The Cords of the Wicked
Psalms 119:61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law.
We have seen the psalmist proclaim the excellencies of loving God’s law even in the midst of trouble (Psalm 119:23). Now we find language reminiscent of Psalm 18. You see the same pattern here.
Psalms 18:3-7;20-22 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; 5 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. 7 Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me… 21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22 For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me.
Notice the pattern is the same as we see in Psalm 119:57,61. The Psalmist entreats the favor of God, the request is followed with deliverance from the cords of death. Ultimately, the psalmist proclaims his own devotion to God’s ways. With our God there is great deliverance. He is able to loosen the cords of the wicked, even death itself. “No power of hell nor scheme of man can ever pluck us from his hand! (In Christ Alone, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)
There is much rejoicing when we realize that Christ himself stands with us. Psalm 18 is no less than messianic. The cords of the wicked ensnared him, and he did not forget God’s law. It is Christ who does not hasten to keep God’s commandments (Psalm 119:60). It is Christ who bore the wrath of God and was taken up to Heaven after His glorious resurrection. Jesus’s death caused the earth to shake (Matthew 27:51). What we have here is a wonderful picture of the Savior who could not break God’s law. Yes, our savior is perfect and His law-keeping is imputed to our accounts by grace through faith.
Midnight Prayers and Praise
Psalms 119:62 At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules.
Again Jesus is our model of praying without ceasing. The psalmist declares that at midnight he rises to praise Yahweh and how many times do you recall Jesus praying at night? (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35) Yes, he frequently withdrew to pray (Luke 5:16). And we ought to follow his lead. But what kind of prayer life might we claim to have if we are never inconvenienced as the result of it? Shall we rest in our beds all night and never interrupt our sleep to commune with our God?
David knew the value of alone time with God. Christian history is replete with men and women who were pleased to rise early in the morning to pray. Men and women of God usually have very full lives. Their lives are full of activities and busy-ness which often makes for a “hit the ground running approach” to the day. Godly men and women often find themselves waking up at “odd” times to ensure that they get their prayer time in for the day. I remember hearing of an evangelist who I assume took this verse quite literally and set his alarm for 12 am every day and prayed for a half an hour. When asked about it, he said it was hard at times but now he can’t imagine life without that time.
And what better reason have we for consistent prayer and praise than looking to God’s righteous rules and being reminded of His perfections. When we consider God’s law we feel small and Christ appears large. God’s righteous rules keep us turned in the right direction in our walk (Psalm 119:105) and are consistent helps in our sanctification. His law was effective in our justification process to bring us to our knees exclaiming “What must I do to be saved?” And his righteous rules even have a good effect on lost souls who, although they deny God in their heart, cannot help but try to at least outwardly follow the law which has been written on their hearts (Romans 2:15).
Psalms 119:63 I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.
If you have been following along through the journey through Psalm 119, consider this: this is the first time in this chapter that there is any reference to anyone other than the psalmist, God, or the wicked. Yes, up to this verse, there is no reference to other people of God. But God has put it here for us to study and digest and that we must do.
So what do we see? We see the common Old Testament concept for salvation: all who fear you followed by a description of the people of God: those who keep your precepts. Lest we forget our soteriology 101 basics, we do not keep God’s precepts in order to be justified, but we fear God and keep his precepts because we are justified. Salvation has always been by grace through faith alone, and only in Christ. But one of the promised blessings of salvation is that we are made one with Christ…and thus, one with the rest of His bride, the church. Therefore, we are companions of all who fear Him!
We have been united with Christ and every other believer in a special way which breed love, tender-heartedness, compassion, and friendship. When your brother or sister suffers, you suffer as well (Romans 12:15), and to the extent that we are able we ought to be involved in each others’ lives (1 John 3:17-18). When Jesus departed, he told the disciples, “And behold I am with you, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) and “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). What we have is an ever-present Savior. We have a companion for life, eternity even. What a blessing!
The Steadfast Love of Christ
Psalms 119:64 The earth, O Yahweh, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!
Although the psalmist never repeats an entire thought throughout this blessed psalm, he does repeat “teach me your statutes.” The phrase is uttered 7 times! We must, like the psalmist frequently ask God for this grace. He will not ignore the earnest cry of His child. God hears the prayers of His people (Psalm 34:15, 1 Peter 3:12). James tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Have you been praying like the psalmist? Solomon asked for wisdom and received a generous portion, but he asked without pretense.
1 Kings 3:9-11,13 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” 10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, … 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.
Have you been tempted to pray like Solomon? That is, to ask God for wisdom, or blessings upon others, while secretly hoping He would bestow an abundance of material blessings upon you as he did with that son of David? What pernicious evil it is for us to think we can fool God in this way! Blessed are the pure in heart, we are told. Any fool can repeat a godly man’s words. But how many can pray like the Son of David, “Not my will but yours be done” and actually mean it? Oh, dear Christian, it is time to take more seriously the heartlessness of your prayers and beg God for mercy. Thanks be to God it is the Spirit who makes intercession for us when we don’t know how to pray!
And what motivation to know God’s statutes and to live in them but His steadfast love. God’s steadfast love equals salvation toward the elect. Our God is angry with lawbreakers daily. Look to His holy law! In reference to idolatry in Exodus 20:5, He tells us he will visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children up to four generations! God’s purpose of election will stand, and those who are born destined to disobey God are often placed providentially in these circumstances where God’s generational curses live on.
But God…oh the two sweetest words to the soul…but God shows steadfast love to thousands of those who love him and keep his commandments (Exodus 20:6). We have a repetition of standard OT phrases which simply mean “My Elect” and thus, “My elect.” Yes, if you are in Christ (God’s Elect) then you are one of God’s elect, and you have the hopeful expectation that God’s steadfast love fills the earth. God will save a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation and it is because God is love that there is any hope at all for the whole world. He is the propitiation for our sins and nor for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world—yes the earth is full of His steadfast love which endures forever, amen!
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