While compiling and writing this piece on this portion of the psalm tonight my mind naturally turned to the state of events in our own country today. Like Abraham and Daniel before us, we find ourselves sojourners in an at times very foreign land ruled by princes who are hostile to our faith and lay traps through legislation or the fiat of executive orders. We knew this was part of the gig when we signed up as Christians and that the cross would be heavy. Preparing ourselves and having our “eyes opened” to God’s laws is very important if we are to be equipped to face what may lie ahead.
If God deals in strict justice with us, we all perish…
17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live and observe thy word.
- I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Ps 13:6)
- Draw me from this state of oppression, or rather, give me abundant grace, and eternal life. (St. Hilary)
- I cannot fulfill the law without thy grace.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
- Law. This God will enable me to perceive, as his law is too much above my comprehension.
19 I am a sojourner on earth; hide not thy commandments from me!
- Earth. At Babylon, or in the world, which is a pilgrimage, and I am unacquainted with the roads.
- By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of he same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb 11:8-10)
20 My soul is consumed with longing for thy ordinances at all times.
- If I have but a short time to live, I ardently seek for instruction, and wish to advance daily in virtue. David’s humility makes him fear, lest his desire should not be sincere. (Haydock)
21 Thou dost rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from thy commandments;
- Cursed. Becoming victims of hell.
- “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. (Mt 24:45-51)
- ‘Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deut 27:26)
22 take away from me their scorn and contempt, for I have kept thy testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me, thy servant will meditate on thy statutes.
- Princes. Thus Daniel was treated: It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three presidents, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom; but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” (Dan 6:1-5)
- Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim 3:12)
- The servant of God will adhere to his duty, though his adversaries may be very powerful.
24 Thy testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors.
- The laws of God afford the best advice.
- An ancient king observed, that the dead were the best counselors, as they will not flatter. It is because of this that we turn to the wisdom of the saints who came before us. For they immersed themselves in the Word of God and in His precepts. They sugarcoat nothing in describing the trials they faced, both inwardly in dryness or struggles with prayer; or outwardly when faced with scorn, persecution and even martyrdom.
God does not wish us merely to listen to the words and phrases contained in the Scriptures but to do so with a great deal of prudent reflection. Therefore, blessed David frequently prefixed to his psalms the expression “a meditation” and also said, “Open my eyes, and I will consider the wondrous things of your law.” And after him, his son (Solomon) also pointed out by way of instruction that one must seek for wisdom even as for silver, or, rather, to trade in it more than in gold. – Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John 15.
*John Chrysostom (344/354-407) Bishop of Constantinople who was noted for his orthodoxy, his eloquence and his attacks on Christian laxity in high places.
We ought to spend our lives in God’s service; we shall find true life in keeping His word. Those that would see the wondrous things of God’s law and gospel, must beg Him to give them understanding, by the light of His Spirit. Believers feel themselves strangers on earth; they fear missing their way, and losing comfort by erring from God’s commandments. Every sanctified soul hungers after the word of God, as food which there is no living without. There is something of pride at the bottom of every willful sin. God can silence lying lips; reproach and contempt may humble and do us good, and then they shall be removed. Do we find the weight of the cross is more than we are able to bear? He that bore it for us will enable us to bear it; upheld by Him we cannot sink. It is sad when those who should protect the innocent, are their betrayers. May the Lord direct us in exercising repentance of sin, and faith in Christ. (source)