Month 9:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year 5935:238 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 3 December 2011
Be Ye Perfect V
The Davidian Yod Directives
Continued from Part 4
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el!
"Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your mitzvot (commandments). Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your davar (word). I know, O Yahweh, that Your mishpatim (judgments) are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant. Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your Torah (Law) is my delight. Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; but I will meditate on Your piqqudim (precepts). Let those who fear You turn to me, those who know Your piqqudim (testimonies). Let my lev (heart) be blameless regarding Your chuqqim (statutes), that I may not be ashamed" (Ps.119:73-80, NKJV).
One of the most interesting things about the Book of Psalms is that believers of every stripe have a great affection for it. So popular is this collection of writings that printings of the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) often have this Tanakh (Old Testament) book tacked on. In the minds of many Christians, the Book of Psalms should probably belong to the 'New Testament' too!
What is it that draws people to the Psalms? Many reasons have been offered but I think the main ones are that the writer, King David, was a man of the people (having had humble origins as a shepherd), he was honest, he did not disguise his struggles or doubts, he was a man of emunah (faith) and he was passionate. Evidently Yahweh thought highly of him, inspite of two terrible errors he made in his life (for which he paid dearly all his life), because he is refered to as Elohim's (God's) "friend". And if this is so, then it elevated the concept of friendship into a glorious dimension.
The beauty of David and his Psalms is that we can all relate to him. Every one of us. And I think that what makes it so valuable is that we can relate to David's struggles because they are common to all mankind.
Today's passage is from the lengthy Psalm 119 which is divided into 22 sections, each section being named after a letter of the Hebrew alpabet and the first letter of the first word of that section starting with the particular letter. The whole psalm is, in my estimation, a profound revelation. It isn't a random collection of thoughts thrown together haphazzardly into 22 sections like the Suras in the Koran but is a revelation given by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to King David about "the beginning and the end", the "alpha and omega", the "alef and taw" and everything inbetween (Rev.21:6). To understand any part thereof requires that the whole be understood too. Since we don't have time to do that today, I do at least feel obligated to examine the preface or opening words of the whole psalm so that we can get its main pointers. So we will begin with the first verse before returning to today's segment:
Here the theme is set. Here we are told what the rest of this 22-portioned psalm is all about. It is about the path of the blessed, and the path or lifestyle of the blessed is the search for perfection, and that perfection comes only through diligent application of the Torah of Yahweh. In spite of the fact that Christians adore Psalms, one of the things they almost universally miss is the relationship between David's passionate love for Yahweh and his passionate love for His Torah! The person who loves Yahweh, who loves David's lev (heart) must also, therefore love His Torah.
"Blessed are the perfect in the derech (way), who walk in the Torah (Teaching, Law) of Yahweh!" (Ps.119:1, ISRV).
I don't have time to go into that today - this is something you can research for yourself - but one thing David constantly affirms his how much he adores the commandments. In today's passage, David makes a specific request: "give me understanding, that I may learn Your mitzvot (commandments)". David is not here interested in the mitzvot or commandments to learn them by rote but he wants to also understand what they mean. He wants to know what the ahavah (love), intelligence, purpose and divine tavnith (pattern) behind them is too. He knows that the mitzvot (commandments) are an extension of Yahweh's own character and personality and therefore he wants to understand them better. As we saw in the first verse of this psalm, they are the guiderail or path to perfection. And since Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the embodiment or incarnation of this Way (Jn.14:6), and since He has reiterated Yahweh's mitzvah (commandment) to be perfect or complete, just as Yahweh Himself is (Mt.5:48), then we can understand why knowing David's lev (heart) is a door to Yah'shua's lev (heart) and to the Father's.
Psalm 119 is not the only psalm arranged in 22-sectioned acrostic, in case you didn't know, but several. And the main reason we are ignorant of their existence is because of the way in which our Bible has been versified - something that did not take place until the early 13th century AD when it was divided into 'chapters' and the mid-16th century when it was divided into 'verses'. Psalm 119 is the best known one but not so many know that Psalm 25, Psalm 34 and Psalm 145 are also acrostics , not to mention most of the Book of Lamentations .
Today's passage from Psalm 119 is subtitled by the Hebrew letter yod and so what I am going to do is share all the yod passages with you today from the other acrostoc psalms. I think you will find them interesting.
These exerpts, like today's from Psalm 119, are all yod or yud passages. In the modern square Hebrew alphabet, yod is the smallest letter. However, we shall not make a point of this as this was not the original form in which the Torah was written. In the original pictographic alphabet, the letter yod was represented by an arm and a hand, the modern Hebrew yod being, in fact, derived from the word yad meaning a 'hand'.
"[Yahweh] guides the humble in justice; and He teaches the humble His derech (way)" (Ps.25:9, HRV).
"O fear Yahweh, you His set-apart ones (saints); for there is no want (lack) to them that fear Him" (Ps.34:10, HRV).
"[Yahweh] will ever be mindful of His b'rit (covenant)" (Ps.111:5b, HRV).
"All Your works shall praise You, O Yahweh; and Your set-apart ones (saints) shall bless you" (Ps.145:10, HRV).
