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Open my eyes, so that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
17. Do good to thy servant The term גמל gamal, which some render to requite, does not, among the Hebrews, import mutual recompense, but frequently signifies to confer a benefit, as in Psalm 116:7, and many other passages. Here it must be viewed as expressive of free favor. The words, however, may admit of two senses. They may be read as a separate clause, in this manner: O God! display thy goodness to thy servant, and thus I shall live, or then I shall esteem myself happy. Or the verse may form one connected statement: O God! grant to thy servant the favor that, while I live, I may keep thy commandments. If the former lection is adopted, then, by these words, the prophet declares that, without the favor of God, he is like a dead man; that though he might abound in every thing else, yet he could not subsist without feeling that God was propitious towards him. The latter interpretation is preferable, That the prophet asks as a principal favor, that, while he lives, he may devote himself entirely to God; being fully persuaded that the grand object of his existence consists in his exercising himself in his service, an object which he firmly resolves to pursue. For this reason these two clauses are connected together, that I may live, and keep thy word. “I desire no other mode of living than that of approving myself to be a true and faithful servant of God.” All wish God to grant them a prolongation of their life; a wish after which the whole world ardently aspire, and yet there is scarcely one among a hundred who reflects upon the purpose for which he ought to live. To withdraw us from cherishing such irrational propensities, the prophet here describes the main object of our existence. He declares it to be owing to the peculiar grace of the Holy Spirit, that any person keeps the law of God. Had he imagined that the preparing oneself for the observance of his law depended on his own free will, then this prayer would have been nothing else than downright hypocrisy.
Very similar is the doctrine contained in the next verse. Having acknowledged, that power to keep the law is imparted to men by God, he, at the same time, adds, that every man is blind, until he also enlighten the eyes of his understanding. Admitting that God gives light to us by his word, the prophet here means that we are blind amid the clearest light, until he remove the veil from our eyes. When he confesses that his eyes are veiled and shut, rendering him unable to discern the light of the heavenly doctrine, until God, by the invisible grace of his Spirit, open them, he speaks as if he were deploring his own blindness, and that of the whole human race. But, while God claims this power for himself, he tells us that the remedy is at hand, provided we do not, by trusting to our own wisdom, reject the gracious illumination offered to us. Let us learn, too, that we do not receive the illumination of the Spirit of God to make us contemn the external word, and take pleasure only in secret inspirations, like many fanatics, who do not regard themselves spiritual, except they reject the word of God, and substitute in its place their own wild speculations. Very different is the prophet’s aim, which is to inform us that our illumination is to enable us to discern the light of life, that God manifests by his word. He designates the doctrine of the law, marvelous things, 404404 Marvelous things “means things which are difficult and wonderful. The reference here is to the figures and adumbration’s of the law, which so veiled and concealed the substances to which they related, that the mass of readers quite lost sight of them. The Psalmist therefore prays for Divine illumination, to enable him to solve, at least in some decree, the enigmas in which future things were enveloped.” — Walford to humble us, to contemplate with admiration its height; and to convince us the more of our need of the grace of God, to comprehend the mysteries, which surpass our limited capacity. From which we infer, that not only the ten commandments are included in the term la but also the covenant of eternal salvation, with all its provisions, which God has made. And knowing, as we do, that Christ, “in whom are hid all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom,” “is the end of the law,” we need not be surprised at the prophet commending it, in consequence of the sublime mysteries which it contains, Colossians 2:3; Romans 10:4