Psalm 119:129-136

Psalm 119:129-136
Proper 12A


129 Your decreesA are wonderful;B
    thereforeC my soulD keepsE them.

Notes on verse 129

A “decrees” = eduth. From ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is testimony, ordinance, decree, warning, or witness.
B “wonderful” = pele. 13x in OT. This is a wonder, marvelous thing, or a miracle.
C “therefore” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
D “soul” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
E “keeps” = natsar. This is to watch, guard, protect. It can be positive – preserve or obey. It can be negative as conceal.

130 The unfoldingF of your wordsG gives light;H
    it imparts understandingI to the simple.J

Notes on verse 130

F “unfolding” = pethach. 1x in OT. From pathach (to open wise, loosen, plow, start, carve). This is opening or unfolding. Figuratively, it can reveal to revealing information or an entrance.
G “words” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
H “gives light” = or. This is to light, shine, set on fire – to be luminous in a literal or figurative sense.
I “imparts understanding” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.
J “simple” = pthiy. 19x in OT. From pathah (to be simple, entice, deceive, persuade, allure, be silly); from pethi (simple, silly, foolish, easily deceived); from pathah (to be wide open, deceive, entice, persuade, to be simple, delude). This is open-minded, simple, silly, foolish, or seducible.

131 With openK mouthL I pant,M
    because I longN for your commandments.O

Notes on verse 131

K “open” = paar. 4x in OT. This is to open or gape, to yawn. It is opening in a literal or figurative sense.
L “mouth” = peh. This is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
M “pant” = sha’aph. 14x in OT. This is to pant, long for, trample, crush, to rise as the sun, to hurry. It can refer to gasping as a woman in labor does or gasping from desire. It can also imply anger.
N “long” = yaab. 1x in OT. This is to long or desire.
O “commandments” = mitsvah. From tsavah (to charge, command, order, enjoin). This is a commandment, law, ordinance obligation, or tradition. It is something commanded whether by God or by a human authority. This term is sometimes used collectively to refer to the Law.

132 TurnP to me and be graciousQ to me,
    as is your customR toward those who loveS your name.T

Notes on verse 132

P “turn” = panah. This is to turn, regard, appear, look, prepare.
Q “be gracious” = chanan. This is to beseech, show favor, be gracious. Properly, it is to bend in kindness to someone with less status.
R “custom” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
S “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
T “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.

133 Keep my stepsU steadyV according to your promise,W
    and neverX let iniquityY have dominionZ over me.

Notes on verse 133

U “steps” = paam. From paam (to move, trouble; to tap in a regular rhythm; to agitate). This is a beat, stroke, footstep, or occurrence.
V “keep…steady” = kun. Related to “therefore” in v129. See note C above.
W “promise” = imrah. From emer (speech, thing, utterance, promise, argument, command); from amar (to speak, say, answer, command, promise, report). This is any kind of utterance, a word or commandment.
X {untranslated} = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
Y “iniquity” = aven. Root may mean panting as one does when expending a lot of energy, especially when it comes to nothing. This is nothingness, trouble, sorrow, distress, wickedness, evil, harm, sorrow, misfortune, and mischief. It is also used specifically to refer to idols.
Z “have dominion” = shalat. 8x in OT. This is to rule, dominate, govern. It can also mean to bear or permit.

134 RedeemAA me from humanBB oppression,CC
    that I may keepDD your precepts.EE

Notes on verse 134

AA “redeem” = padah. This is to sever, which is to say to ransom. To secure someone’s release (by paying their debt to free them from slavery) and thus redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve. Can also be the redemption price.
BB “human” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
CC “oppression” = osheq. 15x in OT. From ashaq (to wrong, deceive, violate, or use oppression). This is oppression or extortion – it is acquiring something fraudulently, unjust gain.
DD “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
EE “precepts” = piqqud. From paqad (to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter; to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge). This is something that is appointed or decreed by God. It can refer to the Law as a whole or a commandment individually.

135 Make your faceFF shineGG upon your servant,HH
    and teachII me your statutes.JJ

Notes on verse 135

FF “face” = paneh. Related to “turn” in v132. From panah (see note P above). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
GG “shine” = or. Same as “gives light” in v130. See note H above.
HH “servant” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
II “teach” = lamad. Properly, this refers to goading (using a pointed stick to guide or prod one’s flock). By implication, it means teaching or instructing.
JJ “statutes” = choq. From chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.

136 My eyesKK shedLL streamsMM of tearsNN
    because your lawOO is not kept.

Notes on verse 136

KK “eyes” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
LL “shed” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
MM “streams” = peleg. 10x in OT. This is a channel, canal, or streamlet. It can be a small stream of water used to irrigate plants.
NN “tears” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
OO “law” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.

Image credit: “A World of Abstract Architectures 53 Pics” by Luca Biada, 2012.

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