149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice* give me life.
150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
151 But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
152 Long have I known from your testimonies
that you have founded them forever.
* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.
When we approach God, an important consideration is whether we understand how God has revealed he will act. The reason we have to keep this in mind is when we don’t we run the risk of mischaracterizing who God is. When God says, “This is who I am,” we should take God at his word.
God’s character is what God says it is. Not what I wish it was. That means if God does anything contrary to his character, he could be accused of being a liar. And if God is a liar, then he cannot be trusted. And if God cannot be trusted, then he is not worthy of worship or allegiance.
Our study of God through his word is one of the surest ways we have to better understand how we build our relationship with God. When we do not know what God has done or what God has said, we cannot really know how we should behave around God.
The longer I live, the more I think about this. If I want to know God, I have take what God has said about himself more seriously. I have to hold God’s “feet to the fire” so to speak. And God is not afraid of my approaching him on these terms.
Verse 149: The Psalmist pleads with God to hear and to give them life according to God’s love and justice. These two realities are the ultimate expressions of God’s grace. We are loved like a child by a good father, and we are shown mercy when what we deserve wrath from a holy judge. The tension these realities create could only be reconciled by God. This is why they should inspire awe and give us the courage to request both from God.
Verse 150: Our distance from God’s law is an indication of what we are capable of. This is true in us, and it is true in those who seek to do us harm. The language of persecution reveals the intensity of the opposition. When we are under such attack we must remember the promises of God’s word as they are expressed in God’s law.
Verse 151: The Psalmist has expressed several times that the veracity of God’s commandments can be best seen in our nearness to God. This nearness is not a physical proximity. What is being described is a nearness of character. As we are conformed to God’s character, we see more clearly why what God says is true. This verse is also an extension of the thought in previous verse. Particularly in the idea that our nearness to God is a blessing to us, but for those that persecute us, the distance distorts their moral compass.
Verse 152: What God has revealed will never fail and they cannot be revoked. This is the simplest way of understanding the writers idea here. The reason? Because they are grounded in God’s own being. “You founded them forever” connects what God says with who God is, as we have seen before.