Psalm 119:73-80

Submitted by admin on Thu, 2008-02-28 20:46.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

Each verse starts with the Hebrew letter yod.

The psalmist acknowledged that YHWH had created him, saying that God’s hands had “made” and “established” him. Possibly the “establishing” refers to his having been prepared to function in life. According to the Septuagint, God’s hands made and “formed” him, and numerous modern translations convey the same thought. The psalmist wanted to be granted the understanding needed to fully learn God’s commandments, for his desire was to follow them. He recognized his Creator as the source of dependable guidance.

Persons who feared YHWH or who had reverential regard for him would rejoice when seeing the psalmist. Their joy would stem from observing his godly life, which revealed that he “hoped” in God’s “word” or promise. While maintaining upright conduct, he continually looked for the fulfillment of God’s promise to his devoted servants.

The psalmist knew or recognized that YHWH’s judgments were righteous, just, or right. Never would there be a time when the Almighty could be charged with having dealt unfairly. Therefore, when the psalmist thought about the distress he had experienced, he was moved to say that YHWH had afflicted him in faithfulness. The Most High had not acted in malice or been untrue to himself. His trustworthiness or dependability in seeking the good of his servants remained unchanged, for the psalmist had benefited from the experience.

In view of the distressing circumstances he had faced, he recognized his need for God’s loving care. He prayed to be comforted by God’s abiding love, compassionate concern, or “mercy” (LXX), basing his plea on God’s word to his servants. In his case, as YHWH’s servant, this word or promise assured him that the Most High would help him in his time of need.

The psalmist prayed that YHWH’s mercy might come to him in order for him to continue living. This suggests that he recognized his life as a divine gift and its continuance as an expression of God’s love and compassion. When making his petition, he implied that he did so on the basis of the relationship he had with the Most High, for he referred to the delight he had in his law. He found pleasure in living in harmony with YHWH’s commands. The Septuagint refers to God’s law as the object of the psalmist’s meditation.

Insolent ones, persons who defiantly violated God’s law, had determined to harm the psalmist. Resorting to deceit or lying, they tried to “subvert” him. The Hebrew term ‘awáth (“subvert”), in verse 78, has the basic sense of being or making bent or crooked. It has been variously translated to mean “oppress,” “wrong,” “distort,” and “hurt.” The word ‘awáth is linked with the Hebrew term shéqer, meaning “deceit,” “falsehood,” or “lie.” The Septuagint reading may be understood to mean that the arrogant ones unjustly acted lawlessly against him. Modern translations vary in their renderings. “Shame the proud for oppressing me unjustly.” (NAB) “Let the arrogant who tell lies against me be shamed.” (NJB) “Put down those proud people who hurt me with their lies.” (CEV) “They wrong me with lies.” (REB) “They have wronged me without cause.” (Tanakh) “They have subverted me with guile.” (NRSV) “They have distorted my cause with falsehood.” (Margolis)

The psalmist prayed that the godless ones would be put to shame. This shame would come about from failing in their efforts to wrong him or to deprive him of justice. Whereas his insolent enemies disrespected God’s law, he continued to make the divine precepts the object of his meditation. His thoughts were on understanding and living up to God’s commands.

The psalmist desired to have godly persons as his companions. He prayed, “Let those fearing you turn to me.” As persons who feared God, they were his loyal servants who had reverential regard for him. Their knowing his testimonies or solemn charges would have been evident from their living in harmony with his law.

For the psalmist’s heart to be “blameless in [God’s] statutes” would signify his inmost self would be blameless, rightly motivating him to conduct himself according to God’s commands. His motivation for serving the Most High would be pure. Therefore, no reason would exist for his being put to shame, as would persons whose words and actions came to be exposed as having been deceptive.