Tehillim / Psalms 31, Part 2, You have known the troubles of my soul!

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This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms 31:1-25, the opening verses state א לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: ב בְּךָ יְהֹוָה חָסִיתִי אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה לְעוֹלָם בְּצִדְקָתְךָ פַלְּטֵנִי: For the choir director. A Psalm of David. 31:1 In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me. (NASB) David seeks refuge in the Lord never to be ashamed and because of the Lord’s righteousness He will deliver him. David requests that the Lord rescue him quickly, be his rock of strength, and stronghold to save (31:2). He then declares the Lord to be these things and that He will lead and guide him (31:3). He describes the trap that his enemies have set for him saying ה תּוֹצִיאֵנִי מֵרֶשֶׁת זוּ טָמְנוּ לִי כִּי-אַתָּה מָעוּזִּי: ו בְּיָדְךָ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי פָּדִיתָה אוֹתִי יְהֹוָה אֵל אֱמֶת: 31:4 You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. 31:5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth. (NASB) It is those who trust in idols that set these traps (31:7). According to David, the Lord knows our afflictions and the trouble of our souls (31:7), the Lord has not given us over to our enemies (31:8). He requests that the Lord be gracious to him because his body and soul are wasted away in grief. It is because of his iniquity that his body wastes away (31:10-11). How does the body waste away because of iniquity? David says that he hears the words of his enemies and that they scheme to do him harm (31:12-13). He responds saying טו וַאֲנִי | עָלֶיךָ בָטַחְתִּי יְהֹוָה אָמַרְתִּי אֱלֹהַי אָתָּה: טז בְּיָדְךָ עִתֹּתָי הַצִּילֵנִי מִיַּד-אוֹיְבַי וּמֵרֹדְפָי: יז הָאִירָה פָנֶיךָ עַל-עַבְדֶּךָ הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי בְחַסְדֶּךָ: יח יְהוָה אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה כִּי קְרָאתִיךָ יֵבשׁוּ רְשָׁעִים יִדְּמוּ לִשְׁאוֹל: 31:14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ 31:15 My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. 31:16 Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your lovingkindness. 31:17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You; Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol. (NASB) David continues saying the things the Lord does for the righteous, He causes lying lips to be silent (31:18), He hides the righteous in secret place which is His presence away from the conspiracies of men (31:19-20). David concludes the Psalm saying 31:21 Blessed be the Lord, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. 31:22 As for me, I said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’; Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried to You. 31:23 O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful And fully recompenses the proud doer. 31:24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord. (NASB) If we seek the Lord in purity of heart and in innocence we can take courage that the Lord has heard our prayers!

עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek

ספר תהלים פרק לא

א לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: ב בְּךָ יְהֹוָה חָסִיתִי אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה לְעוֹלָם בְּצִדְקָתְךָ פַלְּטֵנִי: ג הַטֵּה אֵלַי | אָזְנְךָ מְהֵרָה הַצִּילֵנִי הֱיֵה לִי | לְצוּר-מָעוֹז לְבֵית מְצוּדוֹת לְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי: ד כִּי-סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה וּלְמַעַן שִׁמְךָ תַּנְחֵנִי וּתְנַהֲלֵנִי: ה תּוֹצִיאֵנִי מֵרֶשֶׁת זוּ טָמְנוּ לִי כִּי-אַתָּה מָעוּזִּי:

סםר טוביה פרק לא

א לשבחא תושבחתא לדוד׃ ב במימרך יהוה סברית לא אבהת לעלמא בצדקתך שזיב יתי׃ ג הצלי אצלי לותי אודנך בסרהוביא פצי יתי הוי לי לטינר לכרך עשין לחוסנא כריכא למפרוק יתי׃ ד מטול ארום דתוקפי ורוחצני את ובגלל ומן בגלל שמך דבר יתי וזון יתי׃ ה אפיק יתי ממצדתא דנן דפרסין לי די כמנון אמטולתי ארום אנת עושני׃

YALMOI 31

31:1 εἰς τὸ τέλος ψαλμὸς τῷ δαυιδ ἐκστάσεως (2) ἐπὶ σοί κύριε ἤλπισα μὴ καταισχυνθείην εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἐν τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ σου ῥῦσαί με καὶ ἐξελοῦ με 31:2 κλῖνον πρός με τὸ οὖς σου τάχυνον τοῦ ἐξελέσθαι με γενοῦ μοι εἰς θεὸν ὑπερασπιστὴν καὶ εἰς οἶκον καταφυγῆς τοῦ σῶσαί με 31:3 ὅτι κραταίωμά μου καὶ καταφυγή μου εἶ σὺ καὶ ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός σου ὁδηγήσεις με καὶ διαθρέψεις με 31:4 ἐξάξεις με ἐκ παγίδος ταύτης ἧς ἔκρυψάν μοι ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ ὑπερασπιστής μου

ו בְּיָדְךָ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי פָּדִיתָה אוֹתִי יְהֹוָה אֵל אֱמֶת: ז שָֹנֵאתִי הַשֹּׁמְרִים הַבְלֵי-שָׁוְא וַאֲנִי אֶל-יְהֹוָה בָּטָחְתִּי: ח אָגִילָה וְאֶשְֹמְחָה בְּחַסְדֶּךָ אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתָ אֶת-עָנְיִי יָדַעְתָּ בְּצָרוֹת נַפְשִׁי: ט וְלֹא הִסְגַּרְתַּנִי בְּיַד-אוֹיֵב הֶעֱמַדְתָּ בַמֶּרְחָב רַגְלָי: י חָנֵּנִי יְהֹוָה כִּי צַר-לִי עָשְׁשָׁה בְכַעַס עֵינִי נַפְשִׁי וּבִטְנִי: יא כִּי כָלוּ בְיָגוֹן חַיַּי וּשְׁנוֹתַי בָּאֲנָחָה כָּשַׁל בַּעֲוֹנִי כֹחִי וַעֲצָמַי עָשֵׁשׁוּ: יב מִכָּל-צֹרְרַי הָיִיתִי חֶרְפָּה וְלִשֲׁכֵנַי | מְאֹד וּפַחַד לִמְיֻדָּעָי רֹאַי בַּחוּץ נָדְדוּ מִמֶּנִּי: יג נִשְׁכַּחְתִּי כְּמֵת מִלֵּב הָיִיתִי כִּכְלִי אֹבֵד: יד כִּי שָׁמַעְתִּי | דִּבַּת רַבִּים מָגוֹר מִסָּבִיב בְּהִוָּסְדָם יַחַד עָלַי לָקַחַת נַפְשִׁי זָמָמוּ: טו וַאֲנִי | עָלֶיךָ בָטַחְתִּי יְהֹוָה אָמַרְתִּי אֱלֹהַי אָתָּה: טז בְּיָדְךָ עִתֹּתָי הַצִּילֵנִי מִיַּד-אוֹיְבַי וּמֵרֹדְפָי: יז הָאִירָה פָנֶיךָ עַל-עַבְדֶּךָ הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי בְחַסְדֶּךָ: יח יְהוָה אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה כִּי קְרָאתִיךָ יֵבשׁוּ רְשָׁעִים יִדְּמוּ לִשְׁאוֹל: יט תֵּאָלַמְנָה שִֹפְתֵי שָׁקֶר הַדֹּבְרוֹת עַל-צַדִּיק עָתָק בְּגַאֲוָה וָבוּז: כ מָה רַב טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר-צָפַנְתָּ לִּירֵאֶיךָ פָּעַלְתָּ לַחוֹסִים בָּךְ נֶגֶד בְּנֵי אָדָם: כא תַּסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר פָּנֶיךָ מֵרֻכְסֵי אִישׁ תִּצְפְּנֵם בְּסֻכָּה מֵרִיב לְשֹׁנוֹת: כב בָּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה כִּי-הִפְלִיא חַסְדּוֹ לִי בְּעִיר מָצוֹר: כג וַאֲנִי | אָמַרְתִּי בְחָפְזִי נִגְרַזְתִּי מִנֶּגֶד עֵינֶיךָ אָכֵן שָׁמַעְתָּ קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי בְּשַׁוְּעִי אֵלֶיךָ: כד אֶהֱבוּ אֶת-יְהֹוָה כָּל-חֲסִידָיו אֱמוּנִים נֹצֵר יְהֹוָה וּמְשַׁלֵּם עַל-יֶתֶר עֹשֵֹה גַאֲוָה: כה חִזְקוּ וְיַאֲמֵץ לְבַבְכֶם כָּל-הַמְיַחֲלִים לַיהֹוָה:

