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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Established 2.0

Yesterday I shared some observations on Psalm 119:1 – 5, I intend to finish the octet today.  This will be a little more technical than yesterday’s post.
Established 2.0
As I said the first three verses detail what it means to be blessed in following the Word of the Lord.  David in verse 5 asks that his ways be established to do just that.  The verb stem for “established” is nifal, in this case carrying the weight of passive.  Thus David needs the Lord to establish his way to obey, he cannot do that on his own.  Then things get really interesting.

Note in your Bibles the first word in verse 6 is “then.”  After David’s way is established the result, then, he will not be ashamed.  These next two verses are a really interesting construction.  Note the parallel construction again.
Then I shall not be ashamed
I shall give thanks
When I look upon all Your commandments
I learn Your righteous judgments

It reads like two conditional statements.  Instead of if – then, it is then – when.  But the verb stems make it even more interesting.  Both look and learn are hifil.  In the hifil stem the subject of the verb, here in both cases, “I,” causes the object of the verb, here respectively commandments and judgments, to participate in the action of the verb.  Thus when David looks at the commandments the commandments are drawing David to look.  When he learns the judgments the judgments are participating in that learning.

Think about that.  We read in Hebrews 4:12, that the Word of God is living and active.  Here David is saying essentially the same thing.  The commandments participate in his looking at them and the judgments participate in David learning them.  Then, based on the conditional nature of the construction, the commandments participation removes shame from David and the judgments cause him to give thanks.

But there is one more verse.

Verse 8 reverses the order of verse 5.  In 5 David asks that his ways be established to keep.  In 8 he will keep, implied, if he is not forsaken.  David’s dependence on the Lord to look and learn and thus to keep is emphasized by starting and finishing these four verses with his need for his Lord’s engagement in the process.

So to follow the Word, we are dependent on the Lord and the Word, the Bible, is central to that process.

That is just 8 verses of 176.  There is a ton in this Psalm.

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