“Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, Who wander from Your commandments. Take away reproach and contempt from me, For I observe Your testimonies. Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; They are (the men of my council) my counselors.” – Psalms 119:17-24 NASB
In last week’s message, we connected some important dots in the life of King David, and several points were made concerning how we gain knowledge (our epistemology). David learned through a lineage of faithful men and women who understood the value of God’s word, as well as the need to teach it to the next generation.
We can identify with this on one level or another. Most of us have had the benefit of school teachers who cared deeply about the subjects they taught us. And some of us have been blessed with parents who taught us about the Lord in this way.
Today, I want to take another look at David’s life to understand more fully who his other counselors were, and to show that many of those counselors are intended for us as well. We will walk through these verses line-by-line while weaving in an important story from David’s life. That story is found in 1 Chronicles 17-29.
“Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.” – Psalms 119:17 NASB
A quick glance at this line may lead us to assume an uncharacteristic request on David’s part. After all, the word bountiful is synonymous with abundance. We may be tempted to read David’s words as his request for material abundance. “God, give me more stuff.” But this is where proper interpretation matters. (Point on lexical translation here.)
In Psalm 13:6, David used this same term (gamal). The context, as always, allows us to see what was meant by the word. (It also shows what our response should be.) David said, “I will sing to the LORD Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” God’s bountiful dealing, in this context, is justice and salvation (13:5) from the onslaught of David’s enemies.
We can see this a bit clearer in Psalm 116:7, where David said, “Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.” Maybe this is a little “self-talk” on David’s part, but the context deals with salvation from David’s enemies and the ensuing peace that justice brings.
All of this communicates that God dealing bountifully with David meant that He was providing David a return to peace and rest. Another way we might see this is God bringing a cessation from striving, from running, from fear. We can all relate to the need for this rest.
Defining the word correctly enables us to cast away the foolish prosperity notions of the modern church while also showing continuity with the rest of God’s word. Consider these words from Solomon:
Proverbs 30:8-9, “Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.”
Solomon clearly internalized his father’s teaching. He didn’t want too much or too little, knowing that either could derail his heart from it’s true focus—God. The essence of Solomon’s request here is what we would call ‘contentment.’ This is true peace and rest—no wonder the Scripture calls us to be content in all things.
Psalm 119:17 goes on to tell us the reason behind David’s request, “Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.” David desired peace and rest so that he could focus on keeping God’s word.
Is peace a requirement for keeping God’s word? Of course not. David’s request in no way provides us with an excuse that says if we don’t have peace, then we don’t need to obey. We’re always to obey. What David is saying is that in a time of peace, living out and keeping God’s word would be met with greater joy.
“Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.” – Psalms 119:18 NASB
Within verse eighteen, David made another “that” request. He asked God to open his eyes “that” he could behold wonderful things from God’s law. A few weeks back, Mark Williams talked about loving God’s word but having to grow to like it. I know many of you may have felt this same thing. But verse eighteen gives us a practical step that, if followed, will lead to a love, and a like, for God’s word. Let us ask (with King David) for God to open our eyes.
But what does it mean to have our eyes opened? Well, it doesn’t mean physical sight, or a physical ability to read God’s word. The Pharisees could read. They were even well-versed in the Scriptures. But their problem, according to Jesus, was that even though they knew the word, they didn’t understand who it was speaking about.
David was well acquainted with this type of “blindness.” He called it out frequently within the Psalms. Ezekiel also referred to the “blind” people of his day as rebellious (Ezekiel 12:2). Jesus quoted Isaiah concerning this same kind of person in Matthew 13:14-15. And Paul’s parting shot to his Jewish audience in Acts 28:26-27 was the same.
“Eyes to see” has everything to do with an ability to perceive truth. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability to take in information.“Eyes to see” has everything to do with an ability to perceive truth. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability to take in information. Click To Tweet
We all need eyes to see and ears to hear the wonders of God’s ways, but these spiritual senses don’t appear by sheer will power. Yes, we must desire them (which is a willingness), but God himself must be willing to give.
If He were not willing, then no amount of desire on our part would ever change our plight. Thankfully for us, God is willing. The Bible is abundantly clear, “God gives grace to the humble!” This is who David was. Even as a man near and dear to God, David still humbly understood that without opened eyes, he would miss the wonders of God’s law.
In the next post, we will look at one of the wonders of God’s law: counsel. Until then, I’d love to hear about a time that God opened your eyes to truth you’d been blinded to. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.