul of our dear psalmist is fully spent waiting on the salvation of the Lord. There is nothing else to hope for. Every ounce of his soul is consumed with God’s salvation; he has hope in no other deliverer.

And why not? Is not the propitiation of God’s wrath promised throughout God’s Word? Where else would we hope? In the efforts of earthly priests? In our strength? Praise God that He providentially leads His children to a point where they have no other hope so that we might lean on Him rather than our understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is easy for us to be excited about salvation on this side of the resurrection, but where did the psalmist place his hope?

He placed his hope in the same place we do. He trusts that through faith alone, his sin will be atoned for by a sacrifice provided by Yahweh God. He may not know all the details we know, but OT saints knew more than we give them credit for. Of course, the same Holy Spirit regenerated them prior to their faith, and that same Spirit can illuminate the scriptures for them. Consider Genesis 3:15. Is that not a promise that Messiah would come and crush the serpent? Psalm 110:1-2;  Job 19:25 are worth considering. And did you know Ruth points to Jesus? Check it out.

When Will Comfort Come?

Psalms 119:82  My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”

Not only is David’s soul consumed with waiting on God’s deliverance, but his eyes are spent. Like the psalmist, we languish with pangs as we endure the suffering of this world. We suffer from the curse, our toil is difficult and often fruitless. And we suffer from the pain of others’ sins. We are attacked on all sides. The hatred of the world is upon us. Even our own families (Luke 12:53)!

Our eyes are dry from shedding tears. We wait and wait and wait and often only see more suffering in this life. And even if every creature comfort could be handed to us, is not the existence of sin enough to distress any true child of God? Sure, we long for the day when we will not have so many assailants. But don’t you long for the day when you won’t be assailed by your own flesh? Is your lack of holiness enough for your eyes to long for God’s promise, His deliverance?

So we pray with the psalmist, “When will you comfort me?” But there are two obvious answers to this question. The first answer is, “In God’s perfect timing.” This is not a Christian cliché…this is biblical truth. God will glorify his saints and deliver them from any earthly struggle He intends to deliver them from when He wants to. The real question is are you learning the lessons you ought to do learn during the trial? Are you trusting that the Lord is doing a sanctifying work in you while you’re waiting? And the second answer to the question “When will you comfort me?” is “Right now.” The omnipresent God of all comfort is always there. One of God’s children should no sooner ask “When will comfort come?” than he should ask when he will get air to breathe. God’s supply is abundant and when we don’t sense it, it usually has more to do with us not perceiving it than Him withholding from us. It is a good idea for you to look at how God is already comforting you when your eyes long for comfort.

Smoke & Skins

Psalms 119:83  For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes.

What does it mean to be a wineskin in the smoke? John Gill tells us:

Like a bottle made of the skins of beasts, as was usual in those times and countries: hence we read of old and new bottles, and of their rending, Judges 9:13; Matthew 9:17. Now such a bottle being hung up in a smoky chimney, would be dried and shrivelled up, and be good for nothing; (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

The difficulties of this world: enemies, the betrayal of friends and even family, and our sinful flesh we still drag around like a corpse constantly drag us near to death. Our soul clings to the dust, and we cannot help but cry out with David that we are as useless as a wineskin in smoke. Instead of flexibility and strength, all that remains is rigidity and weakness. We feel as if we may burst at any time as the pressures of this life increase.

Ryan Cheng

When you think of a wineskin in the smoke analogy, consider being all dried up. This should bring to mind the prophecy that Jesus fulfilled on the cross when He said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Psalms 22:15 says “my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” Like Psalm 119:25,28, there is a real sense of death in the analogy. But Our Lord tasted it for us. When a Christian gets to this point of suffering, it is a comfort in and of itself to be identified with Christ (Philippians 3:10). Considering that Jesus never forgot God’s statutes while tasting a death He didn’t deserve motivates us to cling to God’s law through thick and thin.

Dear saint, do you feel dried up and useless? Has your flesh and this world brought you to such despair you feel as if you cannot go on? Cling to Jesus as your hope, God’s Word as your nutrition, and the thought that, like the psalmist, your suffering may be used of God to bring empathy and comfort to a future pilgrim.

Are We There Yet?

Psalms 119:84  How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me?

As we near the middle of the Kaph octave, we see the primary motivation behind the psalmist’s distress. He is experiencing persecution and wondering how long he must endure it. We know that God is a God of justice…so when He exercises His great patience we tend to mistake that for injustice. It is perfectly reasonable for the righteous to hate evil. And there is no sense in which persecution is to be seen as something enjoyable in and of itself. When we are told to count it joy, it is always in reference to a promised future deliverance. It is innately human to wonder how long we will have to endure affliction or even this trial-filled life. And it makes sense that our God and Father would swoop in to protect His children from evildoers – wouldn’t you for your own dear child?


But the fact of the matter is that there is only one man who has ever lived who can truly ask these questions with a pure heart. For each of us was at one time one of the persecutors. Every servant of Christ was at one point an enemy of God and His gospel, and God’s dear children. It was God’s patience that led to your salvation. How many servants of God may have prayed this prayer about you and had it been answered you’d have died in your sin? Yes, only Jesus can truly cry out to His Father such a righteous prayer. Only a sinless savior is qualified to call down judgment on his fellow man.

We who are elect but cannot see the “E” stamped on the foreheads of others must live with the tension that the very people we would most like to see judged are the same people we are called to love (Matthew 5:44). We adore our Lord and His statutes so we are righteous to be glad for God’s justice to be done, but we are to take heed when we think we stand, for we still carry the stain of Adam’s nature on our flesh, and there have been many who for a time judged evildoers only to be found among that number themselves (Philippians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 10:5-6). Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly (Micah 6:8) is our formula. You cannot do justice without humility and there is no true kindness without justice. These attributes are one in God and we are to imitate Him as beloved children (Ephesians 5:1).

If you want to know when God will judge those who persecute you, pray for their salvation earnestly. Then if they become born-again you’ll know the exact time they were judged—about 2000 years ago at Calvary.


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