So the Me I Want To Be is nowhere in sight this week. Oh my goodness. Everything I have been aiming toward seems to have marched farther away with each day that has passed this week. I am trying to see this through God’s eyes and figure out what He might be asking me to learn? In keeping with this weird week, I have been trying to get this posted for almost a week now. Time has eluded me for sure.
Psalm 119. That longest-of-long chapter of scripture has so many cool characteristics that are hidden in the English language unless you dig. First it is an acrostic, which in English means that first letters of the words spell something (like NASA, which is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). But as I dug, I don’t think it is an acrostic like we are used to. It seems like the first letter in each line of the individual 22 sections starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. But no mention was made of anything beyond that.
So, 22 separate sections, each called by the name of the Hebrew letter that each line begins with. Eight lines in each section. Each starting with the same letter. Sounds like a fun challenge, right?
But since all that is hidden in translation, I am much more interested in what the English words say. And throughout the 176 verses there are seven different words that are used to talk about God’s covenant with his people. And I use the word covenant because it is one of the words that the psalmist doesn’t use.
I dug into the eight different words used for God’s covenant and discovered that they are indeed eight different Hebrew words to start with, but really only loosely translated into English. Oh, how I wish the English language had deeper and more detailed words for things like some other languages.
When you have food and eating issues (or dare I just say obedience issues), it is easy to read scripture in light of that chronic dilemma, trying to make everything somehow be your answer for your addiction. So it was easy for me to do that with these seven words.
In no particular order, here are the seven words and their meaning:
LAW. Where the English translates LAW, it originated as the Hebrew word TORAH. Its meaning in Hebrew is “instruction.” An example is verse 18: “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your LAW.” Wondrous things out of your instruction. In a way this seems to be the umbrella over the rest; an overarching generality maybe. So much the Bible says about what and how we are to feed ourselves. This is the beginning, where all my wisdom needs to begin. If any notion I come up with about eating doesn’t align with the LAW, I should not consider it truth.
WORD. There seems to be two Hebrew words being translated WORD in our Bible: ‘IMRAH and DABAR. They both refer to what God has spoken out loud. This word occurs in verse 103: “How sweet are your WORDS to my taste;” the words you have spoken aloud to my soul. I would love to think that if God spoke out loud to my soul I would swoon. But how often do I hear the warning not to eat something and totally ignore it. That is God speaking into my soul and I hardly call those words sweet.
TESTIMONIES. With the same root as testify, it is easy to imagine that this word must have something to do with God testifying, right? The Hebrew word is ‘EDOT, which means “what God solemnly testifies to be His will.” Verse 167 says, “I keep your testimonies and love them exceedingly.” Don’t you wish you could say that? Lord, I not only obey all the things you declare to be your will in my life, but I love them. Nope, a lot of the time I grumble and complain about them. Every morning I beg God to control my eating that day; I give Him permission to tell me when I am done. And so often I have such repenting to do before I go to sleep at night.
PRECEPTS. The unpronounceable word for this in Hebrew is PIQQUDIM. It refers to “what God has appointed to be completed.” Verse 128 says that the psalmist “considers all (His) precepts to be right…” All that God has appointed to be completed I consider right. If God ordained my food struggle, I agree with it and walk in it as a challenge in which to grow more like Him. I very rarely think that way, except when things are going according to my definition of good.
STATUTES. From the Hebrew word KHUQQIM or KHUQQOT, again such weird words, right? And another two for one deal. I feel a bit cheated and a bit like I want to start studying Greek and Hebrew to read Scriptures in my own language. These words refer to what a “divine Lawgiver would lay down.” “Lay down” has a harshness to it; something that gets put in place because someone isn’t listening. How many times growing up did you hear, “I am gonna lay down the law?” Verse 64 ends with “teach me your statutes.” Teach me those things that you are laying down in a authoritative way because I am just not listening. My soul needs this, but it does not want it. The idea is scary. What health concerns is God going to allow in order to snap me to attention??
COMMANDMENTS. From the Hebrew word MITSWOT, it means “those things that God has commanded. I have been trying to discern the difference between “laying down the law” and “commanding” and I thing this one doesn’t necessarily come on the heels of a refusal to listen. Verse 131 says, “I long for your commandments.” Again, I want to long for his commandments, but do it? Sometimes I feel like I am waiting for a word from God so I know what to obey, when all the while there is a mountain of words in his printed revelation that I need to get to! I have a notebook of verses that directly pertain to eating disorders, addictive behavior, disobedience,etc. Maybe God is saying, “As soon as you get on top of those, I will give you more.”
RULES. Last on my list, but certainly not least. The Hebrew word, MISHPATIM, means “what the divine judge has ruled to be right.” Here, He has moved from Lawgiver, as in STATUTES, to Judge. Verse 175 says, “…let your rules help me.” So whatever the Divine Judge has ruled to be right will help us stand firm under His judgement.
I know that all seven of these start to sound alike after awhile, but as I spent close to ten days praying this psalm back to the Lord in the morning, I loved having this list before me as I read and prayed. So many of the sections have 5 or more of these words in them. There is not one of the 22 sections of 8 verses that contain none. So psalm 119 is all about what God requires of us.
And so many takeaways regarding obedience.
If I really was “consumed with longing” for his rules, for the things he judges to be right, I might not be so consumed with food thoughts. (v. 20)
If I prayed for God to “turn my eyes from worthless things” AND OBEYED that, I might find relief from the inner turmoil that shows up each day. (v. 37)
If I hastened and did not delay in my obedience I would be one step closer to discerning His voice. (v. 60). Doesn’t this make you thing of Abraham who obeyed without delay?
The two sections that encompass verses 65 through 80 speak a lot of affliction. Affliction is a very personal concept. What is an affliction to you may not be to me. Folks have to define their afflictions. These two sections talk about the benefits of God’s affliction. No matter what you ordain them to be, they cause you to keep His word (what He has impressed upon your personal soul), to see the goodness in your pain (v. 71), and that He is faithful in your affliction (v.75).
After I finished with my 10+ days of reading this psalm and praying it back to God there is not much I haven’t highlighted or marked in some way. As a matter of fact, as I am making my way through the book of Psalms with prayer, it is pretty darn colorful!!
Tomorrow stretches out EMPTY before me. I cannot tell you how excited that makes me. It is gonna be a day of watermelon and the Artist’s Way, interjected with Sunday School prep for next weekend when I teach about Arthur Blessitt. Mostly watermelon and Artist’s Way tho!! Yay, me!!
Enjoy your Friday night!