ו באידך אמני אפקיד רוחי פריקתא יתי יהוה אלהא קשיטא׃ ז שנאתי דנטרין עובדין דדמין ללמא ולשיקרא ואנא על יהוה כליתי במימרך ייי איתרחיצית׃ ח אביע ואחדי בטיבותך בטובך די חמית ית סיגופי ידעתא בעקתין דנפשי׃ ט ולא מסרתני באידא דבעיל דבבא אקימתא לרוחא ריגלי׃ י חוס עלי יהוה ארום עיק לי בלאת חשכת מרוגזא עיני איטלק נפשי וכריסי׃ יא ארום שיציאו בדוונא חיי יומי ושניי בתינחא תקל אתקל בחובי חילי ואברי כלאו מתכליאון׃ יב יתיר מן כל מעיקיי הוית כיסופא חיסודא ולשבבי לחדא ודלוחא לידעין לי דחמיין לי בשוקא ערקין מן קדמי׃ יג אתנשיית היך שכיבא מן רעיונא דמתייאש מליבא הוית כמן דפחר תביר דמיתבר׃ יד מטול די ארום שמעית טיב ביש דאמרין עלי עממין סגיאין רתיתא מחזור חזור באיתכנשיהון כחדא עלי למיסב נפשי חשיבו׃ טו ואנא עלך רחיצית במימרך התרחיצית יהוה אמרית אלהי אנת׃ טז באידך אינון זמני פורקני פצי יתי מן יד בעלי דבבי ומרודפי׃ יז אנהר סבר אפך על עבדך פרוקני בטובך׃ יח יהוה לא אבהית ארום קריתך יבהתון רשיעי ישתקון ויחתון לשיול לבית קבורתא׃ יט תתפקקן סיפוותי שיקרא שפוון דמללן שקרא דממללן על צדיקיא גידופין בגיותנותא ובסרנותא׃ כ כמה סגי טובך דאטשיתא לדחלין מינך עבדתא לסברין עלך למפרע להון אגר טב קביל בני נשא׃ כא תטמרינון בטמרא בעידן רוגזך מגידודי גיבריא תטשינון כד במטללתא מתיגרת לישניא׃ כב בריך יהוה ארום פריש טיבותיה לי בקרתא כריכתא׃ כג ואנא אמרית באיתבעותי למיערוק אישתציית מקביל יקרך בקושטא שמעת קל צלותי באתחננותי לותך׃ כד רחומו ית יהוה כל חסידוי מהמניא נטיר מן ביש יהוה ופריע על דורבני דעבדין גיותנותא׃ כה תקופו ויתעלים רעיונכון כל דכיילין לבכון כל דרחצין למימרא דיהוה׃

31:5 εἰς χεῖράς σου παραθήσομαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐλυτρώσω με κύριε ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἀληθείας 31:6 ἐμίσησας τοὺς διαφυλάσσοντας ματαιότητας διὰ κενῆς ἐγὼ δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ κυρίῳ ἤλπισα 31:7 ἀγαλλιάσομαι καὶ εὐφρανθήσομαι ἐπὶ τῷ ἐλέει σου ὅτι ἐπεῖδες τὴν ταπείνωσίν μου ἔσωσας ἐκ τῶν ἀναγκῶν τὴν ψυχήν μου 31:8 καὶ οὐ συνέκλεισάς με εἰς χεῖρας ἐχθροῦ ἔστησας ἐν εὐρυχώρῳ τοὺς πόδας μου 31:9 ἐλέησόν με κύριε ὅτι θλίβομαι ἐταράχθη ἐν θυμῷ ὁ ὀφθαλμός μου ἡ ψυχή μου καὶ ἡ γαστήρ μου 31:10 ὅτι ἐξέλιπεν ἐν ὀδύνῃ ἡ ζωή μου καὶ τὰ ἔτη μου ἐν στεναγμοῖς ἠσθένησεν ἐν πτωχείᾳ ἡ ἰσχύς μου καὶ τὰ ὀστᾶ μου ἐταράχθησαν 31:11 παρὰ πάντας τοὺς ἐχθρούς μου ἐγενήθην ὄνειδος καὶ τοῖς γείτοσίν μου σφόδρα καὶ φόβος τοῖς γνωστοῖς μου οἱ θεωροῦντές με ἔξω ἔφυγον ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ 31:12 ἐπελήσθην ὡσεὶ νεκρὸς ἀπὸ καρδίας ἐγενήθην ὡσεὶ σκεῦος ἀπολωλός 31:13 ὅτι ἤκουσα ψόγον πολλῶν παροικούντων κυκλόθεν ἐν τῷ ἐπισυναχθῆναι αὐτοὺς ἅμα ἐπ’ ἐμὲ τοῦ λαβεῖν τὴν ψυχήν μου ἐβουλεύσαντο 31:14 ἐγὼ δὲ ἐπὶ σὲ ἤλπισα κύριε εἶπα σὺ εἶ ὁ θεός μου 31:15 ἐν ταῖς χερσίν σου οἱ καιροί μου ῥῦσαί με ἐκ χειρὸς ἐχθρῶν μου καὶ ἐκ τῶν καταδιωκόντων με 31:16 ἐπίφανον τὸ πρόσωπόν σου ἐπὶ τὸν δοῦλόν σου σῶσόν με ἐν τῷ ἐλέει σου 31:17 κύριε μὴ καταισχυνθείην ὅτι ἐπεκαλεσάμην σε αἰσχυνθείησαν οἱ ἀσεβεῖς καὶ καταχθείησαν εἰς ᾅδου 31:18 ἄλαλα γενηθήτω τὰ χείλη τὰ δόλια τὰ λαλοῦντα κατὰ τοῦ δικαίου ἀνομίαν ἐν ὑπερηφανίᾳ καὶ ἐξουδενώσει 31:19 ὡς πολὺ τὸ πλῆθος τῆς χρηστότητός σου κύριε ἧς ἔκρυψας τοῖς φοβουμένοις σε ἐξειργάσω τοῖς ἐλπίζουσιν ἐπὶ σὲ ἐναντίον τῶν υἱῶν τῶν ἀνθρώπων 31:20 κατακρύψεις αὐτοὺς ἐν ἀποκρύφῳ τοῦ προσώπου σου ἀπὸ ταραχῆς ἀνθρώπων σκεπάσεις αὐτοὺς ἐν σκηνῇ ἀπὸ ἀντιλογίας γλωσσῶν 31:21 εὐλογητὸς κύριος ὅτι ἐθαυμάστωσεν τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ ἐν πόλει περιοχῆς 31:22 ἐγὼ δὲ εἶπα ἐν τῇ ἐκστάσει μου ἀπέρριμμαι ἄρα ἀπὸ προσώπου τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν σου διὰ τοῦτο εἰσήκουσας τῆς φωνῆς τῆς δεήσεώς μου ἐν τῷ κεκραγέναι με πρὸς σέ 31:23 ἀγαπήσατε τὸν κύριον πάντες οἱ ὅσιοι αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἀληθείας ἐκζητεῖ κύριος καὶ ἀνταποδίδωσιν τοῖς περισσῶς ποιοῦσιν ὑπερηφανίαν 31:24 ἀνδρίζεσθε καὶ κραταιούσθω ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν πάντες οἱ ἐλπίζοντες ἐπὶ κύριον

Tehillim / Psalms 31

For the choir director. A Psalm of David. 31:1 In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me. 31:2 Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. 31:3 For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. 31:4 You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. 31:5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth. 31:6 I hate those who regard vain idols, But I trust in the Lord. 31:7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul, 31:8 And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place. 31:9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. 31:10 For my life is spent with sorrow And my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, And my body has wasted away. 31:11 Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me. 31:12 I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. 31:13 For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life. 31:14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ 31:15 My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. 31:16 Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your lovingkindness. 31:17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You; Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol. 31:18 Let the lying lips be mute, Which speak arrogantly against the righteous With pride and contempt. 31:19 How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men! 31:20 You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. 31:21 Blessed be the Lord, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. 31:22 As for me, I said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’; Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried to You. 31:23 O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful And fully recompenses the proud doer. 31:24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord. (NASB)

