Do me a favor and please read Psalm 119:145-152
Once more the psalmist repeats a word that should draw us in and this time it’s “call”, “cry”, and “voice” which we can put into the same bucket. The psalmist calls out to God and they seek God to hear and respond. They cry out to God for help and they seek Gods response to their voice. Why are they crying out? What need do they have of God that they cannot do on their own? We read in verse 150 that their enemies are scheming and making plans, that we can assume, are against them. So they cry out to God and are in fear. We read that they are staying up through the night and watching (vs 148) but we’re not sure if it’s out of fear and in a “defensive” posture or if they’re looking to the hills for God’s response to his crying out to God. By the sounds of it the psalmist appears to be in a very dark place.
What’s painful, and yet beautiful, is that we lose some words in translations – but even then there are just some words that don’t impact us like they did long ago. To many of us when we read “whole heart” (145) we think of “every ounce of us” or “from deep within” but to the psalmist, and to our Hebrew brothers and sisters, the “heart” was seen not only as the very core of the person, not only as the organ that pumps blood throughout one’s body, but the heart was also where the mind, soul, spirit, and self were given. It was where true thoughts were created, and it’s where feelings went out and were understood as well. So when the psalmist declares that “with my whole heart I cry…” we should take this as the deepest, most internal, most secure, most known place within a person. And then everything else after that verse now has a new meaning and understanding as they are impacted from within the deepest part of the soul.
- The psalmist isn’t only going to “keep” God’s statues – they are ingesting them, living into them, breathing them, loving them, abiding by them, and taking them deep into their heart.
- Their call for God to “save” them isn’t surface level, isn’t just a shout out into the sky – it’s a low, bellowing, deeply-moving call for saving.
- The psalmist isn’t only just calling when they want, we read that they call before dawn, they wake up and watch at night – all of it because every ounce of them are seeking the only One who can save them.
- And in the end the psalmists heart, their soul, every ounce of knowledge that they have that comes from their heart, knows that the Lord is near, that his commands are loving, good, and true, and that he WILL come to save them.
I have never been in a place where my whole being was poured out into…well…anything. I have never known war, destruction, pain, or suffering to the extent where every ounce of me cried out to God. I’ve had pieces of me do it but not all coming together at once – and I’m not sure if I’m thankful for that or wishing I had/could. I’m thankful I haven’t been in a place where it was so dark that everything fell into this crying out and yet I wish all my facets, every ounce of my soul/spirit/mind/heart/will/voice etc cried out in one voice to God. Again, I’m thankful and yet I can’t help but feel that I’m missing a beautiful opportunity for my whole being to cry out for its Maker, Deliverer, and Savior. And in the end I have to be OK with that because I cannot force myself to do something it hasn’t done. And yet we CAN train ourselves to be MORE in touch with itself so that IT CAN work together. How? Pray.
Praying is a key part of our walk and faith journey but so often our prayers seem to be done because it’s “time” to do it (eat, sleep, etc), or when we ARE “calling” out to God because we’re now in desperation. When we become more cognizant of our prayer, more intentional about our calling/crying/communication with God then we can become more in tune with our Creator, our needs, and his voice. So don’t just pray, but set aside time, clear your mind, remove all distractions, and not only pray to God but allow your heart, and your head, to work together. In time, I’m convinced, we’ll start to speak from the heart – and from a Hebrew understanding and not a Western one.
3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:
- What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
- The psalmist seems quite in need, patient, and yet not patient. How do you go about your normal routines of the day when you are crying out to God and waiting for his answer?
- How is your prayer life? Is it “rote” (habit and done specifically at specific times) or do you try to practice more of a cognizant and special time for prayer?