ע Ayin: Verses 121-128
The word עין (ayin) means eye, but also conveys the idea of a spring or fountain, as means of expression (knowledge, character, etc).
Lessons in Trust
As we move into this new section, we continue the ascent out of the afflictions of life, toward a life of joy, peace and liberty – even in the midst of storms. Once again, those afflictions come from our own self-seeking sinful human nature as much as those who would seek our demise. The book of Psalms is full of references to the proud (16x), the wicked (90x), ungodly (8x), my enemies (80x), enemy (25x) etc. Yet we should remember that so often it is the flesh life that is in view. For it is our ungodly flesh life that is proud and wicked, it is as real and great an enemy as any Philistine we may encounter! – and often far more subtle.
This section is a cry to be delivered from oppression. Oppression has more to do with our perception than any physical harm done to us. Hence the Psalmist appeals for Salvation and that his life would be permeated by God’s Word (v123), for mercy and that he would truly learn God’s statutes (v124), and for understanding that he would know by practical experience that which God has testified of concerning ‘the Way’ (v125).
He boldly declares in v126 “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work!”
He has had enough of the oppression of the world, the flesh and the Devil in his life, now the long overdue time for change has come. But he knows it must begin in his heart and his affections.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
“This commences a new division of the Psalm indicated by the Hebrew letter Ain — a letter which cannot well be represented in the English alphabet, as there is, in fact, no letter in our language exactly corresponding with it. It would be best represented probably by what are called “breathings” in Greek”. -Albert Barnes.
The above comment, coupled with the idea, as noted in the header to the section, of a spring or fountain suggests a returning to the source, getting back to the way it should be, seeing clearly, breathing deeply. In Eden all was wonderful until the heart was deceived and oppression began. But now there is grace! It is grace that delivers us from all oppression, grace that restores our soul, grace that remembers our iniquities no more. So open your eyes, take a deep breath and see the Love He has for you – may it forever change you!
Verse 121 I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
“This was a great thing for an Eastern ruler to say at any time, for these despots mostly cared more far gain than justice. Some of them altogether neglected their duty, and would not even do judgment at all, preferring their pleasures to their duties; and many more of them sold their judgments to the highest bidders by taking bribes, or regarding the persons of men. Some rulers gave neither judgment nor justice, others gave judgment without justice, but David gave judgment and justice, and saw that his sentences were carried out”. CHS
“If I will not oppress others, I may hopefully pray that others may not oppress me”. CHS
There was no oppression before the fall, and there should not be found a place for it in the life of one born again by the Spirit of God, for He has given us victory over all the powers of darkenss.
Verse 122 Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
Proverbs 11:15 tells us not to be surety for a stranger, i.e. don’t lend money, pledge support, or vouch for someone you don’t know; or else you may well be humiliated and shown to be a poor judge of character if they fail to repay, or if they renege on a promise they make.
Thus for the Psalmist to make this audacious request to God is quite something! He is asking God to speak well of him, to stand up for him, to actually vouch for his character and integrity before those who would seek his downfall.
The only way to reconcile this is to conclude that the Psalmist has realised that God has done something within him that far outweighs his own natural ability. He has pleaded for God’s word to change him from within, now he lays claim to the hope that his prayers have been fully answered. God cannot lie (Heb 6:18), so God cannot just pretend that He is for us if we are still ‘dead in trespasses ad sins and lost in our own iniquity.
If however God has created a right spirit within us, if He has placed within us a new life that cannot sin (1 John 5:18), then indeed He can legitimately be surety for us, He can publicly stand for us and declare us good!
As my Master, undertake thy servants’ cause, and represent me before the faces of haughty men till they see what an august ally I have in the Lord my God. Let not the proud oppress me. Thine interposition will answer the purpose of my rescue: when the proud see that thou art my advocate they will hide their heads. CHS
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chron 16:9).
“Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:30-31).
