Is the God of the Old Testament…?
When I told of my ways you answered me;
teach me your statutes (Psalm 119:26 NRSV).
If questions don’t come to mind when we read the Bible, we’re not reading carefully enough. Curiosity has a bad reputation. It deadly for felines. It gets monkeys named George into trouble. This negative reputation is unfortunate. Curiosity is key, particularly for understanding the Bible. Questions unlock the mysteries of the Bible. What is deadly for felines is essential for Scripture. Curiosity.
Questions come easily for this verse. It’s confusing.
What are the psalmist’s ways?
Why would God answer after being told of the psalmist’s ways?
What was God’s answer?
How does God’s answer to the telling of ways relate to the request to receive a statute tutorial?
Presumably, there was an implicit question or request suggested when the psalmist’s ways were told to God. But we don’t know what that is unless it is related to the request that immediately follows: Teach me your statutes.
This request is one of the most repeated petitions of the psalm, appearing is some form 16 times (119:12, 27, 29, 33, 34, 64, 66, 68, 71, 73, 108, 124, 125, 135, 144, 171). The psalmist really wants a statute tutorial and who’s a better teacher than YHWH himself. Afterall, it’s his laws. The psalmist desperately wants to know more about God’s law. The psalmist is curious.
Since the Hebrew word “way” (derech) begins with the letter Dalet it appears frequently in this the Dalet section (verses 25-32) of the Psalm (5 times: 119:26, 27, 29, 30, 32; highlighted green below). Hebrew word order is more flexible than English, particularly in poetry, so each of these repetitions of derech can occur at the beginning of the line in the Dalet section.
What kind of statute tutorial would you like to receive? What laws would you want to understand better?
Here’s my highlighted version of this section: