Bible words: Commandments

Bible words: Commandments February 21, 2007

The third word used for Torah in Psalm 119:129-136 is “commandments” (mitzvot; v. 131). Attached to v. 131 is v. 132: because the psalmist longs for God’s mitzvot and because that longing expresses the psalmist’s love (v. 132b), he implores God to turn to him.
If the statutes of v. 129 generate wonder and the words provide light (v. 130), then the commandments create longing. (I don’t believe it is contextually sound to think of 131’s longing leads to discovering that one is a sinner and then begging for mercy in v. 132. The whole section is a positive embrace of the Torah as instruction that is encountered as wonder and joy.)

He sees in the Torah the very stuff of life — he pants for it, he opens his mouth — as do baby birds in the nest when they sense a parent arriving with food — and asks God to fill him up with the ways of the mitzvot.
The psalmist knows God’s ways: the TNIV obscures this slightly. V. 132b says (TNIV): “as you always do.” This expresssion, from kemishpat, expresses God’s ruling, judging ways. “Always do” is fine; I like the JPS a bit better here: “As is Your rule.” God’s order of operating is that those who love his name — YHWH — and who honor that name by obedience, find that God turns to them and has mercy on them because they long to know him and to be in his presence.

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