Reading: Psalm 119
Look on my suffering and deliver me,
for I have not forgotten your law.
Defend my cause and redeem me;
preserve my life according to your promise.
Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek out your decrees.
Your compassion, LORD, is great;
preserve my life according to your laws.
Many are the foes who persecute me,
but I have not turned from your statutes.
I look on the faithless with loathing,
for they do not obey your word.
See how I love your precepts;
preserve my life, LORD, in accordance with your love.
All your words are true;
all your righteous laws are eternal (NIV).*
As we draw near to the end of Psalm 119, I have a confession to make. Though in general, I love the Book of Psalms, Psalm 119 did not rank high in my affections. Though my views have changed, please bear with me now as I attempt to describe why at first I disliked some aspects this Psalm.
In my opinion the author of this psalm spends too much time posturing. He continually reminds God how good he is and how disgusting others are. Statements like this one set my teeth on edge: I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word. See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, LORD, in accordance with your love.
Words like these remind me of the Pharisee bragging in the temple while the tax collector humbly calls out to God for mercy. Jesus concludes that the tax collector “went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). I’m left wondering, how did the author of Psalm 119 return home? Was his prayer heard and accepted by the LORD?
The answer must be a resounding yes. Psalm 119 would not be in our Bible’s if it was not the divinely inspired word of God. So this question remains. How does the psalmist get away with using the sort of comparison that drew Jesus condemnation in his description of the Pharisee and the tax collector?
I believe the answer lies in posture. Psalm 119 is best prayed from a kneeling position. The psalmist is humbly—even desperately—calling out to God. The posture we assume influences the prayers we pray.
Response: Father God, teach me how to pray with a humble heart. Any righteousness or goodness I have comes from you. I will brag about your goodness, the cross of Christ, and your unfailing love for me. You are true. Amen.
Your Turn: What posture do you assume when you pray? How does your posture reflect your heart?