Toviyah / Psalms Chapter 31

31:1 For praise; a psalm of David. 31:2 In your word, O Lord, I have placed my hope; I will never be disappointed; by your generosity save me. 31:3 Incline your ear to me, in haste save me. Be for me a strong fortress, a fortified stronghold to redeem me. 31:4 For you are my strength and trust; and for the sake of your name, guide me and sustain me. 31:5 Take me out of this net that they spread for me, for you are my strength. 31:6 Into your hand I will place my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, true God. 31:7 I hate those who observe practices that are like vanity and lies; but I have relied on the Lord. 31:8 I will rejoice and be glad in your kindness, for you have seen my affliction, you know the troubles of my soul. 31:9 And you have not handed me over to the hand of my enemy; you have made my feet stand in a broad place. 31:10 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in distress. My eye is wasted from agitation; my soul and my belly are destroyed. 31:11 For my life is ended in misery, and my years in sighing; my strength has failed because of my sin, and my limbs are used up. 31:12 I have become a more shameful thing than all my oppressors, and more so to my neighbors – a fearful thing to those who know me, those who see me in the street flee from my presence. 31:13 I am forgotten like a dead man from the mind; I have become like a broken vessel of the potter. 31:14 Because I have heard an evil report which many peoples say about me; terror is all around when they gather together against me; they have planned to take my soul. 31:15 But I have put my trust in you, O Lord; I said, “You are my God.” 31:16 In your hand are the times of my redemption; save me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 31:17 Shine your countenance on your servant; redeem me by your goodness. 31:18 O Lord, I will not be disappointed, for I have called upon you; let the wicked be disappointed, let them be silent and descend to Sheol. 31:19 Let the lips of falsehood be stopped up, [the lips] that speak slander against the righteous in pride and contempt. 31:20 How great is your goodness that you have hidden for those that fear you; you have acted for those who hope in you, to pay them a good reward in front of the sons of men. 31:21 You will hide them in a hiding place in the time of your anger from troops of warriors; you will conceal them as in a shelter from the strife of tongues. 31:22 Blessed be the Lord, for he has exhibited his kindness to me in the walled city. 31:23 And I thought when I sought to flee, I have been eliminated from the presence of your glory; [but] in truth you heard the sound of my prayer when I made supplication to you. 31:24 Love the Lord, all his devotees; the Lord keeps the faithful from harm, and pays back the haughty who act proudly. 31:25 Be strong, and let your mind be sturdy, all you who have confidence in the word of the Lord. (EMC)

Psalmoi / Psalms 31

For the end, a Psalm of David, an utterance of extreme fear. 31:1 O Lord, I have hoped in thee; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness and rescue me. 31:2 Incline thine ear to me; make haste to rescue me: be thou to me for a protecting God, and for a house of refuge to save me. 31:3 For thou art my strength and my refuge; and thou shalt guide me for thy name’s sake, and maintain me. 31:4 Thou shalt bring me out of the snare which they have hidden for me; for thou, O Lord, art my defender. 31:5 Into thine hands I will commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. 31:6 Thou has hated them that idly persist in vanities: but I have hoped in the Lord. 31:7 I will exult and be glad in thy mercy: for thou hast looked upon mine affliction; thou hast saved my soul from distresses. 31:8 And thou hast not shut me up into the hands of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a wide place. 31:9 Pity me, O Lord, for I am afflicted: my eye is troubled with indignation, my soul and by belly. 31:10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with groanings: my strength has been weakened through poverty, and my bones are troubled. 31:11 I became a reproach among all mine enemies, but exceedingly so to my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that saw me without fled from me. 31:12 I have been forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am become as a broken vessel. 31:13 For I heard the slander of many that dwelt round about: when they were gathered together against me, they took counsel to take my life. 31:14 But I hoped in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. 31:15 My lots are in thy hands: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, 31:16 and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me in thy mercy. 31:17 O Lord, let me not be ashamed, for I have called upon thee: let the ungodly be ashamed, and brought down to Hades. 31:18 Let the deceitful lips become dumb, which speak iniquity against the righteous with pride and scorn. 31:19 How abundant is the multitude of thy goodness, O Lord, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee! thou hast wrought it out for them that hope on thee, in the presence of the sons of men. 31:20 Thou wilt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the vexation of man: thou wilt screen them in a tabernacle from the contradiction of tongues. 31:21 Blessed be the Lord: for he has magnified his mercy in a fortified city. 31:22 But I said in my extreme fear, I am cast out from the sight of thine eyes: therefore thou didst hearken, O Lord, to the voice of my supplication when I cried to thee. 31:23 Love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord seeks for truth, and renders a reward to them that deal very proudly. 31: 24 Be of good courage, and let your heart be strengthened, all ye that hope in the Lord. (LXX)

This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms 31:1-25, the opening verses state א לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: ב בְּךָ יְהֹוָה חָסִיתִי אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה לְעוֹלָם בְּצִדְקָתְךָ פַלְּטֵנִי: For the choir director. A Psalm of David. 31:1 In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me. (NASB) David seeks refuge in the Lord never to be ashamed and because of the Lord’s righteousness He will deliver him. What does it mean that “because of the Lord’s righteousness He will deliver?” (בְּצִדְקָתְךָ פַלְּטֵנִי) It is interesting that the Hebrew word used for “deliver me” (פַלְּטֵנִי) is from the root word פלט meaning “escape” as in escaping his enemies, therefore David is saying that the Lord, because of His righteousness, He will help him to escape from his enemies, from trials and troubles, this is a form of rescuing in a time of need. According to Tehillim / Psalms 34:17 David said יח צָעֲקוּ וַיהֹוָה שָׁמֵעַ וּמִכָּל-צָרוֹתָם הִצִּילָם: 34:17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. (NASB) and in Tehillim / Psalms 107:6 it says ו וַיִּצְעֲקוּ אֶל-יְהֹוָה בַּצַּר לָהֶם מִמְּצוּקוֹתֵיהֶם יַצִּילֵם: 107:6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses. (NASB) We can conclude that when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers. When we think of “the Lord who delivers” it naturally makes us think about spiritual “deliverance and salvation” of the Lord. Thinking on this topic of deliverance and salvation, leads to what the Scriptures say regarding the “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God.” If you were asked to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, deliverance, and salvation, according to the Bible, how would you answer that question? How would modern Christianity today answer that question? Would there be a difference between your answer and what has been taught from the pulpit? Many people believe that Yeshua taught the Kingdom of God is something that exists only in heaven and it is something that we will one day attain but we are still waiting for today. On the other hand, in Luke 17:20-21, Yeshua taught the following saying, 20Ἐπερωτηθεὶς δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν Φαρισαίων πότε ἔρχεται ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν, Οὐκ ἔρχεται ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ μετὰ παρατηρήσεως, 21οὐδὲ ἐροῦσιν, Ἰδοὺ ὧδε: ἤ, Ἐκεῖ: ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν. “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.’” It is interesting that according to the Greek text, Yeshua said ἐντὸς (entos) which translates “within” or “in the midst of” you. In the Apostolic Writings, Yeshua explained that the Kingdom of Heaven was coupled with repentance (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). The Kingdom of Heaven is within you, in your midst, and thus the message of the gospel is something that “we live” as the children of God. This means that the kingdom of God is available to us right here, right now, we do not have to wait until after we die in order to experience the Kingdom of Heaven and the promises of God. We have access to the promises of God right now in our lives in Yeshua the Messiah! There is healing available today for every individual, the power of God is here now to deliver us from any kind of distress or trouble, just like David is saying in the Psalms. In addition to this, often we hear it said by the anti-missionaries that “if Yeshua was the Messiah, why has he not brought peace to this world?” They say that the rabbis state the Messiah will bring peace to the world and between men. It is interesting, according to the Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 37a we read the following.

Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 37a

לפיכך נברא אדם יחידי, ללמדך שכל המאבד נפש אחת מישראל ־ מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו איבד עולם מלא, וכל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל ־ מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו קיים עולם מלא.

“For this reason was man created alone, to teach you that whosoever destroys a single soul, Scripture imputes (guilt) to him as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whosoever preserves a single soul, Scripture ascribes (merit) to him as though he had preserved a complete world.”

According to the rabbis in the Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 37a, each person is considered an entire world. Yeshua the Messiah did in fact make peace with the entire world, in “our” entire world, in our lives! In doing this he has also made peace between men, between those who have made Him Lord of their lives! You can experience this and the Kingdom of Heaven, if you are willing to make Him Lord of your life, to rule and to reign in your midst. Note how this is the very concept of Yeshua’s words when He said ἐντὸς (entos), in our midst, all of our lives are to be lived for Him, we serve Him, He guides and directs us in His ways, by His Holy Spirit, we have the power of God to overcome sin, He can and does deliver us each day, etc. The Messiah has in fact, according to the Holy Scriptures and according to the Rabbis (Sanhedrin 37a), brought peace to each man who is rabbinically considered a complete world! When we being to think about the Scriptures from this perspective, it is possible to answer the anti-missionaries even from a rabbinic perspective. According to the Apostolic Writings, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, if we abide in Christ and Christ abides in us. The Holy Spirit sets us on fire for the Lord and we burn in zeal for the things of God because our entire world has been changed and when our world has been changed our perspective of the world around us changes also. Has this happened to you yet in your life and walk in Christ? Everything in life, everything we do, and everyone we come in contact with should be influenced because the Lord lives ἐντὸς (entos), in our midst. Does this sound like what Paul was saying to the Colossians in Colossians 3:14-17 14ἐπὶ πᾶσιν δὲ τούτοις τὴν ἀγάπην, ὅ ἐστιν σύνδεσμος τῆς τελειότητος. 15καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, εἰς ἣν καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι: καὶ εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε. 16ὁ λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως, ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες καὶ νουθετοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς ψαλμοῖς, ὕμνοις, ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς ἐν [τῇ] χάριτι ᾄδοντες ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν τῷ θεῷ: 17καὶ πᾶν ὅ τι ἐὰν ποιῆτε ἐν λόγῳ ἢ ἐν ἔργῳ, πάντα ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου Ἰησοῦ, εὐχαριστοῦντες τῷ θεῷ πατρὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ. 3:14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (NASB) Yeshua said in Luke 6:45 ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ τῆς καρδίας προφέρει τὸ ἀγαθόν, καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ προφέρει τὸ πονηρόν: ἐκ γὰρ περισσεύματος καρδίας λαλεῖ τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ. ‘The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (NASB) If our world is changed, everything we do will be in the name of the Lord and the good treasure the Lord deposits in our hearts will be brought forth. When your world is created new you are given a testimony to give to others of how the Lord is working in and through you. Praise the Lord!

