129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.
The psalmist knows how wonderful the Lord’s testimonies are and that is why he keeps them with his life source or entire being (v 129). This language is similar to the language used in telling the wondrous and mighty deeds the Lord performed in the exodus (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 430). The Hebrew word for soul in this verse is nefesh which originally meant neck or throat. The psalmist was literally keeping the Lord’s testimonies with his very life. As Estes states, “The only reasonable response to the Lord’s wonderful word is to obey it” (p. 430).
In verse 130 the unfolding (pētaḥ) of the Lord’s Words gives light; it imparts understanding (mebin, hiphil, participle, ms, absolute) to the simple. This unfolding refers to “a mystery needing explanation; so it is the expounding of Yhwh’s words that brings illumination. Or the expression may picture Yhwh’s words as contained on a scroll, rolled up until one unrolls it; the words’ mere presence on the scroll brings no light until someone opens the scroll” (J. Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms 90-150, 2006, p. 429).
Light is used as a figure of speech for understanding. Simple (petî) has the connotation of being inexperienced (literally teachable youth) not dull or unintelligent. What the psalmist is saying is “when the Lord makes the meaning of his word clear, those who are inexperienced are able to understand it” (Estes, p. 430). The imagery of light reminds this author of a previous verse where the Lord’s Word was a lamp to the psalmist’s feet and a light to his path (105). It is important to remember that God’s Word lightens our path by giving us understanding, wisdom and discernment in areas where we are lacking.
In verse 131 to describe his desire for God’s word “the psalmist depicts himself as a young bird with its mouth open to receive food. This image implies that he is eating necessary nutrition, not an optional snack or dessert” (Estes, p. 430). Goldingay continues this thought stating, “Longing for Yhwh’s commands is like a hungry person’s longing for food, or a laborer’s longing for the end of the day, or the ground’s desire for rain, or Sheol’s desire for people to die” (Goldingay, p. 430). Christians today would be wise to assess what it is they are opening their mouths, panting and longing for because Satan longs to deceive, distract and ultimately destroy God’s people.
In verses 132-135 the psalmist makes six petitions (commands) to the Lord. The fact that the psalmist wants the Lord to turn to him signifies “he feels as though the Lord is not inclined to him and he needs the Lord to intervene” (Estes, p. 430) by being gracious to him (v 132a). The psalmist knows the Lord gives grace and deals favorably for those who love His Name. He then petitions the Lord to keep steady his steps (v 133a), indicating his “situation seems precarious, need[ing] firm footing in the face of his foes. He asks the Lord to thwart the destabilizing effect of sin on his life, both his own sins within and also the sins by his opponents who threaten to dominate him (cf. John 8:34; Gal 3:22). He realizes that sin is destructive and destabilizing, but God’s word can provide him with stability and protection against it (Estes, p. 431).
The psalmist’s fourth petition is for the Lord to redeem (pādâ) him from man’s oppression (v 134a). The term redeem strictly speaking “implies spending money, but usually it has a more general sense of procuring someone’s freedom or release from oppression…[T]he object of liberation is not to be able to do as one wishes but to keep God’s orders” (Goldingay, p. 431). The psalmist is asking the Lord to be redeemed so that he may keep His precepts (134b). Believers would be wise to do the same based on Jesus’s Work on the Cross. Because Jesus has redeemed His people from the penalty of sin, believers are also obliged to live for Him, keeping God’s orders!
The petition in verse 135 make Your face shine upon Your servant harkens back to the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). Referring to himself again as the Lord’s servant, he petitions the Lord to teach him His statutes. The psalmist “aspires to live with divine blessing and under divine authority” (Estes, p. 431). It is absolutely impossible to have the Lord’s blessing while rejecting His authority! It is also impossible to have Jesus as your Savior without accepting Him by grace through faith as your Lord (Master/Authority) who paid your sin debt with His finished Work on the Cross!
To this point of rejection, the psalmist ends this stanza shedding streams of tears, because people do not keep the Lord’s torah (v 136). The psalmist knows the grace and favor of the Lord and while he “has been deeply afflicted by his wicked oppressors, he does not return evil for their evil. Instead of laughing about their inevitable judgment by God for their disobedience, he weeps profusely for those who reject God’s instruction” (Estes, p. 431). Goldingay makes a profound point, “someone who cries like that in witnessing disobedience to Yhwh’s teaching surely cannot blatantly ignore that teaching” (p. 431). Believers today, while we wait in eager anticipation and expectation of Jesus’s Second Coming, we need to shed streams of tears for those who reject God’s Son and God’s Word. When the Lord is ready He will return for His Redeemed and in the meantime believers are to share the Gospel and keep His Commandments, loving Him and loving others.
Lord God, what a stanza this is! Lord Your Word is Wonderful; help us to apply it to our lives. Thank You and praise You Lord for the Holy Spirit who helps believers understand Your Word. Lord God, help us to take inventory and reflect on what it is we are opening our mouths, panting and longing after. Lord God, help us to be a people who grow in our hunger and thirst for You and Your Righteousness. May we long for You more than the things of this world! Lord God, for my brothers and sisters who are hurting I ask Lord that You will turn to them, deal graciously with them because they love Your Name. Thank You Lord that You do not abandon us. Lord God, keep our feet steady and ready in Your Word. Lord God, may Your people put on Your Armor so that sin and iniquity will have no dominion over us.
Lord God, thank You that You have redeemed Your people from their sin. Lord God, I ask boldly that for our unsaved loved ones that You will stir their hearts toward You. Lord God, for those of us who are in Christ may we NEVER forget that our redemption was costly and in response to Your salvation and redemption may we obey Your commandments. Lord God, may Your Face shine on this reader, may Your Face shine on all Your people as You teach us Your statutes.
Lord God, my heart breaks for those who do not keep Your Law. Lord, my heart breaks for those who have traded Your salvation and the Truth of Jesus Christ for a lie. Lord God, I pray for all those who are following apostates and prosperity teachers and preachers to be redirected and pointed to the true Christ and to the true Gospel. Lord God, Your Word is being violated every moment of everyday, help us to not become so hard hearted that we are unwilling to share the Good News with the lost. Help us to weep now, knowing that when You are ready our weeping and mourning will be turned to joy, dancing and singing. Thank You Lord God for this reader. Thank You Lord God for the opportunity to share and study Your Word online. Fill this reader with the Peace of Your Presence. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.