Faithlife Sermons

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*The Humble Boldness of a Pleading Servant (Ps 119:121-28)*
/Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on February 1, 2009/
www.goldcountrybaptist.org
* *
Psalm 119 is the biggest chapter in the Bible on the grandest subject, the Word of God.
This psalm is the greatest tribute to the greatest Book inspired by the greatest Author, God Himself through His human servant.
Charles Spurgeon called this psalm ‘a little Bible, the Scriptures condensed, a mass of Bibline, Holy Writ rewritten in holy emotions and actions.
Blessed are they who can read and understand these … they shall find golden apples … a garden of sweet flowers.”[1]
Psalm 119:121-128 (NASB95) 121 I have done justice and righteousness; Do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for Your servant for good; Do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail /with longing /for Your salvation And for Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness And teach me Your statutes.
125 I am Your servant; give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies.
126 It is time for the Lord to act, /For /they have broken Your law.
127 Therefore I love Your commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold.
128 Therefore I esteem right all /Your /precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.
History records when “David I, the just and merciful ruler of Scotland [died in 1153 AD, he] spent his last hours of conscious existence repeating verses from the Psalms, including 119:121.’[2]
Many in history have found comfort here in oppression (v.121-22).
This passage is a prayer, filled with pleas and petitions.
The last 2 verses end with praise for the all-sufficient resources and riches in Scripture.
This prayer is a pattern for our passion and prayer.
*1.
Notice His Boldness*
 
For the believer who can truly say verse 121 marks his lifestyle, his prayers are emboldened by his God who enables faithfulness (we’ll see in context that this boldness would be wrong if confident in self, but his trust is in God not self).
Notice that a life of integrity drives the intensity of prayers and passion for God.
Lifestyles of sin, in turn, /weaken/ spiritual life and prayers (1 Pet.
3:7; Ps 66:18).
There’s a purifying power in a clean conscience that gives confidence in God (not self). 1 John 3:21: “/if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God./”
So when you read statements like verse 126 that may sound a little bold (“it is time for the LORD to act”), the context and source is a man after God’s heart praying for what is consistent with God’s heart.
Verse 126 does not call upon God to act because they hurt David’s feelings (or whoever the writer is), but because they are breaking ~/ desecrating /God’s law/.
He is praying consistent with what Scripture has said and with God’s character and expressing it.
It’s ok to want God to act and to call upon Him to at times.
We see that often in the psalms.
Sometimes when God doesn’t act they cry out in prayer: “How long, O Lord?” That’s a question asked in faith, not in doubt.
Is it too bold to pray “Thy kingdom come,” in essence telling God to do it now?
Apparently not, because Jesus taught us to pray that way, and of course added “thy will be done.”
Is it too bold to say to Jesus about His second coming: /Come, Lord Jesus/?
Apparently not (see the last couple verses of the Bible).
One commentator describes the prayer of v. 126 this way: “The psalmist discerned that the time had come for God to move into history, for the Messiah to come, for a work of salvation to be done among sinful men.”[3]
NT believers can now boldly plead for His 2nd coming.
Before that day comes, we can still pray for God to act where His Word reveals His will.
This is not misplaced boldness or over- confidence when you understand this, as one explained it, “the ‘bottom line’ is that only divine action will suffice (126).
/Act/ (126) is the same verb as /done/ (121), as if to say ‘all my endeavours are [insufficient]; you take over’.
In this way 126 is the climax to which 121–125 lead, but it is also a ‘pivot’ between two verses of prayer (124–125) and two verses of allegiance (127–128).
To say ‘I can do no more’ (121–123) and ‘You must act’ (126)…”[4]
 
In Luke 11, Jesus illustrates bold prayer:
“Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me.
The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed.
I can’t get up and give you anything.’
8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet *because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs*.
9 “So I say to you: *Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”* (v.
5-9, NIV)
 
