“Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.” – Psalm 119:18 (NASB)
It was in 1895 that Clara H. Scott wrote the now traditional hymn “Open my Eyes.” It was inspired by more than one Psalm but the verse we have today likely inspired the first stanza of the hymn. If you are familiar with the hymn you know how it can stick in your mind*. Our verse brings to us the promise of wonderful things from God’s Word. But we need to have our eyes opened. Notice we say opened, not open. Even if we have our eye open, it is only when they are opened by God’s Word that we can understand what God has in store for us. God’s Word is full of things for us to have to build our relationship with Him. If we looked at the next verse, we hear the psalmist plea that God’s commandments not be withheld from him. Our time on this earth is a sojourn. Our birth into God’s family by His grace and mercy makes us strangers to this world. We need God’s Word to navigate through. We ask God to “Open our eyes,” because without His help, we are blind to His way and His blessings.
Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!” – Psalm 119:2-3 (ESV)
Psalm 119* is longest of the psalms and chapters in the Bible. Like Psalm 1 and 19 it exults God’s Word. We cannot be certain who the psalmist is since he is not identified. Each verse contains the author’s reverence and love for the Word of God (using eight different terms**), we take each of the statements as an affirmation of the promises God has given us regarding the effectiveness of His Word. We find again the use of the word “heart” which refers to our intellect, volition, and emotion. When we say we are seeking God with “all my heart” what we are affirming is that we have a complete commitment to God and to His Word. We don’t use it occasionally or when our circumstances are desperate and we are driven to seek God’s will in His Word. We don’t use is conveniently or only when we think about it. Our promise is that as we keep our commitment to what God has instructed us in His Word, it will keep us from doing wrong. It will keep us on the path He has made straight before us.
*This is an acrostic psalm composed of 22 sections, each containing 8 lines. All 8 lines of the first section start with the first letter of the Hebrew (language). alphabet; thus the psalm continues until all 22 letters have been used in order.
Every verse includes a reference to one of these terms. Other acrostic psalms are Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 145) referring to Scripture occurring throughout the psalm are: 1) law, 2) testimonies, 3) precepts, 4) statutes, 5) commandments, 6) judgments, 7) word, and 8) ordinances.
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.” – Psalm 19:1-2 (NASB)
Today we consider a promise for us from God’s Word that He is here. With an objective look at the world around us and especially, as in today’s verse, looking up to the sky day and night, we see the evidence that God exists. He has given us a testimony in the heavens and their expanse; both are vital elements of God’s work in creation. Observing we know without hearing a voice because creation itself is telling and declaring this truth; both emphasize the permanence of these corresponding revelations. The psalmist, who is David the King, uses an anthropomorphism (ascription of human attributes to God) to illustrate God’s great power in creation of the universe. God has placed these evidences of His existence and work so that we can know without excuse that He exists (Romans 1:18-20). God has done this for our benefit and for His glory. He is perfect in every way, powerful without any weakness and worthy of honor and praise from us; we are His creatures made for this purpose. This is the sense and urgency behind David’s words in this Psalm. Today, let us see God in His creation and rejoice with thanksgiving.
“The waters saw You, God; The waters saw You, they were in anguish; The ocean depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; The skies sounded out; Your arrows flashed here and there.” – Psalm 77:16-17 (ESV)
There is a historical context for this Psalm of Asaph. Verses 19 and 20 indicate that it is regarding the crossing of the Red Sea during the Exodus. It is when we recall the time when the power of God intervened in our lives with a result that could only be the power and mercy of God. It is interesting that the psalmist attributes emotion to the waters and the depth of the Red Sea saying they were in anguish and trembling. It is vivid poetry applying imagination to what happened. Apart from the poetry of the description, the mention of rain and thunder and the quaking of the earth might surprise us. But it comes from the narrative in Exodus 14:24-25 where such sever weather effects were a part of the event in the way the pursuing Egyptians were mired in the sea bed and perished. Our God is a powerful God and able to do everything He choses to do without hinderance from the laws of nature. God is not bound by the natural laws as we are. Afterall the laws of physics and nature were created by God for our purpose.
“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:15-17 (ESV)
This Psalm of David is noted for being written shortly after he had feigned insanity before the Philistine King of Gath. He did so to avoid any reprisal for what he had done. It was the hometown of the giant Goliath whom David had killed. Using the sword of Goliath, David cut off his head after knocking him out with a rock from his sling. (1 Samuel 17:1–51) This psalm, and others, were written while David hid in a cave with his men. King Saul was hunting David to kill him. We are apt to forget sometimes that our God is very near to His own. David was conscious that the Lord was watching over him and ready to help him at all times. But we note that David was talking about righteous people and you may wonder if this applies to you. Be assured that if you have believed in Jesus as your Savior, then God has declared you to be righteous. That is what we call justification by faith. So this applies to all who believe through faith. God’s eyes are on every movement we make and He is listening to hear our call.
“He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6 (ESV)
After seventy years as captives, the Children of Israel were allowed to return to their homes in Jerusalem and the country surrounding what was, and is called Mount Zion by many. This psalm is a song of Ascents. It is a song of praise to God by the Hebrew people who had come back from their captivity. We can understand how those who had been away from their homes as exiles were thrilled to be back ascending the mountain to Jerusalem. Their mouths were full of happiness, joy, and praise to God. We may not have been exiled from our earthly homes but we can praise God for the great things he has done for us by bringing us into His family. We were strangers to His family but He has made us His children. Has not He shown us so often how much He loves us and how He will take care of us? We may have been weeping as we tended to the tasks God has given to us. He promises that the result will be wonderful. Like those who sow seed with tears of sorrow, God promises we will return with joy at harvest time.
“You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’ Selah” Psalm 89:3-4 (ESV)
This psalm is not a Psalm of David. It is identified in the title as A MASKIL OF ETHAN THE EZRAHITE. Looking for a blessing from God in your life? Then let’s remind ourselves of scriptures that give God’s promises of His blessing. In our chosen verses for today, we have a prayer that God would honor the covenant he made with David when he was King. God is praised for the covenant He made with King David. That promise was for eternal representation by the lineage of David on the throne. It will be fulfilled when Jesus takes the Throne one day on Earth. This has some significance as we think of when in Israel’s history it was written. Before this Psalm was written, Israel, the Northern Kingdom, had been decimated and no longer existed. Judah, the southern kingdom, about two centuries later, had most of the professional, educated, experienced, and skilled population exiled to Babylon. Ethan reminds God of what He said to David. He does so to bolster his own faith in God’s promises. When we waver in our faith it is always good to remind ourselves by stating what God has promised already.
“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” Psalm 57:1 (NIV)
“Mercy me!” These days it is the name of a band and/or the name of a song sung by a different band. It is an exclamation with the same meaning as the words David wrote in this Psalm. He was calling on God for mercy and for protection. Twice David had an opportunity to dispatch King Saul who was hunting to kill him. What is interesting about this verse is the fact that when David wrote this song he was recalling when he was hiding in a cave where he had an opportunity to be rid the threat of death by killing Saul and being rid of him permanently. Instead, David hid in the cave and trusted God. David, anointed to be King after Saul, knew his own need for a refuge for his soul, and he found that in God. He could be secure and safe spiritually. He didn’t have to kill Saul. David chose to trust in God who promised to keep Him safe forever. We need and have the same refuge. God has promised us a safe place with Him for our souls, for eternity. So we can say with David, “We have our refuge in our God.”