[ 2 minutes to read ]
Deal bountifully with thy servant,
that I may live, and keep thy word.
~ Psalm 119:17
Deal bountifully with thy servant
The written Word of God is the grand theme of Psalm 119, but prayer is also prominent. Much of this Psalm is a prayer. The meditations are requests to God for light and life. The three statements in verse 17 are prayers.
The first petition asks for God to deal bountifully with His servant. In respect to people, to deal bountifully (gamal) means to benefit, requite, or reward. It can mean to treat a person well or ill. It is variously translated: bestow on, deal bountifully, do good, recompense, requite, reward, etc.
The prayer here concerns what God bestows on the petitioner. The obvious meaning is that he asks for mercy and grace from God. The very gifts David sang praises to God for (Psalm 13:5-6). He does not request reward for his merit. He seeks God’s gracious and merciful bestowal.
That I may live, and keep thy word
The second petition seeks grace to live. James taught us to say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15). Jeremiah knew that “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every day of life is an incalculable gift of God’s grace.
The life he seeks is a part of the bountiful dealing he seeks. He is not after bare existence. He does not seek the minimum. He appeals for a bountiful life. His request, though, does not terminate on himself. He is not seeking to fill up his own personal reservoir of benefit. He wants bountiful life that he may keep God’s Word. This is the third petition or culmination of the first two. He sees God as the author of life and faith. Life and faith that are worked out in obedience. Apart from God’s mercy and grace, he will neither live nor keep His Word.