Bible words: Promise and Precept

Bible words: Promise and Precept February 22, 2007

Psalm 119:133-134 uses two more words for the Torah: promises (imra) and precepts (piqud). Imra can mean “word” but “promissory word” is a little better. Implications are obvious: Torah is promissory word and preceptual word in order to guide the behavior of God’s people.
If the statutes of v. 129 generate wonder and the words provide light (v. 130) and the commandments create longing (v. 131-132), then the promises create guidance (v. 133) and the precepts guidelines for behavior (v. 134).

Knowing God’s Torah as promissory means the psalmist can have firm feet and clear guidance for those feet; the path is secure because it is God’s way. Knowing God’s Torah as precept means the psalmist knows how to behave when he has the freedom to do so. So, he prays to be “ransomed” from oppressors, perhaps indicating that he is right now in captivity of some sort. No way to know.
Torah is guidance — read it, listen to it, and learn from it. What we learn is how to live — how to love others, how to work for justice, and how to bring peace.


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  • Sam Burr

    When I read that imra translates better as “promissory word”, I thought of it as creating hope.

  • Brad

    Good thoughts here, Scot.