This Week's Focus Passage

‘Quicken me, O Jehovah, according unto thy word.’

Focus Passage: Psalm 119:107

‘Quicken me, O Jehovah, according unto thy word.’

The inspired penman of this beautiful Psalm 119; this ‘Golden Chain’ as many have been pleased to think of this lengthiest of the Psalms of David, as they are often called although David did not actually pen every one of them, and it is not known with any certainty whether he was the human author of this extended masterpiece. Be that as it may, the child of God thus employed as a poet has cried here unto God for quickening. And he has cried, ‘Quicken me, O Jehovah, according to thy word.’ We may presume, although it would most certainly be such a presumption, that the desired quickening is that of the heart. How many occasions there are in the Psalms for just such a quickening spirit; we should truly say, a Quickening Spirit, for who can truly quicken any human heart but the Spirit of God Himself? The use of the word ‘quicken’ is found only in the psalms—at least in the ASV 1901 translation of the Word of God; and it is therein found only thirteen times, and of those thirteen occasions, nine are imbedded in our one-hundred and nineteenth Psalm. And in all of the thirteen occasions of the use of the word ‘quicken’ so found, save just one, it is in the context of a plea being made unto God for quickening; the only exception being Psalm 71:20 where it is employed as a verb in the future tense in the recitation of the certainty of the promises of God, when in ‘the prayer of an old man for deliverance,’ it is stated to shore up the trust of both the writer and the reader of this particular Psalm, the author in encouraging himself and his readers, says;

Thou, who hast showed us many and sore troubles, wilt quicken us again, and wilt bring us up again from the depths of the earth.

In every other place of its use, ‘quicken’ forms the plea of the psalmist for that indispensable activity of the Holy Spirit to do a work of grace upon the heart. Three times is the plea made with the particular directive added, namely, ‘according to thy word.’ We might well presume that the implication is ‘according to thy promises;’ Lord, thou hast promised to meet my needs in every circumstance; according to thy Word, O Lord, perform that which thou hast hitherto promised, and quicken my heart. In three of the instances, the request made seems to be such as we might consider to be a plea for corporate quickening; the expressed desire is pluralized, ‘quicken us,’ as in ‘quicken thou us,’ and ‘quicken us again.’ But in no less than ten of these usages, the plea is individualized, ‘quicken me,’ and all save one of those ten occasions are found in Psalm 119, our focus chapter. Is this not significant of the dependence of the psalmists upon their God for protection, for sanctification, for healing, for deliverance, for direction, etc.?

Besides the prayer being made ‘according to thy word,’ it is also offered with yet other variety of stipulations, such as ‘quicken me in thy ways,’ and ‘quicken me in thy righteousness,’ which may indeed amount to the same thing as ‘according to thy word,’ for surely God’s ways are His Word, and His ways and Word are all righteousness. However, we may note here that the psalmist does not demur from pointing out the obvious because, to him, it abundantly bears repetition and that repeatedly, if we may say so. Another explication, if even necessary, to affirm this reality, is that three times this quickening is plaintively requested on the basis of the great lovingkindness of our God. In the eighty-eighth verse the plea is made ‘after thy lovingkindness,’ while in the verses 149 and 159, it is said to be asked ‘according to thy lovingkindness.’ In both cases, the psalmist is recognizing that the only expectation of hope is to be found in God’s covenant-love, the grand expression of which is found in that manufactured word, ‘lovingkindness.’ It is most emphatically averred that the basis is the love of God absolutely undeserved by sinners such as ourselves, as well as the psalmist. Twice the prayer is founded in the language, ‘according to thine ordinances,’ which is synonymous with ‘thy word.’ God’s love and the promises of His Word and ordinances are the foundation of the hopes of the psalmist poignantly set forth in our Psalm.

But what is the desire itself; is it not for quickening? Is it not that the petitioner’s heart would be quickened? And what does that desire, or that need, presume about the petitioner? Even our secular dictionaries inform us accurately of the meaning of the word ‘quicken.’ The Oxford Universal Dictionary, for example, is quick—excuse the pun—to advise us that the verb ‘quicken’ means ‘To give or restore life to; to animate (as the soul the body). To give, add, or restore vigor to (a person or thing); to stimulate, excite, inspire….to receive life, become living.’ With these things in mind, it appears that the psalmist is pleading for new life to be given to him; for a kindling of his spiritual liveliness and vigor; that he may be re-activated; re-charged if we think in terms of stored energy and batteries. It does not require that his spirit is become so low and discharged, but only that he feels it to be the case with him. And is it not true of believers, that often the most careful and circumspect; those most desirous of glorifying God; of loving Him with their whole heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, are the very same ones that are extremely sensitive to their absolute dependence upon the life-giving Spirit of God if they are to bring these fruits of the Spirit before their God and King? This is the plain and simplest meaning of the plea of Asaph in Psalm 80 when he cries at least three times, ‘Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved,’ and then as he repeats this cry, it is next, ‘Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved,’ and lastly, bringing God’s covenant Name to bear on the matter, ‘Turn us again, O Jehovah God of hosts; cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved,’ relying entirely upon the covenant-love of his covenant-keeping, eternally faithful God if he is ever to be made willing again in the day of God’s power as he was when the Lord first drew him unto Himself.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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