Sunday, July 17, 2022

Psalm 119: A Deep Dive into Different Aspects of the Word of God, which the Psalmist praises

Psalm 119 talks about the word of God in different ways. It talks about God's law, precepts, testimonies, judgments, commandments, statutes, or simply the "word" of the Lord. There are even more Hebrew words behind those translations. The differences can seem technical or elusive. A closer look shows some differences which can help deepen our own understanding. First a quick note on that "deep dive" into the underlying words, and then some comments on the different aspects of the Word of God. 

Tools for the "Deep Dive"
First, I determined which original Hebrew word(s) are in each verse. Next, I ran a most-common-words analysis of just the verses using each word (or pair of closely-related words), again using TagCrowd as an analysis too. I looked for words that are associated with the other at least 3 times, to establish a pattern. Here are the basic findings, with the parenthetical numbers showing how often a certain association is found: 
  • Law (Hebrew: Torah): Lord (4), delight (4), love (4), keep (3)
  • precepts (Hebrew: piqqud): Keep (5), quicken (3), understand (3)
  • testimonies (Hebrew: edah and eduth): Keep (4), kept (3), understanding (3), heart (3)
  • word (Hebrew: imrah) According (6), comfort (3), eyes (3), merciful (3), servant (3)
  • judgments (Hebrew: mishpat): Lord (6), righteous (6), according (4), mouth (3), praise (3)
  • commandments (Hebrew: mitsvah): Delight (3), loved (3)
  • statutes (Hebrew: choq and chuqqah): Teach (7), Lord (4), keep (4), heart (4), servant (3)
  • word (Hebrew: dabar): According (6), hope (6), Lord (5), keep (3), servant (3), soul (3), live/quicken (3)
Take-aways from that review
The Law is is seen as worthy of love and delight, not merely obedience. Walking in the Law (Torah) is a way that is pure and undefiled. Loving the Law carries abundant peace, and guards against stumbling.. 

The judgments of God are associated with justice: they are not mere acts of power but of empowered righteousness, and so they inspire praise. As wickedness is a cause of grief, its redress through justice is a cause for celebration. 

One aspect of "word" is sometimes used almost like "promise": he gave his word. In this sense, the word of God is associated strongly with hope. Another aspect of "word" is often associated mercy and (possibly therefore) with comfort. 

Other aspects of the word of God consider aspects of teaching and understanding, or how the Lord quickens us / brings life. The Word of the Lord is also thought of as expanding our ability to love: it "enlarges the heart". 


Martin LaBar said...

"The Law is is seen as worthy of love and delight, not merely obedience."

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Martin

Thank you for the encouragement.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF