Promises. We make them every day...and break them just as often. Haven't you promised someone something and then failed to follow through on that promise? The times I've done this which I find hardest to forgive myself are promises made to my children and promptly forgotten and broken. Parents love to bless their children. God is no different. He is the Perfect Parent. His Word contains many promises to His children...and not one of them has been broken. God always keeps His word. He is a Promise-Keeper.
David knew this truth about God very well. In his lifetime he saw God fulfill many of His promises. The covenant God made with David in 2 Samuel 7:12-17 is both pratical and prophetic. God promised David a son who would reign after him and that he would always have an heir on his throne. Practically we see God keep this promise through David's son, Solomon. Prophetically we see the fulfillment of this promise through Jesus Christ.
David knew God keeps His promises to His faithful children. Yet he began this Psalm in prayer realizing his own inadequacy to be faithful and he ends it the same way. David ends this Psalm, which is full of prayers, with a prayer for his prayers. In verse 169 he laments:
"Let my cry come before You, O Lord; give me understanding according to Your Word." NKJV
The Hebrew verb for "come before", or as it is translated in the KJV: "come near before", means: "to approach (causatively, bring near) for whatever purpose". (Strong's Concordance) David is pleading with God that his prayers be heard. I think of Queen Esther tentatively standing in the hallway hoping for the tipping of King Xerxes' scepter. She had not been summoned. Appearing before the king without his bidding could result in death, yet she bravely and boldly entered in.
Like David and Esther, we are unworthy to enter into the presence of a holy God. Without the covering of Christ's blood and righteousness we cannot do so. The writer of Hebrews tells us:
"So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it." Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT
Jesus Christ covers our unholiness and gives us boldness to enter the throne room of God with our prayers. God bends His ear to hear our pleas when we pray "according to Your Word" as David. Scripture prayers are one way we can be sure God hears us when we pray. Praying God's Word back to Him keeps us focused on His will, not our own.
David's only desire in this prayer is for understanding; a prayer he has repeated many times throughout this lengthy Psalm. This is not a prayer for human understanding but a fervent lament for spiritual understanding. Paul states in Romans 12:2:
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." NLT
As we learn to pray God's Word our thought patterns are transformed. We no longer think the way of the world, we begin to think like Jesus. Paul called it "the mind of Christ" in 1 Corinthians 2:16. Praying God's Word makes us wise in His ways. Before sending His disciples out to share the Good News Jesus told them:
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16 NIV
And teaching on prayer Jesus said:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10
Praying God's Word gives us wisdom to know what to ask for, where to seek, and when to knock.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:169-170 is:
Praying God's Word imparts understanding of His ways.
How have you incorporated Scripture into your prayers? If you haven't done so, how can you? What promise has God given you from His Word? How can you know He will be faithful to fulfill that promise? Where do you need understanding? Look up Scriptures on this topic and begin praying those verses.
David's next act in this ending prayer is to praise God. His lips overflow with praise for all God has taught him. We often speak highly of those who have taught us well. In my life such a person is my sweet friend and prayer partner of 30 years. When we first met, I was a lonely mama of a 10 month old in desperate need of companionship, God sent her. He fulfilled my need for friendship and in so doing fulfilled a greater need I didn't even know I had. Through this precious woman God taught me: His lavish love, for she personifies it well; deeper understanding of His Word, for she teaches it well; and how to pray true prayers for others; for she practices it well. I will forever praise her for her willingness to befriend a lonely mama and all she has taught me. We praise those who teach us well.
When God teaches us through His Word and Spirit our first response should be praise.
"O God, You have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things You do." Psalm 71:17
It is a great privilege to have the God of all creation come near and whisper words of wisdom. A privilege far few Christians take advantage of in our hurried, rushed world. Sitting before God takes time to be still and silent; time to be undisturbed and undistracted. Pondering God's Word leads to prayer and praise, which naturally lead to practice and preaching. In our social media saturated society we speak our own words far too often while leaving God's Word on the shelf. It's time we stand up and speak out; not our own opinion but what God's Word says on issues. It's time to break our sin of silence and speak of God's works, ways, and Word. Praying God's Word gives us boldness to stand up and speak the truth.
Praying God's Word focuses our attention on His viewpoint. As we read and pray through Scripture we begin to see things as God sees them. The angel Gabriel told Daniel:
"...I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision."
Daniel was told what his vision meant. We see the visions fulfilled, practically in history and prophetically in Jesus, with others yet to be fulfilled. Reading and praying through Scripture we see many places where God fulfilled His promises. We learn in Joshua 23:14:
"...not one word has failed of the good things the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed." ESV
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:171-172 is:
Praying God's Word enables us to see its fulfillment and praise Him.
Who do you tend to praise? How do you praise God when He teaches you through His Word? Into what issue do you need to speak God's truth more than your opinion? Will you? How has reading and praying through Scripture helped you gain God's viewpoint? How has seeing God's fulfillment of promises in Scripture prompted you to praise Him?
After praising God David begs for God to help him. The Hebrew word for help is:
leh-ohdz-ray-nee and it means "to surround, i.e. protect or aid." In essence, David is saying, "Don't send human help but intervene with Your own powerful hand." God promises to do just that in Isaiah 41:10:
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Peter cried this cry for help in Matthew 14:30 after stepping out of the boat and walking on water:
"But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord!' he shouted." NLT
Praying God's Word causes us to surrender to His sovereignty and cry out, "Lord, do what only You can do in this situation!" Where we are weak to help ourselves, God's grace empowers us and His right hand delivers us. Praying God's Word brings deliverance according to His promises, provision, and power; not man's.
