We Pray Because of Union With Jesus
Psalms 119:149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Yahweh, according to your justice give me life.
The psalmist repeatedly teaches us to call for God to hear us (Psalm 4:1; Psalm 17:1).
Psalms 54:2 ESV O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.
And we should take note of the reason given here in verse 149. It is according to God’s steadfast love that David expects the Lord to listen to his cry. We should be so bold as well if our confidence is in Christ. For the Father’s steadfast love is His love for Christ Himself, and if you are hidden in Him, you are beloved by the Father as well. You have been loved since before time (Jeremiah 31:3) and cannot be separated from His love (Romans 8:38,39). Cry to the Lord and, by faith, trust that He hears your prayers because the veil has been torn (Matthew 27:51) as the result of His love demonstrated (Romans 5:8).
David also asks God to give him life according to God’s justice. It is a fearful thing to consider God’s justice. Because we are all guilty before Him of breaking His Holy Commandments, justice would mean a terrible eternity in Hellish torment. So we must remember His steadfast love toward us has already abated His wrath: Jesus drank the full cup for His people. So when David (or we) cry for God’s justice we are asking God to give us life because if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). Because Jesus paid it all, the only justice God can give a believer is a new life. Additionally, while we are guilty before a holy God of sin, there are still times in this world where we are truly victims of evil and it is good and right to cry for justice. Is your life threatened by a God-hating world? Appeal to God’s justice to grant you life. He will do what is right.
Evil Draws Near
Psalms 119:150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.
We see in this octave that David is in constant prayer and supplication to the Lord. He wakes up early in the morning and throughout the night. Could it be the daily anxiety of having so many enemies? He is constantly under persecution from enemies, so it is no wonder that he appeals to God’s justice (Psalm 119:149) and is comforted by the nearness of the God of the Bible (Psalm 119:151). Sandwiched in between these cries for help and those words of comfort to himself is a proclamation of what he is dealing with: persecution from evil-minded men.
Christians ought to be ready for persecution because we are told it will come. In 2019 in the Western world it is expected that someone will hurl insults at us when we preach Christ or stand for righteousness in the public arena. The KJV renders this verse as “Psalms 119:150 KJV They draw nigh that follow after mischief.” It seems to be a rule that the wicked are not content to do their wickedness in secret or in their own space. They demand total acquiescence to their lifestyles and malign you when you do not join them (1 Peter 4:4). And there is a sense that they try to draw close. It isn’t enough for them that you do your thing and they do theirs, but they must proselytize you to their ways, even if only by drawing nigh that they may corrupt you through bad company (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Does this not bring to mind the betrayal of our deal Lord Jesus? Who was it that finally betrayed him but his “friend” Judas (Matthew 26:50). Judas drew near our Lord and was in a special position to profit from his betrayal as the result. We must be wise as serpents, understanding that we will not be treated better than our Master (Matthew 10:16,25). We should strive for unity and love with all those in the church. After all, it is not our job to separate the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13:29). But we should not be surprised when those we once labored alongside depart the faith (Philippians 3:18; 1 John 2:19). Draw from the same fountain of life the psalmist does and do not fear those who draw near with evil purpose, but instead call on God to protect you and be comforted by His immanence.
God Is Near!
Psalms 119:151 But you are near, O Yahweh, and all your commandments are true.
It is easy to be anxious in this world. We are surrounded by difficulty even when we are not being chased down by evildoers. A Christian’s comfort must begin with God. And the only way we can find comfort is with a God who is near to us. Other religions brag of completely transcendent gods. Some religions have gods who are so much like us that it’s impossible to discern what makes them gods in the first place. But our God, the God of Heaven and Earth, is near to us. He is omnipresent so we always have access to Him through Jesus Christ who shed his blood for us then rose again and ascended into Heaven. There is no place we can go to avoid His presence (as if we’d want to!).
Consider Psalms 139:8-18 ESV If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; … 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; … 18 … I awake, and I am still with you.
