For my weekly quiet time this week, I will do something a little different. I'll post Psalm 119: Lamed in the King James Version (which is in the public domain), then I will feature two quotes about Psalm 119: Lamed that I really liked.
89 LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
90 Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
91 They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
94 I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
95 The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
96 I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
1. Leslie Allen says in his Word Commentary: "The lamed
strophe contrasts what stands with what perishes. The stable universe
is a visible token of Yahweh's faithfulness. The results of the divine
word in its creative and sustaining role are seen in the ordered world,
whose order is homage to its Master. V 96 sums up the strophe. On the
one hand the scope of God's revelation embraces the universe, for it is
the expression of his will; on the other the feebleness of human
potential (apart from God) is blatant. Devotion to God's Torah is the
only means of sustenance: it is the divinely intended channel of true
I wish that Allen explained more how the Torah
would be the channel of true life. Is the Psalmist saying that God will
preserve his life because of his obedience to the Torah? Or that the
Torah encourages him and keeps him alive by allowing him to set his mind
on what is wholesome, good, and true, so that he does not give in to
depression and despair about life?
Psalm 119: Lamed's appeal to
the natural order interests me. I heard a professor once say that,
according to Islam, all of nature is submitted to Allah (God), except
for human beings, who have free will. Psalm 119: Lamed appears to
acknowledge that much of creation is subordinate to God. Perhaps the
Psalmist is appealing to the natural order to reassure himself of God's
character as one who is faithful: if God has preserved the generations
for so long, then God will hopefully preserve him as well. Or the
Psalmist is reassuring himself that God is powerful, since God maintains
the cosmos, and thus God will have the ability to preserve him. Or the
Psalmist could be saying that God is orderly, and that the Psalmist is
partaking of what is orderly by remembering and obeying God's Torah.
agree with Allen that there may be a contrast between the creation and
the Torah in Psalm 119: Lamed. The creation is good and orderly, but it
has its limits. The Torah, however, is vast in terms of its meaning
and application. Do I agree with this? I think that there is so much
to learn about nature----and that we haven't scratched the surface.
Regarding the Torah, conversely, it's tempting to say that it has its
limits: that its meaning is consigned to the original intention of the
author. And yet, there are so many ideas about what the original author
meant. There have been so many reinterpretations of the Torah within
religious communities. Readers approaching Torah notice something
different. And there are so many ways that people have applied the
Torah. Perhaps the Torah is vast, within the context of interpretation,
reintepretation, and application!
2. On v 96, which says "I have
seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad",
Matthew Henry says the following:
"Here we have David's testimony from his own experience, 1. Of the vanity of the world and its insufficiency to make us happy: I have seen an end of all perfection.
Poor perfection which one sees an end of! Yet such are all those things
in this world which pass for perfections. David, in his time, had seen
Goliath, the strongest, overcome, Asahel, the swiftest, overtaken,
Ahithophel, the wisest, befooled, Absalom, the fairest, deformed; and,
in short, he had seen an end of perfection, of all perfection.
He saw it by faith; he saw it by observation; he saw an end of the
perfection of the creature both in respect of sufficiency (it was scanty
and defective; there is that to be done for us which the creature
cannot do) and in respect of continuance; it will not last our time, for
it will not last to eternity as we must. The glory of man is but as the
flower of the grass. 2. Of the fulness of the word of God, and its
sufficiency for our satisfaction: But thy commandment is broad, exceedingly broad.
The word of God reaches to all cases, to all times. The divine law lays
a restraint upon the whole man, is designed to sanctify us wholly.
There is a great deal required and forbidden in every commandment. The
divine promise (for that also is commanded) extends itself to all our
burdens, wants, and grievances, and has that in it which will make a
portion and happiness for us when we have seen an end of all perfection."