Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Thinking it through

Commentaries on Psalm 119 fade. That is, they treat each paragraph in sum and make only brief comments. I suppose this saves space because Psalm 119 can be treated as 22 individual psalms. Today I’ll look at the flow of the first “letter” (vv. 1-8).
It begins with a blessing on those who listen and learn from the Torah, then it reminds everyone that, after all, the Torah is the law of God to be kept. Then the one who utters this psalm expresses the wisdom of this psalm: “would that my ways were firm in keeping your commands (chaqim).” This leads to a resolution on the part of the psalmist: “I will praise you … as I learn your just rules (mishpat). I will keep your laws.”
Then the dark word: “do not utterly forsake me.”
Think it through: the Torah is God’s gift to guide God’s people; God’s people is wise when it listens and heeds; this leads to God’s blessing. It is foolish to avoid the Torah.

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John Frye

posted October 31, 2006 at 7:12 am

I think you mean verses 1-8, not verse 108.
Good observations of the first letter (aleph).

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Clay Knick

posted October 31, 2006 at 8:52 am

“It is foolish to avoid the Torah.” I like

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posted October 31, 2006 at 10:20 am

What strikes me in this passage is that it is all action – not meditation (kind of like the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7).
But were does the emphatic last sentence fit into the flow (NASB uses an exclamation point: “Do not forsake me utterly!”)? Is it a prayer? A petition in the face of a real danger of being forsaken despite keeping the law? A theological statement?

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posted October 31, 2006 at 11:55 am

Just a side-note, Scot: I’ve always been a night-owl, and not much of a morning person. The result has been that some of my friends have always chided me about practicing spiritual disciplines LATE AT NIGHT, rather than in the morning.
I know, I know. My friends have the example of Jesus himself to support their cause. But…
I’ve always been fascinated by the psalms that speak of prayer and meditation on the law of God during the night hours. 119 seems to be full of that sort-of talk.
I would eagerly welcome any encouragement along those lines that you might want to throw our way as you work through this psalm…

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Dana Ames

posted October 31, 2006 at 12:39 pm

Matt, you might be interested in Phyllis Tickle’s new book, “The Night Offices”.

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David Johnson

posted October 31, 2006 at 2:03 pm

“It is foolish to avoid the Torah.” As Jesus indicated in Matthew 5:17-48.

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