Psalm 119:153-160

153 Look on my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
give me life according to your promise!
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Great is your mercy, O Lord;
give me life according to your rules.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

There are eight imperatives the psalmist makes in this stanza (only the He stanza (vv 33-40 has more with nine). The psalmist opens this stanza calling on the Lord to look on his affliction and deliver him (v 153a). The psalmist is becoming desperate and needs the Lord’s help. He makes these petitions on the basis that he does not forget God’s torah (v 153b), “even though obeying the Lord did not give him a pass on pain and problems. He wants the Lord not to forget him, just as he has not forgotten what the Lord has taught him” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 435).

In verse 154 the psalmist uses legal language for God to plead his case and redeem him. “[T]he appeal to God to plead his cause is a call for vindication; the language used is that of a lawsuit, for God will champion his cause…This word for “redeem” is well-known for its use in kinsman-redeemer passages; but it essentially refers to setting someone free from bondage and adversity, here caused by the wicked” (A. Ross, Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, pp. 581-582).

The psalmist joins these previous petitions with a petition for God to give him life according to His Promises (v 154b). This can also be translated restore my life or preserve my life. The psalmist is stating “he wants deliverance from the oppression of the wicked so that he can live his life fully in the service of the LORD. This appeal is not based on his faithfulness to the Law, but on the LORD’s fulfilling the promises in his oracles. The law declared that the LORD would protect and defend his covenant people if they lived faithfully—and since he is a faithful covenant member, his prayer appeals to the promises of God to be carried out” (Ross, p. 582).

The psalmist knows that for the wicked who reject God and His Word salvation is far from them (v 155). The psalmist makes a stark contrast: in verse 151 the psalmist stated that the Lord is near to Him; yet for those who do wicked, they are far from His delivery and redemption. “The wicked have no interest in seeking out what the Lord has said. They do not want God’s word in their lives, so the Lord is not there for them in their time of need. They are willfully ignorant of God’s statutes, and they suffer because of their neglect” (Estes, p. 435).

Because the Lord is great in mercy, the psalmist petitions the Lord again to give him life (v 156). Mercy would be better translated compassion in this verse. The psalmist knows that God has compassion on His people. Instead of asking God to give him life according to his promise (v 154) he is asking according to his rules. “As the compassions of the Lord are many (v. 156), so the psalmist’s persecutors and foes are many” (Estes, p. 436). The psalmist does not swerve from the Lord’s Word even though he is being targeted by many persecutors and adversaries (v 157). “In the face of intense pressure, he perseveres in his commitment to God’s word, listening to the direction of the Lord rather than to the threats of his enemies” (Estes, p. 436). The people of God be would be wise to live in such a manner today.

As David hated those who hated God (Ps 139:21-22) the psalmist here looks at the faithless with disgust because they do not keep the Lord’s Commands (v 158). The psalmist again contrasts himself as being the antithesis of the wicked because he loves the Lord’s precepts (v 159). For the third time the psalmist petitions the Lord to give him life; however, here it is according to His Covenant Faithfulness (hesed v 159). God’s people can call upon His Covenant Faithfulness to give them life, to redeem and revive them. Why? Because the sum of the Lord’s Word is truth and each one of His Righteous Rules endures forever (v 160). “The word translated “sum” is literally “head”; here it means the chief characteristic of God’s word is truth. Everything God has said is reliable, because he himself is the truth (see John 14:6). This is not simply a reality for the writer’s current predicament—the word of God is eternal, and therefore eternally true” (Ross, p. 584).

Lord God, thank You that You and Your Word are True forever and ever. Thank You Lord that You do not look away from Your People in their affliction. Lord God, thank You that for those of us who are in Christ we have been redeemed and given life. Thank You that we can have confidence in our salvation according to Your Word.

Lord God, universalism is a lie. There are many people claiming to be “Christians” who think that in the end You will save all people. Lord this is fake news. This is a lie from the pit of hell that keeps people from hearing and receiving the Gospel. For those who reject Christ, salvation is far from them. Lord, lead unbelievers to read Your Word for themselves to see what You have to say about the eternal state of the wicked rather than listening to the world and its feel good message. Lord God, You have wired all of us for eternity; may today be the day for salvation for the reader that is far from Christ.

