Their number was many. The songwriter’s “persecutors and adversaries” lined up to take a swing at him. And knowing he could not withstand the barrage on his own, the songwriter cries out to his God. Look on my affliction, he says, and deliver me. Plead my cause and be my advocate against my accusers. I am Your heritage, thus step up and step in as my kinsman and redeem me from the faithless who oppress me.
And as I hover over Resh, the twentieth stanza of the songwriter’s love song to the Word of God, and consider the psalmist’s plea before “the Existing One,” Jehovah, I’m drawn to the request that is repeated three times in these eight verses. Give me life!
Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to Your promise! . . . Great is Your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to Your rules. . . . Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to Your steadfast love.
(Psalm 119:154, 156, 159 ESV)
Give me life. Revive me (NKJV, NASB). Both translations better, I think, than the NIV’s “preserve my life.”
While there is certainly a sense in which the psalmist seeks to survive his present circumstance, more than that there is an air of him wanting to thrive through the struggle. More than just rescue him, he wants the LORD to renew and reinvigorate him. If he has to go through the testing then he longs to be transformed by it. Through the battle he longs for the LORD to make him better.
“It is a desire which cannot be too often felt and expressed. As the soul is the center of everything, so to be quickened [made alive] is the central blessing. It means more love, more grace, more faith, more courage, more strength, and if we get these we can hold up our heads before our adversaries.” ~ Spurgeon
And where does a revived soul come from? The songwriter identifies a threefold source . . . the Promises of God . . . the Precepts of God . . . and the Propensity of God.
Though the thief might come to “to steal and kill and destroy”, the Lord has come that we “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). If that’s His intent, then should we not appeal to Him that we would know in practice what He has promised? Abundant life, life to the full, is not just mountain top enthusiasm, but is every day, in every way, power for seeking first the kingdom of heaven while I deal with the realities of earth. Lord, give me life according to Your promise!
And we’re not left to our own wisdom or devices to deal with that which stands against us. Rather we take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” against all circumstance and against every enemy (Eph. 6:17). We rely not on bread alone, but on “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Lord, give me life according to Your rules!
What’s more, we stand fast in the confidence of the cross. God so loved us, that He gave His One and only Son to redeem us. So, “if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:31-37). Lord, give me life according to Your steadfast love!
Sometimes all we want to do is get through it. O may the cry of our hearts be that we might be revived through it. Lord, give me life!
Through Your all sufficient grace. For Your all surpassing glory.