|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
119:169-176 The psalmist desired grace and strength to lift up his prayers, and that the Lord would receive and notice them. He desired to know more of God in Christ; to know more of the doctrines of the word, and the duties of religion. He had a deep sense of unworthiness, and holy fear that his prayer should not come before God; Lord, what I pray for is, what thou hast promised. We have learned nothing to purpose, if we have not learned to praise God. We should always make the word of God the rule of our discourse, so as never to transgress it by sinful speaking, or sinful silence. His own hands are not sufficient, nor can any creature lend him help; therefore he looks up to God, that the hand that had made him may help him. He had made religion his deliberate choice. There is an eternal salvation all the saints long for, and therefore they pray that God would help their way to it. Let thy judgments help me; let all ordinances and all providences, (both are God's judgments,) further me in glorifying God; let them help me for that work. He often looks back with shame and gratitude to his lost estate. He still prays for the tender care of Him who purchased his flock with his own blood, that he may receive from him the gift of eternal life. Seek me, that is, Find me; for God never seeks in vain. Turn me, and I shall be turned. Let this psalm be a touchstone by which to try our hearts, and our lives. Do our hearts, cleansed in Christ's blood, make these prayers, resolutions and confessions our own? Is God's word the standard of our faith, and the law of our practice? Do we use it as pleas with Christ for what we need? Happy those who live in such delightful exercises.
Verse 169. - Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord. The "cry" is probably for deliverance from his enemies (see ver. 166); but this, he feels, depends upon his own faithfulness. Hence the prayer in the second clause, Give me understanding according to thy Word (comp. ver. 144).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
TAU.--The Twenty-second and last Part.
TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord,.... Not "my praise", as the Syriac version; but "my prayer", put up in great distress, and with great vehemence and importunity; see Psalm 119:145; and when it is desired it might "come near before" the Lord, it does not so much suppose distance of place between the petitioner and the petitioned as earth is from heaven, as Aben Ezra observes, as distance of state and condition; the petitioner being a creature, and a sinful creature, and whose sins had separated between God and him: and now the only way of access is by Christ; prayer can only pass to God through him, who is the only Mediator between God and man; by whom persons and services are brought near unto, him with acceptance. The sum of this request is, that his prayer might not be rejected and shut out; but that it might be admitted, might come up before God, and into his ears, and be regarded by him, and accepted with him;
give me understanding according to thy word; meaning not natural, but spiritual understanding; not that he was without any, as natural men are, whose understandings are darkened; for he had a large share of understanding of spiritual things; but he wanted more, he desired to know more of himself, of his wants and weaknesses; to know more of God in Christ, and of Christ, his person, offices, and grace; to know more of the doctrines of the word, and of the duties of religion; and particularly that he might have a better understanding of the business of prayer, and might know both what to pray for, and how to pray as he ought; all which is a gift from God: and he desires in all to be directed "according to the word" of God, the means of enlightening the understanding, and of increasing spiritual knowledge; or else he means the promise of God, that he would give him more knowledge and understanding; that he might be taught of God, and follow on to know him, and increase in every branch of spiritual knowledge.
The Treasury of David
169 Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord, give me understanding according to thy word.
170 Let my supplication come before thee - deliver me according to thy word.
171 My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
172 My tongue shall speak of thy word, for all thy commandments are righteousness.
173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
174 I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments.
The Psalmist is approaching the end of the Psalm, and his petitions gather force and fervency; he seems to break into the inner circle of divine fellowship, and to come even to the feet of the great God whose help he is imploring. This nearness creates the most lowly view of himself, and leads him to close the Psalm upon his face in deepest self-humiliation, begging to be sought out like a lost sheep.
"Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord." He is tremblingly afraid lest he should not be heard. He is conscious that his prayer is nothing better than the cry of a poor child, or the groan of a wounded beast. He dreads lest it should be shut out from the ear of the most High, but he very boldly prays that it may come before God, that it may be in his sight, under his notice, and looked upon with his acceptance; yea, he goes further, and entreats, "Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord." He wants the Lord's attention to his prayer to be very close and considerate. He uses a figure of speech and personifies his prayer. We may picture his prayer as Esther, venturing into the royal presence, entreating an audience, and begging to find favour in the eight of the blessed and only Potentate. It is a very sweet thing to a suppliant when he knows of a surety that his prayer has obtained audience, when it has trodden the sea of glass before the throne, and has come even to the footstool of the glorious seat around which heaven and earth adore. It is to Jehovah that this prayer is expressed with trembling earnestness - our translators, filled with holy reverence, translate the word, "O Lord." We crave audience of none else, for we have confidence in none beside. "Give me understanding according to thy word." This is the prayer about which the Psalmist is so exceedingly anxious. With all his gettings he would get understanding, and whatever he misses he is resolved not to miss this priceless boon. He desires spiritual light and understanding as it is promised in God's word, as it proceeds from God's word, and as it produces obedience to God's word. He pleads as though he had no understanding whatever of his own, and asks to have one given to him. "Give me understanding." In truth, he had an understanding according to the judgment of men, but what he sought was an understanding according to God's word, which is quite another thing. To understand spiritual things is the gift of God. To have a judgment enlightened by heavenly light and conformed to divine truth is a privilege which only grace can give. Many a man who is accounted wise after the manner of this world is a fool according to the word of the Lord. May we be among those happy children who shall all be taught of the Lord.
"Let my supplication come before thee." It is the same entreaty with a slight change of words. He humbly calls his cry a supplication, a sort of beggar's petition; and again he asks for audience and for answer. There might be hindrances in the way to an audience, and he begs for their removal - let it come. Other believers are heard - let my prayer come before thee. "Deliver me according to thy word." Rid me of mine adversaries, clear me of my slanderers, preserve me from my tempters, and bring me up out of all my afflictions even as thy word has led me to expect thou wilt do. It is for this that he seeks understanding. His enemies would succeed through his folly, if they succeeded at all; but if he exercised a sound discretion they would be baffled, and he would escape from them. The Lord in answer to prayer frequently delivers his children by making them wise as serpents as well as harmless as doves.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
TAU. (Ps 119:169-176).
169, 170. The prayer for understanding of the truth precedes that for deliverance. The fulfilment of the first is the basis of the fulfilment of the second (Ps 90:11-17). On the terms "cry" and "supplication" (compare Ps 6:9; 17:1).
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