Verse 123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
“He looked to God alone, he looked eagerly, he looked long, he looked till his eyes ached. The mercy is, that if our eyes fail, God does not fail, nor do his eyes fail. Eyes are tender things, and so are our faith, hope and expectancy: the Lord will not try them above what they are able to bear”. CHS
Verse 124 Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
God’s mercy is the greatest mercy of all. There is nothing to compare to it, for it is the overflow of the heart of love that was willing to send even His own Son to the cross to save us.
“If I am a “servant” of God, I can bring my services before him only upon the ground of “mercy” CHS
The title of servant covers a plea; a master should clear the character of his servant if he be falsely accused, and rescue him from those who would oppress him; and, moreover, the master should show mercy to a servant? even if he deal severely with a stranger” CHS
Verse 125 I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
The Psalmist has already prayed for wisdom and knowledge, and here again continues his request for spiritual understanding.
In this Psalm he asks for understanding five times, (the number of Grace!) which should serve as a point of note for us; for if the Psalmist needed understanding, how much more do we!
“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law” v34
“Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments”. V73
“Give me understanding, and I shall live”. V144
“Give me understanding according to thy word”. V169
If He grants understanding we shall keep His law, learn His commandments and know His testimonies.
This again highlights that the work of sanctification is entirely His, for without God-given understanding we will not be able to keep His law, nor learn His commandments or know His testimonies!
In v94 He prayed “I am Thine, save me!” In this verse it is essentially the same prayer. It is because we are His servants, it is because we have been bought at a price, it is because we are no longer our own that we cry out to our Master to give us that which we need to serve Him as He deserves.
Verse 126 It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
The sins of the wicked have reached up to Heaven (Rev 18:5). Nineteen times in the Book of Psalms we here the cry “how long…” always in connection to the judgment of the wicked and the deliverance of the righteous. We need His grace now.
Verse 127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
Almost as if his prayer for God to act were answered immediately! But of course, because we have his promises, we have the assurance that He will act.
His promises are better than fine gold, that is gold so pure that it would not oxidise, so does not tarnish or rust. Yet even compared to this, God’s promises stand out as being incorruptible. His promises are true and faithful and of inestimable value.
Calvary Pastor Skip Heitzig tells of a time he was in need financially, and so prayed that the Lord would provide. The next morning a cheque arrived, which was a tax rebate. Skip immediately thanked the LORD, but then was convicted; all he had in he had was a piece of paper that had no intrinsic value. In essence what he had was a promise from the government that they would pay him the sum in question. He rejoiced when he saw it for he immediately trusted that the government would fulfil their promise. But then God spoke to his heart and reminded Him of all the promises in His world – the exceeding great and precious promises! How much more can we trust God’s word than man’s!!
There is a story of a lady who, after sitting through a teaching session about God’s provision, came to the Pastor and poured out her heart, and explained her problems. The Pastor, somewhat frustrated that the lady had not grasped the essence of what he had just taught, said to her “Lady, what do you do with the promises of God?” To which she replied: “I underline them in blue”!
Is this all God’s commandments are to you? Or, like the Psalmist, do you now love His commandments and value them over any worldly treasure?
Verse 128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
“It is no compromising testimony to the integrity and value of the Lord’s precepts with which the Psalmist concludes, “I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right” — every command, however hard; every injunction, however distasteful; every precept, however severe; even cut off thy right hand, pluck out thy right eye; forget thine own people and thy father’s house; take up thy cross daily; sell all that thou hast — yea, Lord, even so, “all thy precepts concerning all things are right.” What a blessed truth to arrive at, and find comfort in!” – Barton Bouchier.
What a sublime trust this is, that we can come to a place where we can say that ALL, not just some, but ALL of His precepts concerning ALL things are right.
v68 reminded us that He is good and does good! This verse challenges us to trust Him because of that truth!
“The Being who loves the good with infinite intensity must hate evil with the same intensity. So far from any incompatibility between this love and this hatred, they are the counterparts of each other, — opposite poles of the same moral emotion”. -John W. Haley
“I hate every false way. If Satan get a grip of thee by any one sin, is it not enough to carry thee to damnation? As the butcher carries the beast to the slaughter, sometime bound by all the four feet, and sometime by one only; so it is with Satan. Though thou be not a slave to all sin; if thou be a slave to one, the grip he hath of thee, by that one sinful affection, is sufficient to captive thee”. William Cowper.
