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Life in the Word: Psalm cxix, part 3.
The psalmist continues his exaltation and praise for the Word of God. The prominence and rapturous delight he has for God’s Word should serve as an example for us to delight continually therein, for in the pages of Scripture we not only find the way to live amongst our fellow Christian brothers and sisters, and our non-Christian relations, but, more significantly, we find the way to life, as imparted by the Holy Spirit and founded upon the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross.
Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments. Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies. Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. (Ps 119:17–24)
The Bible is a living book, a lively book, that imparts life to the reader through the Spirit. And so it is that the psalmist inquires of his God to “deal bountifully” with him. This could rather be rendered: “Show me grace, God, ‘that I may live.’” “Show me favor that I might have life.” “Bless me with life so that I can continue to obey you.” (Ps 119:1) Without Christ, we’re blind and dead, “dead in trespasses and sins.” But fortunately for us, that’s exactly whom the Savior came for! “Jesus came to raise the dead,” declares Robert Capon. “He did not come to reward the rewardable, improve the improvable, or correct the correctible; he came simply to be the resurrection and the life of those who will take their stand on a death he can use instead of on a life he cannot.”1 Therefore, like the psalmist here, we should pray that God’s Spirit would open our eyes to our deadness by his law that we might be raised to life by his gospel. By imploring the Lord to deal graciously with him, the psalmist is praying that God would increase his limited capacity of himself, extend his finite understand of just how much he needs grace. For it is in the doctrines of grace and declarations of the gospel that we’re given the good news of life through Another. We’re granted life because of Another’s death.
It is with these words of God that the psalmist praises him for the “wondrous things out of [his] law.” (Ps 119:2) Since it is out of the law that we’re made to see our need for a Savior, we can praise the law for breaking our blindness to this great need. Jesus has come and has satisfied the law in every degree, on your behalf, making it a divine guarantee that you will be saved, once you’re made to see your desperation, repent of your sin, and believe in his finished work.
This is life — and it comes through the Word and the Spirit of God. We can take delight in the testimonies of grace, for they tell us of the Savior who took the cross for us — to pardon mankind from eternity in hell. They tell us the remarkable depths to which our Messiah dove to save the creation that his Father spoke into existence. They tell us of the incredible tribulations our Advocate endured to secure our favor in the eyes of the Eternal Judge. The Word of God tells us of the Son of who “left the throne of the universe, and assumed the guise of humanity, to be cradled in a manger and murdered on a cross.”2
The Scriptures are a fountain of life for all who thirst! “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Is 55:1) All crying souls find their respite in none but “the God of all grace.” This is the declaration of the Word: that all who are thirsty will find their quenching, that all who are hungry will find their fill, that all who are weary will find their rest, that all who are fearful will find their safety, that all who are lost will find their refuge in Christ alone.
Therefore, “let none stand back as if their sins were too great to be forgiven, or their case too bad to be cured. Jesus is an Advocate who never lost a cause — a Physician who never lost a patient — his blood cleanseth from all sin, and through him the door of heaven stands open to publicans, harlots, the chief of sinners.”3 Pray to God that you’re made to see your deadness so that he can impart his life. There’s life and hope in the Word. Rejoice!
Robert Capon, The Parables of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 158–59.
Thomas Guthrie, The Parables: Read in the Light of Present Day (London: Alexander Strahan, 1867), 33.
Thomas Guthrie, Man and the Gospel (New York: Robert Carter & Bros., 1866), 205–6.