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Hurricane Sandy and Loving the book of Numbers (Psalm 119:47)

For I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love
 (Psalm 119:47).

Hurricane Sandy is blustering outside as I write this.  Yesterday, my reflux and other things made me feel miserable (a 7-up worked magic for me, not sure why, so after a bad afternoon, the evening was great).  I’m still feeling good today, so even though my seminary (Biblical) is closed for the hurricane, I’m at my office working on syllabi and a Psalm 119 blog. 

In the previous verse, the psalmist declares that he will speak of God’s laws before kings.  The ESV’s “For” at the beginning of this verse might suggest a strong connection linking verses 46 and 47 (typically a ki in the Hebrew), but since the Hebrew word behind the “For” at the beginning is just a simple conjunction (yes, you guessed it, a Vav since this is the Vav section of Psalm 119), which can be translated as “And” (NAS) or even left untranslated (NRSV), I won’t make a big deal about how the two verses are connected.

Makes you want to read your Bible, huh?

Delight for God’s law is a big theme in Psalm 119, appearing ten times (with links for the four I blogged on already: 119:14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174).  Torah-Delight (sounds like an exotic dish) is almost as popular in this psalm as Torah-Love, which appears twelve times (47, 48, 97, 113, 119, 127, 132, 140, 159, 163, 165, 167).The Psalmist was passionately in love with God’s law.  He delighted in it, like I delight in ice cream (although, I don’t eat it anymore because of stomach reflux!).

Now, you may well ask, how does one delight and love the law?  Great question.  One book of the Law (the first five books of the Bible) people have difficulty loving is Numbers.  The title doesn’t really capture most of us.  But I’ve been loving Numbers lately.  The book has spoken to me as I’ve been struggling with health issues (damaged vocal cords, stomach reflux, feeling lousy, a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, two mole removals on my shin).

Shortly after they blew it big time worshiping the golden calf (Exo. 32), the Israelites are still at Mount Sinai and YHWH gives them a series of simple commands: count everyone (ch. 1), arrange the camp like this (ch. 2), count more people (ch. 4).   And the great thing, they obey this time (Num. 1:54; 2:34; 4:49).  It’s like God wants to make it easy for them.  “OK, I told you not to worship idols, but you couldn’t obey that.  Why don’t we try counting.  1, 2, 3…603,550.”  Apparently, they could count properly.

When I have been feeling weak lately and unable to do much, it’s helpful to remember that sometimes God’s commands are really simple.  Like the command to count or the command to rest (Exo. 20:8-11).  I love the command to rest.  I delight in it, particularly now that I’m trying to recover my health.

Just found out power went out at home, gotta run!

God, deepen our delight in your law, even the book of Numbers. 

Image from http://bethaderech.com/torah-study/.

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