Long Song Study, part C


Today we’re going to look at Psalm 119:17-24.
Open your Bible and let’s pray:
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”

Verse 17
“Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.” 

The psalmist begins this section by asking for a generous outpouring of blessing from God. Sometimes we forget that we are invited to “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (Heb. 4:13). But there’s more to it than marching up to God and demanding what we want. David asked with humility. He acknowledged that he was the servant, so he made his request with respect and reverence. Also, he wasn’t after a blessing so he could kick back and relax by the pool. He asked for God’s bounty so that he could live a long life of obedience that glorified the Lord.

Verse 18
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” 

This is a verse that should be on our lips whenever we open the Bible to study. Here is the result of God’s bounty — eyes to see wonders in the Word. The word “wondrous” means “great” or “difficult”. Raise your hand if you think there are some difficult passages in the Bible. (*Raising my hand high.) “The reason we do not understand the Bible is not primarily that we lack the necessary intelligence. The reason is that we are sinners, and we need God to open our eyes.” (Christopher Ash) Instead of saying, “Why didn’t God make things clearer in the Bible?” we should pray, “Open my eyes so I can see it clearly.” There are wonders in there and the Holy Spirit will illuminate them if we ask. 

Isn’t it interesting that David thought of the law as “wondrous”? The only scripture he had was the Torah — the first five books of the Bible. We’re talking Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy here, folks. Genesis and Exodus have some exciting accounts, but still — what if that was the only Bible you had? Imagine a Bible without “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” (Prov. 3:5), or “His mercies are new every morning…” (Lam.3:23), or “soar on wings like eagles…” (Isa. 40:31). The Psalms hadn’t been completed or compiled yet and the New Testament was centuries away from being written. “David felt sure that there were glorious things in the law; he had not half the Bible we do, but he prized it more than some men prize the whole.” (Spurgeon)

Verse 19
“I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!”
Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in? Good! Earth is our temporary home — we’re not supposed to act like this is all there is. Even David, with his palaces and power and prosperity knew he was just passing through, which was another reason to store up eternal truth.

Verse 20
“My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.”

Is your soul ever consumed with longing? Do you ever feel like you’re wasting away with desire? For rules? At all times? David certainly had an emotional connection with God’s Word. We (okay, I) tend to approach the Bible studiously by looking up definitions, original language and commentaries. If I’m not careful, I can easily slide into an academic exercise that results in head knowledge. After spending time in study, it’s important for me to look over what I’ve learned and pray it back to God. As I put the facts into my own words and talk them over with God, they make their way into my heart.

Verse 21
“You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.”
So far, this psalm has had two leading characters: the psalmist and God. Now we’re introduced to another group: adversaries who disregarded God and made David’s life miserable. This crowd defied God’s commands and they were proud of it. Instead of entering into a debate or calling them out publicly, David left the rebuking to God. He understood that his antagonists wandered far from God’s truth, so he didn’t expect them to act like believers.

Verse 22
“Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.”

Things were bad enough that David asked for relief from the public rancor directed at him. Even three thousand years ago, people in positions of leadership had to deal with disrespect and derision. Again, David didn’t go on the offensive and shoot back a vitriol response to his opponents. He went to the Lord with his complaint: “Here I am, doing my best to obey your laws and still, I’m being attacked. What is up? It’s not fair!” (To which I say, “The fair comes to town once a year and the rest of the year it’s just not fair.”)

Verse 23
“Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.”

Other prominent leaders were dragging David’s name through the mud with lies and false accusations. How did David respond? By keeping his mouth shut and keeping his mind on God’s truth. The pressure he felt on the outside made him press in closer to God, even though his request did not get him an immediate answer.

“The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: God will either remove it or remove the sting from it. When we suffer from a libel it is better to pray about it than go to law over it, or even to demand an apology from the inventor. O ye who are reproached, take your matters before the highest court, and leave them with the Judge of all the earth.” (Spurgeon)

Verse 24
“Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”

In the midst of that kind of turmoil, David still found pleasure in the Torah. He promised to delight in the Lord’s statutes back in verse 16, and now he’s making good on that promise. The words of God helped him emotionally (my delight) and practically (my counselors).


Things I know for sure from this passage:

  • There is no end to the wondrous treasure that is in the Bible. When we think we know all there is to know about a passage, there’s still more to uncover.
  • We don’t need God to give us more benefits as much as we need eyes to see what He has already given.
  • Going through times of trouble can serve to draw us closer to the Lord.
  • Instead of rescuing us from all our troubles, God often gives us a new perspective.
  • This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.

Next: Gimel

One thought on “Long Song Study, part C

  1. Pingback: Sing Along | a small drop of ink

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