Psalm 119 'qof'

We’re closing in on the end of the Psalm. These reflections below are on the nineteenth stanza which covers verses 145 to 152. Each verse in the Hebrew begins with the letter qof.

These verses, from the ESVĀ®1, interspersed with my comments are:

145. With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.

  • This verse continues the dominating sub-theme of the Psalm seeking to be obedient in the face of pursuit and persecution.
  • The Psalmist is so desirous of a response from the Lord that he cries out with his ‘whole heart’. His request of the Lord is not half-hearted, but whole-hearted.
  • Why is the Lord sometimes silent, or apparently slow to respond? I think it comes down in part to the Lord’s love and the Lord’s discipline. He disciplines those He loves, and, as a loving Father He certainly doesn’t answer all requests immediately and in the affirmative.
  • The Psalmist makes the declaration that he will keep the Lord’s statutes. And I think we know enough about the Psalmist to indicate he did continue to keep the Lord’s statutes.

146. I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.

  • Similar concepts to the previous verse, but with slightly different emphases.
  • Here the Psalmist is calling out for salvation. The Hebrew word here is yasha (H3467) and, as we saw with verse 94, means to be in wide spaces–free, preserved, rescued.
  • The Psalmist then declares that he will be able to observe the Lord’s testimonies when he has been freed. It strikes me that the particular testimonies he has in mind relate to different observances and festivals that require attendance at the temple. We saw similar in my reflection upon verse 134.

147. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

  • Sometimes this is all you can do.
  • Presumably the Psalmist hasn’t woken from a fitful night’s sleep, but has tossed and turned, eventually realising that further sleep will not come. So he arises when it is still dark and prays for protection, freedom, revelation, further understanding and manifestation of the promises of God.
  • The Psalmist’s declaration that ‘I hope in your words’ is a cry of confidence and desperation at the same time. It reminds me of some of the final words of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 33:27a: ‘The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ The Lord is the best resort.

148. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.

  • A quick Duck Duck Go reveals that at this time in Hebrew history there were three watches during the evening–from 6:00pm until 10:00pm, 10:00pm until 2:00am and from 2:00am until dawn.
  • One commentator, Kingcomments indicates dawn was one of the formal times of Jewish prayer, but that the Psalmist had already been prying and meditating during one of the night watches and also before the conclusion of the last watch of the night.
  • Interestingly, in Mark 11:35 Jesus makes specific reference to each of the watches succeeded by the morning.

149. Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.

  • There is an interesting mix of ideas in this verse–calling upon the Lord to act in both love and justice.
  • Whilst they may seem contradictory, they are not. The Lord can act with love and justice simultaneously. The key, I think, is found in the fact that whilst the Lord is holy and demands perfection, He recognises that we can’t obtain that on our own so needed to provide the satisfying sacrifice in the form of Jesus.
  • He is holy and so true justice sees condemnation; but in His love, He has provided the sacrifice so any and all who come to Him in faith will be accepted.

150. They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law.

  • We are seeing more of this in western society every day. One of the buzzwords (are there buzzphrases?) is cultural Marxism which is basically a social construction based around the idea of secular humanism–an approach rejecting religion or the supernatural in favour of reason, naturalism and humanism.
  • In the Psalmist’s case the persecution was much more personal and targeted–people wanted to kill David. He describes their intent as ‘with evil purpose’.
  • Many situations are not as clear cut, but in cases of persecution with the intent of evil demonstrates a lack of understanding and obedience to God’s law.

151. But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true.

  • Drawing a contrast to the Psalmist’s persecutors from the previous verse. In verse 150 his persecutors ‘draw near’, but the Lord ‘is near’.
  • If we love the Lord then no matter how near our enemies, persecutors or difficulties are, the Lord is nearer.
  • In the second clause the NASB reads slightly differently to the ESV. The NASB reads ‘and all Your commandments are truth’. Truth has a more imperative and and emphatic ring to it than true. Something may be ’true’ but that sounds less pressing than ’truth’.

152. Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.

  • Something of a rarity in this Psalm–the verse is a single clause.
  • The Psalmist is saying not only does God’s word declare that it has power and effect for all time, but that he has personally discovered and experienced the same.
  • And this knowledge or experience is not a recent discovery for him, but something he has long known.

  1. Scripture quotations taken from the ESV. Copyright by Crossway. ↩︎