In Tehillim / Psalms 31, David requests that the Lord rescue him quickly, to be his rock of strength, and a stronghold to save (31:2). He then declares the Lord to be these things and that He will lead and guide him (31:3). The Scriptures say ג הַטֵּה אֵלַי | אָזְנְךָ מְהֵרָה הַצִּילֵנִי הֱיֵה לִי | לְצוּר-מָעוֹז לְבֵית מְצוּדוֹת לְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי: ד כִּי-סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה וּלְמַעַן שִׁמְךָ תַּנְחֵנִי וּתְנַהֲלֵנִי: 31:2 Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. 31:3 For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. (NASB) It is interesting in Tehillim / Psalms 31:2 (3) that David says the Lord is his “rock of strength” (לְצוּר-מָעוֹז) whereas in Tehillim / Psalms 31:3 (4) David says “You are my rock and my fortress” (כִּי-סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה) using two different words for the work rock צור “rock, cliff; fortress” and סלע “rock, petro; boulder, cliff.” Note that according to Parashat Haazinu we read from Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:4 ד הַצּוּר תָּמִים פָּעֳלוֹ כִּי כָל-דְּרָכָיו מִשְׁפָּט אֵל אֱמוּנָה וְאֵין עָוֶל צַדִּיק וְיָשָׁר הוּא: 32:4 ‘The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. (NASB) According to this verse from the Torah, “the deeds of the צור (Rock) are perfect…” The Targum Onkelos translates צּוּר tzur as “Mighty One, תַּקִּיפָא (ד תַּקִּיפָא דְּשָׁלְמִין עוֹבָדוֹהִי אֲרֵי כָּל־אֹרְחָתֵיהּ דִּינָא אֱלָהָא מְהֵימְנָא דְּמִן־קֳדָמוֹהִי עַוְלָה לָא נָפֵק דְּמִן־קֳדָם־זַכַּי וְקַשִּׁיט הוּא:) meaning God, Who is referred to as a צּוּר Tzur, which literally means “rock.” In our prayers we find this expression as well, for instance, צור ישראל “Tzur Yisrael,” the “Rock of Israel.” Maimonides (Ramban) understands this to mean that God is the “rock from which all things are made, the source of all that exists” (Guide for the Perplexed 1:16, http://www.sefaria.org/Guide_for_the_Perplexed.1.16.1, accessed November 20, 2013). In addition to these things, it is interesting to note something in the rabbinic literature regarding the rock, the children of Israel, and the wilderness, according to Midrash Rabba Bamidbar 1.2.

Midrash Rabba, Bamidbar 1.2

(שם במדבר כ׳) ולא היהמים לעדה,והיאך היתה הבאר עשויה סלע כמין כוורת היתה ומתגלגלת ובאת עמהם במסעות וכיון שהיו הדגלים חונים והמשכן עומד היה אותו הסלע בא ויושב לו בחצר אהל מועד והנשיאים באים ועומדים על גביו ואומרים עלי באר והיתה עולה, ואח״כ הבאתי לכם שלוים, המדבר הייתי לישראל שמא כמדבר נהגתי עמכם אלא אם ארץ מאפליה לא אני בידי הייתי מאיר לכם שנא׳ (שמות יג)

“How was the well constructed? It was rock-shaped like a kind of bee-hive, and wherever they journeyed it rolled along and came with them. When the standards [under which the tribes journeyed] halted and the tabernacle was set up, that same rock would come and settle down in the court of the Tent of Meeting and the princes would come and stand upon it and say, Rise up, O well, and it would rise.”

In addition to this, the Targum Jonathan expands upon Bamidbar / Numbers 21:19 to describe the rock or “well” that “followed” them (the children of Israel) saying:

“From the time that the well in Mattanah was given them, it was made again to them brooks that were overflowing and violent; and again it went up unto the tops of the mountains, and went down with them into the valleys…”

ומן דאתיהבת להון למתנא חזרת למיסוק עימהון לטוורייא רמייא ומטוורייא רמייא נחתא עימהון לגלימתא מחזרא לכל משיריתא דישראל ומשקיא יתהון כל חד וחד בתרע משכניה

So the rabbis who translated Targum Jonathan use a parable to say that these waters that proceeded from the rock followed Israel and gave them life giving waters. In the Tosefta, the tradition is related as follows (Note, the Tosefta is the rabbinic commentary on the Mishnah compiled in the 5th century A.D. Sukkah 3.11, cited in Strack and Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, vol. 3, p. 406; cf. Neusner, p.220):

“It was likewise with the well that was with the children of Israel in the wilderness, it [the well] was like a rock that was full of holes like a sieve from which water trickled and arose as from the opening of a flask. It [the rock-well] ascended with them to the top of the hills and descended with them into the valleys; wherever Israel tarried there it tarried over against the entrance to the tabernacle”

According to these references from the rabbis, there appears to be a Midrashic tradition dating back to the time of the translating of the Targums (Aramaic translations) and of the Talmud, that the parable of the rock that followed Israel giving them life giving waters was taught to the children of Israel. What is interesting is that according to the Apostolic Writings, it appears that the Apostle Paul utilizes the rabbinic midrash while speaking to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. What is interesting to note is that the first Century people would have been familiar with this parable of the rock that followed Israel.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4

10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 10:2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 10:3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (NASB)

1Οὐ θέλω γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν πάντες ὑπὸ τὴν νεφέλην ἦσαν καὶ πάντες διὰ τῆς θαλάσσης διῆλθον, 2καὶ πάντες εἰς τὸν Μωϋσῆν ἐβαπτίσθησαν ἐν τῇ νεφέλῃ καὶ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, 3καὶ πάντες τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν βρῶμα ἔφαγον, 4καὶ πάντες τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν ἔπιον πόμα: ἔπινον γὰρ ἐκ πνευματικῆς ἀκολουθούσης πέτρας: ἡ πέτρα δὲ ἦν ὁ Χριστός.

What is interesting is how Paul is drawing upon rabbinic tradition to illustrate what Yeshua the Messiah has done for God’s people. It also seems that the rabbinic tradition regarding the “rock that followed” is not problematic with “the rock as Christ” and the Apostle Paul is ascribing the deity of Yeshua as the “Rock” that is a term that was reserved for the Lord God Almighty only. David says the Lord is his “rock of strength” (לְצוּר-מָעוֹז) and “You are my rock and my fortress” (כִּי-סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה) seems to suggest that He understood the Lord as a source of strength and life just like Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 10 with the help of the rabbinic midrash. Note also the phrase, “…that followed them” comes from the Greek word, ἀκολουθούσης “akolouthouoses,” which means “to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, or accompany him.” The Apostle Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that the “rock” at Meribah was spiritually patterned after Yeshua, that Yeshua comes along side of us and walks with us in life and therefore he uses the parable as a description that directs our attention to Yeshua the Messiah. The Rock, who is God, was a figure or shadow, of the Messiah in a similar way that the Pesach lamb prefigured Yeshua. In addition to this, in the wilderness, the Rock was struck with the rod for the sake of Israel. Can you see the parallel here in the biblical text, with the parable of the rabbis and the things that Yeshua did for us? Yeshua suffered for our sakes (1 Peter 2:24), he is the life giving waters (John 4:10, 7:37-39, and Revelation 22:17). What an awesome picture we see of Christ in the rabbinic literature and the Apostle Paul’s use of the tradition of the rabbis to illustrate the power of God and Yeshua the Messiah.

