the 176 of 119 : “you just call”

Note: New International Version was used.

The 119th Psalm. For the longest time, I understood it as a Psalmist’s expression of his love for the Word of God. That is why I would usually turn to it whenever I find my hunger for God’s Word starting to diminish. One time, it saved me from the downward spiral of practically losing my faith in God. That time, I wrestled with almost every word in it until it broke through the hardness of my heart…

For the longest time, I have always thought of it as that benchmark that I could never seem to reach. Here speaks a man who is crazy and addicted to God and His Word. While here writes a woman barely making it through 10 chapters of the Bible every day, hardly meeting the standards she has set for herself, hardly demonstrating the power of God’s Kingdom in her life.

But look what I found today. I did not find a man trying to rebuke me for my lack of discipline. I found a man just like me, crying out to God, Oh God please help me! Apart from You, I cannot obey Your commands!

119:5  Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!

Oh that my ways were too! Oh how we wish! Oh how the Psalmist had asked it over and over. Here was a man not boasting how well a he had followed God but someone who is saying, “God You know that I love you. Help me love you more! Help me!”Teach Me.

Eleven times you will find these words. Teach me your decrees… your law… etc. (Verses: 12, 26, 29, 33, 64, 66, 68, 108, 124, 135, 171)

18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;

I am dependent on you. I need you to show me. I do not claim to know or to have it all figured out. But look, my heart wants to know You, my heart desires to obey, enable me God. Show me why this instruction that my flesh finds disappointing is actually wonderful and pleasing. I don’t see it now. But if you open my eyes, there is hope for my simple ways.

Verse 73, 134, 144 and 169 cries out, “Give me understanding.” Verse 36-37 says, “Turn my heart toward your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Here speaks a man who claims to have followed God’s Word and who declares that he loves God’s ways. But at the same time, here is also a man who admits that it cannot be done unless God shows him, unless God Himself SUSTAINS him. Here is a man, not different from most us. One who loves God but  cannot so much do so unless God Himself helps him to.

Throughout this Psalm, I hear the phrase “how I love you law… your decrees… your ways…” echo over and over. But look how the chapter is brought to a close:

176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

Sometimes, all God asks of us is to remember we were not the ones who sought Him first. He sought us. If only we would NOT FORGET. I love you law but I have strayed. Seek me Abba. I have not forgotten that Your Words bring me life and not condemnation. (John 3:17)

For the longest time, whenever I turn to Psalm 119, I always expected myself to get rebuked. But today, the words that God had used years ago to break my hardened heart and shatter my unbelief, He had used to snuggle me as if between soft cushions. The rough path of “striving” to be a ‘woman of the Word’ is not a path for us to take. Rather, it is the path of “leaning” on God’s faithfulness to make His Word come alive. This is what  transforms us into those who love His Word more than pure gold (110:127)!



Preserve My Life. Nine times you will find this cry, “preserve my life according to your word” or “preserve my life according to your love.” “In your great love, preserve my life…” (154, 156, 159, 25, 37, 40, 88, 107, 149) Could it be that God is saying, “Just call… just call…”

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3


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