Psalm 119:17-24 ג Gimel
This section begins with a plea for God’s grace, “Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.” (v 17). The word “bountiful” is a call for God’s grace and kindness. There is a specific gift which he sought in this petition. The Psalmist seeks that grace which the Holy Spirit exercises in illuminating the scripture to the mind. The Psalmist likens it to having his “eyes opened” in order that he may see the marvelous things in the Law of God (v 18).
This plea for illumination also implies a current state. In order to need illumination, one must be in darkness. He further explains his plight as he is “like a foreigner in a strange land.” The land is the law, and he is foreign to it and does not know his way around in it (v 19). This is like if one sat in a dark room, and suddenly the lights came on revealing the nature the place in which he dwelled as in shambles. This is what the Law does. It searches the heart and shows those places in one which are not surrendered to the Covenant Lord.
The Law itself is like light in how it illumines, yet it is in need of the work of the Spirit to illumine the mind of the disciple. The distinction between right and wrong is often called “light” in the bible. The phrase “to shed a light on” describes clarification. This is the light of Christ, namely Christ’s righteous standards clarifying where we have turned from Him. The Light of Christ will one day shine upon all men when he holds them up to that standard. One day all men will stand before the throne of Christ and will be held accountable for their sins. This is why the Psalmist asks that he may know the ways of Christ, that he may not be numbered among those of whom it was said “You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.” (v 21). He recognized that God will one day judge all men.
His resolve therefore is to know the Law of God and keep it (v 24). He does also pray to God to spare him from the Day of Judgment. He resolved to obey God even in the face of suffering in this life in verse 23, “Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.” Ironically, though those who obeyed God in this life are met with trial and resistance (23), God will ultimately vindicate.
This is the great hope for the saints of God. Though this life brings trouble, yet there is the hope of the eternal inheritance reserved in heaven for them. Let us turn now to the one who loved us, and gave himself for us now in confession and petition for the forgiveness which he extends in his Covenant promises.