Lent 2021, 1st Sunday in Lent | Psalm 119:17-20

Psalm 119:17-20

17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
    that I may live and keep your word*.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
    wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
    hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
    for your rules at all times.

* Through these reflections, those phrases that identify God’s word, revelation, or law will be highlighted in the text in the hopes of accentuating the many and varied ways we can visualize what God has given to us for our good.


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The power of the word to transform and set free cannot be easily described. But once it has been experienced, it can never be denied. We can become discouraged when we don’t see the kind of transformation we desire. It can create doubt and even fear that we will be consigned to the uncertainty of not knowing if God is pleased with us.

We do not have to live with this cloud of anxiety. There is a promise we can hold on to.

God desires for us to live with him according to the truth. That is why he gave us his word. That we might learn it and be transformed by it. When we interact with God’s word we are awakened to more than we could every imagined.

The promise we have is that if we desire to see, God can give us the ability. But, we have to actually want to see. We have to accept the implications and ramifications of what that means.

In our search from God, we will discover more than we may have ever wanted to admit about ourselves. This is the price we pay to have an honest and true relationship with God.


Verse 17: The desire of the Psalmist is to live in such a way that they might live out God’s word. In order to accomplish this, the writer asks God to bless them. To bestow upon them an abundance of blessing so that they may live out what God has spoken. Now, it would be easy to think this is a request for material increase. However, that would not fit the context. What the Psalmist needs and what God can provide in infinite quantities is the spiritual fervor to obey his commands. This perspective would be a more accurate point of view of the request.

Verse 18: A second request in this section is for the Lord to give the Psalmist the ability to see. This kind of sight is what we all should desire. It is the ability we need to perceive the world as God made it and wants it to be. Without this divine sight, we will experience severe difficulty on our journey of faith. What makes this second request particularly interesting is the Psalmist’s reason for asking. That they might see “the wondrous things out of your law.” The inference here is there are wondrous things that we should see in God’s law that we often timed do not see. When we are unable to see those things, there is a gap in our understanding of what God has revealed.

Verse 19: The journey of life is transient. Those who live for any length of time will see the effects and impact of death. Seeing our time on earth as a period where we are “passing through” can be helpful. It can force us to consider how we expend our energy and what consumes our time. We are journeying through. We will not be here forever. In light of this transient reality, the Psalmist asks God to provide access to his commandments. To not hide them for us. In our knowledge of God’s commands there is information that makes this journey easier to navigate.

Verse 20: What we value is what we dedicate our time and efforts to. The writer here explicitly states that their soul is “consumed with longing for [God’s] rules.” Let us take this declaration at face value. The intensity of this conviction exposes the singular focus all followers of Christ should desire. Faith is not, or ought not to be, something we turn off and on. Who we are in God because of the work of Christ should be the defining reality of our lives.


About the author

Victor Scott

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, and author. I am an avid Cubs fan and a lover of Chicago-style Deep Dish pizza.

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