פ Pe: Verses 129-136
The word פה (peh) means mouth, but is often synonymous with speech.
It’s About The Word
In the previous section much was said of God’s Word. The Psalmist now continues to grow in his understanding of how important God’s Word is for his spiritual health and wellbeing.
A corner has been turned and the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place, the Psalmist (and I hope you the reader) is learning to walk by faith, walking in the way.
The key is God’s Word.
Verse 129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
This verse shows the incredible change that has taken place in the Psalmist’s life on his journey. The consider God’s testimonies as something wonderful to behold is truly a work of Grace. They are indeed wonderful, and Angels around the throne continually praise for this fact, but for a descendant of Adam to come to this understanding is a remarkable thing. But for the Psalmist it is more than just a passing acknowledgment, it is more than head-knowledge. This has become a reality and so he now promises to keep them. This is not just keep in respect to obeying them, it is keeping as to treasure them, to keep them close to his heart at all times.
Note also that he states that his soul keeps them. That is the innermost part of his being as been won over, wooed if you will, by the wonderful testimony God has given us in His word.
“Thy commands are wonderful. Full of wonderful revelations, commands and promises. Wonderful in their nature, as being free from all error, and bearing within themselves overwhelming self evidence of their truth; wonderful in their effects as instructing, elevating, strengthening, and comforting the soul. Jesus the eternal Word is called Wonderful, and all the uttered words of God are wonderful in their degree. Those who know them best wonder at them most”. CHS
Verse 130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
He has asked for understanding, now he states that understanding is not reserved for the brightest and best, but is accessible to all. You do not need a degree in theology to understand God’s Word (in many cases it has proven to be a hindrance!!)
“The entrance of thy words giveth light. No sooner do they gain admission into the soul than they enlighten it: what light may be expected from their prolonged indwelling! Their very entrance floods the mind with instruction for they are so full, so clear; but, on the other hand, there must be such an “entrance,” or there will be no illumination”. CHS
Verse 131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
The Word is becoming as essential to his life as oxygen!
Verse 132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
Appeal is made to the unchanging and impartial nature of God. He has dealt well with His servants in the past, and so will afford the same blessings to His servants today.
We do not know specifically of whom the Psalmist is referring; maybe Samuel, or Moses? But for us we can claim this verse with the Psalmist himself in mind. For if God looked upon this Psalmist and was merciful to him, as without question He was, God will so do for you as you learn to love His name.
Verse 133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
What a prayer to pray! Having come this far, every step is to be weighed against God’s word. Iniquity (our own twisted human nature) will not win in the lives of those who love Him.
If our steps are ordered, we will not even venture down the path where iniquity resides. “Make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:14).
Verse 134 Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
If my steps are to be ordered, so that I do not walk into iniquity, my heart and mind need also to be delivered from the oppression that can overwhelm me even before I take a step!
It is the oppression that is caused by man, and the oppression that is common to man. We can be oppressed by others, and we can be oppressed by our own hearts condemning us. The later is more subtle and infinatly more dangerous. External oppression tends to produce a resilience, but the oppression that the Devil works within us, building up strongholds against the knowledge of God can become obstacles we struggle to overcome.
Verse 135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
If the Lord will be exceeding gracious, and make him his favourite, he will ask no higher blessing than still to be taught the royal statutes. See how he craves after holiness; this is the choicest of all gems in his esteem. As we say among men that a good education is a great fortune, so to be taught of the Lord is a gift of special grace CHS
This was the Shama – the Aaronic blessing:
“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace”. (Num 6:24-26)
The horror of Hell will be that God’s face will be turned away for all eternity. The joy of Heaven will be that we will behold His face forevermore!
Verse 136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
How I want to pray this prayer, to love His word like this, to love Jesus like this!
How offended are we really because of the sin that surrounds us?