I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.
Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation
And for Your righteous word.
Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness
And teach me Your statutes.
I am Your servant; give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
It is time for the Lord to act,
For they have broken Your law.
Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold.
Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything,
I hate every false way.
Psalm 119 continues much as it has done with the writer asserting his innocence and steady service, proclaiming his great love for the word of God, and asking God to act on his behalf. How tempting it must have been for him to take matters into his own hands, to judge God as too slow, to doubt, waiver and ultimately fall from following the Lord. But he does not. He continues to rely on Him.
In the 16th of Psalm 119’s 22 sections, the psalmist begins by asserting that he has been one who has done what is just, and conducted himself uprightly. He pleads with God not to settle him with his accusers, those who would treat him unjustly. Rather, he asks God to take on a pledge to do good by him as a faithful servant. He asks that God not allow the arrogant to oppress him. The arrogant are a common theme in Psalm 119. In 119:21, the Psalmist praises God for being one who rebukes the arrogant. Verse 51 records that the arrogant deride the author, and verse 69 and 78 say that they lie against him, yet he will continue to follow God’s ways. 119:85 says that these are men who are not in accord with God’s law. The arrogant are insolent, presumptuous, godless men, and the Psalmist pleads that God put an end to their abuse of him.
The Psalmist says in verse 123 that his eyes fail with longing for God’s salvation, and longing for His word. This is similar to 119:81, 82 where the author’s soul is said to languish as he waits for God’s word. We also find the phrase “my eyes fail” in Psalm 69:3 and Lamentations 2:11, both of which reference crying. The Psalmist is in deep distress, yet he waits and continues to love God’s word.
In verse 124, he asks God to deal with him according to His lovingkindness. The word for “deal” is one of action, of making. He is asking that God do something for him in keeping with His lovingkindness. “Lovingkindness” is unchanging love, and refers to God’s goodness in condescending to the needs of His creation. It is often used in praise of God’s help toward someone in a distressing situation, thus it is fitting here. In Genesis 19:19, Lot credits the angels with lovingkindness for rescuing him from Sodom. Joseph is extended favor from the chief jailer in Genesis 39:21, and it is a kindness from God. Exodus 15 records a song of Moses and the sons of Israel. In 15:13, the song says that God, in His lovingkindness, led and redeemed the people. Scripture abounds with examples of God’s lovingkindness toward those in challenging circumstances.
The phrase “according to Your lovingkindness” is interesting in part because it may give us a clue as to who penned this psalm. The phrase is found only in Psalm 119 and three other places: Psalms 25:7, 51:1, and 109:26. The other three psalms are all written by David. Many scholars have concluded based on various evidences that David is the writer of Psalm 119, and this phrase lends credence to that belief. “My eyes fail” may also bolster the idea of Davidic authorship as its other occurrence in Psalms is in one written by David (Psalm 69:3). No matter who held the pen, we recognize God as the ultimate author.
The writer continues in verse 125 with a plea, as God’s servant, for understanding of His statutes and testimonies. Understanding is discernment and consideration. Over and over throughout this psalm, the author has said he loves and meditates on God’s word, yet here he begs for understanding. While his knowledge is deep, it can be deeper still. So too with us! We can never plumb the depths of scripture; there will always be new depths to discover.
119:126 returns to the Psalmist requesting action from God on his behalf. Here he appeals to God’s justice. These arrogant men have trespassed not only against the writer, but against God’s laws. This is upsetting to the writer because he loves God’s commandments more than any riches that could be attained, and judges as right each and every one of God’s commandments. Indeed, the Psalmist hates every deceptive way of living.
Though the Psalmist feels that God’s justice is slow in coming to his rescue, he steadily follows, continuing to rely on the God whose word he loves, the God who has proven faithful in times past, and will, at the right time, deal justice. Likewise, no matter what comes our way, we ought to continue to rely on and follow God’s ways, knowing that He is good, and that He will come to our rescue if we will but remain His steady servants, loving His ways, and hating all other, false ways.