Welcome to another pSaturday Psalm! This week we enter a new octet. Psalm 119:17 starts with the letter “Gimel.” One thing I realized for those who memorize this passage of scripture — when you’ve finished you’ll know the Hebrew alphabet! This octet continues the themes we’ve already seen in this psalm and drives home a key point: the absolute necessity of God’s grace that we may understand His Word. May we all shout with the psalmist, “Open my eyes!”
Psalms 119:17 ESV Gimel. Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
It is with respect to God’s immeasurable riches that the psalmist approaches the throne of grace and makes his request. Spurgeon points out that in the previous octet (vs 9-16) the psalmist approaches God as a young man while here as a traveler in a foreign land. We see a progression from youth to later years, but the same struggle against sin and need for grace.
As in the last eight verses he prayed as a youth newly come into the world, so here he pleads as a servant and a pilgrim, who growingly finds himself to be a stranger in an enemy’s country. — The Treasury of David, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon [1869-85].
We, along with the psalmist need the Lord to deal bountifully with us that we may live and keep His Word. It is not a trifling matter to obey the Lord Jesus Christ’s commands. In fact, if it was not for God’s grace we would not even understand His law. God must “deal bountifully” with each and every saint.
I do not think this verse is referring to any type of monetary reward for saints. Nor is it any kind of material security the psalmist desires in order to serve his Lord. I believe the humble servant of the Lord is actually saying in this passage that the only way he will be able to live and keep God’s word is by the Lord’s gracious and abundant provision. That is, it is only by the bountifully dispensed abundant grace of God toward a sinner that any sinner can live with any kind of holiness or righteousness. Thankfully, our Lord provides!
Psalms 13:6 ESV I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Open My Eyes!
Psalms 119:18 ESV Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Here in verse 18 we encounter the heart of the prayer of everyone who is poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). The humble address God in such a way as to glorify Him by their very request. May we all likewise call out to our Great God to open our eyes!
But what is it that the psalmist cries for? It is that he may behold wondrous things out of God’s law! What a testimony of the greatness of our God. It is not enough to proclaim that we require His sovereign and merciful grace that we may understand even an iota or dot of His Law. We must also acknowledge what we read here: that God’s law is just that wonderful that we want God to reveal it to us.
Oh, how often we beseech God for help with our health, our money, and our family. These are all good things, but shall we make all our requests to God based on what we desire to have that is earthly? Shall we not set out minds on Things Above Us as well? So you see, by making the request made known that we desire to behold wondrous things from God’s law, we ourselves glorify Him by proclaiming the excellencies of His law and His word, and thus, Himself.
This desire to see God’s law is confirmed by the last verse in this group of four as the psalmist reminds us that this isn’t a passing fancy or simply an emotional outburst. His desire for God and His word is all-consuming. May it be said of us, as well, dear saints.
Psalms 119:20 ESV My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
The Truth about Soujourners
Psalms 119:19 ESV I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
It is a common theme in the New Testament for the people of God to think of themselves as a sojourner: a person who is only staying somewhere temporarily. A quick search on the term ‘sojourner’ yields over 60 Old Testament verses. What I want to focus on is found in Deuteronomy 10. Beginning in verse 12, you see a reprisal of what we’ve already encountered in Psalm 119, which is basically to love God and keep His commandments. God reminds us that He is the sovereign owner of everything and the sovereign chooser of Israel.
And then He commands them to circumcise the foreskin of their hearts. This is equivalent to saying, “You must be born-again!” God knows that no people will be truly His people unless He replaces their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. God knows that His commands cannot be “kept diligently (Psalm 119:4)” without the new birth taking place first. But God, by His grace, has extended to hard-hearted sinners the gracious offer of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The promise of eternal life, sealed by the Holy Spirit and evidenced by the turning of one’s affections from that which God despises to that which God loves.
