TAV. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word. Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts. I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. ─Psalms 119:169-176
The Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan brings us to the end of Psalm 119 today. This beautiful acrostic song magnifies the Word of God in the alehf-beyt, the Hebrew alphabet. The first word of each verse in this last section begins with the letter Tav (or Tau in many of your Bibles). It is interesting that the ancient way of writing Tav was by drawing one stick across another because ancient Hebrew was a pictographic language as well as phonetic. Basically, the ancient letter made a cross.
As the Law of God was written down by Moses, and as Psalm 119 is a written expression of God’s Word: His law, His precepts, His commandments, etc., just as the keeping of the law could make no one righteous (for the just shall live by faith), the law of God pointed to Christ, and to Christ’s redemptive work most specifically: the righteous Son of God as the perfect atoning Substitute. Therefore, it is a fitting end to this psalm, to meditate upon and extol the splendor of Christ through His atoning work.
Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
The psalmist acknowledges God’s sovereignty as he asks permission for his petition to draw near to God. Implied in his request, whether the psalmist knows it or not, whether he is even conscious of it, is God’s silent but gracious stir upon his heart to even desire to cry out to God. This is indicated by the second clause of the verse, “…give me understanding according to thy word.” Adam fell when he sought understanding and wisdom through disobedience and direct opposition to God’s word. Adam, at his fall, did not cry unto God until God called out to him, “Where art thou?”
Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
The psalmist pleads for mercy and deliverance according to God’s Word. As Christ actively kept God’s Word as the only Jew who has ever kept the Law and the only righteous Man who has ever lived, Jesus also passively fulfills the Law through obedience to the heavenly Father, fulfilling the prophecies concerning His incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection from the dead; therefore, our deliverance is in Christ alone, according to scripture alone, through faith alone, by God’s grace alone, for God’s glory alone.
My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
Here is evidence of a regenerated soul: the utterance of praise in the promises of God to send His only begotten Son. His statutes were either loathsome, or distant, or harsh, or incomprehensible when once we were lost and without light. Yet, through the Cross of Christ and His redeeming power therein, God has revealed to me His truth. The praise can hardly be contained.
My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
We now must preach God’s Word and proclaim Christ, because that holy law, which could be kept by no other, shines forth in excellence because the law has been gloriously fulfilled of Christ, illuminated in Christ, taught by Christ, and can therefore be seen through Christ.
Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
But the excellence of Christ in His righteousness as a Man is still an unapproachable light to me. Since Thou hast saved me, O Lord Christ, help me to be as pleasing to Thee as Thou hast been unto Thy heavenly Father; for as Thou has saved me, my determined will is Thine; that my desire and determination is that the law of Christ be fulfilled in my members while still dwelling in earthly habitations.
I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
Yet, while upon this mortal coil, situations and circumstances press against me to forget Thy salvation at times; to slumber in an arbor and forsake the open declaration of Thy redeeming sweetness, Thy tender mercies, and Thy everlasting love. Thy Spirit reminds me again by even the faintest chord strummed from Thy law, and I rush back to the arbor to find Thy full counsel of Thy Law. When once it is found, I long once again for the intimacy of Thy saving grace! and Thy law, with its sweet and precious commands, brings me strength through joy in the inner man; and Thy law, which I once feared, forsook, and fled from, is my delight and my meditation all the day.
Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
To shuffle off this mortal coil and be with Thee is far better; nevertheless, if my soul liveth, I have opportunity to praise Thee, and to sing the wondrous glories of Thy work, Thy way, and Thy will; to proclaim the amazing grace of Calvary’s Tree. Not only is Thy law my delight, an everlasting reminder of Thee, but it is also my help. May Thy judgments in Thy eternal will be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path to aid me to fulfill Thy will for my life.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
O Lord, although Thou art sovereign, and though I have applied all my strength to delighting in Thy Word, and seeking help in Thy Word through Thy Holy Spirit, my flesh is weak and I am prone to wander. Only Thy sovereign grace can bring me back; only Thy providential love will seek me and find me. Though I stray as a silly sheep, the power in Thy Word continues to echo in my spiritual ears and rumble within my bosom. You have done that Lord Jesus, that when I do wander, the law that Thou has written upon the tables of my heart will remind me that Thou art my Shepherd, and I shall not lack.