Yod is the first letter of the Divine Name, Yod-Hé-Waw-Hé, and refers to the Father Himself. Scripture frequently speaks of Yahweh's "hand", signifying His action in the affairs of men, as in this New Testament example of a sermon preached by Peter and John:
And here is an example of David using the term from Psalm 119:
"'For truly against Your set-apart (holy) Servant Yah'shua (Jesus), whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Master, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your set-apart (holy) Servant Yah'shua (Jesus).' And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and they spoke the word of Elohim (God) with boldness" (Acts 4:27-31, NKJV).
The word "arm" is used in the same sense, as in this example of David:
"Let Your hand become my help, for I have chosen Your piqqudim (precepts)" (Ps.119:173, NKJV).
Here we clear see the sense in which yod or hand-and-arm are used in Hebrew, whether of man or of Elohim (God), for it denotes action. Yod passages are therefore ACTION PASSAGES.
"For they (Israel) did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favoured them" (Ps.44:3, NKJV).
According to today's passage, David says that Yahweh's "hands" made him to give him understanding of the mitzvot (commandments) so that he might find perfection in the way - his life-journey - to make him a complete man in Yahweh. Whenever we see a fellow believer who loves and does these things, we rejoice, even as David testified: "Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your davar (word)". And we know, from a previous teaching I gave, that the key word here is reverential fear. Those who genuinely fear Yahweh will be glad when they see others who also fear Him and walk in His Torah, sharing the same hope in the Davar (Word)...which of course is Yah'shua (Jesus) (Jn.1:1).
Those who thus live also experience affliction, but from an unexpected source: "in faithfulness You have afflicted me", says David of Yahweh. Why would Yahweh "afflict" us? To bring us to perfection. However, this "affliction" is not cold or cruel or callous, but is always in His ahavah (love) for David goes on to say: "Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your davar (word) to Your servant. Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your Torah (Law) is my delight". Not only are we comforted in our afflictions by the One who gives or permits them, but we are driven back to the Torah to understand the lev (heart) of our Heavenly Father - they give us the explanations if we will but seek for understanding in the mitzvot (commandments)!
Those who thus live will be persecuted by those who neither love Yahweh nor His Torah (and therefore by extension, His Son), for David says: "Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; but I will meditate on Your piqqudim (precepts)". What is David's response to mistreatment and false accusation? "I will meditate on Your piqqudim (precepts)". He goes back to the Davar (Word) for his comfort!
Again and again we are admonished to return to Scripture, for there we are given a detailed map of how to live, cope and be fruitful in spite of adversity. Scripture tells us all we need to know about Yahweh, short of actually meeting Him for ourselves through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus). These are what sustained and built David into the friend of Elohim (God) that he became. They are what made the Psalms a living record of a fallible man's soul and of the way He found reconcilliation and shalom (peace) with Yahweh.
The yod segment of Psalm 119 finishes:
Again and again David goes back to the Torah for by walking in them, enabled by Yahweh's right arm and hand, he lives a life without shame in spite of the accusations of his detractors. We need not experience false shame when we are accused falsely when we are built on the solid rock of Emmet (Truth) which is the Davar (Word) of our Master! Indeed, David boldly insists that since he knows he is walking right before Yahweh, because he knows and lives the mitzvot (commandments), and understands their meaning and how they point back to Yahweh's impeccable character, that his rebellious subjects should rightfully turn to him as their king: "Let those who fear You turn to me, those who know Your piqqudim (testimonies)".
"Let those who fear You turn to me, those who know Your piqqudim (testimonies). Let my lev (heart) be blameless regarding Your chuqqim (statutes), that I may not be ashamed".
This is a directive to those who occupy yod positions of toqef (authority) whether in family (as husbands and fathers), in congregations (as pastors and elders), as bosses in the workplace or even in government. This is counsel for them from On High! Then those who likewise seek after these things will follow after their leaders and they will not be disappointed. Righteous leadership is what we in any case all want, and there is precious little of that today.
The Yod Directives, as I call these acrostic portionss, are the 'I-Segments', the Yah-Segments, the Father-Segments. Indeed, they might even be called the Rosh Chodesh-Segments, since they denote the Head of All. If we are willing to head our lives with them, then we will truly come under proper headship, understanding the need and blessing of all of Yahweh's rules which are to protect, guide and perfect us in the Incomparable Character in Heaven. By trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour), and by then walking in this chayim-tavnith or pattern of life, we are assuring ourselves of the best of everything. If we don't, then we must expect the inevitable consequences of disorder and chaos in life and relationships.
May you be uplifted by the Yod Directives and make them your own! Amen.
 The claim is made that Psalms 9 and 10 are a single acrostic but the nun section is missing from today's text, so I am not convinced that this is a true example, as the two psalms would then have to be a single one, for which there is no historical evidence that I know of.
 This is not to be confused with another kind of division in the Book of Isaiah where Hebrew letters were anciently used to divide up paragraphs.
 Other divisions exist too. Work on dividing the Tanakh (Old Testament) into sections began before the Babylonian captivity (586 BC) when the rabbis divided the Pentateuch (first five books of Moses or 'Torah') into 154 sections or parshas to be used in a 3 year cycle. Later, the parshas were re-divided into 54 sections and 669 subdivisions for study purposes. From this we get the tradition of Torah Portions. This is not the same as chapter-and-verse divisions, however, and all are artificial man-made constructs without any hidden, mystical tavnith (pattern) which some have sought for.