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Open My Eyes!

Category Articles
Date June 18, 2014

Psalm 119 is a large collection of very short prayers, most of which we only pray as we read the Psalm itself. Some of them, however, have so woven themselves into our memories and experiences that we frequently find ourselves praying them at other times. A fine example is the prayer of verse 18: ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law’.

Some questions to help us as we meditate upon it:

How do we know? The assumption of the prayer is that there are wonderful things in God’s Word. How do we know that? We have seen them! Things that were entirely new to us, things in the Old Testament that illustrate truths in the New, things in the New Testament that throw light on the Old, answers to questions we had long been asking, principles of conduct for a difficult situation, insights into God’s character that moved us to adoration, precious glimpses of Christ – we have seen them! The Lord has opened our eyes and shown us wonderful things.

Why are we not satisfied? If we know that there are wonderful things in God’s law because God himself has opened our eyes to see them, why do we still pray the Psalmist’s prayer? We know that there is so much more for us to see! Neither the church as a whole nor the individual believer has succeeded in unearthing all the hidden treaures of God’s Word. We have still so much to explore, to discover, to understand, to harmonise. There are depths that we have scarcely begun to plumb, riches of which we have had only the merest glimpse. And the yearning of our hearts is for the Lord to show us more.

Why pray? The psalmist makes his longings a matter of prayer. Why so? It is the Lord alone who can fulfil them. He must do for us what he did for the two disciples who were making their way to Emmaus. ‘Beginning with Moses and all the prophets’, the risen Lord ‘explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’ (Luke 24:27). They needed the Lord to do this – as surely as the physically blind needed him to restore their sight. And so do we. ‘There will always lie this broad distinction between holy writ and every other book – that the work and the author must be consulted together’ (Henry Melvill). It is the Lord who has hidden the treasure and only he can give us a sight of it.

How does he answer? Sometimes it is through the ministry of the Spirit directly. The believer is alone with his Bible and the Lord grants the very blessing sought in the Psalmist’s prayer. More often than not, however, the Lord answers through the instrumentality of others. He does it through the books that we read. ‘There are men and books that seem beyond others to have the power of aiding insight’ (John Ker), and as we read such books what wonderful things we see! Above all, he grants us light through those who teach and preach to us. God reveals to them the treasures of his Word and they in turn enrich us. How we need to pray for them that God would open their eyes! For only then can they be his instruments for opening ours.

What happens when he does answer the prayer? Many things! One has to do with Scripture’s divine origin. Our Confession identifies a number of things that mark out the Bible as God-breathed:

the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof.1

When God opens our eyes and shows us such things our persuasion of Scripture’s inspiration is deepened.

So too our persuasion of its sufficiency! Did the Westminster Divines get it right? They said that

the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory and man’s salvation, faith, and life, are either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.2

As God opens our eyes and shows us more and more wonderful things in his law, the conviction deepens that they did. There is light in Holy Scripture for everything for which we need its light.

A final blessing has to do with our appreciation of Scripture. Doesn’t our enthusiasm for it pall at times? Aren’t there moments when we feel that it doesn’t have anything fresh to say to us? When we have to drag ourselves to read it? Then God graciously answers our prayer for opened eyes and everything changes. Our love for the Bible is rekindled and increased; our delight is restored and deepened.

Let it be a prayer, then, that is often on our lips: ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law’.


  1. Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:5.
  2. Ibid., 1:6.

David Campbell is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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