145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep your statutes.
146 I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have founded them forever.
There is a deep crying out to the Lord for His help in this stanza. Based on the Lord’s righteousness of the last stanza (vv 137-144) and as he did in verse 10, the psalmist cries to the Lord with his whole heart (mind, will and emotions) to answer him (qal, imperative, 2ms with 1 cs suffix) so that he can keep His statutes (v 145).
The psalmist urgently and earnestly cries to the Lord to save him (hiphil, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) so that he can observe the Lord’s testimonies (v 146). The psalmist is crying out to God to cause his salvation “from the unbelievers who were following after him with an evil intent (v. 150). The answer to this prayer will mean that he will be able to continue keeping the statutes and testimonies. It may be that the oppression he was facing hindered him from fully and freely keeping the law, having to spend more time concerned with dealing with the wicked” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 577).
Estes states, “It is possible that v. 146b implies that he needs to be delivered so that he can keep the Lord’s decrees, perhaps indicating that his adversity has hindered him from getting to the temple for worship; but that specific setting cannot be proven definitively from the language of Psalm 119” (Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 434). Regardless he is still committed to obeying the Lord’s statutes and testimonies.
Verses 147-148 are a merism (rhetorical device/figure of speech that combines two contrasting words to refer to an entity) covering all of the day and the night. The psalmist prays before dawn for help and through the watches of the night. “Throughout the night he loves to “meditate” (cf. vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 99) on God’s “promises.” Having put his “hope” in God’s word, he waits for the Lord to come through” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 885).
It is wise to remember the psalmist is not “attempting to resolve the problem himself, he places his plight into the Lord’s hands. His crisis does not control him, but he stays committed to the Lord, and he waits for his word to reassure him…As he meditates on the word of God during the quiet of the night, what he knows is transformed into how he lives as he assimilates God’s truth into his life” (Estes, p. 434).
The psalmist continues his lament petitioning God to hear his voice according to His covenant faithfulness (hesed) and to give him life based on His justice (v 149). “Because the Lord is the one who created life, he can revive life when it is flagging (Estes, p. 434). The psalmist in verse 150 makes clear the occasion that prompted the psalmist’s petition in verses 145-149. His foes with their wicked, evil agenda are drawing near to him. Evil purposes (zimmâ) here “refers to sinful schemes…Even though he senses that he is nearly in their grasp, he views his problem through a theological lens rather than just as personal crisis. In following after wickedness, his enemies have departed far from God’s instruction, so the psalmist’s foes are fundamentally the Lord’s foes as well” (Estes, p. 434).
The psalmist preaches to himself that while his foes are drawing near, the Lord Himself is near to him and that all His commandments are true (v 151). The Lord being near to him means more to him than whatever his foes are seeking to do to him. “Subjectively, one can cope with schemers being near if Yhwh is near; and objectively, their being near will not mean their schemes succeed if Yhwh is near. Likewise, the fact that they are far from Yhwh’s teaching counts for less (subjectively and objectively) in light of Yhwh’s commands being true and trustworthy, reliable guides to conduct that matches the way the world really is and to conduct Yhwh will honor” (J. Goldingay, Psalms 90-150 BCOT, 2006, p. 436).
The psalmist concludes this stanza with a statement that he has known for a long time the Lord’s testimonies are the firm foundation forever (v 151). “The psalmist’s life from way back has been based on studying Yhwh’s declarations, becoming convinced by their wisdom and their promises, and thus acknowledging from them that they indeed came from Yhwh and that therefore they will stand forever (cf. vv. 142, 144); they will share in Yhwh’s eternity (cf. v. 89). “Of old” and “forever” thus embrace the entire time of the psalmist’s human life” (Goldingay, p. 436).
Father God, may You be the One that we cry out to in the morning and in the night. May we mediate on Your Word all the day long. Lord God, cultivate in us to be like the psalmist where You Word is our Light, Life and Shield. Thank You God that we live on the other side of the Cross knowing that Jesus is the One who saves. Lord God, remind us that You have not saved Your people to live for themselves but to live for You! Lord God, persecution is coming and in many places it is indeed here, help us all to meditate on Your Word hiding it in our hearts. Lord God, may we never forget that You are near to us in our sufferings and afflictions. May we never forget that You are nearer to us than our oppressors because Your Spirit indwells us. May we never forget in our times of trials and hardships that Your Word is True.
Lord for the reader who has been a believer for a long time or a new believer thank You and praise You that Your Word is our firm foundation. Thank You Lord that there will be a day when the evil doers who harm You and Your people will be held accountable. Lord God, may today be the day of salvation for the reader who does not know Christ. Lord God, thank You for today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.