David T. Lamb

Is the God of the Old Testament…?

Think Yoda: “Objects, I begin sentences with” (Psalm 119:30)

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your ordinances before me. 
(Psalm 119:30 NRSV).

This verse is the 6th of eight in the Dalet section of Psalm 119, where every verse begins with the Hebrew letter Dalet.  In English, you might notice that five verses in this section have the word “way” or “ways” in the first half of the verse (highlighted in green below: 119:26, 27, 29, 30, 32).  The reason for this is that the Hebrew word for “way” is derek, which begins with the letter Dalet.  But you might say, “The word ‘way’ doesn’t begin the sentence.”  Good point, but word order in Hebrew is more flexible than in English.  All of these occurrences of “way” in this section are objects, and in Hebrew it’s not a problem to begin a section with an object (think Yoda, “Objects, I begin sentences with“).  So, in Hebrew the first half could be literally translated as “The way of faithfulness, I have chosen.”

So, the way is chosen.  The way of faithfulness, in contrast to the ways of deception that the psalmist requested help avoiding in the previous verse (see last week’s post here).  The word “faithfulness” = ‘emunah comes from the same root that the Aramaic word “amen” comes from.  (No, the word doesn’t actually mean, “I’m done praying now.”)

The ordinances of God are set before the psalmist, like a carrot before a horse, urging the psalmist forward, not just toward YHWH’s laws, but ultimately toward YHWH himself.  Earlier in the Psalms, the psalmist declares, “I have set YHWH before me” (Psalm 16:8).

God, help us set your laws always before us.

Yoda image above from http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Yoda.  My highlighted text below.

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2012 by in Dalet, Psalm 119, Psalms and tagged .

God Behaving Badly

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