The Longest Chapter – Part 3 Jan. 26, 2016


This week’s study is on the third section of Psalm 119, verses 17-24

Be good to Your servant that I may live and obey Your Word.

Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in Your instructions.

I am only a foreigner in the land.  Don’t hide your commands from me!

I am always overwhelmed with a desire for Your regulations.

You rebuke the arrogant; those who wander from Your commands are cursed.

Don’t let them scorn and insult me for I have obeyed Your laws.

Even princes sit and speak against me, but I will meditate on Your decrees.

Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.

One of the morning blessings that devout Jews proclaim every morning is this: ‘Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who opens the eyes of the blind.’  This does not refer primarily to physical blindness but rather praises God for opening our spiritually blind eyes.

Spiritual blindness is the inability of a person to perceive, grasp and internalize spiritual truth.  Such a person is unable to draw the proper conclusions from their reading of biblical passages.  They may understand certain facts but the message or personal application of what is read is not translated into spiritual growth for the one who is spiritually blind.  David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, understood this and cried out to the Lord, ‘Open my eyes to see…’  His is a prayer each of us needs to echo.

Have we not all had the experience of reading a familiar passage but suddenly ‘seeing’ something in it that we’d never realized before?  My friends, that new insight is not a result of our intelligence but is rather an occasion to give thanks for it is a moment when our Heavenly Father ‘opened our eyes to wonderful truths in His instructions.’

In II Kings 6, we read that the King of Aram sent a massive army to seize the prophet Elisha.  The prophet’s servant awoke in the morning and saw a great army with chariots and horses surrounding the city where they were staying.  In a panic, the young man cried, ‘Oh what will we do now?’  Elisha answered him: ‘Don’t be afraid for there are more on our side than on theirs!’ Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!’ And the Lord opened the young man’s eyes and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.’  (II Kings 6:15-17)

The warriors of the Almighty were there all along, but Elisha’s servant saw only the physical army of Aram’s king.  It was only when God opened his [spiritual] eyes in response to Elisha’s plea that the servant was able to see the true reality of their situation.

Spiritual blindness is what causes us to live mediocre lives, to excuse our failings and weaknesses and to indulge our ego. Spiritual blindness confuses our priorities and justifies our compromises.  Spiritual blindness, simply put, blocks our spiritual growth. Lord, open my eyes that I might see.

I will meditate on your decrees. Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.

At different times in my life, I have made use of Bible reading plans that guide one through the Bible in an orderly fashion throughout the year.  They can be very helpful but they can also be limiting IF they remain simply ‘a reading plan’.  To read is not enough. I can read and an hour later, not remember what I read, just as I may listen to a powerful sermon or teaching and soon forget what was said.

The psalmist declares, ‘I will meditate on your decrees…’ From the viewpoint of spiritual growth, it is far better to read one or two verses and spend time pondering over their meaning for my life right here, right now, then to read five chapters without giving any time to personal application.  We are then like a person who seeks advice from a financial expert and then goes and does whatever he wishes, ignoring the ‘wise advice’.  To do the same with spiritual ‘advice’ from God’s Word is far more catastrophic than failing to follow the financial expert’s advice.  The Bible’s ‘advice’ has eternal implications while this world’s advice is at best temporary.

This concept reinforces a verse from last week’s study: ‘I will study Your commandments and reflect [meditate] on Your ways.’

After the death of Moses, God spoke to Joshua, the man called to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land.  In part, the Almighty exhorted Joshua as follows:  ‘Study this book of instructions continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.’ Joshua 1: 8

What is true ‘success’ in life?  Is it really a high powered career? A substantial bank account? A mini mansion in a prestigious neighborhood? Coming up with a world-changing invention?

Not one of these will go with you into the next world.  True success in life is measured by the degree to which you and I conform our lives to God’s Word and His ways as taught to us in His book, the Bible.  That – and only that – will count in His Kingdom which is everlasting, as the prophet Daniel proclaimed, ‘His rule is eternal – it will never end.  His kingdom will never be destroyed.’  Daniel 7:14b

May the ‘sound advice’ of God’s Word never be far from our consciousness as we go about our daily life.

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