Longing for the Word

I. The stanza emphasizes a deep longing for God’s Word.

A. This stanza echoes the Psalmists struggle with the ungodly.

1. He is “consumed” with God’s salvation (119:81).

2. His “vision” fails as he seeks God’s word (119:82).

3. He feels “used up” to God sometimes (119:83)

4. He “aches” for God to judge the enemies (119:84)

5. He feels alarm because of the “proud” (119:85)

6. He feels injustice from his persecutors (119:86)

7. He acknowledges near defeat (119:87)

B. This Psalmist responds with recognition of God’s intervention.

1. He will “hope” in God’s Word (119:81)

2. He expects God’s “comfort” (119:82)

3. He does not “forget” God’s Word (119:83)

4. He knows that God’s knows how long he will live (119:84)

5. He know the enemies are driven by rebellion against God’s law (119:85)

6. He rests in the certainty that God’s Word is “faithful: (119:86)

7. He does not “forsake” God’s Word (119:87)

8. He promises to “keep” God’s testimony (119:88)

C. This Psalmist utters several passionate pleas to God.

1. When will [God] comfort? (119:82)

2. How long to I have left to live? (119:84)

3. When will [God] execute judgment? (119:84)

4. Help me!  The bad guys are winning! (119:85-87)

5. Revive me! (119:88)

II. The key to the Psalmist’s longing is in the terms used.

A. He is “consumed” with God’s salvation (119:81).

1. The Hebrew, kalah, connotes a “completed process”

2. The “soul,” nephesh, (Genesis 2:7 – Adam a “living soul”) is “in process” to salvation.

3. The “deliverance,” jeshua, is focused on “salvation” in this life.

4. “The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them” (2 Kings 13:17)

5. Psalm 119:81 is the only verse in the Old Testament to use all three words

6. He can expect “deliverance” because he has “hope” in God’s Word.

a. The Hebrew, yachal, stresses expectation of fulfilment.
b. Psalm 42:5 -- Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

B. His “vision” fails as he seeks God’s word (119:82).

1. The Hebrew, ayin, can mean the eye or a water spring, depending on the context.

2. The “eye” in the Old Testament is used to express knowledge, character, attitude, inclination, opinion, passion, and response.

3. The Psalmists’ eye “fails” (Hebrew, kalah; same as 119:81) – idiom: “I have reached my limit!”

4. Psalm 69:3 -- I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.

5. Lamentations 4:17 -- As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us

6. He yearns for “comfort” from his “failure” to “see” God’s help.

a. The Hebrew, nacham, stresses physical relief.
b. Isaiah 66:13 -- As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

C. He feels “used up” to God sometimes (119:83)

1. The “bottle in the smoke” idiom is most expressive – and the only time used in the Bible.

2. The Hebrew, no’wd, refers to a (wine)skin, not to glass.

3. The imagery indicates a discarded “bottle” being consumed.

4. The agents of Gibeon used this idea to deceive Israel.

a. Joshua 9:4 -- They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;
b. Joshua 9:13 -- And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.

5. The pathos is countered by remembering God’s Word.

a. Moses’ warning is very applicable.
b. Deuteronomy 4:9 -- Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons

D. He “aches” for God to judge the enemies (119:84-87)

1. When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?

a. He wants to know when God will “act” (do, make, etc).
b. He expects God to “sentence” the evil doers.
c. He “reminds” God that he is under constant “chase.”
d. Jeremiah 39:5 -- But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

2. The proud have digged pits for me.

a. The Hebrew, zed, stresses “boiling” anger.
b. Proverbs 21:24 -- Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
c. Proverbs 16:27 -- An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.

3. They persecute me wrongfully

a. The “chase” is based on “lies”
b. Psalm 109:2 -- For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.

4. They had almost consumed me upon earth

a. The Hebrew, kalah, is used in verse 81, 82, 87.
1) My soul “faints”
2) My eyes “fail”
3) I am “almost consumed”
b. The ceaseless continuation of the “chase” is fatiguing.
c. At Hezekiah’s revival sacrifice: 2 Chronicles 29:34 -- But the priests were too few so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended and until the other priests had sanctified themselves:

III. The Psalmist rebuts each “problem” with an expectation of God’s help.

A. I hope in thy word

1. Psalm 119:116 -- Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.

2. Psalm 130:5 -- I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

B. When wilt thou comfort me?

1. Psalm 23:4 -- Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

2. Psalm 119:50 -- This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

C. I do not forget thy statutes

1. Psalm 119:109 -- My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.

2. Psalm 119:141 -- I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.

3. Psalm 119:153 -- Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.

4. Psalm 119:176 -- I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

D. How many are the days of thy servant?

1. Psalm 34:12-14 -- What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?  Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

2. Psalm 139: 14-16 --I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

E. They are not after thy law

1. Psalm 119:150 -- They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.

2. Job 21:14 -- Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.

F. Help thou me

1. Psalm 22:19 -- But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

2. Psalm 40:17 -- But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

G. I forsook not thy precepts.

1. Isaiah 58:2 -- Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

2. Ezekiel 20:8 -- But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt

H. Quicken me after thy lovingkindness

1. Psalm 119:149 -- Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.

2. Psalm 119:159 -- Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.

I. I shall keep the testimony of thy mouth

1. Psalm 78:5 -- For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children

2. Isaiah 8:16-20 -- Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.  And I will wait upon the LORD….To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

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