Psalm 119:65-72

Submitted by admin on Thu, 2008-02-28 20:44.

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Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter teth.

The psalmist appreciatively acknowledged, “You have dealt well with your servant, O YHWH, according to your word.” His acknowledgment indicated that YHWH had revealed himself to be the fulfiller of his word or promise and had been good or kind in all his dealings with him.

He wanted to be taught “good” or “goodness,” “discernment,” and “knowledge.” His desire was to know what YHWH approved as “good” and to be in possession of discernment and knowledge to understand and follow God’s law, for he “believed” in or trusted God’s commandments. This was evidently because he recognized the commandments as providing essential guidance that would benefit him.

Numerous translations have rendered the Hebrew word for “good” or “goodness” (tov) as modifying tá‘am (“discernment,” “discretion,” or “knowledge”) and variously read, “good judgment” (NIV, NRSV), “good discernment” (Margolis), and “good sense” (Tanakh). The Septuagint, however, does not support viewing tov as an adjective. It reads chrestóteta kaí paideían (“kindness and discipline”).

At one time in his life, the psalmist did not act in harmony with God’s commands. Prior to his coming to be in an afflicted state, he had strayed. Humbled by the affliction, he changed his course and submitted to divine direction. “Now,” the psalmist continued, “I keep your word.”

He acknowledged YHWH as being good and the doer of good. The Most High is the ultimate standard of goodness or kindness and generously provides everything that is good and beneficial. Therefore, his statutes are good, providing the best guidance possible. With apparent appreciation for their good or beneficial aspect, the psalmist prayed, “Teach me your statutes.”

Insolent ones, persons who defiantly ignored God’s commands, “besmeared” the psalmist with “falsehood” or slandered him. According to the Septuagint, they increased injustice against him. Their malicious course did not sway him from faithfully adhering to God’s law. “With all [his] heart” or with every part of his being, including his inmost self, he observed the divine precepts.

The “heart” or inner self of the slanderers had become insensitive, “like fat.” Their inmost motivations for doing what is right had been dulled as though a thick, fatty layer covered them. Whereas they had no desire to conduct themselves uprightly, the psalmist found delight in YHWH’s law. It brought him joy to heed it. According to the Septuagint, he meditated on God’s law.

When he thought about his previous wayward course, the psalmist was moved to express appreciation for having been afflicted. The affliction or humbling experience was good for him, producing a change for the better in his attitude. This made it possible for him to learn God’s statutes as one who desired to follow them.

For the psalmist, the “law of [God’s] mouth” or the expression of God’s commands and will was better or of greater value than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. This “law” was a priceless treasure to all who, like the psalmist, found delight in following it.