Newtown Bible Church

Humility - The Mark of God's Child (Psalm 119:169-176


  • It is fitting that the we should end finding the psalmist in prayer for that is precisely how we have learned from him throughout most of the 176 vv. This is because he is a man who is living out his relationship to God. Relationship is just that, it is interaction, it is living life with God in  a hostile world - talking to Him; trusting Him; complaining to Him; rejoicing in Him; seeking His favor. 
  • So here he is, once again. pouring out his heart to God in prayer and we, the readers, are standing in a dark corner of his inner room, hidden by the shadows of time, and listening to his Holy Spirit inspired expressions of faith. 
  • And we see and hear a man who has been humbled before God. There is not hint of self-righteousness, no shadow of self-satisfaction, nor shimmer of pride as he approaches God with a real sense of dependence and trust. And this is surely one of the truest marks of grace in a redeemed heart. 


The psalmist prayer manifest humility and genuine dependence on God in all things.


 4 Expressions of dependence by one who has been humbled before God. 


  1. His need for understanding
  2. His need of God’s grace to worship rightly 
  3. His need for God’s Salvation
  4. His need for God’s preserving grace


(1) His need for God’s enlightenment. 

  • Notice first, however, the intimate and personal nature of his prayer.
    • He uses the 1st person personal pronoun 15x in these 8 verses. This speaks volumes of the personal relationship, the intimacy of the Psalmist to his God. 
      • Scripture says our name is written on His hand; that He knows us by name. He also tells us that in glory we will each have a name that only He and I will know. The imagery of God’s relationship with His people is reflected in the most intimate of personal relationships (marriage; sonship; friendship [spouse; parent; friend]). 
      • It is not a selfish “I” because it is not a self-reliant, or self-promoting “I,” of humility, of one who recognizes his proper place. 
      • Note the “your God” of the unbelieving (1 Sam 15:30; Acts 8:24 [Simon the Magician]). 
  • His prayer is also intimate: 
  •  (169-170) “Let my cry come before You (lit. ‘to Your face’), O LORD … Let my supplication for grace” 
  • His prayer is that of an energetic, or intense request; as of an inferior to a superior with which there is an established relationship. This is a mark of humility that will color the psalmist request throughout his prayer. 
    •  “my cry of mourning” - it is his cry, his mourning, his inner pains and anxieties that he is asking God to take notice of and to act upon in mercy. The Lord alone knows the true struggles, desires, and conflicts in our heart. . 
    •  “Let my supplication come before you” - the previous description focused on the inner groaning of the heart, the second on the specific request: it is a passionate request that wells up from the psalmist inner most being; it is the heart being pulled into God’s presence. 
    •  “come before You” - a graphic and picturesque phrase, literally: “to Your face.” The idea is the presence of God, the picture of His face is much more intimate. Spatially the term simply means “in front of” (cf. Gen. 13:9; 32:18; *Ex. 17:6); in a more dynamic or metaphoric sense it has the idea of “to take notice of,” or of God’s presence among His people (Ex. 23:23). (Ps. 88:3 has the same intense petition).
      • He can pray this way because he is confident in God’s gracious nature. 
  •  “give me understanding”  - here is the sign of one who lives their life of faith in the inner man before God; and his great need, his great sense was that He wanted God to give him greater insight into His word (cf. James 1:5). 
  • What he longs for in the midst of persecution is the “grace that [he] may be able to endure it;” and that the grace would be enough to carry him through whatever the Lord has ordained. 
    • His desire lied in God’s provision of strength in the inner man, through the Word. 
  • “Deliver me according to Your promise” - sure he wanted deliverance, but in God’s timing and in God’s way. What he needed in the meantime is the grace to have insight into His Word; insight into the promises of God in the Scripture, so that he could hang on a bit longer. 


