Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.
The second verse in this longest psalm reiterates the idea of blessing from verse one. The Hebrew word for blessing, ‘ashre, begins with Aleph, fitting nicely at the beginning of the Aleph section of the psalm. So the motivation once again is clear, if you want to be blessed, keep God’s testimonies.
But what’s a testimony? The word ‘edah is also translated as statutes (NIV) or decrees (NRS), both of which fit better than the ESV’s “testimonies” here as synonyms for law. Keeping a testimony sounds a little bizarre, but keeping a decree makes sense.
This blessed person also seeks God with their whole heart, which sounds like the Shema (Deut. 6:4-5)–love God with your whole heart, soul and strength, which Jesus calls the greatest commandment (Mark 12:29-31).
Why would a person seek God with their whole heart? They must find him incredibly attractive, incredibly compelling. People that see God like this will desire to obey his laws, and according to Psalm 119, will be blessed.
Sounds good to me.
How does one seek God with their whole heart?
“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD” (Psalm 119:1).
So, I’m blessed as long as I can keep my way blameless. It doesn’t sound like I’ll be experiencing much blessing.
Thus begins the Aleph section of Psalm 119 (all eight verses in the Hebrew begin with the letter Aleph).
While blamelessness may seem like a high bar, walking in the law of the LORD (or “Torah of YHWH”) sounds a little easier. Hebrew poetry uses parallelism, where the 2nd line echoes the 1st, so blamelessness and walking in God’s law are roughly synonymous here.
The word translated as “blameless” (tamim) could also be rendered as “with integrity” or “with honesty”.
Walking in God’s laws with integrity still may not seem like as easy task, but as we’ll discover later in Psalm 119, the psalmist frequently asks for divine assistance. It’s not meant to be done on our own.
What’s the motivation for walking in integrity in the way of Torah? Blessing. While we’re not exactly sure what the blessing will involve, the rest of the psalm will flesh that out for us.
I hope you’ll come back each Sunday as we discuss one more verse from this longest chapter in the Bible, and find out more about the blessings in store for those who walk in God’s laws.
How do you walk in God’s laws?