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Grace Notes

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WHAT THE BLIND PSALMIST SAW
by Philip Owen

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” prays the psalmist (119:18).  The prayer besought God to give the writer the ability to see, yet the request tacitly acknowledged that the petitioner already had seen several things.

The psalmist saw his blindness.  No one need tell someone afflicted with physical blindness that he is blind:  the total darkness of his world gives stark testimony to that fact every hour of every day.  But a person afflicted with spiritual blindness (to which the psalmist alludes) often remains unaware of his handicap.  He may read the Word and be unmoved by it, whether toward thanksgiving and praise, exhortation and obedience, or conviction and repentance.  But he fails to see that his lack of an appropriate spiritual response to the Word of God indicates that at least some measure of spiritual blindness had descended on him.  Nothing will prompt someone to request help until he recognizes that he needs help.  The psalmist recognized that need; hence, his request:  “Open thou mine eyes.”

The psalmist saw that only God could open his eyes.  Ultimately, understanding the Word of God does not result from intellectual pursuit.  Study and devoted attention to the Word do bring reward to the one whose eyes are opened, but only God can “remove the scales” so that the truth of God can be understood, believed, and obeyed.  It is vain to devote time to the Word of God without the aid of the Holy Spirit who illuminates the mind and heart.  The Bible is a spiritual book; its truths are spiritually discerned.  To fail to enlist and receive the aid of the Holy Spirit in that endeavor is to invite futility at best and to court disaster at worst.

The psalmist saw that he could not presume upon his redemption or his experience.  The petitioner in our text knew the Lord, perhaps had known Him for a long time.  But he did not presume on that relationship nor on the fact that the Word of God had spoken to his heart and mind in the past.  As he came to the Word afresh, he prayed that God would open his eyes anew.  Yesterday’s granting of vision, or this morning’s, gave him no cause to assume that he could approach the words of God and, unaided, discern their significance at this time.  The Lord must be petitioned if he were to see what God intended him to see.

The psalmist saw the value of the Word.  Though he was at the moment of his petition uncertain that he could see or uncertain that he might see accurately, he was certain that the Word contained something worth noting.  He held the Word in high regard; no casual acquaintance would suffice.  He longed to see all the truth that God had for him.  To him, God’s words were “wondrous things.”  As David remarked, “The words of the Lord are pure words:  as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psa. 12:6).   The words are wondrous because, properly seen, they impart salvation, wisdom, strength, cleansing, peace, joy, thankfulness, contentment—in short, everything that is truly valuable.

How do you approach the Word of God?  Do you read it with the same attitude and attention that you give a book written by a human author?  Or do you come requesting the help of God to behold what He desires you to know, understand, believe, and obey?  For such a person, not only does the Word come alive but it also imparts life.  Careless or casual reading produces careless or casual saints.  But the one who truly wants the Lord to open his eyes to the truth will behold wondrous things that transform his life forever.

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