We are emboldened and encouraged to persistently pray, ask, seek, knock in faith.
Hebrews 4:16 says believers can draw near and come with boldness, “/with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need./”
The boldness or confidence there is not self-confidence; it is God-confidence for those who recognize they need mercy and grace in time of need.
A holy life empowers prayer further (as James says, “prayer of a righteous man avails much”).
Verse 121 is the prayer of someone whose lifestyle follows the golden rule of “do [justly and rightly] unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
He is praying basically: /God do unto me as I have done unto others, treating them rightly with justice/.
Can you pray this truly?
Remember how Jesus taught us to pray: “forgive us our trespasses *as we forgive *those who trespass against us” – that little prepositional phrase “as we” means essentially /treat me as I treat others/, as merciful and forgiving as I am to them, mercifully forgive me in same measure.
Oh, be careful little lips how you pray!
When the author (possibly King David) says in v. 121 “/I have done judgment and justice,” /it’s been written that such a statement ‘was a great thing for an Eastern ruler to say at any time; for these despots mostly cared more for gain than justice.
Some of them altogether neglected their duty, and would not even do judgment at all, preferring their pleasures to their duties; and many more of them sold their judgments to the highest bidders by taking bribes, or regarding the persons of men [have times changed much?!].
Some rulers gave neither judgment nor justice; others gave judgment without justice; but David gave judgment and justice … On this fact he founded a plea with which he backed the prayer — /Leave me not to mine oppressors./
… A course of upright conduct is one which gives us boldness in appealing to the Great Judge for deliverance from the injustice of wicked men.
Nor is this kind of pleading to be censured as self-righteous …
When we are dealing with *God* as to our shortcomings, we use a very different tone from that with which we face … our fellowmen.
When untruthful accusers are in the question, and we are guiltless towards them, we are justified in pleading our innocence [toward an oppressor].
Moral integrity is a great helper of spiritual comfort.
If we are right in our conduct, we may be sure that the Lord will not leave us at all, and certainly will not leave us to our enemies.’[5]
So that’s what he prays at the end of v. 121: “Do not leave me to my oppressors.”
He prays basically “Let me be in Your hands, Lord, but don’t leave me in the hands of the unjust and unrighteous.”
This writer who loved God’s Torah (law) knew how that Torah scroll ended, esp.
Dt. 31:6: “the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.
/He will not leave you/ or forsake you.”
That verse is quoted in Hebrews 13:5, where the Greek grammar is an emphatic future negative: “I will never, never, never leave you” (or as we sing in the hymn: “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake”).
Ephesians 3:12 says /if we’re in Christ/ “we have *boldness *and confident access through faith in Him.” Are you in Christ?
(2 Cor.
5:17).
If not, come to faith in Him today, so you won’t be eternally forsaken.
Leave your sin and come to the cross for mercy.
This confident assurance and access is only found by repentant disciples of Jesus, the only way, truth, and life, and only way to the Father.
*2.
Notice His Humility*
* *
*122 **Be surety for Your servant for good; Do not let the arrogant oppress me.*
In contrast to the proud (122b) he is a humble servant (122a).
Notice the phrase “your servant” not only in this verse but also in v. 124 and v. 125.
He refers to himself 3x in 4 vs. with this humble and lowly self-designation.
In verse 125 it indicates dependence:
/I am Your servant; give me understanding, That I may know …/
 
As a servant in ancient times was dependent on his master for everything physically, we depend on ours for everything spiritually as well.
v.
124 /Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness/
 
This is not a prayer that God would deal with him according to his justice, or according to what is fair (which would mean he and all of us would be not only dead but in hell right now).
He prays for God to deal with His servant according to God’s mercy, God’s covenant grace, loyal love, or in my Bible (NASB) /lovingkindness./
Turn to 2 Samuel 7 to see the best illustration I know of someone who understands they are just a lowly servant of the Lord.
David is  receiving the LORD’s covenant lovingkindness (Heb.
/hesed/)/ /– more than just “love” (NIV) and stronger than the normal word for “mercy” (NKJV), it’s loyal ~/ faithful “steadfast love” (ESV) as Lamentations says so beautifully which “never ceases, his mercies never come to an end … great is thy faithfulness.”
The greatest OT illustration of this never-ceasing never-ending faithfulness in covenant “lovingkindness” on a servant is David.
Time and time again, the LORD’s servants praise God as the God who keeps His covenant lovingkindness, and they particularly pray in light of God’s covenant with His servant David in particular (1 Kings 3:6, 2 Chronicles 6:14, 42, etc.).
Notice in David’s response the humble term “your servant” we see in Ps 119.
Observe how in his receiving the greatest lovingkindness and promise of God, how insignificant and humbly and lowly Israel’s greatest king is before the King of Kings.
 
2 Samuel 7:18-29 (NASB95) 18 Then David the king went in and sat before the Lord, and he said, “*Who am I, O Lord God*, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?
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