The Aramaic translation of Tehillim / Psalms 31:3-4 states ג הצלי אצלי לותי אודנך בסרהוביא פצי יתי הוי לי לטינר לכרך עשין לחוסנא כריכא למפרוק יתי׃ ד מטול ארום דתוקפי ורוחצני את ובגלל ומן בגלל שמך דבר יתי וזון יתי׃ 31:3 Incline your ear to me, in haste save me. Be for me a strong fortress, a fortified stronghold to redeem me. 31:4 For you are my strength and trust; and for the sake of your name, guide me and sustain me. (EMC) and the Septuagint states 2κλῖνον πρός με τὸ οὖς σου τάχυνον τοῦ ἐξελέσθαι με γενοῦ μοι εἰς θεὸν ὑπερασπιστὴν καὶ εἰς οἶκον καταφυγῆς τοῦ σῶσαί με 3ὅτι κραταίωμά μου καὶ καταφυγή μου εἶ σὺ καὶ ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός σου ὁδηγήσεις με καὶ διαθρέψεις με 31:2 Incline thine ear to me; make haste to rescue me: be thou to me for a protecting God, and for a house of refuge to save me. 31:3 For thou art my strength and my refuge; and thou shalt guide me for thy name’s sake, and maintain me. (LXX) It is interesting these translations do not speak of the rock in the way midrash rabbah does on Bamidbar / Numbers. In the Aramaic and Greek translations of Tehillim / Psalms 31:3-4, the rabbis do not read in the rock with any messianic expectation (i.e. messianic aspect of the Rock of our Salvation). It is interesting though that David says the Lord is his “rock of strength” (לְצוּר-מָעוֹז) and “You are my rock and my fortress” (כִּי-סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי אָתָּה) suggesting that He understood the Lord as a source of strength, life, and hope. Today, we too see the Lord as our strength, hope, and life because the Lord has made Christ our rock, our strength, our life, and our salvation! Halleluia!

David continues describing the trap that his enemies have set for him saying ה תּוֹצִיאֵנִי מֵרֶשֶׁת זוּ טָמְנוּ לִי כִּי-אַתָּה מָעוּזִּי: ו בְּיָדְךָ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי פָּדִיתָה אוֹתִי יְהֹוָה אֵל אֱמֶת: 31:4 You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. 31:5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth. (NASB) However, the Lord God Almighty will save him from their trap and pull him out (תּוֹצִיאֵנִי) of their net (רֶשֶׁת). David then says ו בְּיָדְךָ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי פָּדִיתָה אוֹתִי יְהֹוָה אֵל אֱמֶת: 31:5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth. (NASB) What is He referring to here in Tehillim / Psalm 30 in the previous verse? Looking at the context, the net that is laid down, is this a spiritual trap? In the Hebrew language there are two words for redeem, (i) גאול and (ii) פדית. The word גאול as an adjective means “redeemed, set free, saved” this word is most often used in the Hebrew bible to describe the redemptive work of God or man and it is used 27 times in the Masoretic text. On the other hand, the word פדית means to redeem (or save) in the sense of “to cash in or pay for.” This word is used only 6 times in the Masoretic text “spelled as פדית and is made in reference to God redeeming Israel from Egypt. (see below Devarim / Deuteronomy 9, 21, 2 Samuel 7, Tehillim / Psalms 71, Nehemiah 1, and 2 Chronicles 17) The six locations are in the following verses from the Tanach.

ספר דברים פרק ט

עַמְּךָ וְנַֽחֲלָתְךָ אֲשֶׁר פָּדִיתָ בְּגָדְלֶךָ אֲשֶׁר-הוֹצֵאתָ מִמִּצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָֽה: כז זְכֹר לַֽעֲבָדֶיךָ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּֽלְיַֽעֲקֹב אַל-תֵּפֶן אֶל-קְשִׁי הָעָם הַזֶּה

ספר דברים פרק כא

לְעַמְּךָ יִשְֹרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר-פָּדִיתָ יְהֹוָה וְאַל-תִּתֵּן דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב עַמְּךָ יִשְֹרָאֵל וְנִכַּפֵּר לָהֶם הַדָּֽם: ט וְאַתָּה תְּבַעֵר הַדָּם הַנָּקִי מִקִּרְבֶּךָ כִּי-תַֽעֲשֶֹה הַיָּשָׁר

ספר שמואל ב פרק ז

מִפְּנֵי עַמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר פָּדִיתָ לְּךָ מִמִּצְרַיִם גּוֹיִם וֵאלֹהָֽיו: כד וַתְּכוֹנֵן לְךָ אֶת-עַמְּךָ יִשְֹרָאֵל | לְךָ לְעָם עַד-עוֹלָם וְאַתָּה יְהֹוָה הָיִיתָ לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִֽים: כה

ספר תהילים פרק עא

וְנַפְשִׁי אֲשֶׁר פָּדִֽיתָ: כד גַּם-לְשׁוֹנִי כָּל-הַיּוֹם תֶּהְגֶּה צִדְקָתֶךָ כִּי-בשׁוּ כִי-חָֽפְרוּ מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתִֽי:

ספר נחמיה פרק א

עֲבָדֶיךָ וְעַמֶּךָ אֲשֶׁר פָּדִיתָ בְּכֹֽחֲךָ הַגָּדוֹל וּבְיָדְךָ הַֽחֲזָקָֽה: יא אָֽנָּא אֲדֹנָי תְּהִי נָא אָזְנְךָֽ-קַשֶּׁבֶת אֶל-תְּפִלַּת עַבְדְּךָ וְאֶל-תְּפִלַּת עֲבָדֶיךָ הַֽחֲפֵצִים

ספר דברי הימים א פרק יז

לְגָרֵשׁ מִפְּנֵי עַמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר-פָּדִיתָ מִמִּצְרַיִם גּוֹיִֽם: כב וַתִּתֵּן אֶת-עַמְּךָ יִשְֹרָאֵל | לְךָ לְעָם עַד-עוֹלָם וְאַתָּה יְהֹוָה הָיִיתָ לָהֶם לֵֽאלֹהִֽים: כג וְעַתָּה יְהֹוָה הַדָּבָר

The interesting point of David’s statement is that he declares the Lord is able to deliver him from the net or snare of the enemy, that he (David) commits his spirit to the Lord, and that the Lord has redeemed him in the sense of the Lord making payment with money or taking something to use as a substitute in his place. In the Scripture references shown above, this redemption פדית that is from Egypt seems to draw a parallel to the lamb of God during Pesach. There was a costly price that was paid, the price of an innocent life, the blood of the lamb. The Lord saved Israel, not only physically, but spiritually, just like He is doing today for us.

What is interesting about these verses is that David follows these words saying that it is those who trust in idols that set these traps for him (31:7, ח אָגִילָה וְאֶשְֹמְחָה בְּחַסְדֶּךָ אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתָ אֶת-עָנְיִי יָדַעְתָּ בְּצָרוֹת נַפְשִׁי:) saying 31:6 I hate those who regard vain idols, But I trust in the Lord. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states ז שנאתי דנטרין עובדין דדמין ללמא ולשיקרא ואנא על יהוה כליתי במימרך ייי איתרחיצית׃ 31:7 I hate those who observe practices that are like vanity and lies; but I have relied on the Lord. (EMC) and the Septuagint states 31:6 ἐμίσησας τοὺς διαφυλάσσοντας ματαιότητας διὰ κενῆς ἐγὼ δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ κυρίῳ ἤλπισα 31:6 Thou has hated them that idly persist in vanities: but I have hoped in the Lord. (LXX) David says that those who set spiritual traps are ones who trust in idols and the rabbis parallel this to “Vanity and lies” in both the Aramaic Targum and the Septuagint. If we think about this a little closer, when our enemy tries to set a trap for us to harm us both physically and spiritually, what is the underlying purpose? Generally, the underlying purpose is for power, money, selfishness, pride, all of these are in fact “idols” that may be set up in a persons heart and what we hold at the center of our hearts is the thing that we trust (See Ezekiel 14 regarding idols that one sets up in their heart). The great thing is that according to David, the Lord knows our afflictions and the trouble of our souls (31:7), the Lord has not given us over to our enemies (31:8, ט וְלֹא הִסְגַּרְתַּנִי בְּיַד-אוֹיֵב הֶעֱמַדְתָּ בַמֶּרְחָב רַגְלָי:) or to the schemes of our enemies. This means that the Lord is able to keep us from deception and lead us into all truth. The enemy will fall into their own traps because they walk in the dark and not by the light of the truth, the enemy does not follow the Messiah Yeshua, they do not study the Torah, and they do not seek our Father who is in heaven.

