The poor in spirit!
The kingdom of heaven.”
Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
Most people speak about the 8 beatitudes of Jesus on the mountain. They are also found in Luke, chapter 6:20, since they feature the key points of Jesus’ preaching that was founded on the Hebrew Scriptures. What does “blessed (Μακάριοι)” mean? This Greek word Μακάριοι appears over 68 times in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, especially in the Psalms. God will bless these people, so that they will be the fortunate ones, the happy ones, the wise ones. There are echoes of Psalm 32, where the happy and blessed ones are those who have had their sins forgiven, since they have no deceit in their hearts. The blessed people are the poor, the hungry, the mourners, and those being persecuted. Number one is the poor. However, right off the bat, there is a difference with Luke, chapter 6:20, who simply said blessed are the poor (Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ) without any modification, since he did not mention the “poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι),” as Matthew indicated here. What does Matthew mean by this “poor in spirit” or spiritual poverty? There is a whole Judaic tradition about the oppressed poor and the humble of the land, as in prophets Isaiah, chapter 61:1 and 66:2, and Zephaniah, chapter 2:3, but that was not spiritual poverty. Perhaps, this is more like the lack of concern for material things, whether you are actually poor or not. For Luke, it was black or white, poor or not. The 2nd major difference was the reward. Matthew continued to talk about what they would possess, the kingdom of the heavens (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), while Luke said it was the kingdom of God, plain and simple.
“We heard of the Ark in Ephrathah.
We found it in the fields of Jaar.
‘Let us go to his dwelling place.
Let us worship at his footstool!’”
David had heard of the Ark of the Covenant while he was in Ephrathah, which was Bethlehem, the home of David. However, the Ark was in Jaar, Kiriath-jearim. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant in 1 Samuel, chapters 6-7. David wanted to go there and worship at the foot of the Ark of the Covenant.
“Many are the pangs of the wicked.
But steadfast love surrounds those
Who trust in Yahweh.
Be glad in Yahweh!
Shout for joy!
All you upright in heart!”
The wicked will continue to suffer. However, those who trust in Yahweh, will find that steadfast love surrounds them. This psalm ends with a rousing call to rejoice. If you trusted in Yahweh, then rejoice! Be glad! Should for joy! The righteous and the upright of heart will be surrounded with the love of Yahweh. They in turn should shout for joy because of their love for Yahweh.
“I will instruct you.
I will teach you
The way that you should go.
I will counsel you
With my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule,
Their temper must be curbed with bit and bridle.
Otherwise they will not stay near you.”
David would instruct the people. He was going to teach them the way that they follow. He was going to counsel them by keeping his eyes on them. He reminded them that they should not be like a horse or a mule without understanding. Those animals have to have their temper curbed with a bridle or bit in the mouth. Otherwise these horses and mules would not stay near anyone. So too the faithful needed guidance.
“Therefore let all
Who are faithful
Offer prayer to you.
At a time of distress,
The rush of mighty waters
Shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me.
You preserve me from trouble.
You surround me
With glad cries of deliverance.
The faithful ones pray to Yahweh. At the time of distress, the rush of mighty waters does not reach the faithful praying ones. Yahweh hid and preserved David from trouble. He was surrounded with glad cries of deliverance. Once again, there is a pause for a musical interlude with the Selah.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you.
I did not hide my iniquity.
‘I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh.’
Then you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Once David acknowledged his sins he had no more problems. He did not hide his iniquity. He confessed his transgressions to Yahweh. Then Yahweh forgave him the guilt of his sins. Once again, there is a pause for a musical interlude with the Selah. There will be a lot of pauses or interludes in this psalm of wisdom.
“When I kept silence,
My body wasted away.
I was groaning all day long.
Day and night
Your hand was heavy upon me.
My strength was dried up
Like the heat of summer.
Sickness and sinning were considered synonymous. When David was silently suffering his body was wasting away. He groaned the whole time, both day and night. The heavy hand of Yahweh was upon him. His strength was dried up as the heat of summer does. Once again, there is a pause for a musical interlude with the Selah.