The law as a shield (Ps 119:113-119:120)

Samek

“I hate the double-minded people.

But I love your law.

You are my hiding place.

You are my shield.

I hope in your word.

Go away from me!

You evildoers!

Thus I may keep the commandments of my God.

Uphold me according to your promise!

Thus I may live.

Let me not be put to shame in my hope!

Hold me up!

Thus I may be safe.

I have regard for your statutes continually!

You spurn all who go astray from your statutes.

Their cunning is in vain.

All the wicked of the earth,

You count as dross.

Therefore I love your decrees.

My flesh trembles for fear of you.

I am afraid of your judgments.”

The psalmist did not like those who were double minded since he loved single minded people and the law. He used the law as a shield as he hoped in the word of God. He wanted the evildoers to go away so that he could keep the commandments of God. He wanted God’s promise to sustain his life so that he would not be put to shame. He wanted to be held safe according to the statutes of God. He knew that God spurned those who went astray from the commandments. Their cunning ways were useless and not worth anything. This psalmist, on the other hand, loved the decrees of God. He trembled with fear because he was afraid of God’s judgments. So ends this section on the fifteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Samek.

The comfort of love (Ps 119:73-119:80)

Yod

“Your hands have made me.

You have fashioned me.

Give me understanding!

Thus I may learn your commandments.

Those who fear you

Shall see me.

They shall rejoice,

Because I have hoped in your word.

Yahweh!

I know that your judgments are right.

In faithfulness,

You have humbled me.

Let your steadfast love become my comfort,

According to your promise

To your servant.

Let your mercy come to me.

Thus I may live.

Your law is my delight.

Let the arrogant be put to shame.

They have subverted me with guile.

As for me,

I will meditate on your precepts.

Let those who fear you

Turn to me.

Thus they may know your decrees.

May my heart be blameless in your statutes.

Thus I may not be put to shame.”

Once again, the steadfast love of Yahweh sustains the psalmist’s love for the law. He recognized that Yahweh had made him. He wanted to gain an understanding of the commandments. Those who fear Yahweh would rejoice. He had hoped in the word of God. Yahweh was faithful. His judgments were right. His steadfast love had become a comfort to this psalmist as he had promised. The psalmist delighted in the law as he expected the mercy of God. The arrogant were to be put to shame because the psalmist was going to meditate on the precepts of Yahweh. In fact, he was going to teach others because his heart was blameless. He was not going to be put to shame. So ends this section on the tenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Yod.

Your precepts are my song (Ps 119:49-119:56)

Zain

“Remember your word to your servant!

You have made me hope.

This is my comfort in my distress.

Your promise gives me life.

The arrogant utterly deride me.

But I do not turn away from your law.

When I think of your ordinances from of old,

I take comfort.

Yahweh!

Hot indignation seizes me

Because of the wicked.

They forsake your law.

Your statutes have been my songs,

Wherever I make my home.

I remember your name in the night.

Yahweh!

I keep your law.

This blessing has fallen to me.

I have kept your precepts.”

This psalmist wanted Yahweh to remember what he promised. His promises gave hope to him when he was in distress. Even though arrogant people made fun of him, he did not turn away from the laws of Yahweh. He was comforted by remembering the ordinances of Yahweh. He really was mad about those who had not followed Yahweh’s precepts. This psalmist was putting the commandments of Yahweh to song. He remembered them when he lay in bed at night. He considered the precepts of the law to be a blessing. So ends this section on the seventh consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Zain.

Steadfast love (Ps 119:41-119:48)

Vav

“Let your steadfast love come to me!

Yahweh!

Let your salvation come to me according to your promise!

Then I shall have an answer for those who taunt me.

I trust in your word.

Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth.

My hope is in your ordinances.

I will keep your law continually,

Forever and ever.

I shall walk at liberty.

I have sought your precepts.

I will also speak of your decrees before kings.

I shall not be put to shame.

I find my delight in your commandments.

I love them!

I revere your commandments.

I love them!

I will meditate on your statutes.”

The psalmist wants the steadfast love of Yahweh to be with him. He wanted to be saved as Yahweh had promised. He trusted in the word of Yahweh. He did not want to be taunted. He had hope in the ordinances and laws of Yahweh. He wanted to continually walk in the liberty that God’s ordinances brought him. He wanted to tell kings about his God’s decrees. He delighted and loved the commandments of God. He wanted to meditate on all God’s statutes. So ends this section on the sixth consonant of the Hebrew alphabet, Vav.

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.

Yahweh and the just law (Ps 19:7-19:10)

“The law of Yahweh is perfect.

It revives the soul.

The decrees of Yahweh are sure.

They make wise the simple.

The precepts of Yahweh are right.

They rejoice the heart.

The commandment of Yahweh is clear.

It enlightens the eyes.

The fear of Yahweh is pure.

It endures forever.

The ordinances of Yahweh are true.

They are righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold.

They are even much finer than gold.

They are sweeter also than honey.

They are sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb.”

In order to counteract the preceding almost pagan eulogy to the sun, the Mosaic law of Yahweh gets special mention. It is the law of Yahweh, the decrees of Yahweh, the precepts of Yahweh, the commandments of Yahweh, the ordinances of Yahweh. There can be no mistake. This is the law of Yahweh that begins with the fear of Yahweh. They revive the soul. They make the simple wise. They rejoice the heart. They enlighten the eyes. They set righteous and endure forever. They are finer than gold and sweeter than honey. Clearly the law of Yahweh is central, not the sun.

The renegades flee (1 Macc 10:12-10:14)

“Then the foreigners who were in the strongholds that Bacchides had built fled. All of them left their places and departed to their own lands. Only in Beth-zur did some remain who had forsaken the law and the commandments. It served as a place of refuge.”

With the closing of the Jerusalem prison, many of the Hellenistic foreigners left for their own countries. However, some of the renegades, the lawless and godless Jews, had a place of refuge in Beth-zur.

The short admonition of Tobit to his son (Tob 4:5-4:7)

“Revere the Lord all your days, my son!

Refuse to sin!

Refuse to transgress his commandments!

Live uprightly all the days of your life!

Do not walk in the ways of wrongdoing!

Those who act in accordance with truth

Will prosper in their activities.”

Tobit warned his son not to sin, but to revere the Lord all the days of his life. He was to follow the commandments of God, not walking in the ways of the wrongdoers. He was to follow the truth, because then he would prosper. Good morality led to prosperity.

The rest of the people agree (Neh 10:28-10:29)

“The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, and the temple servants joined with the leaders. All the people who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, joined with their kin and their nobles. They entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses, the servant of God. They were to observe and do all the commandments of Yahweh our Lord, his ordinances, and his statutes.”

While the leaders had signed and sealed the document, the other priests and Levites, as well as the gatekeepers, singers, and temple servants agreed to the same thing. They would observe the commandments of Yahweh given to Moses, the great servant of God. In fact, all the people who separated themselves from the peoples of the land, with their whole family were to make an oath to walk in God’s Law. They would obey the ordinances and statutes of Yahweh. Thus we have a new community organized around the Law of Moses, Yahweh’s law.