Creation and humility in Psalm 119, Yodh

What anomaly exists in the tenth section of Psalm 119, named after the Hebrew letter Yodh?

We shall see.

According to the “Yod” page on the Hebrew for Christians website, Yodh is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet and conveys connotations regarding creation and humility.

I write this on the day following the American celebration of motherhood. We do well to honor godly mothers, but we do even better to remember the Giver of life in the womb.

This section of Psalm 119 begins with an acknowledgment that God has created the psalmist.

 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
    give me understanding that I may learn your commandments (73, ESV).

God creates life and bestows true wisdom, which is found in his word. As we’ve seen before, true wisdom is more than merely knowing God’s word; it’s also obeying it.

Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
   because I have hoped in your word (74, ESV).

An obedient life is a living witness for God that generates joy in others as well as hope in our own hearts. That hope enables us to see God’s hand even in afflictions.

I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
   and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me (75, ESV).

Since God is sovereign, he is the ultimate source of affliction. But he does not randomly afflict his people. His rules are righteous and he is faithful, even when he sends affliction into our lives.

Affliction makes God’s promises come alive as we feel his comfort and experience his mercy.

Let your steadfast love comfort me
   according to your promise to your servant.
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
   for your law is my delight (76-77, ESV).

God’s comfort and mercy enable us not only to continue existence, but also to live joyfully, delighting especially in his word.

The next verse displays an anomaly.

Let the insolent be put to shame,
   because they have wronged me with falsehood;
   as for me, I will meditate on your precepts (78, ESV).

This verse is the only one of the 176 verses in Psalm 119 that contains three lines instead of two (we will address another anomaly in our next section).

This three-line verse is an imprecation, a prayer for evil to come upon the wicked. In this case, the wicked are disrespectful liars. The psalmist prays that they will be put to shame, and then he leaves the outcome in God’s hands as he immerses himself in God’s word.

That firm immersion in God’s word leads to increased wisdom for other believers.

Let those who fear you turn to me,
   that they may know your testimonies (79, ESV).

But the psalmist realizes that personal sin will harm his witness:

May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
    that I may not be put to shame! (80, ESV).

We know that no one is blameless (Psalm 143:2, Ezra 9:15, Romans 3:10), but believers are called to live godly lives motivated by heartfelt faith. External religion is meaningless without a humble heart.

This tenth section begins by focusing on creation and ends by focusing on humility. God generates life by shaping and fashioning us in our mothers’ wombs. He generates new life by softening and renewing our hard hearts.

We can do nothing to bring ourselves to life in either instance, but we can–and we must–immerse ourselves in God’s word and live in obedient service with a humble heart.

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