LONGING FOR DELIVERANCE
Holy Father, may the serenity and peace I feel in this prayer sustain me throughout this day.
Read PSALM 119:153–176
153 Consider mine affliction, and deliver me;
For I do not forget thy law.
154 Plead thou my cause, and redeem me:
Quicken me according to thy word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked;
For they seek not thy statutes.
156 Great are thy tender mercies, O Jehovah:
Quicken me according to thine ordinances.
157 Many are my persecutors and mine adversaries;
Yet have I not swerved from thy testimonies.
158 I beheld the treacherous, and [a]was grieved,
Because they observe not thy word.
159 Consider how I love thy precepts:
Quicken me, O Jehovah, according to thy lovingkindness.
160 The sum of thy word is truth;
And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.
161 Princes have persecuted me without a cause;
But my heart standeth in awe of thy words.
162 I rejoice at thy word,
As one that findeth great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood;
But thy law do I love.
164 Seven times a day do I praise thee,
Because of thy righteous ordinances.
165 Great peace have they that love thy law;
And they have no occasion of stumbling.
166 I have hoped for thy salvation, O Jehovah,
And have done thy commandments.
167 My soul hath observed thy testimonies;
And I love them exceedingly.
168 I have observed thy precepts and thy testimonies;
For all my ways are before thee.
169 Let my cry come near before thee, O Jehovah:
Give me understanding according to thy word.
170 Let my supplication come before thee:
Deliver me according to thy word.
171 Let my lips utter praise;
For thou teachest me thy statutes.
172 Let my tongue sing of thy word;
For all thy commandments are righteousness.
173 Let thy hand be ready to help me;
For I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Jehovah;
And thy law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee;
And let thine ordinances help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
seek thy servant;
For I do not forget thy commandments.
- Psalm 119:158 Or, loathed them
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’1
As Psalm 119 draws to a close, the psalmist is acutely conscious that his experience of life presents some stiff challenges to his faith in God, even if he lives among God’s supposedly loyal covenant people. Verses 153–160 speak of his suffering and persecution at the hands of those who do not care about God’s Word. His repeated cry is that God would ‘preserve my life’ (154,156,159). The next stanza, verses 161–168, begins by acknowledging that those in power are corrupt and dishonest. Their value system is the opposite of his, showing no respect for God’s Words and riding roughshod over His laws. The final stanza, verses 169–176, brings the whole psalm to an appropriate conclusion when the psalmist reaffirms his praise and firm love for God and confesses his own failures. Yet, even here, he reveals that his salvation is not yet complete and his longings are not yet fully satisfied.
The question that arises, then, is how to persevere when your context is so alien to your faith. The psalmist would say that it all begins with what you desire. Without a true longing for God, we will buckle under circumstances, succumb to discouragements, and join others in being indifferent to God’s Word. The longing must be a genuine expression of our deep love for Him rather than a cosmetic pretense. If we hunger for righteousness, several things will follow. Prayer will be urgent, persistent, and disciplined. Praise will celebrate God’s great compassion and salva-tion. Eager obedience will prove to us the wisdom and truth of God’s laws. Hope will keep us fo-cused on God’s promises which are yet to come. Psalm 119 can guide Christians onto the paths of peace, joy, and faithfullness, even while they are surrounded by a hostile sea of unbelief.
The letter of James has much to say about our desires.2 Look inward and honestly assess what you truly desire and what drives your life.
Lord, I love the Scriptures. I need a special infusion of energy to overcome a busy schedule, interruptions, and distractions that keep me from Your Word.
1 Matt 5:6 2 eg., James 1:13–15; 4:1–3