In Psalm 119:129-136 the psalmist uses seven different words to describe the Torah: today we look at the second word. It is “word/s” (devar). Psalm 119:130: “The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.”
If the statutes of v. 129 generate wonder, the words provide light.
Words — sometimes I think my life is full of words. Kris and I and the kids talk to one another with words. I teach with words, I write with words and my day is spent reading the words of others. And the Bible is filled with words — Hebrew and Aramaic and Greek. What are words?
Let’s not enter too deeply into philosophy but words are a linguistic set of symbols that create a meaning-world by a person with the intent of expressing one’s mind and heart so that the Other can understand those words.
The Bible is words: devarim. God speaks to his people in words. Not just with words — for there is aesthetic art in the tabernacle and Temple, and there is vision and there is miracle and there is pillar of cloud by day and fire by night — but often with words.
Ponder this: the Torah, the psalmist says, is a collection of God’s words to humans. It is God filling words with meaning so that humans can comprehend. These words are made alive by the Spirit and by faith and they come home and we hear God and we say “they give me light and they grant understanding to the simple.”
Most importantly, John tells us that the Word became flesh — actual person — and the writer of Hebrews said God used to speak in all kinds of words but in the last days he has spoken to us in Son. All those words in Torah anticipate the Final Word — and that Word is Jesus, a living breathing person. Words, ultimately, are person symbolized in little letters.
As Eugene Peterson calls his new book, “eat this book.”