  1. His need of God’s grace in worship. 


  •  (171-173) (READ) This is the response, the inner exultation (bubbling over) of the one who has experienced the inner heart and spiritual deliverance of God; who has gone to God’s word and found Him faithful through the word and has found encouragement in His presence. He longs for God’s deliverance and that God would then open his mouth in praise, thanksgiving, and worship.  
    • Too often we forget to thank God when He answers our prayers in the affirmative; when He graciously grants our desire. Here he declares to God that the Lord’s help will certainly return back to Him shouts of praise, joy, and thanksgiving. 
    • Really, this is simply the picture of one who is overjoyed at the experience of God’s grace in answer to his prayer. 
    • This brings attention to the inner joys and experience of delight known only to a true child of God; these are the secret delights of the soul of the truly regenerate. 
      • Many an unbeliever can feel an emotional response to certain music, sad stories, or passing moments of conviction; but only the true child of God can rejoice and seek God’s favor in helping them to rejoice in an increasing inward knowledge of God known in the heart (cf. Col. 1 “strengthened with all power in the inner man” Phil. “rejoice and again I say rejoice”)


“Indeed, if our affections and feelings are moved in social exercises, and are cold and insensible when we are alone with God, it is a bad symptom of our state. What, then, do we know of the comforts of the closet? Do we pray, because we love to pray, or only because our conscience constrain us to the duty? does the Lord mark those secret transactions with himself, that manifest our hearts to be really drawn to him? … It is possible long to continue in the outward course of duty: and yet not one of our prayers to come near before the Lord.” (Bridges, 459). 


  •  (173) “Let Your hand be my help” - there is a switch here; he now turns back and again request the sovereign help of God. 


  1. Humble need of God’s salvation 


  • (174) “I long for Your salvation, O LORD, and Your Law is my delight”
    • What kind of deliverance or salvation is he asking for? While it is possible that it is simply the deliverance from his enemies, because he certainly had them in abundance, and they were an immediate cause of his distress. 
    • Yet, the longing of the psalmist throughout his prayer is focused on God’s granting a more intimate knowledge and understanding of Him through His Word. 
      • It would be right, and in accord with the expression of the psalmist to see it as primarily a longing for spiritual deliverance (Ps. 119:123, 155, 166 - has the same idea). 
    • He wanted the full and final deliverance for the purpose of worship; he was not simply interested in the absence of trouble but in the provision of life for the purpose of worship - this was his chief end
  • (175) “Let my soul live and praise You …” 
    • Westminster Shorter Catechism asks and answers: Q: What is the chief end of man? A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. (1 Cor. 10:31; Rev. 4:11; Ps. 73:25-26). 
    • This is the chief end of man, but only the inner longing and experience of the redeemed. It is and has been the passion of the psalmist throughout. 
    • His motivation for life was the praise of God. He manifest praise to God through: 
      • His trust in His faithfulness
      • His acknowledgement of His righteousness
      • His proof that all his joy lies in his God


(4) Humble need for God’s preserving grace: 

  • (176) “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments”  
  • This is an amazing display of humility; and this really is, from the human side, one of the great affects of the word on his heart that comes through. Humility. He was little in his own eyes and God was very big. God was everything. Eternity was everything. 
    • Living for God’s glory drove him and his passion was grounded in, directed by, and fueled by the Word of God. He loved God’s Word passionately because he loved God passionately. He loved God passionately because he had a deep sense and inner awareness of his sin, of his need for God’s grace and sustaining power in his life. He could not do it on his own and he did not want to because he found such delight in the presence of God. 
  • “seek me when I have gone astray” - this is not the gloating of a proud, self-sufficient Christian, but the true evidence of new birth. Though he may sin, his heart longs for his home and his God. He is aware of his weakness, so he request that God - with the tender mercy that he has always known - seek him; protect him; prove him to be His own (Ps. 23; Heb. 12; 1 Pet. 1 “protected by the power of God.”)
    • If anyone would have had reason to be confident by virtue of their own commitment, it would have been the psalmist. Even in his own prayer he has already declared: 
      • “You have taught me Your statues” “I have chosen Your precepts” “Your law is my delight” “I do not forget Your commandments” 
      • Yet, rather than the pharisaical pride of self reliance; looking to his self as the basis on which to stand before God. He knew that all of his righteous longings were the product of God’s gracious work in his heart, and even at that they still feel short of offering to God all that He is truly worthy of receiving - his good deeds were still filthy rags. 
    • This is the humility of the truly redeemed: a complete awareness of dependence upon God; a complete lack of reliance on his own resources. He is the one who is “crushed in spirit” and “trembles at [God’s] Word.” This is the one to whom God looks. He would be one who stood with Paul “Wretched man that I am” “I know that  no good thing dwells within me.” 
    • It is a final and fitting end to the Psalm. Here we see a man who loves God, who loves God’s Word, who loves God’s people, who suffers for God’s righteousness, and sees himself - not in the proud light of the Pharisee, but in the broken and lonely corner with the tax-gatherer. This is true humility before God. And this is the one to whom He will look. 
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