My eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in your word.
There is something very surprising in the fact — but that it is a fact admits of no debate — that the Bible is not of a size to alarm any one, be his time ever so occupied, and yet that it is of a size to engage all his time, be that time ever so completely at his disposal. You cannot find the individual, however many the years, and however great the diligence, which he has given to the study of the sacred volume, who feels that there is no more to be learnt from that volume; and that it is useless for him to re-peruse that volume. Yet, on the other hand, if you wish to guide a man into an acquaintance with "the things which belong to his peace," and accordingly press upon him the duty of reading the Bible, you can be met with no plausible excuse from the greatness of the prescribed task. It is not a huge library; it is only a single, and not very large book, which we entreat him to investigate; and with what fairness can a man of the most engrossing occupation plead " want of time " as his apology for refusing? We say again, this is one of the most extraordinary things to be observed in regard of the Bible. If the inspired writings together had filled a vast array of volumes, the great mass of men would have argued that the quantity sanctioned neglect. In our every endeavour at enforcing on them the duty of studying the Scriptures, we should have been met with the apparently reasonable statement that the necessary engagements of life forbade the embarking on so gigantic an undertaking. Then, on the other hand, had the Bible not been of so condensed and comprehensive a character that its chapters are libraries and its sentences volumes, the "righteous of the earth," having nothing but this single book to study, would presently have been left with nothing to study — nothing to ponder. A few short weeks would have finished a common book of the same size. What, then, is it but the Deity in the Bible which makes it like a fire for ever consuming and yet for ever unconsumed? These are two features which, in their combination, strongly mark off the Bible from all other books: these are two features, I say — that it is so small, that in regard of its study no one can be afraid of making a beginning; and that it is so large, that no one is ever able to make an end: and he who "prevents the night watches" may always find fresh matter for meditation. Who amongst us that is accustomed to read the Bible with diligence and prayer can be ignorant that the contents of this Book seem to grow with the being examined; so that in place of exhausting, we multiply materials of thought? and that passages in which we observed no particular beauty or force, though they had been a hundred times read, will suddenly strike us as being full of the most valuable meaning, and words which we had overlooked as unimportant, dilate into sermons, preaching to us of duties and unfolding mysteries? There are texts in the Bible which we have often given up as hopelessly obscure; but with greater experience has come greater light; and dark sayings have burst forth as amongst the most brilliant and precious in Scripture. He is, indeed, a rare character amongst Christians who should feel the want of a larger Bible! There may undoubtedly be many points on which men long for fuller information, and many subjects which they may wish elucidated with greater clearness than is derivable from the pages of Holy Writ — but can any say that there remains nothing for him to examine in Scripture; that he has gone the whole length that revelation would carry him, and that he is at a standstill for want of a larger Bible? A larger Bible! Who is there of us who will dare to say that he has so exhausted a single chapter of the Bible that he may be confident that there is nothing more of instruction, nothing more of warning, nothing more of consolation to draw from its statements? And if it he thus true that the Bible is still unexhauted, though the world has for many centuries been diving into its treasures — that there are yet unexplored stores and riches to stimulate the industry and recompense the toil of every lover of its glorious truths, then must it on all hands be admitted that the Bible is adapted in its size, as well as in every other respect, to the capacities of human kind, since now in the old age of this creation, the sacred volume still presents fresh veins of precious ore, like a mine which, the more it is worked, the more it seems to contain and to yield. And since the world, if we may so express it, will not have finished the Bible when the concerns of humanity are wound up, and time itself shall die in eternity, then, indeed, we may well assent to the saying of St. John, that had all which Christ did been written — had, that is, great additions been made to the inspired volume of God Himself — "the world could not have held the books." But we also learn that the student of Holy Writ will never come to a stand in the study, as though the book were mastered, and had nothing further to yield to patient inquiry: nay, not even if from youth upwards to extreme old age, he could give as descriptive of himself the words of David in our text — "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I may meditate in Thy Word."
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.