Psalm 119:17
Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live, and keep your word.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
GIMEL.

(17) Deal bountifully . . . that I may live.—Comp. Psalm 13:3; Psalm 13:6; Psalm 116:7-8, where we see, as here, the same connection between this Hebrew word and preservation from death. Life is connected with obedience to the Divine law throughout the Bible (Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 6:24; Psalm 41:1-2; Luke 10:28).

GIMEL.

Psalm 119:17-18. Deal bountifully with thy servant — I plead no merit, but only thy free grace and rich mercy; that I may live — Safely and comfortably; and keep thy word — For I do not desire life that I may satisfy my own lusts, but that I may spend it in thy service. Open thou mine eyes — Enlighten my mind by thy Holy Spirit, and dispel all ignorance and error. That I may behold wondrous things out of thy law — Those great and marvellous depths of divine wisdom and goodness, and those profound mysteries of Christ, and of God’s grace to mankind, and that everlasting state, which are not to be known but by divine illumination.119:17-24 If God deals in strict justice with us, we all perish. We ought to spend our lives in his service; we shall find true life in keeping his word. Those that would see the wondrous things of God's law and gospel, must beg him to give them understanding, by the light of his Spirit. Believers feel themselves strangers on earth; they fear missing their way, and losing comfort by erring from God's commandments. Every sanctified soul hungers after the word of God, as food which there is no living without. There is something of pride at the bottom of every wilful sin. God can silence lying lips; reproach and contempt may humble and do us good, and then they shall be removed. Do we find the weight of the cross is above that we are able to bear? He that bore it for us will enable us to bear it; upheld by him we cannot sink. It is sad when those who should protect the innocent, are their betrayers. The psalmist went on in duty, and he found comfort in the word of God. The comforts of the word of God are most pleasant to a gracious soul, when other comforts are made bitter; and those that would have God's testimonies to be their delight, must be advised by them. May the Lord direct us in exercising repentance of sin, and faith in Christ.Deal bountifully ... - This commences the next portion of the psalm, indicated by the letter Gimel (ג g), the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet, answering to our letter "g." Each verse of this portion Psalm 119:17-24 begins with this letter. There is a resemblance between the first word of this verse - גמל gemol - and the letter - "Gimel" - which commences the eight verses of this portion of the psalm. The noun (derived from the verb) - גמל gâmâl - means a camel, and the letter gimel has been supposed to have derived its name from its having originally a resemblance to the camel's neck. In some of the Phenician inscriptions, and in the Ethiopic alphabet, it has this form (Gesenius, "Lex"). The verb used here means to do, or show, or cause good or evil to anyone; and then to reward, or to recompense, either good or evil. Here it seems to be used in a general sense of doing good, or showing favor, as in Psalm 13:6; Psalm 116:7; Psalm 142:7. Compare Proverbs 11:17. It does not necessarily imply that the author of the psalm had any claim, or demanded this on the ground of merit. He begged the favor, the friendship, the interposition of God in his behalf.

That I may live - The continuance of life was dependent on the favor of God.

And keep thy word - For grace to do this he was equally dependent on God; and he asked that life might be continued, in order that he might honor the word of God by obeying it.

GIMEL. (Ps 119:17-24).

17-20. Life is desirable in order to serve God; that we may do so aright, we should seek to have our eyes opened to behold His truth, and earnestly desire fully to understand it.

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

19 I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.

20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

22 Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.

23 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

In this section the trials of the way appear to be manifest to the Psalmist's mind, and he prays accordingly for the help which will meet his case. As in the last eight verses he prayed as a youth newly come into the world, so here he pleads as a servant and a pilgrim, who growingly finds himself to be a stranger in an enemy's country. His appeal is to God alone, and his prayer is specially direct and personal. He speaks with the Lord as a man speaketh with his friend.

Psalm 119:17

"Deal bountifully with thy servant." He takes pleasure in owning his duty to God, and counts it the joy of his heart to be in the service of his God. Out of his condition he makes a plea, for a servant has some hold upon a master; but in this case the wording of the plea shuts out the idea of legal claim, since he seeks bounty rather than reward. Let my wages be according to thy goodness, and not according to my merit. Reward me according to the largeness of thy liberality, and not according to the scantiness of my service. The hired servants of our Father have all of them bread enough and to Spare, and he will not leave one of his household to perish with hunger. If the Lord will only treat us as he treats the least of his servants we may be well content, for all his true servants are sons, princes of the blood, heirs of life eternal. David felt that his great needs required a bountiful provision, and that his little desert would never earn such a supply; hence he must throw himself upon God's grace, and look for the great things he needed from the great goodness of the Lord. He begs for a liberality of grace, after the fashion of one who prayed. "O Lord, thou must give me great mercy or no mercy, for little mercy will not serve my turn."

"That I may live." Without abundant mercy he could not live. It takes great grace to keep a saint alive. Even life is a gift of divine bounty to such undeserving ones as we are. Only the Lord can keep us in being, and it is mighty grace which preserves to us the life which we have forfeited by our sin. It is right to desire to live, it is meet to pray to live, it is just to ascribe prolonged life to the favour of God. Spiritual life, without which this natural life is mere existence, is also to be sought of the Lord's bounty, for it is the noblest work of divine grace, and in it the bounty of God is gloriously displayed. The Lord's servants cannot serve him in their own strength, for they cannot even live unless his grace abounds towards them.

