Psalm 119:89-96

Submitted by admin on Sat, 2008-03-01 11:59.

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Every verse starts with the Hebrew letter lamed.

YHWH’s word endures for all time to come. Being established in the heavens, it is in a secure place. This assures that it is certain of fulfillment. Nothing can hinder the accomplishment of whatever is an expression of God’s will.

In verse 89, no verb follows the first Hebrew word (commonly rendered “eternal”). Therefore, a number of translations, when supplying a verb, make the application to God and limit the reference to the word to the second half of the verse. “Our LORD, you are eternal! Your word will last as long as the heavens.” (CEV) “The LORD exists forever; your word is firmly fixed in heaven.” (NRSV) “The LORD exists forever; Your word stands firm in heaven.” (Tanakh)

His “faithfulness,” dependability, “truth” (LXX), or trustworthiness continues from generation to generation. It will never fail. The psalmist appears to have regarded God’s having established the earth and its continuing to “stand” or exist as proof of his dependability.

By God’s decrees, “they stand this day.” Based on the previous verse, this could refer to the earth and everything else that continued to endure. The Hebrew word for “stand” (‘amár) is a third person plural verb (“they stand”). There is, however, no clear plural antecedent. This has led to a variety of interpretive readings. “Even to this day your decrees stand fast, for all things serve you.” (REB) “Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.” (NIV) “Through your judgements all stands firm to this day, for all creation is your servant.” (NJB) “All things remain to this day because of your command, because they are all your servants.” (GNT, Second Edition) “All things continue to this day because of your laws, because all things serve you.” (NCV) Himmel und Erde bestehen bis heute, weil du es so willst, denn dir muß alles dienen. (Heaven and earth endure until today because you so wish it, for everything must serve you.) (German, Hoffnung für Alle)

The “day” would be the time of the psalmist. “All things” are “servants” of the Most High, suggesting that everything is at his disposal for the carrying out of his will. The implication appears to be that this assures the trustworthiness of God’s word or promise.

If God’s law had not been a source of delight (the object of meditation, LXX) for the psalmist as he endeavored to live by it, he would not have been sustained in his time of distress. Overwhelmed by his affliction, he would have perished.

He resolved never to forget YHWH’s precepts, at no time ignoring the guidance they provided. This is because he recognized them as the means by which the Most High had given him life. Without the divine precepts, he would not have been able to live in the real sense of the word, for he would merely have been existing without any awareness of God’s love and compassionate care for him.

As one who belonged to the Most High, the psalmist pleaded, “Deliver me, for I have sought your precepts.” He had earnestly desired to live up to God’s commands and therefore trusted that the Almighty would deliver him from his affliction.

The psalmist found himself in a perilous situation. The wicked (“sinners,” LXX) were lying in wait for him, seeking to destroy him. Despite the threatening circumstances, he determined to consider God’s testimonies. This indicated that he would always keep these testimonies or solemn charges before him and conduct himself accordingly.

Whatever is complete or perfect from a human standpoint has an “end” or a limit. It is finite. The finite nature of everything in the human sphere appears to have been what the psalmist saw or came to recognize. God’s commandment, on the other hand, is exceedingly broad, without the kind of limits associated with the human sphere. At all times and under all circumstances, God’s commandment provides sound guidance. There never would be a situation necessitating its being set aside as inapplicable.