David continues asking the Lord to be gracious to him because his body and soul are wasted away in grief. י חָנֵּנִי יְהֹוָה כִּי צַר-לִי עָשְׁשָׁה בְכַעַס עֵינִי נַפְשִׁי וּבִטְנִי: יא כִּי כָלוּ בְיָגוֹן חַיַּי וּשְׁנוֹתַי בָּאֲנָחָה כָּשַׁל בַּעֲוֹנִי כֹחִי וַעֲצָמַי עָשֵׁשׁוּ: 31:9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. 31:10 For my life is spent with sorrow And my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, And my body has wasted away. (NASB) It is because of his iniquity that his body wastes away. The Aramaic Targum states י חוס עלי יהוה ארום עיק לי בלאת חשכת מרוגזא עיני איטלק נפשי וכריסי׃ יא ארום שיציאו בדוונא חיי יומי ושניי בתינחא תקל אתקל בחובי חילי ואברי כלאו מתכליאון׃ 31:10 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in distress. My eye is wasted from agitation; my soul and my belly are destroyed. 31:11 For my life is ended in misery, and my years in sighing; my strength has failed because of my sin, and my limbs are used up. (EMC) and the Septuagint states 31:9 ἐλέησόν με κύριε ὅτι θλίβομαι ἐταράχθη ἐν θυμῷ ὁ ὀφθαλμός μου ἡ ψυχή μου καὶ ἡ γαστήρ μου 31:10 ὅτι ἐξέλιπεν ἐν ὀδύνῃ ἡ ζωή μου καὶ τὰ ἔτη μου ἐν στεναγμοῖς ἠσθένησεν ἐν πτωχείᾳ ἡ ἰσχύς μου καὶ τὰ ὀστᾶ μου ἐταράχθησαν 31:9 Pity me, O Lord, for I am afflicted: my eye is troubled with indignation, my soul and by belly. 31:10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with groanings: my strength has been weakened through poverty, and my bones are troubled. (LXX) What is interesting is that in the Hebrew and Aramaic translations, the wasting away, the troubles that David is speaking of is related to his sin (iniquity), on the other hand, the rabbis who translated the Septuagint say that it is by reason of his poverty (πτωχείᾳ) or poorness. David says that his bones are troubled because of his πτωχείᾳ (poverty) that parallels his sin. When living in sin the soul is starving for relationship with our Father in heaven and for food, spiritual food, the Word of God. The body can waste away by reason of not being properly fed spiritually and not remaining in Christ. Note how David does not put his trust in flesh and blood, his trust is in the Lord. Are you getting enough spiritual food today or are you in a state of spiritual πτωχείᾳ (poverty)? If the latter, what can you do to change that?

David continues saying that he hears the words of his enemies and that they scheme to do him harm. יב מִכָּל-צֹרְרַי הָיִיתִי חֶרְפָּה וְלִשֲׁכֵנַי | מְאֹד וּפַחַד לִמְיֻדָּעָי רֹאַי בַּחוּץ נָדְדוּ מִמֶּנִּי: יג נִשְׁכַּחְתִּי כְּמֵת מִלֵּב הָיִיתִי כִּכְלִי אֹבֵד: יד כִּי שָׁמַעְתִּי | דִּבַּת רַבִּים מָגוֹר מִסָּבִיב בְּהִוָּסְדָם יַחַד עָלַי לָקַחַת נַפְשִׁי זָמָמוּ: 31:11 Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me. 31:12 I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. 31:13 For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life. (NASB) Was it because of his sin that men have plotted against him and he walks about like a dead man? Is this a reference to what happened with his sin with Batsheva (Bathsheba)? Remembering David’s sin with Batsheva in 1 Samuel 11, he alienated her family because he had her husband killed and she became pregnant. The Torah states in Bamidbar / Numbers 32:23 כג וְאִם-לֹא תַעֲשֹוּן כֵּן הִנֵּה חֲטָאתֶם לַיהוָֹה וּדְעוּ חַטַּאתְכֶם אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא אֶתְכֶם: 32:23 ‘But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out. (NASB) If one does not obey the Lord your sin will find you out! Note that the definition of sin is disobedience to the Lord.

David then responds saying טו וַאֲנִי | עָלֶיךָ בָטַחְתִּי יְהֹוָה אָמַרְתִּי אֱלֹהַי אָתָּה: טז בְּיָדְךָ עִתֹּתָי הַצִּילֵנִי מִיַּד-אוֹיְבַי וּמֵרֹדְפָי: יז הָאִירָה פָנֶיךָ עַל-עַבְדֶּךָ הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי בְחַסְדֶּךָ: יח יְהוָה אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה כִּי קְרָאתִיךָ יֵבשׁוּ רְשָׁעִים יִדְּמוּ לִשְׁאוֹל: 31:14 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ 31:15 My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. 31:16 Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your lovingkindness. 31:17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You; Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol. (NASB) It is interesting that David says הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי בְחַסְדֶּךָ “save me in your grace.” Again we find David speaking of the grace of God and the mercy the Lord has shown him to save him, to keep him from being ashamed and even from going down to the grave. According to the Torah, in Parashat Bereshit (Bereshit / Genesis 1:1-6:8), in the Lord’s creation, after God had created what He did each day, the Scriptures say, He “saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good (Bereshit / Genesis 1:31, לא וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר עָשָֹה וְהִנֵּה-טוֹב מְאֹד וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי:). The words “very good” are the Hebrew words טוֹב מְאֹד (tov meod), which means exceedingly “beautiful, bountiful, good, gracious” and the alternate definition is “joyful, loving, mercy, pleasant, pleasure, prosperity, wealth, well or well-favored” (Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). When the Lord looked upon everything He had made, He saw that everything was very good. As viewed from the Lord’s eyes, His creation was a blessing and His creation was a manifestation of His love. In order for us to fully understand what David is saying, we have to understand that the Creation is an expression of God’s love. The Scriptural account of the creation of Adam and Eve reveals His love in Bereshit / Genesis 1:26-27 which states כו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים נַעֲשֶֹה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל-הָאָרֶץ וּבְכָל-הָרֶמֶשֹ הָרֹמֵשֹ עַל-הָאָרֶץ: כז וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים | אֶת-הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בָּרָא אֹתָם: “And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created he them.” Of all the creation that the Lord had made, only mankind was made in the image and likeness of God. This in and of itself is a blessing that was bestowed upon mankind, and is a profound expression of God’s supreme love. To further demonstrate His love, when the Lord God made Adam and Eve, He personally formed them with His own hands from the dust of the earth. This act in and of itself reveals that the Lord God intended from the very beginning to have a personal and intimate relationship with man. No other creature was formed by the hands of God. In fact, according to Bereshit / Genesis 2:7 ז וַיִּיצֶר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה: the Scriptures say that the Lord formed us from the dust of the earth and He “Nimshat Khayim” (נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים) breathed heavily life into the body of man and woman. All other created creatures were brought into existence by the word of His command. David said in Tehillim / Psalms 104:30 “You send forth Your Spirit, and they are created.” David, having studied the Torah, realized how much the Lord loves him and so he said with confidence הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי בְחַסְדֶּךָ “save me in your grace.” David continues saying the things the Lord does for the righteous, He causes lying lips to be silent (31:18, יט תֵּאָלַמְנָה שִֹפְתֵי שָׁקֶר הַדֹּבְרוֹת עַל-צַדִּיק עָתָק בְּגַאֲוָה וָבוּז:), He hides the righteous in secret place which is His presence away from the conspiracies of men (31:19-20, כ מָה רַב טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר-צָפַנְתָּ לִּירֵאֶיךָ פָּעַלְתָּ לַחוֹסִים בָּךְ נֶגֶד בְּנֵי אָדָם: כא תַּסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר פָּנֶיךָ מֵרֻכְסֵי אִישׁ תִּצְפְּנֵם בְּסֻכָּה מֵרִיב לְשֹׁנוֹת:). David concludes the Psalm saying כב בָּרוּךְ יְהֹוָה כִּי-הִפְלִיא חַסְדּוֹ לִי בְּעִיר מָצוֹר: כג וַאֲנִי | אָמַרְתִּי בְחָפְזִי נִגְרַזְתִּי מִנֶּגֶד עֵינֶיךָ אָכֵן שָׁמַעְתָּ קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנַי בְּשַׁוְּעִי אֵלֶיךָ: כד אֶהֱבוּ אֶת-יְהֹוָה כָּל-חֲסִידָיו אֱמוּנִים נֹצֵר יְהֹוָה וּמְשַׁלֵּם עַל-יֶתֶר עֹשֵֹה גַאֲוָה: כה חִזְקוּ וְיַאֲמֵץ לְבַבְכֶם כָּל-הַמְיַחֲלִים לַיהֹוָה: 31:21 Blessed be the Lord, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. 31:22 As for me, I said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’; Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried to You. 31:23 O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful And fully recompenses the proud doer. 31:24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord. (NASB) If we seek the Lord in purity of heart, in innocence, and in the name of Yeshua the Messiah, we can take courage that the Lord has heard our prayers!

Rabbinic Commentary

The Rabbinic Commentary (Midrash) on Tehillim / Psalms 31 has 9 parts. Reading through the Midrash we will be looking at Parts 1, 4, 6, 8, and 9. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Chapter 31 Parts 1, 4, 6, 8, and 9.

Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 31, Parts 1, 4, 6, 8, and 9

Part 1

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “For the leader. A Psalm of David. In You O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed (Tehillim / Psalms 31:1-2).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says These words are to be considered in the light of the verse Who among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rest upon his God (Isaiah 50:10).
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis discuss David’s words regarding “trust” and “shame.”
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal) goes on to expand upon the reasons for which David trusted in the Lord and contained in that trust is that the Lord will not cause him to be ashamed.
  • The Concluding phrase says “And Daniel also, him I delivered only because he trusted in My name, as is said Then the king commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den (Daniel 6:24). How so? Because he had trusted in his God. Hence David said, Since it is true that whoever trusts in You is delivered, I too, will put my trust in You, as is said In You, O Lord, do I put my trust.”

Part 4

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “Another comment. In You, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed.”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says elsewhere this is what Scripture says, Ashamed be all they that serve graven images bow down to Him all you gods (Tehillim / Psalms 97:7).
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis continue to discuss David’s words regarding not being put ashamed.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal) goes on to expand upon David’s words of not being ashamed and say that the Lord will give a little semblance of life to each idol for the purpose of causing the idol to bow down to the Lord God Almighty and put shame to the worshipers of the idols.
  • The Concluding phrase says “That is will happen you can tell from the verse, And this will be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the peoples that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh will consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes will consume away in their sockets, and their tongue will consume away in their mouth (Zechariah 14:12). But the other said, As an idol is melted down by fire, so those who bow down to it will be consumed by fire.”

Part 6

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “Rabbi Joshua son of Levi taught, Why do the words will be ashamed occur twice?”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says Because in the time to come, when the Holy One blessed be He, judges Israel, the righteous as well as the wicked, He will grant pardon to the righteous, that they may enter the Garden of Eden, but will send the wicked back to Gehenna.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis continue to discuss David’s words regarding being put ashamed.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal) goes on to expand upon being ashamed and describe the righteous and the wicked in the Garden of Eden and Gehenna.
  • The Concluding phrase says “Now, if the measure of punishment, in which God limits Himself, smites sixteen ways, how much greater is the measure of God’s goodness, which is unlimited.”

Part 8

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “Blessed be the Lord, for He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city (Tehillim / Psalms 31:22).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says … that is, in wicked Rome.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis discuss David’s words with regard to the Lord showing His kindness to His people.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal) goes on to expand upon how the Lord shows kindness to His people. The rabbis comment on the minimum requirements for one to receive God’s kindness, those whom the Lord preserves are those who affirm their faith in Him.
  • The Concluding phrase says “Of them the Holy One blessed be He, declares, Only for a little time were the children of Israel redeemed, and then again were they enslaved, but still they affirm their faith in Me, that I will redeem them. Hence The Lord preserves those who affirm the faith.”

Part 9

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “In commenting on the passage Then will you return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God, and him that serves Him not (Malachi 3:17-18).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says Rabbi Akha son of Ada said that the words between the righteous and the wicked mean between him who has faith and him who has no faith, that he that serves God is he who is willing to serve God’s need, and that he that serves Him not is he who is not willing to serve God’s need.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis discuss David’s words with regard to a passage in Malachi and the differences between the righteous and the wicked who study Torah.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal) goes on to expand upon the differences between the righteous and the wicked and interestingly how the rabbis view the study of Torah. What is the purpose for studying Torah? If both the righteous and the wicked study Torah, what is the distinction that is made between the two types of people?
  • The Concluding phrase says “Rabbi Tanchuma said, Trouble also makes a man’s strength fail, for it is written, By reason of the disquietness of my heart my heart pants, my strength fails me (Tehillim / Psalms 38:9, 11).”

Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 1 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “For the leader. A Psalm of David. In You O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed (Tehillim / Psalms 31:1-2). The homiletic introduction to the Midrash states “These words are to be considered in the light of the verse Who among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rest upon his God (Isaiah 50:10, י מִי בָכֶם יְרֵא יְהֹוָה שֹׁמֵעַ בְּקוֹל עַבְדּוֹ אֲשֶׁר | הָלַךְ חֲשֵׁכִים וְאֵין נֹגַהּ לוֹ יִבְטַח בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה וְיִשָּׁעֵן בֵּאלֹהָיו:).” The Rabbis are making a contrast between David’s words and Isaiah 50:10 which asks the question of who fears the Lord and yet walks in darkness? David was able to put his trust in the Lord because he did not walk in darkness. The Aramaic Targum states א לשבחא תושבחתא לדוד׃ ב במימרך יהוה סברית לא אבהת לעלמא בצדקתך שזיב יתי׃ 31:1 For praise; a psalm of David. 31:2 In your word, O Lord, I have placed my hope; I will never be disappointed; by your generosity save me. (EMC) Here David says that he has placed his trust in the Word of the Lord. The Lord has mercifully saved David because of His word and His promises and he recognized this and therefore he places his trust in the Lord who is faithful to His promises. The rabbis continue in the midrash saying the following:

Upon coming into houses of prayer and houses of study, the children of Israel say to the Holy One blessed be He, Deliver us! And He replies, Are there any righteous men among you? Are there any God fearing men among you? Thus they say, In the days gone by, in the days of Samuel and Saul, and of David and Solomon, in those days there were righteous men. But now, as we go on from generation to generation, it grows darker for us, as it is said Man walks in darkness, and has no light. The Holy One blessed be He, replies, Trust in My name, and I will be a stay unto you, as is said Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Wherefore? Because when a man trusts in Me, I deliver him.

בשעה שישראל נכנסין לבתי כנסיות ולבתי מדרשות, ואומרים לפני הקב״ה גאל אותנו, והוא אומר להם ויש צדיקים ביניכם, ויש יראי שמים ביניכם, והם אומרים לשעבר בימי אבותינו, בימי משה ויהושע, ובימי שמואל ושאול ודוד ושלמה, היו בהם צדיקים, אבל עכשיו כל שאנו הולכין דור ודור היא מכחשת והולכת לנו, שנאמר אשר הלך חשכים ואין נוגה לו (שם שם ישעיהו נ׳ י), אמר להם הקב״ה בטחו בשמי ואני עומד להם, שנאמר יבטח בשם ה׳ וישען באלהיו (שם שם ישעיהו נ׳), ולמה, שכל מי שבוטח בשמי אני מצילו

What is interesting is the emphasis that is placed upon righteousness regarding the children of Israel who ask the Lord to deliver them. According to David in Tehillim / Psalms 84:11 the Scripture says יב כִּי שֶׁמֶשׁ | וּמָגֵן יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים חֵן וְכָבוֹד יִתֵּן יְהֹוָה לֹא-יִמְנַע טוֹב לַהֹלְכִים בְּתָמִים: 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (NASB) It is interesting how the Scriptures state the Lord does not withhold from those who walk uprightly or walk in righteousness. The Lord is a shield to them and gives grace and glory to those who walk uprightly or בְּתָמִים in innocence before the Lord. When David speaks of walking uprightly before the Lord and no good thing does the Lord withhold from him who walks uprightly, this suggests that such a person is whole heartedly devoted his life to the Lord in all that he does. The Apostle John said in his first epistle 1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. (NASB) This follows the idea that one is to be totally devoted to the Lord, to practice the truth and to not walk in darkness. It is interesting that this is consistent with the Shema in Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:4-6.

The Shema

ד שְׁמַע יִשְֹרָאֵל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָֹה | אֶחָד: ה וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל-מְאֹדֶךָ: ו וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם עַל-לְבָבֶךָ:

Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:4-6

6:4 ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 6:5 ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6:6 ‘These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. (NASB)

In the Shema, Moshe tells us that the Lord our God is one, and this is paralleled with us who are called also to be one and not walk in darkness (i.e. being two). We are told to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and might. The Scriptures seem to bare this out when studying the Hebrew word “Heart” (לבב) and the use of the word throughout the Scriptures. For example, Tehillim / Psalms 27:8 and 28:7 state the following:

ח לְךָ | אָמַר לִבִּי בַּקְּשׁוּ פָנָי אֶת-פָּנֶיךָ יְהֹוָה אֲבַקֵּשׁ:

Tehillim / Psalms 27:8

27:8 When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.’ (NASB)

ז יְהֹוָה | עֻזִּי וּמָגִנִּי בּוֹ בָטַח לִבִּי וְנֶעֱזָרְתִּי וַיַּעֲלֹז לִבִּי וּמִשִּׁירִי אֲהוֹדֶנּוּ:

Tehillim / Psalms 28:7

28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. (NASB)

The root word for “heart” in Hebrew is spelled Lamed-beit-beit (לבב). Studying the letters of the word “levav,” the letter beit in Hebrew means “house.” What is interesting is based upon the spelling of the Hebrew word for heart, our hearts have two houses. This implies that there are two sides to our souls. What does this mean? What is implied is that our two sides are at odds with one another, where one part wants the spiritual things, and the other part wants the things of this world (our fleshly desires). This is not to suggest that there is a little good and a little bad within us but simply that the one side looks to the right and the other to the left. In the Shema the Scriptures tell us to love the Lord with all our heart and heart is spelled here as לבב which suggests that our “heart” love is to include both sides, we are to bring both sides of our heart in line with seeking and loving God. In Tehillim / Psalms 27:8 and 28:7, David says that he will seek the Lord with his heart and that his heart trusts in the Lord. In these Psalms, David spells heart as לב with only one letter beit, suggesting only one house. This indicates that with David his heart was united, he was not doubled hearted or double souled. Was this why the Scriptures say that David was a man after God’s own heart? When David served the Lord he did it whole heartedly. In the Psalm, when God said “Seek My Face” (בַּקְּשׁוּ פָנָי) David replied saying “Your face I will seek” (אֶת-פָּנֶיךָ יְהֹוָה אֲבַקֵּשׁ). Today, do we seek God’s face like David did with all his heart? Jeremiah 29:13 says יג וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם אֹתִי וּמְצָאתֶם כִּי תִדְרְשֻׁנִי בְּכָל-לְבַבְכֶם: 29:13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (NASB) The prophet Jeremiah said that we will seek and find the Lord when we do so with all of our heart, note how heart is spelled here as לבב which again suggests that our searching “hearts” are to include both sides, we are to bring both sides of our heart to seek the Lord, we are not to have a divided soul. Regarding having a divided soul, the Apostle James spoke of the one who is double souled and being unstable in his ways in James 1:1-10.

