This section is given up to memories of prayer. The Psalmist describes the time and the manner of his devotions, and pleads with God for deliverance from his troubles. He who has been with God in the closet will find God with him in the furnace. If we have cried we shall be answered. Delayed answers may drive us to importunity; but we need not fear the ultimate result, since God's promises are not uncertain, but are founded for ever. The whole passage shows us: How he prayed ( Psalms 119:145 ). What he prayed for (Ps 119:146). When he prayed ( Psalms 119:147 ). How long he prayed ( Psalms 119:148 ). What he pleaded ( Psalms 119:149 ). What happened ( Psalms 119:150 ). How he was rescued ( Psalms 119:151 ). What was his witness as to the whole matter ( Psalms 119:152 ).
Verse 145. -- I cried with my whole heart. His prayer was a sincere, plaintive, painful, natural utterance, as of a creature in pain. We cannot tell whether at all times he used his voice when he thus cried; but we are informed of something which is of much greater consequence, he cried with his heart. Heart cries are the essence of prayer. He mentions the unity of his heart in this holy engagement. His whole soul pleaded with God, his entire affections, his united desires all went out towards the living God. It is well when a man can say as much as this of his prayers: it is to be feared that many never cried to God with their whole heart in all their lives. There may be no beauty of elocution about such prayers, no length of expression, no depth of doctrine, nor accuracy of diction; but if the whole heart be in them they will find their way to the heart of God.
Hear me, O Lord. He desires of Jehovah that his cries may not die upon the air, but that God may have respect to them. True supplicants are not satisfied with the exercise itself, they have an end and object in praying, and they look out for it. If God does not hear prayer we pray in vain. The term "hear" is often used in Scripture to express attention and consideration. In one sense God hears every sound that is made on earth, and every desire of every heart; but David meant much more; he desired a kindly, sympathetic hearing, such as a physician gives to his patient when he tells him his pitiful story. He asked that the Lord would draw near, and listen with friendly ear to the voice of his complaint, with the view of pitying him and helping him. Observe, that his whole hearted prayer goes to the Lord alone; he has no second hope or help. "Hear me, O Lord," is the full range of his petition and expectation.
I will keep thy statutes. He could not expect the Lord to hear him if he did not hear the Lord, neither would it be true that he prayed with his whole heart unless it was manifest that he laboured with all his might to be obedient to the divine will. His object in seeking deliverance was that he might be free to fulfil his religion and carry out every ordinance of the Lord. He would be a free man that he might be at liberty to serve the Lord. Note well that a holy resolution goes well with an importunate supplication: David is determined to be holy, his whole heart goes with that resolve as well as with his prayers. He will keep God's statutes in his memory, in his affections, and in his actions. He will not wilfully neglect or violate any one of the divine laws.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 145. -- I cried with my whole heart. As a man cries most loudly when he cries with all his mouth opened; so a man prays most effectually when he prays with his whole heart. Neither doth this speech declare only the fervency of his affection; but it imports also that it was a great thing which he sought from God. And thou, when thou prayest, pray for great things; for things enduring, not for things perishing: pray not for silver, it is but rust; nor for gold, it is but metal; nor for possessions, they are but earth. Such prayer ascends not to God. He is a great God, and esteems himself dishonoured when great things with great affection are not sought from him. --William Cowper.
Verse 145. -- I cried with my whole heart. In all your closet duties God looks first and most to your hearts: "My son, give me thine heart": Proverbs 23:26 . It is not a piece, it is not a corner of the heart, that will satisfy the Maker of the heart; the heart is a treasure, a bed of spices, a royal throne wherein he delights. God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are; nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are; nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are. There is no prayer acknowledged, approved, accepted, recorded, or rewarded by God, but that wherein the heart is sincerely and wholly. The true mother would not have the child divided. God loves a broken and a contrite heart, so he loathes a divided heart: Psalms 51:17 ; James 1:8 . God neither loves halting nor halving; he will be served truly and totally. The royal law is, "Thou shalt love and serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." Among the heathens, when the beasts were cut up for sacrifice, the first thing the priest looked upon was the heart, and if the heart was naught, the sacrifice was rejected. Verily, God rejects all those sacrifices wherein the heart is not. Prayer without the heart is but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Prayer is only lovely and weighty, as the heart is in it, and no otherwise. It is not the lifting up of the voice, nor the wringing of the hands, nor the beating of the breasts, nor an affected tone, nor studied motions, nor seraphical expressions, but the stirrings of the heart, that God looks at in prayer. God hears no more than the heart speaks. If the heart be dumb, God will certainly be deaf. No prayer takes with God, but that which is the travail of the heart. --Thomas Brooks.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.
Verse 145-152. -- The believer's cry. The reiterated cry ( Psalms 119:145-148 ) An appeal for audience ( Psalms 119:149 ). The nearness of the enemy ( Psalms 119:150 ). But, in response to the cry, God is also near ( Psalms 119:151 ).
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 145-148. -- The cry.
- Whence it came: from my heart.
- Whither it went: to the Lord.
- When it was heard: at dawn and dark.
- What it sought: hearing, salvation.
- What it promised: obedience.
- How it was sustained: by hope in God's word. --C.A.D.
Verse 145,146. --The souls cry.
- The depth from which it rose.
- The height it reached.
Verse 145,146. -- Childlike prayer.
- In its ring: "I cried."
- In its directness: "to thee."
- In its outburst: "whole heart."
- In its outcries: "hear me"; "save me."
- In its promise of better behaviour: "I will keep thy statutes." --W.B.H.
Verse 145. --
- The model of player: "I cried with my whole heart."
- The object of prayer: "Hear me, O Lord."
- The accompaniment of prayer: "I will keep thy statutes."