Bible blog 2353

Continuing my translation with comment of Psalms 97-150

PSALM 119 (This psalm in 26 sections of 8 verses, each beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.)

All happiness for those whose ways are wholesome

Who walk in the teaching of Yahweh!

All happiness for those who value his advice

Who approach him with all their heart!

Indeed they do no wrong

But walk in his ways.

You insist that your precepts

Are carefully kept.

I truly wish that my ways were aligned

To keeping your decrees.

Then I shall not be shamed

When I attend to all your commandments.

I will praise you with an honest heart

When I learn your just judgements.

I will keep your decrees:

do not desert me!


By what means can a young man keep his act clean?

By observing your sayings.

With all my heart I approach you;

Stop me straying from your commandments!

I have hidden your word in my heart

To avoid any sin against you.

May you be blessed by mortals, Yahweh!

Make me memorise your decrees!

I will relate with my lips

All the just judgements of your mouth.

I am delighted with your wise directions

As if with the wealth of the world.

I will ponder your precepts

And behold your highways.

I will delight in your decrees

And I will not forget your word.


Care for your slave with kindness

That I may live to watch over your word.

Unseal my eyes that I may see

The treasures of your Teaching.

I am an alien

Do not conceal your commandments from me

Readers if I have any, may have anticipated the dread with which I have approached Psalm 119, the longest of all psalms. And it’s not just the length; it has a reputation for repetition and a legalistic piety that many find unattractive. Well, it’s a complex set of linked poems celebrating the Torah, the Teaching of God.

A: it consists of 26 sections of 8 verses, each section beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

B. Each section includes the same range of words that point to the Torah; commands, precepts, words, precepts, decrees, and so on, which are used in slightly different contexts throughout the psalm.

So, although each section can be appreciated individually, only the whole psalm can reveal the author’s meaning.

The distance between our culture and that of the psalmist can be seen if we ask: do we any longer expect a young man to find delight in the decrees of God?

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