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.
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21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.
I thank the Father for his grace in allowing me to meditate on this passage today. When I opened my Bible and saw this passage in front of me, my heart was filled with gratitude. Over the past two years, God has given me an opportunity to study his word more deeply. This time of study has been so transformative that I now view this passage from a new perspective, with a new mentality and understanding, and can make new applications from it. This is the profound grace of God.
A Heart Full of Grievances
Reading this passage, several themes touched my heart. I see in this scripture the sojourner, the shamed, the despised, and the one who is plotted against. I also see the God to whom the psalmist prays, and the poet’s four prayer requests: first, for grace to live (v. 17); second, for God to open eyes (v. 18); third, that God’s commands would not be hidden (v. 19); and fourth, that scorn and contempt would be removed (v. 22).
In the past, when I read these four prayers, my heart began to pray with the psalmist, because these requests were also what I wanted. But my heart was despairing, lonely, helpless, and I prayed in a state of extreme insecurity. Although my lips prayed, my heart was focused on hopelessly waiting for God to change my circumstances. The yearning and concern of my heart was focused on how to quickly alter the situation, not on a desire for God himself.
As I continued to read, I saw the words “sojourner,” “scorn and contempt,” “plot against,” and so on. I felt the same way the psalmist did, and my heart was full of grievances. My natural reaction was to say, “Lord, it’s all my fault. This was all caused because I said and did the wrong thing. Please deliver me!” Then I would close my Bible, and wait in desperation for God to put my troubles to an end so I could move on with the good days in life.
Seeing With New Eyes
Today, as I meditated on this passage, I received a new understanding: I have prayed for the Lord’s bountiful grace, and I have indeed received this grace. The grace I have been given is the grace of forgiveness, the grace of redemption, the grace of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God has even healed the sickness of my body. I want to tell everyone, whenever I have a chance: the gospel cures depression.
I want more and more people to know that, although I am a sinner, I have received mercy. No matter how weak and unlovable I may be today, I firmly believe that I have received the smile of God. I know that he loves me with an unchanging love – for he has given me a new identity, made me alive, and opened my eyes so that his commands are no longer hidden from me. He has given me a clearer understanding of the gospel, and I now see people and things with new eyes.
In this broken world, I am still in the first stage. Although I am a sojourner, although I am humiliated and despised – yet I am not an orphan nor a slave, no matter my situation. Verse 23 says: “Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.” I will listen to God’s voice, for Christ has justified me, and the judgment has already been made.
Today, I am no longer a woman who waits in desperation, but a person of confidence. My strength is that Christ has redeemed me, bringing healing to my flesh and refreshment to my bones. The everlasting hope of eternal salvation is reserved for me. I will be his beautiful bride to marry.
Chan Kailiang (a pseudonym) lives in a third-tier city on the northeast coast of China. She and her pastor husband have two grown sons and several grandchildren.
Lord, how can I do anything but give you all the glory, praise, and beauty? For you are great and awesome, and who else but you is my God. You alone are my eternal Savior, the fountain of living waters, the One who satisfies me with joy and peace. You are my counselor, my wisdom, and my hope. There is no one else but you alone! I will dwell in your temple all the days of my life to behold your glory and enter your presence!
(This prayer is based on the Chinese hymn, Wonderful Hands.)