THIS TRANSLATION IS STILL ACTIVE 18/11/21! Continuing my translation with comment of Psalm 119. More added 25/11/21
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 immigrant on your land;
Do not conceal your commandments from me!
My soul is squeezed with eagerness
For your true judgements at all times.
You reprove proud people, whose ways are doomed
For they wander from your wise commands.
Set me free from scorn and shame
Since I value your advice.
Though princes sit and slander me
Your slave will ponder your precepts.
Your advice is very pleasant to me,
It gives me guidance.
Dust is the destiny of my soul;
Enliven me with your law!
I have revealed my life to you and you responded;
Set me to learn your statutes!
Help me see the road of your rules,
So that I can meditate on your marvels.
My soul sinks down in sadness;
Lift me up by your law!
Remove me from the road of deception
And grant me the grace of your teaching.
I have taken the road of truth;
I have placed your fair judgements before me;
I have adhered to your advice.
Please, Yahweh, do not put me to shame.
I will run the road of your commandments,
For you are helping my heart to grow.
Educate me Yahweh in the lifestyle of your statutes
And I will keep to it continually.
Give me the wit to be guided by your Teaching
And to heed it with all my heart
Forward me on the footpath of your commandments
For I find pleasure in it;
Turn my heart towards your testimony
Not to the love of lucre.
Turn my gaze away from gain
And revive me on your road.
Perform for your slave the promise
Made to those who fear you.
Turn away from me the taunts that I fear;
For sure, your judgements are fair.
In truth I desire your statutes;
Join me to life in your justice.
Favour, your favour Yahweh, may it flow to me!
Your welfare, as promised by your word!
Then I shall have something to tell those who taunt me
For I have put my trust in your promise.
Do not snatch from my lips all mention of your loyalty
For I await your wise judgements.
Then I will retain your Teaching
At all times for all time;
And I will walk as in a wide space
Since I practice your precepts.
I will mention your recorded wisdom before monarchs
And will not be made ashamed.
Your commandments captivate me
I love them dearly.
I will lift up my hands to your commands that I love
And murmur over the laws that you have made.
God, you have given me hope;
Please remember your promise to your slave
For this is my medicine in misery:
Your law gives me life.
Arrogant people ridicule me
But I do not turn away your Teaching.
By bringing to mind your judgements of former times
I can medicine myself, Yahweh.
Horror at wrongdoers takes hold of me
When they trash your Teaching.
Your statutes have been my songs
In the place of my pilgrimage.
Your name I have remembered at night Yahweh
And I will treasure your Teaching.
This has been my blessing:
To have kept your commandments.
Here is my inheritance Yahweh:
Keeping your commandment.
I hope for your smile with all my heart;
Be good to me, as you have guaranteed.
I will watch over my ways
And turn my feet to your established truth.
I step to it and do not saunter
In keeping your commandments.
Though snarled in the snares of criminals
I do not turn from your Teaching,
But get up at midnight to give thanks
For your just judgements.
I am a friend to all who fear you
Who practice your precepts.
The earth, Yahweh, is laden with your lovingkindness;
Discipline me in your decrees!
Indeed you have done good to your slave
Yahweh, as you promised!
Train me in good taste and understanding
As I cleave to your commands.
Before I was brought low, I would go wrong
But now I respect your sayings.
You are good and do good;
Discipline me in your decrees!
Presumptuous people plaster me with lies
But with all my heart I perform your precepts.
Their hearts are heavy as if with fat
While I tread lightly with your Teaching.
It is good for me that I was brought low
So that I might be disciplined in your decrees.
More precious to me is the teaching of your mouth
Than gold and silver coins in plenty!
Your hands have formed and fashioned me;
Give me the wit to learn your wishes.
Those who fear you will feel joy when they see me
Because I wait on your word.
I know Yahweh that your judgements are just:
Out of loyal love you brought me low.
May your lovingkindness comfort me
As you have assured your slave.
May your compassion mother me so that I may live
For your teaching entrances me.
May arrogant people be put to shame
Who by deceit have slandered me;
As for me, I will study your statutes.
May those who fear you not be far from me
The ones who know your wisdom.
Let me be perfect in your precepts
So that I may not be put to shame!
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 u
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?
When we can read every day the words of politicians and other leaders, which come from their limited experience and inadequate values, we can identify with the psalmist, whose soul is “squeezed with eagerness” for God’s true judgements, and who values God’s advice. He is not boasting, but quietly asserting the worth of what he has learned in faith. Students of the wisdom that comes from faith and clear thinking should not be over modest in expressing their values.
Please note in section D the repetition of the word “road” each time in slightly different contexts. Although the psalm is meditative, the aim of faith is practical living. The student who must walk/run as well as meditate. It is a lovely idea that the practice of goodness enlarges the heart.
In section F, note the expression about walking as in a wide place, which is a beautiful metaphor for living by God’s wisdom. This is not grim legalism but delighted discipleship.
In section G the Hebrew Torah is repeated. It stands for the Books of Moses, sometimes called the Law in English. The psalmist is emphasising its centrality in his/ her life.