Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life! (Psalm 119:40).
Normal people don’t say “Behold” any more. “Behold, I went to Famous Footware today and bought these cool Nike running shoes. Behold them.”
That doesn’t sound right. The Hebrew word henay, instead of “behold” might be better translated “look.” We can excuse the King James Version for saying “behold”, because I’m pretty sure people actually said “behold” four hundred years ago. However, this translation, the ESV, is only eleven years old. I was alive in 2001, I’m pretty sure no one then said “behold” (unless they were talking about the furniture polish, see image). Why is the Bible the only place we expect to find someone saying “behold”?
The NRSV has “See” which isn’t bad. I’d prefer “Check it out!” The psalmist is trying to get YHWH’s attention here. “Check it out! I long for your precepts.” Do you ever say that to God? “Check it out God! I’m longing for you and your word!”
In 119:20, the psalmist’s soul was consumed with longing at all times for God’s ordinances. Here the psalmist simply longs for God’s precepts. You don’t “long” for things unless you’re really into them. It’s an all-consuming passion. I long for the football season to start (and God’s precepts).
Four verses earlier, the psalmist asked God to “give me life” (119:37) and now he asks God for the same thing. In verse 37, it was life “in your ways, now it is life “in your righteousness.” For the psalmist, his life is completely wrapped up in God, God’s word and God’s laws.
Psalm 119:40 is the final verse in He section (33-40).
Check it out God! We’re longing for you and your word!
What word or phrase do you use to get someone’s attention? (It’s got to be better than “behold.”)
People often argue that the God of the New Testament cannot be the God of the Old. I wonder whether the issue is more about old English and medieval imagery than the actual text. It is so refreshing to hear someone with academic know how unpack the Scriptures in such a way that God’s heart is revealed. Great post.