Psalms

Psalm 119:17-24

Gimel

17 Do good to your servant, and I will live;
I will obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
19 I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed
and who stray from your commands.
22 Remove from me scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.
23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
24 Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

***

(vs. 17-18) The psalmist recognizes that God has the sovereign choice on whether he lives or dies. He asks for God’s mercy in that He will grant him life – and because of that life be given the desire to obey God’s commands (His word). Again he asks that God would grant him eyes to see, so that he may be able to fathom what God’s word says. It is strange to think of the time when I would look at the Bible, and try to read the words but it was all a jumble. For some reason I couldn’t figure out what in the world any of it was saying. It was like trying to read a different language. And then God gave me His Spirit, and all things were made new. I was given life, and eyes to see His word and understand it.

But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. – Deuteronomy 29:4

(vs. 19-20) The psalmist knows that he now belongs to God and that this world is no longer his home. He has died to this life and now lives for God. His longing is to be righteous before God and to show himself approved before Him. He begs that God reveal Himself through His word and His commands (which is exactly the point of all of them). And rightly therefore the psalmist thirsts for God’s laws to be engrained on his soul at all times. What does this mean? Are we to ignore the fact that when we are ‘re-born’ we die to the law? No. But the law was meant to reveal sin in that we cannot achieve righteousness on our own – but with God living in us by His Holy Spirit we are able to uphold the law.

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! – Galatians 2

(vs. 21-22) Oppositely to a person like the psalmist who has been given life through God’s grace, the arrogant believe they do not need God’s word and they refuse to obey His commands. The psalmist calls them cursed. Indeed we are all cursed because of our lineage from Adam who was cursed due to his disobeying of God. But the man who has been given grace has been given freedom from that curse – and can now be free to obey. The curse is the total inability to always choose right over wrong. In vs. 22 the psalmist asks for God to remove that scorn and contempt he harbors towards wanting to do right. It is very similar to Paul in Romans 7 when he says: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

(vs. 23-24) The psalmist now disregards those who hold him in contempt for being ‘strange’ because of his desire for God. Though they are his contemporaries he regards God as the only one who matters, and so he places his mind not on earthly things but on the things above. He is resolute that he does not need to seek council or approval from worldly people or ways, but only from God’s law (His word). Only in God is his happiness found.

Something to ponder:

Do you seek council from the world when you are stressed or depressed? God calls us to be set apart, not conforming to the world but daily renewing our minds in His Word. The next time you need help go first to God. Pray, seek, and knock on His door of wisdom and truth found only in the Bible.

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