Psalm 119:167-176

Psalm 119:167-176
Narrative Lectionary 333


167 My soulA keepsB your decrees;C
    I loveD them exceedingly.

Notes on verse 167

A “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.
B “keeps” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
C “decrees” = edah. From ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is testimony or witness.
D “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.

168 I keep your preceptsE and decrees,
    for all my waysF are beforeG you.

Notes on verse 168

E “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.
F “ways” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
G “before” = neged. From nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.

169 Let my cryH comeI beforeJ you, O Lord;K
    give me understandingL according to your word.M

Notes on verse 169

H “cry” = rinnah. From ranan (a cry of joy or a joyful song; properly, emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy). This is a song, shout, cry of joy, or proclamation. It could also be a shout of grief.
I “come” = qarab. This is to come near, offer, make ready, approach, take.
J “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). 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.
K “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
L “give…understanding” = bin. This is to discern, consider, attend to. It refers to distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand.
M “word” = 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.

170 Let my supplicationN come beforeO you;
    deliverP me according to your promise.Q

Notes on verse 170

N “supplication” = techinnah. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is grace, favor, entreaty, mercy.
O “before” = paneh. Same as “before” in v169. See note J above.
P “deliver” = natsal. This is to snatch someone or something away in a good sense – as rescue, defend, or deliver – or in a bad sense – as strip or plunder.
Q “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.

171 My lipsR will pour forthS praise,T
    because you teachU me your statutes.V

Notes on verse 171

R “lips” = saphah. This is lip, edge border, bank – used for a boundary. It can also be speech or language.
S “pour forth” = naba. 11x in OT. This is to spring up, flow, gush, or spout. It can also mean to belch as in emitting a bad smell. Figuratively, it can mean to speak, whether positively or negatively.
T “praise” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
U “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.
V “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.

172 My tongueW will singX of your promise,
    for all your commandmentsY are right.Z

Notes on verse 172

W “tongue” = lashon. This is tongue, talker, language, or wedge. It can also be a tongue of flame or a water cove.
X “sing” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
Y “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.
Z “right” = tsedeq. This is rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity.

173 Let your handAA be ready to helpBB me,
    for I have chosenCC your precepts.

Notes on verse 173

AA “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
BB “help” = azar. This is to surround, which implies encircling to protect someone or help them out. It can also be help, ally, or support.
CC “chosen” = bachar. This is to choose, appoint, try, excellent.

174 I long forDD your salvation,EE O Lord,
    and your lawFF is my delight.GG

Notes on verse 174

DD “long for” = taab. 2x in OT – both in Psalm 119. This is to desire or yearn for.
EE “salvation” = yeshuah. From yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free). This is salvation, deliverance, health, victory, prosperity.
FF “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.
GG “delight” = shaashuim. 9x in NT. From shaa (to delight, play) OR form sha’a’ (to stare, cry out, amuse self, be blinded, play). This is a delight, pleasure, or enjoyment.

175 Let meHH liveII that I may praiseJJ you,
    and let your ordinancesKK help me.

Notes on verse 175

HH “me” = nephesh. Same as “soul” in v167. See note A above.
II “let…live” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
JJ “praise” = halal. Related to “praise” in v171. See note T above.
KK “ordinances” = 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.

176 I have gone astrayLL like a lostMM sheep;NN seekOO out your servant,PP
    for I do not forgetQQ your commandments.

Notes on verse 176

LL “gone astray” = taah. This is to wander, deceive, seduce, vacillate. It is to stray in a literal or figurative sense.
MM “lost” = abad. To wander off, lose self. This implies to perish, destroy, die, vanish, or be broken or corrupt.
NN “sheep” = seh. Perhaps from sha’ah (to make a loud noise or crash, devastate, rush). This is a lamb, sheep, or goat – a part of a flock.
OO “seek” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
PP “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.
QQ “forget” = shakach. This is to forget or mislay – it is not knowing because of forgetfulness or inattentiveness.

Image credit: “Lost Sheep” by Threthny, 2017.

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