Merciful and Loving Advocate

We can sometimes view the Old and New Testaments in somewhat of a false dichotomy. We tend to view the time before Christ as one of judgement and wrath, setting this in opposition to the time of grace after the cross. However, Scripture doesn’t present such categories. Yes, “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ,” but that means they were fully disclosed—they didn’t suddenly start to exist in the Incarnation (John 1:17). Throughout the entire Bible, we see God demonstrating the same character, and there are numerous Old Testament passages that foreshadow Christ.

Psalm 119:153-160 provides an excellent example. No, we don’t find the name of Christ or a mention of a Messiah. Yet we see beautiful reflections of our Lord’s ministry and character in this stanza.

As with so many other portions of the Psalm, the author was crying out because of great distress. He needed rescue from “affliction,” “persecutors,” and “adversaries” (vv. 153, 157). He sought the Lord boldly, crying out for help and expressing his commitment to obey what God had spoken. As he does so, he cries out three times, “Revive me according to,” and names some aspect of God’s Word or character (vv. 154, 156, 159). The ESV renders the phrase, “Give me life.” The Hebrew word can have a range of meanings, but a common element is preserving, protecting, and sustaining life—not necessarily physically raising from the dead (1).

The Psalmist’s cry is insightful, for it shows us so much about our Lord. With each of those pleas for life, the Psalmist describes a particular aspect of our Lord’s character and work. In short, he expressed his complete dependence on his merciful and loving Advocate. Let’s look at each attribute briefly.

In the first instance, he prays, “Plead my cause and redeem me” (v. 154). Wow. What an amazing thought to think that God would take up our cause and contend for us. Right now, the Lord Jesus “intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34). Not only that, but He is our “Advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1, 2). As our Advocate, the Lord Jesus testifies of how He took our place on the cross, completely paying our sin debt. As our Intercessor, He pleads on our behalf for a variety of matters. He pleads our cause. Amazing.

Back in Psalm 119, the Psalmist then acknowledges, “Great are Your mercies, O Lord” (v. 156). Amen, His mercies are indeed amazing. Think about how Paul said Christ showed him mercy, not only by saving his soul, but by demonstrating “patience” (1 Timothy 1:12-17). The Lord is so patient with us. Even though we fail and struggle in many ways, Christ will never cast us out. He is indeed merciful, and He will complete the work begun in us.

The Psalmist culminates in the heart of the matter: “Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness” (v. 159). Even though the Psalmist was devoted to God’s Word and loved it, he didn’t say he deserved deliverance. Rather, he depended entirely on the love of the Lord. God hasn’t brought us into a stale contract. We are in an unending covenant relationship marked by love, a relationship made possible through the blood of Christ.

Paul prayed that believers might “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). John said simply, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Absolutely, God is just and holy, but those attributes are not over against His love. The “great love” of God is what moved Him to save us (Ephesians 2:4-7). Without His love, Christ might not have come. Justice demanded a sacrifice, and through love, Christ Jesus became that Sacrifice for us.

Reflecting on these truths gives us great confidence in our prayers. We face struggles in many ways, even if they aren’t persecution. Yet like the Psalmist, we depend on a merciful and loving Advocate. We can have “confidence” as we come before God in prayer, and we will “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). The difficulties may still persist, but we know Christ is with us. Because of His love, He pleads our case and mercifully walks with us through the valley. What an amazing Savior we serve.


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