Pray Like Jesus
Psalms 119:169 Taw Let my cry come before you, O Yahweh; give me understanding according to your word!
As we begin to close the longest chapter of the Bible, we might be tempted to think that God has already said everything that can be said. We must put away any thought that these last eight verses are any less important than the first. As adherents to Sola Scriptura, we believe that every word of God proves true (Proverbs 30:5). Thus, we are careful to not overlook any portion, even the end of a chapter that requires much endurance to read, memorize, and meditate upon.
In verse 168, we are reminded that all our ways are before God. There is nothing hidden from His perfect sight. Our omniscient God cannot be fooled. Yet the cry of the psalmist’s heart is for God to let his cry come before Him. This is an earnest plea for God to act on behalf of the psalmist. Just like when we cry “hear me” or “answer me” in our prayers, the request for our cry to come before Him is another way of asking for this to be given special priority. Your father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:8), so we need not heap up empty repetitions, but specific requests and supplications are a sweet aroma to God (Philippians 4:6; Exodus 35:8; Revelation 5:8). We are right to have a healthy fear that all our evil is always before Him and to humbly remember that it is only through the blood of Christ that our prayers have any chance of getting to His throne.
Mark 14:36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus taught us to pray your will be done (Matthew 6:10), but we are also told that we have such confidence toward God that if we ask anything according to His will we have the requests already (1 John 5:14, 15). Thus, it is fitting to ask that we are given understanding so that our prayers will be more aligned with His perfect will. To the extent that we understand His word, our prayers will reflect godly thinking and have more likelihood of being answered according to our will. The goal of letting our cries come before Him isn’t that He would conform to our wills but that our will become conformed to His.
Psalms 119:170 Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.
Continuing with the theme of coming before God, David asks that his “plea” come before his lord. David and our Lord Jesus were no strangers to conflict and affliction. Persecution was around every corner for the king and King of Israel. But God has always has been the deliverer. Dear Christian, do you not know how to pray? Start by saying “let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word!”
God’s deliverance always comes right on time, in the proper form, and according to His word. David was delivered many times from earthly enemies, even those who should have been loyal to him. And our dear Lord Jesus who suffered the shame for us can be said to have had his plea heard before the Father and ultimately received deliverance. He was bruised and afflicted, even forsaken (Psalm 22:1), but ultimately raised from the dead and ascended on high and seated at the right hand of the Father.
Psalms 22:24 ESV For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
God is the great deliverer. The Bible is full of depictions of His people being delivered from all sorts of troubles and afflictions. But the ultimate deliverance is what Jesus procured on the cross. Notice the language of deliverance in reference to Christ’s finished work.
Colossians 1:13-14 ESV He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins… 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Have you let your plea come before Him and asked to be delivered according to His word? Many people will say to God on the day of judgment that they did works in his name or made him their lord (Matthew 7:21). But it is only the poor in spirit who will inherit the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3)! It is those who have no plea but to cast their cares onto God’s abundant mercy who have hope to be delivered (1 Peter 5:7). Only those who trust that Christ died for them are transferred into His marvelous light (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Plead with Him today if you are unsure that you’ve been delivered from the domain of darkness (1 Peter 2:9)!
An Eruption of Praise
Psalms 119:171 My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.
“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,” because God has graciously delivered them (Psalm 107:2)! The natural result of being redeemed by God is an inability to keep your mouth shut about it. This is David’s repeated theme (Psalm 51:13).
Psalms 34:1-3 ESV Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Jesus strictly charged Jairus’s family to keep the raising of their dead daughter quiet (Mark 5:43) but someone still broadcast this miraculous work (Matthew 9:26). The fact of the matter is that we are wired to share good news when we hear it and out of the abundance of our heart our mouths speak (Mathew 12:34). So we can confidently conclude that if talk of Jesus isn’t coming out of your mouth—He is not an abundance of your heart. When a man or woman walks with God and has been delivered from the punishment and bondage of sin, he or she cannot help but proclaim it. Notice David’s profession, his lips will pour forth praise. It’s not a sprinkling or slow leak—the imagery here is that of a gushing out of praise. There is an eruption described that could not be contained by the remnant of our rebellious Adamic wills.
Those who follow Jesus obey His commands (Matthew 28:20; John 15:14). And how are you to know His commands if you are not taught them? No verse repeats itself in this blessed psalm, but several phrases are found repeated. Some form of “teach me your statutes” is written 7 times (Psalm 119:12, 26, 33, 64, 68, 124, 135). “Teach me your statutes” is written in the imperative, yet here at the end we read for you teach me your statutes. It’s as if the psalmist’s prayer has been answered. He is being taught and has been taught God’s statutes and every new thing he learns brings him to his knees in praise. He can do nothing more than to Fear God and Nothing Else. He will not be ashamed to praise and glorify God in the presence of even his enemies. Can this be said of you?
God’s Commandments Make Us Sing
Psalms 119:172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die
It’s notable that verse 170 is very similar to verse 169 and immediately after we see another repetitive thought between verses 171 and 172. The lips of the redeemed will pour forth praise and their tongues will sing of God’s word! God’s people are a singing people. The psalter is meant to be sung and we are called to sing hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16), even addressing one another in them (Ephesians 5:19). Our voices should be the longest and we should be guilty of *doxological evangelism where our singing and praise is so loud that our neighbors cannot help but hear of the works of the Lord.
Psalms 95:1-2 ESV Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
We are delivered from the curse of the law for everyone who lives under the law is subject to it in its entirety (Galatians 3:10) and we’ve all offended at some point and thus, all points (James 2:10). But it would be easy to see the weakness of God’s law and its tendency to condemn as a blemish upon God’s commandments. But as you do not judge a fish for its failure to climb trees, you must not evaluate God’s commands on the basis that they do not save. God’s commandments are not intended to save anyone. God’s commandments exist to reveal God’s moral perfections to us and to give us a standard by which we can see our own unrighteousness. If it were not for God’s law you would not know that you even needed a savior. Therefore we must affirm with the psalmist and most certainly our Lord as well that all God’s commandments are right. If they were not right, what need would you have to flee to the Christ to forgive you for failing to meet their demands?
And if they were not right, would Paul have used them to teach Christians how we ought to live (Romans 13:9)? Would the Apostle John have told us that true love for God results in our obedience to them (1 John 5:3)? How would Jude have known what are the deeds of ungodliness (Jude 1:14)? And would our Lord Jesus have expected us to teach them to all his disciples (Matthew 28:20)? Of course not, God’s commandments are right and pure and we believe in them (Psalm 119:66; Psalm 19:8)!
*“Praise his name, we are called to doxological evangelism: Salvation is of the Lord! Let that song die and we have nothing to sing to the nations. They don’t want to hear those old patronizing songs of missionary colonialism and they don’t need our help in learning the chants of revolutionary violence. But when the people of God sing his praises, then the nations listen.”
Edmund P. Clowney, Declare His Glory Among the Nations, Article: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, 1976.
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