Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.
I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.
Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.
Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.
There’s nothing like a vine-ripened tomato or strawberry fresh from the garden. No store-bought, picked-too-early fruit or vegetable tastes quite the same. Being able to grow and mature attached to the source of growth is what allows the fruits and vegetables to grow to their fullest potential. And so it is with us.
In the Gimel (the 3rd letter of the Hebrew alphabet) passage from Psalm 119:17-24, we are first introduced with a garden-like term when the Psalmist says, “Deal bountifully”, from the Greek word “gamal”. It means to deal fully with, recompense; to wean a child; to ripen, bear ripe. (bibletools.org)
The word bountiful is often used when describing a crop at harvest time. But harvest doesn’t come without cost. It takes hard work and time to produce such a reward. David’s request of God is a prayer for Him to do what must be done to ripen and mature him, so that he would live a life of honor to God and His law. Some of those things might be painful. Some might be hard. But David knows that to grow and mature in God’s way will be worth the trials and troubling times. He knows the reward at the end will be worth it.
Every year our family tries to grow pumpkins. In mid to late June, the ground is prepared, the seeds are planted, and the ground is watered. With excitement and anticipation we wait for the seeds to sprout until they begin to grow larger and larger. Blooms form on the vines in August and September, where tiny pumpkins begin to develop. Being a pumpkin and fall lover, I can’t wait to see this stage! Sadly, most of the time my excitement soon wanes. Squash bugs begin to take over the vines, causing them to shrivel and die, making the fruit and the fruits of our labor seem like nothing but wasted time.
We do what we can to keep the squash bugs away, but each and every year they come and “squash” my orange field of dreams! They are a nuisance, for sure! They are pests that must be rendered with, but are often hard to get rid of because they’re not always easy to find. If the bugs aren’t managed each and every day, they can quickly take over the crop without much notice at all. They like to hide, so are hard to discover.
And then there are the weeds. It’s a constant struggle to get rid of the weeds, and if we happen to be gone for more than a few days, it’s almost impossible to get them under control.
To control the bugs and weeds, we often look for new ways to combat these old-age problems. We read about new methods of getting rid of the pests, of controlling the damage. We listen to advice from the experts in pumpkin gardening. We try each and every one of them, but unless we were to spend several hours a day looking for and eliminating them, the bugs and weeds aren’t going away.
The Psalmist is pleading with God to get rid of the bugs and weeds in his life. He’s asking the Creator and the expert in life and of all things, to open his eyes to see the law – the best path for his life. Instead of looking to those who might be wise in the world, David is seeking counsel from THE ONE who knows all, sees all, and understands all.
Oh, that we would all be like David, a man after God’s own heart! Oh, that we would all seek God’s counsel above that of any man or woman. And oh, that we would all long to follow after God’s commands, so much so that our soul was also crushed with longing. David knew that God was the expert gardener who could rid his life of weeds and bugs for good!
David’s prayer can be our prayer, as well. We can pray for God to deal bountifully with us. He wants to ripen and mature us to yield a bountiful harvest, just as He did with David. He wants to help us get rid of the bugs and weeds in our lives. We can start today by hiding these verses in our heart and by praying them today. We can start by opening our eyes to his commands. We can start by allowing Him to be our counsel, just as He was to David.