Psalm 119:17-24

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GOOD MORNING! We read one of the scriptural patterns of prayer as it is given to us in the Psalms: "Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me. My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times. Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments. Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies. Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors." [1]

True godliness lies very much in the desires of the heart. A high value of the LORD'S commandment leads to a ready will to know and to do what God wills. A blessing indeed it is when all our desires are after the things of God.

The Psalmist is expressing a reverence for the holy will of God, and such a desire to know His will in personal experience that the longing is very near heart-break.

Without the abundant mercy of the throne of grace, we cannot live. Every thing we are and hope to be is all of grace. The very life of the child of God is by grace through faith "and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."[2]

JESUS CHRIST the LORD is the saint's victory. The most real communion between the believer and the LORD is described in the verses we have read. God reveals His will in His word, and the child of God longs to completely fellowship with the LORD, and hastens to be obedient to the word of God.

The desire of the Christian to do the will of God needs to be a consistent desire. The one who truly longs to know, and strives with diligence to do that which God reveals in His word, will experience fellowship with the Father and with His Son JESUS CHRIST our LORD.

What could be a better commendation from the LORD than what the scripture gives to Enoch, the seventh from Adam. "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."[3]

Let us consider the words the Psalmist uses concerning this earthly life: "I am a stranger in the earth." The New Testament uses this same expression to describe the Christian living below in this old sinful world: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."[4]

It is only men and women of faith who consider this present life, to be, as, in truth it is, a temporary thing. It is by faith that we do not fasten our eyes on the visible, but on the unseen. We are taught in the word that the visible things are transitory, but the unseen things are everlasting.

Since none of the things around me are really mine, "hide not thy commandments from me." Our LORD talked of those who had been disciples, but now were going away, to walk no more with him, and He asked the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" Simon Peter quickly answered, "LORD, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." [5]

There it is! That is the truth about this present life! If we lose the spiritual, if we reject the eternal word of God, what is there? To whom can we turn? How shall we then live?

How frail the thread of this present life! How soon are we removed! "I am a stranger in the earth, hide not thy commandments from me. … Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."

God's word is a wonder house of rare gems, a treasure house full of treasures. The Holy Spirit illumines the pure word of God to the believing heart, even as he reads and meditates.

Apart from spiritual life, the natural life is but a mere existence. We cannot live and grow and develop apart from the constant bestowing of divine grace; and you and I cannot live for the LORD in our own strength; "Deal bountifully with thy servant that I may live and keep thy word."

When this passing world is done;
When has sunk yon glorious sun;
When the pearly gates I gain,
Never to go out again;
Then, LORD, shall I fully know-
Not till then- how much I owe![6]

… I know I owe a debt of love, I know I owe,
back to my sin I will not go,
because a debt of love I owe. …"[7]

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. … We love him, because he first loved us."[8]

[1] Psalm 119:17-24
[2] Ephesians 2:8
[3] Hebrews 11:5
[4] 2 Peter 11-12
[5] John 6:67, 68
[6] See editor’s note below
[7] unknown
[8] 1 John 4:10, 19

Editor's Note:  This portion of the message comes from a poem by Robert M. McCheyne entitled "I Am Debtor".  The first stanza reads:

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o'er life's finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know -
Not till then - how much I owe.
It is supposed that Dr. Keyes recollected from memory the portion of the poem which he used in his text, probably from a hymn arranged from the poem.  The difference in wording can only be attributed to Dr. Keyes’ adaptation of the parts that he could not recall.

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