“True instruction was
In his mouth.
No wrong was
Found on his lips.
He walked with me
He turned many
The lips of a priest
Should guard knowledge.
People should seek instruction
From his mouth.
He is the messenger
Of Yahweh of hosts.”
Yahweh, via Malachi, explained what a good Levite priest should be. The good Levite priests would have true instruction on their lips. They would walk with Yahweh in integrity and uprightness. They would turn many people away from iniquity. Their lips would guard knowledge. The people would seek instruction from them. Their mouths were the messengers of Yahweh.
“‘If you return!
‘If you return to me!
If you remove your abominations
From my presence!
If you do not waver!
If you swear!
‘As Yahweh lives!’
Then nations shall be blessed
They shall boast
Would Israel return to Yahweh? Yahweh sets down some conditions. They would have to remove their abomination idol statues from his presence. They would have to not waver. They had to swear that Yahweh lives. If this was done in truth, justice, and uprightness, then the nations would be blessed by him. Then they could boast in Yahweh.
“Our transgressions before you are many.
Our sins testify against us.
Our transgressions indeed are with us.
We know our iniquities.
We have transgressed Yahweh.
We have denied Yahweh.
We have turned away
From following our God.
We talk oppression.
We talk revolt.
We conceive lying words.
We utter them from our hearts.
Justice is turned back.
Righteousness stands at a distance.
Truth stumbles in the public square.
Uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking.
Whoever turns from evil is despoiled.”
Third Isaiah seems to have a community confession or acknowledgement of sins. They have committed many transgressions, since their sins will testify against them. They know that they have denied God. They have tried to turn away from him, as they wanted to revolt. They lied from their hearts. They have turned back justice since righteousness is now far away. There is no truth in the public squares, no uprightness. Anyone who turns from evil is attacked.
“Yahweh is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him.
He is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works.
He gave them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are truth and justice.
All his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever.
They are to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people.
He has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.
All those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!”
This short psalm ends by telling Yahweh that he is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him. He is ever mindful of his covenant with Israel. He has shown them the power of his works as they are his heritage. His works are true and just. All his precepts are trustworthy as they last forever. They are to be followed with faithfulness and uprightness. He has saved or rescued his people. He has commanded them to follow his covenant forever because he is holy and awesome. This fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, which is a key element of wisdom literature. Those who follow him will understand this. His praise will last forever.
“Consider how many are my foes!
With what violent hatred they hate me.
O guard my life!
Do not let me be put to shame!
I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me!
I wait for you.”
Yahweh should protect the psalmist from his foes and enemies. They hate him violently. Yahweh should guard his life and rescue him so that he would not be put to shame. He took refuge in Yahweh as he hoped that his integrity and uprightness would preserve him. Meanwhile he waited on Yahweh.