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  • Psalm One Hundred Nineteen – Part Five

    We are continuing the interpretation of the Psalm. To recap, I remind you that each segment of this psalm begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the original, each line of each verse begins with that letter, which was lost in the translation of the King James Bible. I may stretch to restore that format, but I hope they will be instructive, or at least amusing.


    No darkness will surround me, Lord, for Your word is a lamp before my feet, a light to guide my way.
    Nothing will lead me astray, for I have sworn to follow You, and I will honor my word.
    Never ending is my struggle with evil, Lord; strengthen my heart with every morning.
    New sacrifices will I lay on Your altar, Lord, my life is Yours, do with it as You will.
    Nail my feet to Your path, Lord; do not let me stray from Your commandments.
    Name me in the book of life, for You protect me from evil, You have given me salvation.
    Naked am I before You, Lord; You know my heart and my mind, You know my every thought.
    Neglect not my instruction, Lord; teach me daily what You would have me know.


    Sinners worship idols and hate You, but I will worship You alone, oh God.
    Shelter me from evil, Lord, for You are my rock and my salvation.
    Stand away from me, workers of evil, for I serve the Lord, the one true God.
    Steady me, Lord, and keep me strong, do not let me falter in my service to You.
    Surround me with Your love, Lord, and I will stand with the saints at Your throne.
    Sin is far from me, Lord, for Your word has lifted me above its power.
    Sing to me, Lord, of Your victory over death, for by Your hand we are saved.
    Sorrow and regret were my burden, Lord, but You have forgiven me.


    Almighty God, in Your name I gave judgment according to Your word; do not forsake me.
    All who are evil oppose me; yet I remain Your servant, I will do as You command.
    Amnesty is the grace of Your salvation; I await Your mercy, Lord, and Your righteousness.
    A mortal cannot stand before You, Lord, purify me with Your holy word.
    As the clouds bring rain, Lord, so let the words of my mouth bring souls to worship You.
    Avarice and greed are all around us, Lord, but You will teach us the way of charity and love.
    Any fool can acquire gold, Lord, but Your commandments are more precious than gold.
    Always mindful of You, Lord, I reject the ways of the world and cherish Your love.

    Focus is the key

    I know, I know, a lot of this is repetitious, rephrasing the same things over and over again, but that is the pattern of any song. You have verses that give context and a refrain that repeats the moral or the revelation of the writer. In this psalm, there is a lot of refrain.

    Not that this is a bad thing. Remember when I started this psalm, I told you the authorship is uncertain. Many scholars think this is the work of the prophet Ezra, while others think this was actually written a line at a time by individuals (probably priests) as a devotional. In either case, it would make sense there would be a central theme: Asking for wisdom and strength to resist evil.

    And given the “roller coaster” history of the Jews with God, that doesn't seem completely out of line. When God allowed the Babylonians to conquer Israel and destroy Solomon's temple, the Jews were once again taken into bondage. When they were freed, their desire to serve God became foremost in their minds. They knew their tendency to backslide into the ways of the heathens, so a psalm that would remind them of their reliance on God and be repeated often would serve as a mnemonic device, just as a rosary or other prayer beads serve to remind other faiths to concentrate on their prayers.

    The richness of this psalm is revealed in its content. The beauty of this psalm, even in English, is “a lamp unto my feet, and a light upon my path.”.


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