In the words of songwriter Bob Dylan,
“You’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
David may have been the king of Israel,
but he never forgot that he was the servant of God.
I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors.
As ruler of Israel, King David could say with confidence that he had done his best to uphold justice and make honorable and ethical decisions. Therefore, he approached God with boldness and pled for deliverance. We come humbly to the throne of God when dealing with our sin, but when we are being unjustly accused, we can call on our Deliverer for rescue.
Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me.
What is a “pledge of good”? Let’s get some help with this one.
To give a pledge means to take responsibility for someone else, perhaps for their debt…. It means you will guarantee the payment of my debt, if necessary by paying it yourself. (Christopher Ash)
So, David was asking for back-up, a promise from God to stand between him and his oppressors. The thing David asked for, we now have in Jesus.
David was praying for the cross. This prayer points forward hundreds of years later when God did just that, in the person of his Son; when he took responsibility for our debts, and nailed them to the cross. (Christopher Ash)
We now have Jesus, who stands between us and our Accuser, the devil. He interposed His precious blood to pay the debt we could not possibly pay. Hallelujah for living on this side of the cross!
My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
We have something David longed for: salvation and fulfillment of the promise. This verse makes me ask some questions, “What do my eyes long for? Am I yearning for the final consummation of the remaining promises? Have I set my heart, my mind and my eyes on things above and not on earthly things?”
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.
God always deals with us from a standpoint of love, specifically “hesed” love. His mercy comes in one of two ways: God either removes us from trouble or supports us in trouble. “God hasn’t promised temporal deliverance from every trial we encounter. He hasn’t promised us that we will live above the turmoil of this fallen world. He has promised to guard us from ultimate evil — the loss of Him. And He has promised to sustain us through seasons of lament by reviving our sense of His distinguishing love as revealed in His word.” (Stephen Yuille) And He promises to teach us, if we will only be teachable. David asked God to teach him twelve times in Psalm 119. There’s always more to learn.
I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!
For a third time, David emphasized his position as a servant. Humbly he asked to be taught and then to take the next step — to gain understanding. A human teacher can present the material, lay out the facts, and write down the equations. But she can’t make a student understand all the nuances and underlying truths. God can do that. He can both teach us and give us spiritual insight which results in real knowledge. Which leads to real wisdom.
It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken.
This might sound a bit audacious or a little bossy. But it’s not! This is the prayer of saints throughout time: “Your kingdom come!” “Come, Lord Jesus!” God actually loves it when we pray like that. Except we usually call for God to act on our behalf when we are personally hurt or in trouble. David was most concerned about God’s honor, not his own comfort. The king’s heart was broken because the commands of God were being broken. What makes your heart break? “Let my heart be broken for the things that break the heart of God.” (Bob Pierce)
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
David was surrounded by people who despised God’s law. And what was his response? To love the words of God even more. “The more the pressure grows to abandon it, the more passionately and delightedly he embraces it. He is deeply loyal.” (Christopher Ash) The word for gold in Hebrew is “zahab”, which means “gold colored”. The word for fine gold in this verse is “paz” which means refined, pure, 24-karat gold. David valued God’s word more than all the shimmery, shiny, veneered things the world had to offer. Then he intensified his statement: God’s word meant more to him than the most pure and precious thing in creation.
Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.
When the secular, God-less culture begins to find fault with God’s Word, we can be all the more sure that God’s Word is right. “When confidence in God is counted vile, we purpose to be viler still.” (Spurgeon) You have to admire David for this: “he was a good lover and he was a good hater, but he was never a waverer.” (Spurgeon)
(You didn’t think I could get through a passage without a quote by Spurg, did you?)
Things I know for sure from this passage:
- If I want to hear someday, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” then I need to be a good and faithful servant today.
- God Himself is willing to teach us, which is an act of great grace.
- All of God’s precepts are right; not most, not some, not just the ones I agree with.
- False ways are to be hated; not flirted with, not dabbled in, not excused.
- Love for the Lord leads to love for His Word.