The Shalom of Psalm 119, Shin

As I’ve worked my way through Psalm 119, I’ve been amazed how each section–although they all share many similarities–seems especially appropriate for that particular day.

Some linguistic information from the Academy BJE website (which is the Board of Jewish Education for New South Wales) may be helpful. The site states that Shin represents divine powers since it is the initial letter of two names of God (one of which is Shaddai, which is usually translated as “Almighty”). The letter appears in two forms, each representing the two kinds of divine wisdom: revealed and concealed. Shin alludes to Shabbat, the seventh day of Creation and the day of rest filled with peace and tranquility. It also stands for shalom, which denotes peace and perfection.

The meanings of the letter Shin make this penultimate section of Psalm 119 come alive for me in a new way:

Princes persecute me without cause,
   but my heart stands in awe of your words.
I rejoice at your word
   like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood,
   but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you
   for your righteous rules.
Great peace have those who love your law;
    nothing can make them stumble.
I hope for your salvation, O LORD,
   and I do your commandments.
My soul keeps your testimonies;
   I love them exceedingly.
I keep your precepts and testimonies,
    for all my ways are before you (Psalm 119:161-168, ESV).

This Shin section repeats many themes we’ve already seen and continues to contrast the wicked’s persecution of the innocent with the true believer’s love for God’s law.

Even though princes persecute without cause, the heart of the righteous can stand firm in God’s awesome word (verse 161). Our joy in God’s word can be as exultant as the soldier in battle who finds a beautiful golden goblet encrusted with priceless gems (verse 162). Although others revel in lies, we are called to hate all falsehood, but love the truth of God’s word (verse 163). We shouldn’t restrict our prayers to formal times of devotion at meals, morning, or evening. Rather we should cultivate a prayerful attitude that praises God multiple times each day for his righteous rules (verse 164). When trials press and affliction weakens us, we can have great peace through loving God’s law; nothing can make us stumble (verse 165). If we obey God’s commandments, we can hope for earthly rescue as well as eternal security (verse 166). Our love for God’s word will always be evident in our obedient faith (verse 167). True believers keep God’s commands in public and in private; God sees all our actions and knows every inclination of our heart. No sin can be hid from him (verse 168).

The Almighty God, Shaddai, reveals his will according to his perfect plan. We don’t know what he is doing behind the frightening or depressing scenes in our lives, but sometimes he reveals his concealed will in amazing ways. May this Shin section of Psalm 119 fill your heart with Shalom as we pray for the peace of the church in our local congregations and throughout the world!

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