Psalm 119 'aleph'

This is my first post looking at a stanza of Psalm 119 which I’ve spoken about here and here.

The first staza of Psalm 119 is entitled ‘aleph’ - being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet where each verse begins with this Hebrew letter1.

The first eight verses, from the NASBĀ®2, interspersed with my comments read as follows:

1. How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD.

  • uses law.
  • Being blessed can be read as being happy, though blessed sounds like it has more depth to it. It (to me) also connotes this blessing being granted or bestowed from another rather.
  • From verse 1 the Psalmist sets up the premise connecting blessedness with legal/moral innocence with the word of the Lord.

2. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.

  • uses testimonies.
  • Ties obedience in with seeking the Lord. Relationship and obedience and inextricably linked.

3. They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.

  • uses ways.
  • Once again moral innocence and obedience are emphasised.

4. You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently.

  • uses precepts.
  • Diligence - particularly around precepts to morality is not a popular concept today.

5. Oh that my ways may be established To keep Your statutes!

  • uses statutes.
  • The phrase ’that my ways may be established’ rather than ’ I will establish my ways’ suggests that some external assistance may be required!

6. Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments.

  • uses commandments.
  • A continuation of thought from the previous verse. Makes meditation on a verse more difficult when ideas flow across verses.

7. I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments.

  • uses judgments.
  • First introduction of the idea of thankfulness and gratitude.

8. I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly!

  • uses statutes.
  • A recognition of possible consequences and judgement. That’s where Jesus comes in - but we need belief/faith.

So in this first stanza we see seven of the nine or ten different descriptors of God’s word being used. They are essentially interchangeable but I suspect there will be subtleties and nuances that arise as we go.

  1. I don’t read Hebrew, so I’ll take the experts’ word on this. ↩︎

  2. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation. ↩︎