169 Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
170 Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
171 My lips will pour forth praise,
for you teach me your statutes.
172 My tongue will sing of your word,
for all your commandments are right.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
and let your rules help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.
The psalmist ends this last stanza with his cry coming before the Lord (v 169a). He petitions the Lord to cause him to have understanding according to His Word (v 169b). This is an intensely deep and passionate cry for the Lord’s help. The psalmist asks for his plea to come before God alone and that again God would deliver him according to His Word (v 170). “Here the provision of deliverance from outward circumstances would give him freedom to learn and apply God’s word; and accordingly, provision of understanding would enable him to discover God’s promise and provision of deliverance in the word” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 592).
In verses 171-172 the psalmist’s lips and tongue will praise and sing of the Lord’s Word. “For the final time in Psalm 119, the psalmist in v. 171 presents himself as God’s student. He wants his lips that are now full of petitions to be repurposed for praise, as his inner enjoyment of the Lord’s instruction fills his heart and bubbles up into verbal public praise for him. He wants others to appreciate what he has learned from the Lord, that his commands are righteous, just as the Lord in his character is righteous” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 439).
The psalmist uses anthropomorphism to refer to God’s Hand as power. The psalmist is requesting the Lord’s power to help him because he has chosen His precepts (v 173). “In v. 73 the hands of the Lord created and formed the psalmist, and how he wants the Lord to offer his hand to help him, implying that he cannot manage his adversity on his own…As he asks for the Lord’s help, he reaffirms that he genuinely values what the Lord has prescribed in his precepts” (Estes, p. 439).
The psalmist both longs for the Lord’s salvation and loves His Law (v 174). The psalmist’s “delight in God’s instruction is a constant that is not conditioned by his circumstances. His joy comes from doing what God has said, not from enjoying a life full of pleasant experiences apart from obeying the Lord” (Estes, p. 439). Oh that the people of God would have joy from doing what God has said today! As this world grows darker and more chaotic may believers in the Lord Jesus Christ long for His salvation and love His Word.
It is only fitting with an attitude of longing and love for the Lord that in his penultimate verse the psalmist states to let his life source (soul) live and praise the Lord (v 175). “In the OT, praise for the Lord is limited to one’s lifetime, so the psalmist’s petition, “Let me live, and I will praise you,” may well imply that he feels threatened and at the verge of death. If the Lord intervenes so that he can continue to live, then he will be able to keep praising the Lord, as is his practice (cf. v. 164). As he has called on the Lord’s hand to help him (v. 173), so he longs for the Lord’s word to help him as well” (Estes, p. 439).
The psalmist ends this psalm with a picture of him being a lost sheep who has gone astray (v 176). Thankfully, the psalmist knows the Good Shepherd whom he cries out to “seek His servant” on the basis that he does not forget the Lord’s commandments. It must be stated, “The last note of the psalm is a cry from a broken spirit rather than a confession of apostasy” (W. VanGemeren, Psalms REBC, 2008, p. 890). The psalmist has stated in previous verses that he is prone to wander from the Lord which causes him to be lost (vv 10, 21, 67, 110, 118); however, he ends this psalm with the commitment to not forget the Lord’s Commandments. May the people of God make that same commitment today!
Lord God, may our cries come before You and You alone. Lord God, cause us to have understanding according to Your Word. Lord, give us wisdom and discernment as we practice common sense and reason. Lord God, we offer our pleas and petitions to You. Lord God help us wait in confident expectation for Your deliverance. May our lips pour out praises to You and may our tongues sing of Your Word even in the midst of the darkness and chaos that surrounds us today. Lord God, teach us Your statutes because all Your commandments are right. Thank You that You are a Holy and Just God and that none of us are above Your discipline and correction.
Lord God, may Your Hand be ready to help us in our time of need. Lord God, come near to this reader who is hurting and struggling and is wandering like a lost sheep. May we long for Your Salvation, delighting in Your Law. Your Instruction is wise Lord and wise people keep it. Lord God, teach us to be wise. Teach us to love You, letting our souls live so that we may praise You. Lord God, may we live to praise You and not satisfy our flesh! Lord God, Your rules help us to obey and when we obey You we know that we are doing Your Will. Lord God, we are all prone to wander, leaving the God we love, bind our hearts Lord, seek and seal Your servants, may we commit ourselves like this psalmist to not forget Your Commandments.
Lord God, thank You and praise You for this reader! Thank You for bringing this reader alongside me on this journey through Psalm 119, whether it was from the Introduction to now or just this stanza, thank You Lord for the grace and time this reader has shown me. Lord God, may this reader love You and Your Word more today. Lord, for the reader who does not know Christ may they know today they are never too far for You to reach them. For the reader who does not know Christ may today be their day for salvation. Lord God, thank You and praise You for the opportunity to share Your Word online. Lord, thank You again for this reader. May the Peace of Your Presence lead them by still waters. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.