We can “Fear God and Nothing Else (Spurgeon)” because when we believe the scriptures we see there is no choice! He is always there and is more terrifying than anything this world offers. And even the most frightening things in this world are subject to His authority (Psalm 119:91). We do not have to fear anything that is frightening when we trust Him (1 Peter 3:6). Be comforted in your affliction today because God is NEAR to you and because His commandments are true! We have confident hope that God is Who He says He is because His commandments reveal his nature to us truthfully. We do not fear a mutable God because we don’t have mutating morality in His commandments. We have hope in rock-solid promises because they are founded upon the Rock!
Psalms 119:152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.
God’s truths abide eternally (Psalm 119:89). And the psalmist knows from reading the testimony of God’s witness that His words have been established forever. There is no variation or shadow due to change in God (James 1:17) and so there can be no variation in what He testifies to. He knows the end from the beginning not only because He is omniscient but because He authored the whole story. There isn’t a nook nor a cranny of this creation that isn’t under his rule and dominion…and nothing comes to pass unless He first decreed it.
Isaiah 46:8-13 ESV “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. 12 “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: 13 I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.”
This is one of the most hated doctrines by many because they want to rescue God from being somehow responsible for sin. After all, if He decreed all that would come to pass, then God decreed sin, right? And sin is bad and so folks want to rescue God by somehow avoiding these hard, biblical truths. But God doesn’t need our help. We need to repent and trust Him. Look at the verses that follow God’s declaration that it is His counsel that stands and will come to pass: “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart.”
No, our God needs no defense nor apology, but simply for His righteousness to be proclaimed. He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory whether you understand His ways or not. And before any of us starts whining about how we don’t like God’s decree because such and such bad thing happened to us, let us always remember the death of the only holy man who ever lived was by the definite plan of God’s will (Acts 2:23). God has plainly stated that WE are responsible for our sin and hardness of hearts, but that all those who call on His Son’s name for salvation will be granted eternal life. Do not waste another day, repent and come to Him now!
See all posts in this series
Psalm 119:1-4 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:5-8 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:9-12 — Purity is the Objective
Psalm 119:13-16 — Declare and Delight!
Psalm 119:17-20 — Open My Eyes!
Psalm 119:21-24 — The Comfort of God
Psalm 119:25-28 — Thirst and Life
Psalm 119:29-32 — Shame Shifting
Psalm 119:33-36 — Seeking The Way
Psalm 119:37-40 — Behold God's Promise
Psalm 119:41-44 — Answering the Taunter
Psalm 119:45-48 — A Wide Place
Psalm 119:49-52 — Comfort Amidst Affliction
Psalm 119:53-56 — Righteous Anger?
Psalm 119:57-60 — What's Your Portion?
Psalm 119:61-64 — Companionship
Psalm 119:65-68 — Afflicted by God
Psalm 119:69-72 — More Affliction?
Psalm 119:73-76 — Sovereign Creator
Psalm 119:77-80 — May God Supply!
Psalm 119:81-84 — Our Whole Being Longs for God
Psalm 119:85-88 — They Have Dug Pitfalls
Psalm 119:89-92 — Established
Psalm 119:93-96 — Limited Perfection
Psalm 119:97-100 — Elevated Wisdom
Psalm 119:101-104 — Sweeter Than Honey
Psalm 119:105-108 — Freewill, Oaths, and More Affliction
Psalm 119:109-112 — Sorrows, Snares, Sons, and a Savior
Psalm 119:113-116 — My Hiding Place and My Shield
Psalm 119:117-120 — God Discards the Dross
Psalm 119:121-124— Deliverance
Psalm 119:125-128— God's Law > Everything on Earth
Psalm 119:129-132 — Into The Light
Psalm 119:133-136 — Does Your Love Bring You To Tears?
Psalm 119:137-140 — Zeal + Ignorance = Worthless Religion
Psalm 119:141-144 — Assurance of Perseverance
Psalm 119:145-148— Meditate on the PROMISE
Psalm 119:149-152 — Be Comforted For God Is Near
Psalm 119:153-156— Christ Alone Delivers
Psalm 119:157-160 — We Are In A Battle
Psalm 119:161-164— Do You Hate Falsehood?
Psalm 119:165-168 — Cause → Effect
Psalm 119:169-172 — Eruption of Praise
Psalm 119:173-176 — Seek Your Servant Like a Lost Sheep