Here we are together on day three our journey through Psalm 119. I found it easier to get up this morning. I had a sense of anticipation in coming to this passage. I wish it were always like that. Let me encourage you in your daily devotions, not to give up when it seems things have gotten stale. There are so many reasons this may have happened. We may just be physically worn down. Our spirits and our bodies are tied together. Tired and worn out people often struggle with their spirits. What seems like disinterest may in fact be exhaustion. A good night’s rest; a day off; or doing something purposely to relax can do wonders for your spirit.
When I read the section of the psalm we come to today, I am struck with the high place the psalmist gives the Word of God in his life. He lives to read it, and to obey it. Let’s look at it.
Section 3 (GIMEL)
Psalms 119:17-24 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
The first think I notice is the request made in verse 17. “Deal bountifully with they servant…” This is not such an unusual request is it? How often do we pray in just such a way?
Lord, bless my life today.
Lord, let things go right for me today.
There is nothing wrong with praying this. However, it is the psalmist’s reason for praying this that is unusual. Go back and look. The “because” of his request is that he might live and keep God’s law. Imagine that. “Lord, keep me safe today so that I can live and do what you say. Lord, bless me today, so that I can live and do what you say.”
I confess that this is not generally the reason I would give for making such a request. The psalmist’s whole attitude here seems to be one of desire toward the keeping of God’s Word. He wants to live another day, if only to have a chance to follow God and His Word. Wonderful!
In the next three verses (18-20) the psalmist speaks of his desire to know God’s Word and the truth it contains. Dear reader, the is God’s Word. He knows what He meant when He wrote what he wrote.
The Psalmist asks for God to enlighten his eyes. “Open thou mine eyes…” He want to see God’s truth. He doesn’t want to just read. He wants to see.
When I read God’s Word, am I reading to see? Are you?
There are many times in the Bible that the hidden things of God were revealed through the process of God “opening someones eyes.”
Now, there is a New Testament passage that comes to my mind which has some bearing on this text:
1 Corinthians 2:11-12 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
The things of God are known by the Spirit of God Who dwells in us! He knows what God means in His Word. However, I believe we are to still ask God for that understanding. It has been promised to us, but like so many of God’s promises, we must ask for them.
The reasons the psalmist gives for wanting to see and understand are wonderful. He says that he is a stranger on this earth. He says, “Don’t hide your truth from me. Let me see clearly how to go. I am a stranger here. Don’t let me wander aimlessly.”
Verse 20 is a difficult one for me to grasp. The psalmist says that his soul “breaks” for the longing that he has toward God’s Word every day. He places such emphasis on them. He held them so vital and dear that it would pain him to lose them. It would pain him to break them. How wonderful is this!
Verses 21-21 are again a request for blessing on the basis of obedience. He said in the beginning, “Deal well with me, so that I can live and keep your law.”
Now he says, “Remove reproach and contempt from my life because I have kept your law.”
How powerful is the prayer life of the Christian who can ask a blessing to be allowed to follow God’s Word, and a blessing on the basis of past obedience to it!
Finally, verses 23-24 reveal the esteem and love that the psalmist has for God’s Word. I don’t know all that is meant by the statement of princes speaking against him, but I have some thoughts. Could it be that these are people in authority? Princes are often people of authority in Scripture. In fact the word princes means a chief or head person.
When people in authority were speaking against the psalmist, what was his response? The answer is in the statement, “but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.” The words princes and servant are used purposefully in my opinion. He was standing before authority, who was speaking contrary of his life. However, he says “thy servant.” He was saying, they are in authority, but I am Your servant Lord, and not theres. I meditate on your law, not theres. Or “…we ought to obey God rather than men.” Why? Because we are His servants. The psalmist had not conflict with this because he daily meditated on the law of his master.
When he didn’t know what to do. He consulted the word of his God. He tells us in verse 24 that the Word of God was both his counsellor and delight. “…but his delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalms 1)
It is a true joy to receive counsel from one we truly enjoy being with. A trusted friend. A loving parent. We look forward to being in their company, and we know that we are always bettered by being there. That is the attitude of the psalmist. He looked forward to his time in the Word. He had obeyed it. He asked for blessing to continue obeying it. It directed his steps even when worldly authority spoke against his life and choices.
Wow…what a powerful group of verses.
Are we to believe that the psalmist always had this attitude? Was he perfect? No, we will see that testified to in a later passage. These verses should encourage us in our love for God’s Word, not discourage us in thinking that we are so far short of where this man was. However, where he was in the writing of this passage, we can be by God’s grace. I would challenge us today to ask God to open our eyes as we read His Word. Confess any coldness or disinterest. He knows already. Ask Him to warm your heart. The feelings are wonderful. The obedience is primary. God bless you, dear reader, as you seek God’s truth today!
Heavenly Father, I want to let Your Word guide me. Open my eyes when I read it. Let me see the wonderful truths You have placed there. Let Your Holy Spirit guide me in the reading and the understanding. I want to know Your thoughts. I confess that from time to time I have not always delighted in Your Word as I should have. Forgive me, and create in me a desire for your Word like the desire of psalmist. Let your Word be both my delight, and my counsellor today. In Jesus name, amen