Open Our Eyes, Lord

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  C. S. Lewis

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law (Ps 119:18).

BACKGROUND:  When the light of the Gospel penetrates our hearts, it sheds light on everything else.  Lewis discovered what the psalmist did.  The light of God’s Word has dispelled the darkness.  He delights in the decrees he has found because they have shown him the pathway to “joy in his presence and at his right hand pleasures evermore” (Psalm 16:11). 

This is not a laborious study of the law.  This is a very personal and intimate account of the sweet communion he has found.  In Psalm 1, he lays down the principle that so many miss:  God really wants His people happy!  And that happiness is found in seeing His glory through His Word.  The twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 describe his passionate and painful pursuit of that happiness.

God’s Word uncovers a treasure of infinite worth.  As God speaks in the Scriptures He reveals more than His will and His ways.  He shows His face.  He shares His secrets.  And when, by His grace our eyes are opened so that we see the beauty of our God, we gladly join in the passion of the psalmist and say with him, “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands” (10).

The one thing that will keep us from delighting in His glory is our sin.  Sin exchanges the “truth of God for a lie” and worships and serves “created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).  God’s Word has the power to lift our eyes from this world so we can see a glory that is infinitely more satisfying than the passing pleasures of this world.  When our eyes are opened, we join Moses in refusing to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”  We regard even “disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt” because we have seen an infinitely more valuable reward in Him (Hebrews 11:25-26).

Therefore, we treasure God’s Word in our heart so that we will not sin against Him (11).  The more we discover the more we want to know, so we cry, “Praise be to you Oh Lord, teach me your decrees” (12).  Although it demands great struggle and personal discipline, the psalmist has found so much delight he declares, “I will not neglect your word.”

EXPOSITION:  In the third stanza of Psalm 119 (gimel), we discover some of the problems that will try to keep us from enjoying the blessings that are found only in God’s Word.  In verses 17-24, we find three critical enemies that we need to overcome.  1) Ignorance of God’s Word will keep us from enjoying His blessing. 2) Blindness will keep us from seeing God’s glory on our own.  3) Distractions will try to push us off the track so that we fail to reach our glorious destination.

1.  Ignorance:  Someone has said that we have two great problems:  Ignorance and rebellion.  The reason we fall apart under pressure is that we do not know what God has said; and that which we know we refuse to do.  To see the glory of God and to enter into His joy and gladness we must know Him.  Christianity is a revealed faith, meaning that it comes from above.  It is nothing that man would devise.  Religion is man working, in his own reasonable way, to lift his enlightened self to God.  Christianity is God working, in His own gracious way, to lift blind and dead and helpless sinners to Himself.

In the revealed Word, the psalmist finds life-giving, soul-liberating truth.  The dead-end pursuit of the self has been discarded for the eternal pleasure of pursuing God.  The “scorn and contempt” (22) of his sin has been lifted and in its place he has received a life of holiness and blessing.  He does not know all of God’s law nor does he understand it completely, but he has an insatiable hunger to know it.  That is why you will hear him cry: “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times” (Psalm 119:20).  Because he has a passion to know more of God, he devotes himself to understanding His Word.

God’s Word learned and loved and lived is transformational.  It is powerful.  It changes our hearts.  It makes us holy.  Jesus said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).  That is why we read, study, memorize and mediate upon God’s Word.  It changes our heart so that we want Jesus Christ more than we want our sins. 

That God demands discipline and study and memorization and meditation and hard and tuff thinking should not surprise us.  If something is of infinite value, does it not make sense that we would be called to give our best and most disciplined effort into making it ours?  Isn’t that what Paul meant when he said, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?  If it contains the greatest treasure, should we not sell all that we have so that we can have it for our eternal joy?  I think the psalmist would say “Amen” to that! 

We want to be blessed.  We want to see God’s glory.  We don’t want to end our days deceived and disappointed at the end of life.  So, with the psalmist we commit ourselves to knowing God’s Word.  We approach this passage and we say with the psalmist, “I will not neglect your word” (16).

2.  Blindness:  How can men pick up the Bible, God’s Word, containing life-giving truth and not see its bright and glorious content?  Paul gives us the answer:  Fallen men and women “are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” (Ephesians 4:18).
Moses said something very similar.

“Your eyes have seen all that the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land.  With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders.  But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear”  (Deuteronomy 29:2-4).

We are earthly, blind and hardened of heart.  We do not have minds that understand and eyes that see and ears that hear.  So, we will never see the beauty of God in His Word without God’s illumination.  In our darkened state we cannot see the glory of God.  That is why the psalmist prays, “Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in your law.”  It was the Father in heaven who revealed to Peter Christ’s real identity  (Matthew 16:17).  It was Jesus who opened the minds of His disciples so they could understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).  And, it is the Spirit of God who opens our minds so that we can understand and accept the spiritual things that come from God (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

Therefore, if we are to see and savor the glory of God, we need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and soften our hearts.  And so we pray.  Prayer and the Word are the two tracks that keep us pointed in the direction of God’s glory.  We cannot survive without both of them.  The Spirit wrote the Word.  The Spirit uses the Word.  The Spirit interprets the Word.  The Spirit applies the words of God to our hearts in response to our prayers.  That is why Paul wrote:”I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Ephesians 1:17-18).

3.  Distractions:  When we set out to know God, enemies and distractions will arise from within and without.  Inside we will battle doubt, pride, lust, and pure laziness.  Many joyously start the trek toward discovery but leave the path when the fun ends and the struggles begin.  It goes with our culture.  We want instant everything.  How many times have you been offered an easy diet?  Videos and movies are replacing reading and writing and study in schools.  Everything has to be fun and quick.  So, on Sunday we get the twenty minute sermonettes with drama, full size screens, and lots of action.  Don’t challenge us to quietly think and struggle over the great doctrines of God.  Give us some funky music and keep the lyrics short and sweet.  That kind of environment may produce dancing feet but it will never produce devoted followers.

We will also face temptations and threats from the outside.  It will cost us to be obedient to the Lord.  A follower of the one true God will stir up animosity and suspicion in a world that loves tolerance over truth.  Every lover of God’s glory must ask himself this question:  “Will I live to please the Lord or live to please people?”  People of influence and power chase other things and find your faith quite a threat.  That becomes a distraction for us because we eagerly desire people to accept us and honor us.  But a man of the Word will be different.  He has to be.  He is marching to a different beat.  The psalmist knows this and refuses to be distracted.  That is why he makes this commitment:  “Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees” (Psalm 119:23).

CONCLUSION:  We are strangers here on earth (19).  So, we need God’s commands to counsel us so we can walk with joy and power to the praise of His glorious grace.  So, this week, I urge you to schedule each day a time and a place where you will devote yourself to being in His Word.  If God reveals His beauty through His Word, then put yourself in the place where He displays that beauty.  Second, because you need your eyes opened so you can see the glory of Christ in the words and sentences and paragraphs of the Scripture, pray.  Then, because you will face pressure and will be distracted by alien thoughts and desires, meditate upon His Word.  Think about it.  Quote it.  Talk about it.  Write it.  Pray it.  And by the end of next week I believe you will hear God speak.  You will see His glory.  You will joyfully declare with the psalmist, “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Psalm 119:24).

“Loving and trusting and thanking and obeying God is required to glorify him.  But to love a person who is infinitely lovely, to trust a person who is infinitely reliable, to thank a person who is infinitely generous and to obey a person who is infinitely wise, is not hard work.  It is freedom and fulfillment and joy.  It satisfies the soul and glorifies God’s character.  God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.  He gets the glory and we get the joy.  That is the way it is supposed to be.”  John Pipe