And what does God love? Well, for one thing, God loves the sojourner.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19 ESV 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
God’s inerrant Word reminds of a key point of understanding—that the Israelites were themselves sojourners in Egypt. Israel’s law commanded them to be kind to sojourners. In fact, the law required that sojourners had equal rights under the law (Deuteronomy 31:12, Number 9:14). This is one reason why the psalmist can say “Psalms 119:19 ESV I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!” Sojourners are special people to God.
And why not? His own people were sojourners in Egypt, which was a type of what was to come. That is to say, God’s people, the church, are sojourners in a strange land. We are not home…yet. Our citizenship is in Heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! Peter refers to us as “exiles” and “sojourners” in his first epistle. We are only passing through. Take heart, dear Christian, God cares for you, knows your plight and will not forget you!
The Ultimate Sojourner
But of course, there is Another sojourner whom God loves in truth. God’s only Son came into the world that the world might live through Him. He was sent into the world to tabernacle (John 1:14) among us, that we might have propitiation of sins. Yes, Jesus Christ Himself is the ultimate sojourner. He is the one who left His perfect abode and took on human flesh for the sake of you, who through Him are believers in God who raised Him from the dead!
It is Jesus Christ who was treated as a sojourner when He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. It is Jesus who came not to be served but to serve and was spat on, whipped, despised and rejected, and crucified for all the world to see His shame. Jesus is the traveler who was only staying temporarily in this land and He showed us by His example how to follow in his steps.
May we all embrace that glorious truth that by imputation, Jesus Christ has already dealt bountifully with us and opened our eyes to behold wondrous things because He became a sojourner on our behalf and because His soul truly was consumed with longing for God’s law and word at all times. What a friend we have in Jesus!
See all posts in this series
Psalm 119:1-4 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:5-8 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:9-12 — Purity is the Objective
Psalm 119:13-16 — Declare and Delight!
Psalm 119:17-20 — Open My Eyes!
Psalm 119:21-24 — The Comfort of God
Psalm 119:25-28 — Thirst and Life
Psalm 119:29-32 — Shame Shifting
Psalm 119:33-36 — Seeking The Way
Psalm 119:37-40 — Behold God's Promise
Psalm 119:41-44 — Answering the Taunter
Psalm 119:45-48 — A Wide Place
Psalm 119:49-52 — Comfort Amidst Affliction
Psalm 119:53-56 — Righteous Anger?
Psalm 119:57-60 — What's Your Portion?
Psalm 119:61-64 — Companionship
Psalm 119:65-68 — Afflicted by God
Psalm 119:69-72 — More Affliction?
Psalm 119:73-76 — Sovereign Creator
Psalm 119:77-80 — May God Supply!
Psalm 119:81-84 — Our Whole Being Longs for God
Psalm 119:85-88 — They Have Dug Pitfalls
Psalm 119:89-92 — Established
Psalm 119:93-96 — Limited Perfection
Psalm 119:97-100 — Elevated Wisdom
Psalm 119:101-104 — Sweeter Than Honey
Psalm 119:105-108 — Freewill, Oaths, and More Affliction
Psalm 119:109-112 — Sorrows, Snares, Sons, and a Savior
Psalm 119:113-116 — My Hiding Place and My Shield
Psalm 119:117-120 — God Discards the Dross
Psalm 119:121-124— Deliverance
Psalm 119:125-128— God's Law > Everything on Earth
Psalm 119:129-132 — Into The Light
Psalm 119:133-136 — Does Your Love Bring You To Tears?
Psalm 119:137-140 — Zeal + Ignorance = Worthless Religion
Psalm 119:141-144 — Assurance of Perseverance
Psalm 119:145-148— Meditate on the PROMISE
Psalm 119:149-152 — Be Comforted For God Is Near
Psalm 119:153-156— Christ Alone Delivers
Psalm 119:157-160 — We Are In A Battle
Psalm 119:161-164— Do You Hate Falsehood?
Psalm 119:165-168 — Cause → Effect
Psalm 119:169-172 — Eruption of Praise
Psalm 119:173-176 — Seek Your Servant Like a Lost Sheep