The good wife (Prov 31:10-31:12)

Aleph

“A good wife,

Who can find her?

She is far more precious

Than jewels.

Bet

The heart of her husband

Trusts in her.

He will have no lack of gain.

Gimel

She does him good.

She does not bring harm,

All the days of her life.”

The Book of Proverbs ends with this Hebrew acrostic or alphabet tribute to the perfect wife. Each verse starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet like some of the Psalms. Finding the perfect wife was like finding wisdom. This has led some to see wisdom as female, so that the Spirit of wisdom is feminine. A good capable wife is hard to find. She, like wisdom, is far more precious than jewels. Her husband can trust her. He will be successful because of her. She brings him good and not harm all the days of her life.

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Teach me (Ps 119:33-119:40)

He

“Yahweh!

Teach me the way of your statutes!

I will observe it to the end.

Give me understanding!

Thus I may keep your law.

I will observe it with my whole heart.

Lead me in the path of your commandments.

I delight in it.

Turn my heart to your decrees.

Turn my heart not to gain.

Turn my eyes from looking at vanities.

Give me life in your ways.

Confirm to your servant your promise.

That is for those who fear you.

Turn away the disgrace that I dread.

Your ordinances are good.

See!

I have longed for your precepts!

In your righteousness give me life!”

This psalmist wanted to be taught by Yahweh. He wanted to learn all about his precepts and statutes. He wanted to observe them to the end of his life. He wanted understanding so that he could observe all his commandments with his whole heart. He wanted to delight in the decrees of Yahweh. He wanted his heart to turn away from self gains or vanities. He wanted to live in the life of Yahweh by following his ways. He wanted God’s promise to be confirmed in him. He wanted to avoid disgrace because he feared God. Yahweh’s ordinances were good so that he longed to follow his precepts in order to live a good life. This section of the fifth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, He, ended here.

A prayer to Yahweh (Ps 119:25-119:32)

Dalet

“My soul clings to the dust.

Revive me according to your word!

When I told of my ways,

You answered me.

Teach me your statutes.

Make me understand the way of your precepts.

I will meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away for sorrow.

Strengthen me according to your word!

Put false ways far from me!

Graciously teach me your law!

I have chosen the way of faithfulness.

I set your ordinances before me.

I cling to your decrees.

Yahweh!

Let me not be put to shame!

I will run in the way of your commandments.

You enlarge my understanding!”

This psalmist prays to Yahweh. He wanted to be revived by Yahweh since he had formerly answered his prayers. He wanted to know more about the statutes. Apparently the statutes were difficult things to learn. He was going to meditate on the these decrees so that he might better understand the wondrous works of Yahweh. He wanted to stay away from false ways. He wanted to be faithful as he clung to these decrees. He did not want to be put to shame. He was seeking a better understanding of the commandments. This section on the fourth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Dalet, ends with this plea.

The trustworthy servant (Ps 119:17-119:24)

Gimel

“Deal bountifully with your servant.

Thus I may live and observe your word.

Open my eyes!

Thus I may behold

Wondrous things out of your law.

I am an alien in the land.

Do not hide your commandments from me!

My soul is consumed with longing

For your ordinances at all times.

You rebuke the insolent.

You rebuke the accursed ones,

You rebuke those who wander from your commandments.

Take away from me their scorn and contempt.

I have kept your decrees.

Even though princes sit plotting against me,

Your servant will meditate on your statutes.

Your decrees are my delight.

They are my counselors.”

This psalmist maintained that he was a trustworthy servant. He wanted to live and observe the word of God. He wanted his eyes opened so that he could see all the wondrous things of the law. He was like an alien in his own land. He did not want Yahweh to hide the commandments from him. He was consumed with following the laws of Yahweh. He knew that Yahweh rebuked those who wandered from keeping his commandments, the insolent and the accursed ones. Even if other princes were plotting against him, this psalmist would continue to meditate on Yahweh’s statutes. The psalmist delighted in Yahweh’s decrees since they were like his counselors. Thus this section on the third consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Gimel, came to an end.

Prayer to keep the commandments (Ps 119:9-119:16)

Bet

“How can young people keep their way pure?

They guard it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you.

Do not let me stray from your commandments.

I treasure your word in my heart.

Thus I may not sin against you.

Blessed be you!

Yahweh!

Teach me your statutes!

With my lips I declare

All the ordinances of your mouth.

I delight in the way of your decrees.

I delight as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on your precepts.

I will fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in thy statutes.

I will not forget your word.”

This psalmist asked Yahweh to help him keep his commandments. He asked the basic question that keeps coming up today. How can the young people keep a pure way? How can they keep your word? The psalmist maintained that he was trying not to stray from Yahweh’s commandments with his whole heart. Once again, he personally wanted to learn more about the statutes of Yahweh. Using the first person singular, he wanted to delight in Yahweh’s commandment like others delight in riches. He wanted to meditate on the statutes of Yahweh so that he would not forget them. Thus this section on the second consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Bet, comes to an end.

The happy ones follow the law (Ps 119:1-119:8)

Aleph

“Happy are those whose way is blameless!

They walk in the law of Yahweh.

Happy are those who keep his decrees!

They seek him with their whole heart.

They also do no wrong.

They walk in his ways!

You have commanded your precept.

You have commanded it to be kept diligently.

O that my ways may be steadfast!

That I may keep your statutes!

Then I shall not be put to shame.

I have my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

I will praise you with an upright heart.

I will learn your righteous ordinances.

I will observe your statutes.

Do not utterly forsake me!”

Psalm 119 is one of the longest psalms. However, there are not any titles to this acrostic alphabet psalm about the importance of the law. There are 8 verses to every consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet instead of just a line or two as in some of the other acrostic psalms. In this eulogy to the law, the happy ones are the blameless ones because they walk in the law of Yahweh. They are happy because they keep his decrees. They seek Yahweh with their whole hearts. They do not do anything wrong because they keep Yahweh’s commandments diligently. They are steadfast in their determination to follow the law. The psalmist will try not to be ashamed as he tries to follow the law. He gets personal since he has an upright heart. Using the first person singular, he wanted to learn all the right ordinances and statutes. He wanted to observe them. He asked Yahweh not to forsake him. This section on the first consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, comes to an end.

Blessed be Yahweh (Ps 34:1-34:3)

A psalm of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away

Aleph 

“I will bless Yahweh at all times!

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Bet      

My soul makes its boast in Yahweh.

Let the humble hear and be glad.

Gimel 

O magnify Yahweh with me!

Let us exalt his name together!”

Psalm 34 is a long sapiential psalm about what happened to David in 1 Samuel, chapter 21. It is also an acrostic or alphabet psalm as each verse starts with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet like Psalms 9, 10, and 25. In the 1 Samuel story, David pretended to be deranged when he appeared before the Philistine King Achish at city of Gath. David had spit all over his beard and started to scratch at everything around him. However, the king’s name was not Abimelech, who was another Philistine King of Gerar around the time of Abraham and Isaac. However, this psalmist did not use this name within the psalm, so that it might have been a title misidentification. However, the story in 1 Samuel did have David pretend that he was mad so that he was dismissed by the Philistine king of Gath as a crazy person and not David. This psalm actually makes very little reference to that story. David or the psalmist began by blessing and praising Yahweh as he boasted in Yahweh. He wanted his name to be magnified. He wanted the humble ones to hear and be exalted.