Lord God, Your compassion and mercies are many. Thank You Lord that Your mercies are new each morning. Lord God, You are Great in mercy and Greatly to be Praised! Lord, give us life according to Your Rules! Lord, Your people are surrounded by persecutors and adversaries, help us to remain faithful to You and Your Word. Lord, may we hate those who hate You with a righteous hatred; yet, sharing Jesus in authenticity and transparency. Lord, convict us where we care more about ourselves than Your Glory. Lord God, You will more than consider how we love Your precepts. You will judge believers when You are ready for their obedience and service to You. Lord God, thank You for giving us life according to Your covenant faithfulness.

Thank You Jesus that You have come to give us life and life abundantly. Thank You Holy Trinity that Truth is a Person and His Name is Jesus. Thank You Jesus that You are Faithful and True. Thank You Lord that Your Word is True and is absolutely sufficient and without error for us today! Lord God, thank You that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it. As such, teach us what that means and how to live in the light of Your Truth. Thank You Lord God for this reader! Lord God, give this reader life so they may love You and love others. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

16 thoughts on “Psalm 119:153-160”

  1. Mandy,
    It’s astonishing how “hesed” (covenant faithfulness”) keeps appearing in this psalm. Is there any parallel for it in modern culture or is it really best understood in the ANE context? So emboldened in faith and trust by your exposition and prayer, sister. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent question, Dora! Agape is the Greek equivalent of hesed. While agape is translated love, it is a faithful, covenantal love to God and to others. We are to love (agape) our enemies and pray for them (Matt 5:44,46). This agape is a faithful act of the will. So to answer your question, yes! I do think we can understand hesed in today’s context especially in light of the NT and Greek!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again I sit at this beloved passage whose writer knew God’s power so personally. Had no doubt that He was a DEFENDER, an advocate, and redeemer – a truth we surely need grasp as the days darken!
    Your points, reference and even prayer given to v 158 really stir me. Just this morning I read another post refuting the Christian mantra, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner!” Firstly, I detest ‘Christian’ mantras, esp that have no scriptural grounding. Secondly, it changes the expressed character of God – “God is angry with the wicked every day.”
    I believe that eliminating the expressed anger and ‘righteous hate’ toward sinners we have utterly eliminated the fear due Him. He is a consuming fire, a God to be feared.
    Thank you sister, meditating upon these verses and truths, praying alongside you as well. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jesus I am not alone! I tell people all the time, “love the sinner, hate the sin is a lie from the pit of hell.” Sin alone won’t be in hell, hell will be filled with unrepentant sinners. The people and their sin will be in hell. I feel confident to say on both our behalves won’t don’t take joy or pride in this but like you said this causes us to truly fear God and share Him with the lost. I am praying for peoples salvations (including your folks) now more than ever because the Lord is on the move and His return is closer today than it was yesterday. God is angry with the wicked, that is an Old and New Testament theme. I am so thankful for other believers who are not afraid to speak the truth in love. Thank you for praying with me, for reading these and for your friendship that has grown even more through this incredible psalm! Lots of love, hugs and blessings!


  3. Didn’t notice how many times there are imperative verbs in this stanza until I read your study. So grateful His Word is eternal; also I appreciate this observation: “This word for “redeem” is well-known for its use in kinsman-redeemer passages” When you prayed against the spirit that believes all are saved, I rejoiced, rejoice that you are centered on the Truth in this post and Gospel truth is given!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I put that part in there because I know that you are a Ruth guy!!!!!!! Glad you picked up on that!!!!! I take anathema seriously and I do not ever want Jesus to accuse me of sharing another gospel! I rejoice that you share the True Gospel as well!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s awesome you remember that I’m a Ruth guy! And hopefully like you I take the anathema seriously I also would be a Gospel Truth guy! Yes this I pray that we be faithful to word till the day we die! 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The explanation that you wrote for verse 153 – he wants the lord not to forget him just as he has not forgotten the law. I found that quite powerful. The steadiness and surety of his faithfulness to following the lords precepts is evident here. We expect God to always be faithful but the psalmist is emphasising that through all he goes through he will cling to the word of God.
    May we hold on and follow Gods word with a steadiness that is given by God itself.
    Thank you Mandy.

    Liked by 1 person

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