Like David we begin longing for God's salvation the more we read, study, and pray His Word. We are saved when we place our faith in Christ Jesus yet there is a salvation coming when we are delivered from the trappings of temptation, set free from the snares of sin, and stand pure, whole, and holy before our King,
"But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life. For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord." AMP Romans 6:22-23
Until that salvation comes we must continue looking to God's Word for our guidance, strength, and deliverance. God's help comes to the heart that delights in His Word.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:173-174 is:
Praying God's Word ensures we'll receive God's help.
Where in your life do you need God to intervene? What Scripture can you pray over this situation? How have you surrendered this to God's sovereignty? If you haven't, will you stop right now and do so? In what does your heart delight? How can you delight in God's Word more?
David's mind turns once again to praise as he ponders his need for God's help. He sobs for God to give him life: "Let my soul live...", not for his own gain but so that he can praise God. Praying God's Word causes us to long for His life in us. Jesus said:
"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10b
The life He refers to is not only eternal in the heavens but abundant here and now. Praying God's Word enables us to receive His abundant life as we become new creatures in Christ. Like David we live to praise God. When I was a child the church we attended required all children learn the principles set forth in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The first question asks: "What is the chief end of man?" with the answer: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and love Him forever." As we read, study, and pray God's Word His glory becomes our focus and praise our practice.
We also begin to realize our tendency to stray from God's ways as a sheep strays from its master's care. When a sheep is lost it cannot find its way home on its own. The shepherd must go and search for his animal. The same is true for humans. When we are lost in our sin we cannot find our way to God on our own. Our Good Shepherd must come searching for us. He knows right where we are still He leaves the ninety-nine in search of the one.
Even those ninety-nine in the pen tend to stray. We learn in Isaiah 53:6:
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
We know the things we should do yet we don't do them. We see the light of God's love yet live in the darkness of human hate. We study the Scripture yet allow sin to snatch us. We are straying sheep in need of rescue. Like David we must cry out, "Come find me, Lord!" We must earnestly seek for God through the praying of His Word and when we do we will find He has been waiting for us all along. His waiting is not one of passively twiddling thumbs and hoping we return. No, in His waiting God searches our hearts. Praying God's Word opens our hearts to His Spirit.
"But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve." Jeremiah 17:10
And Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-28:
"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."
Reading, studying, and praying God's Word allows us to see our sin and gives us opportunity to confess that sin. As we surrender to the Spirit's sorrow over sin our hearts are overcome with His groanings. When this happens we can know God has heard our heart cries because the Spirit is always in sync with the Father. Reading, studying, and praying Scripture also opens our eyes to the fact that God can and will use all our mistakes for His purpose; He brings beauty from ashes, after all.
Gathered manna from Psalm 119:175-176 is:
Praying God's Word permits us to know when we have strayed from His ways.
What evidence is there of God's Spirit living in you? How do you live to praise God? Where do you need to make God's glory your focus and praise your practice? Where are you straying from God's ways? What Scripture can you read, study, and pray to help you stop straying and learn to stay?
Praying God's Word helps us know His will for our lives. God said in Isaiah:
"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10-11
This verse helps us know prayers prayed according to God's Word are prayers He hears and prayers that accomplish His will. He answers Scripture prayers. Of course the answers may not come in our time or in the way we think they should; but we can know they will come because our God is a Promise-Keeper.
Gathered manna from Taw (Psalm 119:169-176 is:
Praying God's Word grants assurance God hears our prayers.
How quickly our 92 days of summer have passed! I pray you have enjoyed this series of teachings on Psalm 119. One of my biggest takeaways has been a lesson God keeps drilling into me: Praise is essential in our battle against our enemy. This is a lesson I'm constantly attempting to employ. I have a bad tendency of succombing to self-pity, frustration, and plain ole giving up when my battle is long and God seems absent. Through this Psalm God has once again reminded me to begin my battles with praise because He inhabits the praises of His people. Facing my battles with praise on my lips brings God's presence so near the enemy must flee.
This week I'm making it my goal to praise God more. What have you learned as we've dug deep into Psalm 119? What manna have you gathered? How has our study helped you gain intimacy with God? What will you make your goal this week? Comment on this post or send me an email and let me know!
Also, if you would like to join us in our next Scripture Reading and Writing Plan click the "Get In Touch" button at the top of this page. When you do you'll receive a weekly devotional email and a copy of our monthly Scripture Reading and Writing Plan. The plan goes along with our Thursday Training series each month. Hope you'll join us!
Until next time,
God bless and keep you,
1) Read Psalm 119:169-176. Mark every reference to God's Word.
2) Prayerfully answer the questions found in this lesson.
3) Read Matthew 6:9-13. These verses contain what we call "The Lord's Prayer". Many of us have this prayer memorized and don't really think about the words we are saying. Make this your prayer today but don't just say it from memory. Slowly speak each phrase giving God time to respond. Allow the Spirit to lead you as you pray. Write down the words you sense God speaking to you and your responses to Him.
Here's an example from my journal:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Oh Father, You are God of heaven and earth. May Your name be kept sacred in my life. Each time Your name passes my lips may it be with reverence, respect, awe, and wonder. May I only speak Your name with high regard for who You are.