Asking God for the Good Life

Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Psalm 119:17

The psalmist prays the prayer that most likely echoes in the halls of heaven more than any other: “Deal bountifully with me, God. Be good to me. Bless me. Let me live. Give me life.” Everyone wants God to do them good, to help them, to give them mercy and grace, to get them out of their troubles, to pour out blessings on them. Everyone wants the good life. This part of the psalmist’s request is not that unusual.

What is out of the ordinary is the purpose for which the psalmist asks God to deal bountifully with him: “that I may live and keep your word.” It’s his reason for living that makes the psalmist’s request for a bountiful life unusual. He defines “the good life” in terms of keeping God’s word. The psalmist believes that living is for loving God and loving others, for that is what keeping God’s word entails, full obedience to God’s law (Matthew 22:36-40). The good life is one that is so full of God’s bountiful goodness that it overflows with blessing back to God and out to others. Jesus taught his followers that the one who is given God’s good life seeks not to be served, but to serve and to give his life away for God and others (Mark 10:45). The Lord’s brother reminds us that to ask for God’s blessing in order to spend it on our own passions is to ask wrongly (James 4:3). The Apostle Paul prayed rightly for the Philippians: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…so that you may approve what is excellent…filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:9-11). The fruit of righteousness consists of obedience to God’s Law.

Once again the psalmist teaches us to pray a cruciform prayer: “Father, you have dealt bountifully with us by way of the cross. We know that he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will also graciously give us all good things (Romans 8:32). Give us the goodness and grace of Christ so that we may live a cross-shaped life of loving God and loving others.”

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