"And keep thy word." This should be the rule, the object, and the joy of our life. We may not wish to live and sin; but we may pray to live and keep God's word. Being is a poor thing if it be not well-being. Life is only worth keeping while we can keep God's word; indeed, there is no life in the highest sense apart from holiness: life while we break the law is but a name to live.

The prayer of this verse shows that it is only through divine bounty or grace that we can live as faithful servants of God, and manifest obedience to his commands. If we give God service it must be because he gives us grace. We work for him because he works in us. Thus we may make a chain out of the opening verses of the three first octaves of this Psalm: Psalm 119:1 blesses the holy man, Psalm 119:9 asks how we can attain to such holiness, and Psalm 119:17 traces such holiness to its secret source, and shows us how to seek the blessing. There more a man prizes holiness and the more earnestly he strives after it, the more will he be driven towards God for help therein, for he will plainly perceive that his own strength is insufficient, and that he cannot even so much as live without the bounteous assistance of the Lord his God.

continued...

GIMEL

Deal bountifully; I plead no merit, but only thy free grace and rich mercy.

That I may live; safely and comfortably, in spite of all the attempts of mine enemies to take away my life.

And keep thy word: I do not desire life that I may satisfy my own lusts, but that I may spend it in thy service. GIMEL.--The Third Part.

GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant,.... Which character is mentioned, not by way of plea or argument for favour, but as expressive of modesty, sense of duty, and obligation to it. He pleads not his services by way of merit; but prays that God would deal bountifully with him, in a way of grace and mercy: or "render good" unto him, as the Targum; bestow it on him as a free gift. The Lord deals bountifully with men, when he gives himself unto them as their portion and inheritance; his Son, and all things along with him; his Spirit, and the graces of it; and every daily needful supply of grace;

that I may live, and keep thy word; life natural is the bounty of God; he grants life and favour, he grants life as a favour, and all the mercies and blessings of it; and through the gracious dealings of God with his people, they live spiritually and live comfortably; in his favour is life; the life of faith is encouraged and invigorated in them by it; and eternal life is the free gift and bounty of God through Christ, by whom they have both a right unto it and meetness for it: and the desire of good men to live in this world is not to indulge themselves in carnal lusts and pleasures; not to live to themselves, nor to the lusts of the flesh, nor to the will of men; but to live soberly, righteously, and godly; to live by faith in Christ, and in hope of eternal life through him; and while they live to keep the word of God, and not forget it, as Aben Ezra interprets it, to lay it up for their own use, and preserve it for others, and observe its instructions, cautions, and directions.

GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may {a} live, and keep thy word.

(a) He shows that we should not desire to live but to serve God, and that we can not serve him correctly unless he opens our eyes and minds.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. Deal bountifully] Cp. Psalm 13:6; Psalm 116:7; Psalm 142:7.

and keep thy word] Better as R.V. So will I observe thy word. “The Psalmist desires continued life mainly because it affords the opportunity of continued obedience” (Maclaren). Cp. Psalm 118:17.

17–24. Gimel. The knowledge and observance of God’s law the aim of life, a strength and comfort in time of contempt and persecution.Verse 17. - Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy Word; rather, grant unto thy servant that I may live. Give me the blessing of a long life, that so my keeping of thy Word may be long. The psalmist seems to be praying especially for himself; but the argument of his prayer will extend to all "servants of the Lord." The eightfold Beth. Acting in accordance with the word of God, a young man walks blamelessly; the poet desires this, and supplicates God's gracious assistance in order to it. To purify or cleanse one's way or walk (זכּה, cf. Psalm 73:13; Proverbs 20:9) signifies to maintain it pure (זך, root זך, Arab. zk, to prick, to strike the eye, nitere;

(Note: The word receives the meaning of νικᾶν (vid., supra, p. 367), like Arab. ḏhr and bhr, from the signification of outshining equals overpowering.)

vid., Fleischer in Levy's Chaldisches Wrterbuch, i. 424) from the spotting of sin, or to free it from it. Psalm 119:9 is the answer to the question in Psalm 119:9; לשׁמר signifies custodiendo semetipsum, for שׁמר can also signify "to be on one's guard" without נפשׁו (Joshua 6:18). The old classic (e.g., Psalm 18:31) אמרתך alternates throughout with דּברך; both are intended collectively. One is said to hide (צפן) the word in one's heart when one has it continually present with him, not merely as an outward precept, but as an inward motive power in opposition to selfish action (Job 23:12). In Psalm 119:12 the poet makes his way through adoration to petition. ספּרתּי in Psalm 119:13 does not mean enumeration, but recounting, as in Deuteronomy 6:7. עדות is the plural to עדוּת; עדות, on the contrary, in Psalm 119:138 is the plural to עדה: both are used of God's attestation of Himself and of His will in the word of revelation. כּעל signifies, according to Psalm 119:162, "as over" (short for כּאשׁר על), not: as it were more than (Olshausen); the כּ would only be troublesome in connection with this interpretation. With reference to הון, which has occurred already in Psalm 44:13; Psalm 112:3 (from הון, Arab. hawn, to be light, levem), aisance, ease, opulence, and concrete, goods, property, vid., Fleischer in Levy's Chald. Wrterb. i. 423f. ארחתיך, Psalm 119:15, are the paths traced out in the word of God; these he will studiously keep in his eye.

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