Lectionary Year A
July 14, 2002
Psalm 119:105-112

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) This passage's theological pivotal point is the God whose Word, decrees, ordinances, law, precepts and statutes the poet vows to observe and obey and God's promises on which he relies. Weiser says its "dominating focal point . . . (is) the word of God and the law of God as the decisive factor in every sphere of life." It could be that, too. The next most significant image is that of the author's life, which is in jeopardy and which he asks for relief from God from whom he believes it comes from God's Word. Then, the joy of the Psalmist's heart, which comes from his honoring God's precepts, are never to be forgotten. These designations leave only these few elements to be described as lesser important concerns in these verses: the lamp to the feet and the light to the path, (can you believe?) and the poet's affliction and persecutors, whoever they are. Their identity really doesn't matter, because when the Psalm is used in different times, by different people in different circumstances, their persecutors will likely differ, too. Nor do(es) the trouble's(s') name(s) that bother the Psalmist matter for the same reason.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 105 Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. 106 I have sworn and I shall reconfirm to keep the ordinances of Your righteousness. 107 I have humbled myself/become afflicted exceedingly, so, Yahweh, give me life according to Your Word. 108 Accept the offerings of my eating and drinking now Yahweh and teach me Your judgment/justice/ordinances. 109 My life (languishes) in my hand continually so I will never forget/ignore Your Law. 110 The wicked/criminal lay a trap/snare for me on account of Your statute/precept from which I am not going astray/wandering/erring ever. 111 I am inheriting/taking possession of Your testimony forever as the joy/gladness of my heart (are) they. 112 I am inclining my heart to do/accomplish Your ordinance forever, consequently.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) Last week's Psalm (45) helped us recall that Psalm 46:1 declares that God is a very present help in times of trouble. Psalm 119 seems to emphasize that truth, too. This week's Psalmist admits he is in difficulty and turns to promising to follow God's directives, evidently, through them. Although Amy Grant has a number, "Thy Word", based on these verses of this Psalm, the Beetles sang a song that is a little more plaintiff, possibly even more reverent, that might get at this lection's expressions more effectively. It is, "Let It Be", some of the lyrics of which might describe some of this Psalmist's troubles as well as his faith in a God who might be figured as "Mother Mary". They sang, "When I feel myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me . . ." As is God always, even and especially noticeably in such times.

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