Two Verses to Pray Every Time You Open God's Word (Meditation on Psalm 119:17-18)
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. Psalm 119:17-18
The Bible teaches us that we should be abiding in God and in His Word. It teaches us that we should meditate on His Word day and night. It teaches us to talk about it, teach it, see the world through it, and live according to it. But the Bible also tells us how we should come to God’s Word, what we should be looking for, and what it should do in us. In Psalm 119:17-18 we see these three things.
The Spirit gives Life
The Psalmist pleads with God to open his eyes in order that he may see wondrous things out of His law. In other words, unless God graciously grants sight, wisdom, discernment, and beauty, the Word of God will look like lifeless, irrelevant ink and paper. Paul reveals this in 2 Corinthians 2:11-14 “For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Paul shows us, just like the Psalmist prays, that in order to understand the thoughts of God, and the things freely given us by God, we need the Spirit of God. The natural person will come to the word of God and in boredom see foolishness. However, even the believer can have the tendency to approach God’s Word like the old man. There are times when we as believers read a passage with impure motives simply to check a box or gain some man-centered profit. When this happens, there is no beauty being beheld. There is no conviction or reproof. There is no life being imparted. Remember Jesus Himself said that “it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).
This means that the believer must come to the Word of God:
· In the Spirit– 2 Corinthians 2:11-14 (see above)
· With Hunger– “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1
· With Humility– “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:7-11
· Seeking to be Exposed– “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” Psalm 19:12-13; “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24; “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
· Seeking Correction, Reproof, and Training– “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
· In Need– “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” Psalm 86:1
· Knowing we Lack Nothing– “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1
· In Prayer- “But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.” Psalm 88:13
· Looking for Jesus– “Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” Luke 24:44-45
· Looking for Beauty– “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4
· To Rest– “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Abide to Obey. Obey to Abide.
The promise that we find in Scripture is that when we come to God, through His Word in the power of the Holy Spirit and because of Jesus, we find that not only has God dealt bountifully (fully) with us, but he gives us new life. Not just any kind of life though, but a life that is able to joyfully keep His Word. If you look at the above list, you can be overwhelmed by a sense of law and requirements. How on earth can we remember all of those things? How can we seriously come to God’s Word in such a manner that is always hungry and desperate? We can, and we will, by the power of the Holy Spirit. And we will more and more each day as we build the discipline of abiding in God’s Word. It is circular, we are commanded to abide (in a specific way), in order that we may live and keep His Word. And yet we can only truly abide when we are living according to His Word. God has ordained that the two feed each other.
So, believer, you will grow in godliness as you abide in God’s Word. And you will abide in God’s Word as you grow in godliness. You will keep God’s Word as you abide in His Word. And you will abide ever more in His Word as you keep God’s Word. And as you grow in this discipline, you will find that the list above becomes the Spirit-empowered way to come to God through His Word.
Don’t be Bored
One final thought, the Psalmist is praying something very specific. I left it out of the list above, but it may be the most important way that we are to come to God’s Word. He prays that God would open his eyes to see wondrous things. He wants to see marvelous, amazing, miraculous things. He is saying, don’t let me be bored. After all, this is the stumbling block, right? This is why we struggle to spend time daily in God’s Word. This is why we struggle to memorize Scripture. This is why we struggle with family devotions. This is why we struggle to obey. We simply aren’t satisfied. We are bored. We are not desperate. We are not humble. We are not hungry, because we have filled up with the junk food of this world. We are not happy, because our joy is being sucked away, drop by drop, by the burdens of this world.
As people, we chase what gives us joy. We crave what amazes us. And the Bible says “look no further.” The Psalmist knows this is the key to his diligence of abiding. Delight! It’s as if he is saying “Oh God, you have dealt bountifully with me. You have chosen me, adopted me, filled me, I lack nothing. I so desire to live for you according to your Word. But if you don’t show me wondrous things from your word, I will seek them in the world. I know there are beauties to behold that far surpass the glory of this world, but I cannot see them if you don’t show me. Show me God! Show me! Deal bountifully with your servant so that I may live and keep your word!” Amen! Hallelujah! God delights in this prayer and He will reward those who seek Him this way. God has created the world and you and me to display His glory. He has removed the veil from those who belong to Him. In Christ, through the power of the Spirit, we can see wondrous things. God is glorified, and we are satisfied, in seeing these wondrous things. Therefore, these are two verses to be prayed every time you come to God’s Word.
Brother and Sister don’t be bored! Plead with God to show you wondrous things, and linger in His Word until you see it. Nothing else is more important in your day than beholding wondrous things in God’s law in order that you may live and keep His Word. If you don’t see them, you will live according to the world. Linger! Wait! Pray! Oh God show us wondrous things in your law that we may abide, delight, and obey.