James 1:1-10

1:1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 1:6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 1:7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 1:9 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 1:10 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. (NASB)

1Ἰάκωβος θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ χαίρειν. 2Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, 3γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν: 4ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω, ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι, ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι. 5Εἰ δέ τις ὑμῶν λείπεται σοφίας, αἰτείτω παρὰ τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ πᾶσιν ἁπλῶς καὶ μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος, καὶ δοθήσεται αὐτῷ. 6αἰτείτω δὲ ἐν πίστει, μηδὲν διακρινόμενος, ὁ γὰρ διακρινόμενος ἔοικεν κλύδωνι θαλάσσης ἀνεμιζομένῳ καὶ ῥιπιζομένῳ: 7μὴ γὰρ οἰέσθω ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος ὅτι λήμψεταί τι παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου, 8ἀνὴρ δίψυχος, ἀκατάστατος ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτοῦ. 9Καυχάσθω δὲ ὁ ἀδελφὸς ὁ ταπεινὸς ἐν τῷ ὕψει αὐτοῦ, 10ὁ δὲ πλούσιος ἐν τῇ ταπεινώσει αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου παρελεύσεται.

In James 1:8, he says 8ἀνὴρ δίψυχος, ἀκατάστατος ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτοῦ 1:8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NASB) What is interesting is the word δίψυχος that James uses here is defined to mean “two souls” which states that one is “double minded” or “split in half” on the inside. This parallels the idea that our hearts have two houses and it is possible to go through life walking two different paths. James says that the man who walks two paths “double souled or double minded” is unstable in all his ways. James parallels this to the man who asks in faith and then wavers doubting God has heard his prayer. He says that such a man is like the sea that is driven by the wind and such a man should not expect he will receive anything from the Lord. The one who allows the one half of his soul to walk in darkness and then the other part of his soul desires the things of God, John says that there is no fellowship with God or with Christ if we walk in darkness. According 1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (NASB) Based upon this verse, does our walking in the light cause the blood of Yeshua to be effective in cleansing us from sin? What does it mean to walk in the light? Does this mean to obey God’s commandments? The way John describes the effectiveness of Yeshua’s blood to cleanse, he suggests we are to walk in repentance, in innocence, with justice, and righteousness, and holiness and then Yeshua’s blood will cleanse us. We are to have an active part in seeking God and turning from sin. This characterizes the believer as having a heart that is wholly devoted to the Lord, just like David having a united life, not a double sided and hypocritical life. The rabbis continue in the midrash giving the example of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Sadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) being thrown into the furnace and their trust in the Lord. Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 1 then concludes saying “And Daniel also, him I delivered only because he trusted in My name, as is said Then the king commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den (Daniel 6:24). How so? Because he had trusted in his God. Hence David said, Since it is true that whoever trusts in You is delivered, I too, will put my trust in You, as is said In You, O Lord, do I put my trust.” If we place our trust in the Lord, our lives should reflect that trust demonstrating the love that we have for the Lord and for others. Our love for the Lord is demonstrated in our desire to obey his commandments. Our love for others is to walk in justice, innocence, and righteousness when dealing with those who are lost, those who are saved, and the poor and less fortunate people on this earth.

Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 4 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “Another comment. In You, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed.” The homiletic introduction to the Midrash states “elsewhere this is what Scripture says, Ashamed be all they that serve graven images bow down to Him all you gods (Tehillim / Psalms 97:7).” The rabbis say that shame is paralleled to those who serve graven images (idols). They continue to describe what God will do to the idols who the people worship that have no life, no breath, no eyes, no mouth, and no ears to hear.

Rabbi Yudan said in the name of rabbi Nahman, Some day the Holy One blessed be He, will give a little semblance of life to each idol so that it can come and bow down to the Holy One blessed be He, as is said Bow down to Him, all you gods, and thus shame its worshippers. Rabbi Phinehas said, some day the Holy One blessed be He, will grant speech to the idol so that it can talk in the presence of its worshippers, and say to them, Woe unto you that left Him who lives forever, who is the Maker of heaven and earth (Bereshit / Genesis 14:19), and bowed down to that of which it is said Idols have mouths, but they speak not (Tehillim / Psalms 115:5). Rabbi Johnanan said, When the Holy One blessed be He, revealed Himself at Sinai, He put strength into the idols, and they bowed down to Him. Rabbi Tahalifa taught, In saying All the gods bowed down to Him (Tehillim / Psalms 97:7), Scripture supports Rabbi Johanan. It does not say, They will bow down to Him, but they bowed down to Him, that is, the gods had already bowed down to Him in the past. Rabbi Judah and rabbi Nehemiah differed. One said, as an idol is made with several joints, so those who bow down to it will fall apart at their several joints, so those who bow down to it will fall apart at their several joints. (Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 4)

אמר ר׳ יודן בשם ר׳ נחמן עתיד הקב״ה ליתן ממש מעט בעבודה זרה, והיא באה ומשתחוה להקב״ה, שנאמר והשתחוו לו כל אלהים (שם שם תהלים צ״ז), ואחר כך היא בושה לעובדיה. אמר ר׳ פנחס עתיד הקב״ה לעשות פתחון פה לעבודה זרה, להיות מדברת בפני עובדיה, ואומרת להם אוי לכם שהנחתם לחי העולמים, שהוא קונה שמים וארץ, והשתחויתם למי שנאמר עליו פה להם ולא ידברו (תהלים קטו ה). אמר ר׳ יוחנן כשנגלה הקב״ה בסיני, נתן כח בעבודה זרה והשתחווה לו. אמר רב תחליפא והכתוב מסייע לו לר׳ יוחנן, שנאמר והשתחוו לו כל אלהים (שם תהלים צז ז), ישתחוו אין כתיב כאן, אלא והשתחוו, שכבר השתחוו לו. ר׳ יהודה ור׳ נחמיה, חד אמר מה עבודה זרה נעשית פרקים פרקים, כך עובדיה נעשין פרקים פרקים, תדע לך ראה מה כתיב

It is interesting how the rabbis parallel “being ashamed” with the bowing down and worshiping idols. They say that in the Olam Habah (World to come) the shame of those who worshiped idols will reach a maximum when the Lord God Almighty causes the lifeless idols to simulate life and bow down to the Lord to show that He truly is Lord of all. According to the midrash, the Holy One blessed be He “will grant speech to the idol so that it can talk in the presence of its worshipers, and say to them, Woe unto you that left Him who lives forever, who is the Maker of heaven and earth (Bereshit / Genesis 14:19),” the idols themselves will rebuke the people for their lack of faith turning from the one true God to worship wood and stone. In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet Ezekiel speaks of idols that are not made of wood and stone but are what have been set up in one’s heart that has become a stumbling block to the people.

Ezekiel 14:1-8

14:1 Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. 14:2 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 14:3 ‘Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? 14:4 ‘Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, 14:5 in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.’’ 14:6 ‘Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations. 14:7 ‘For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the Lord will be brought to answer him in My own person. 14:8 ‘I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am the Lord. (NASB)

According to Ezekiel, the elders of Israel came to the prophet to inquire of the Lord. What is interesting about this text is with regard to the elders who appear to be doing a righteous thing, to seek the word of the Lord from the man of God. The problem was however, they went before the man of God and the Lord God Almighty with idols in their hearts. Because they had idols in their hearts, the Lord said to Ezekiel in 14:4 ‘Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols (NASB) the Lord said that the answer they would receive would be according to the idols that were already in their hearts. In other words, if someone has an idol inside his heart, and he goes to a prophet for information, God would have that prophet answer him according to the idol in his heart and the person would end up getting the wrong answer or information. Today, if we go before the Lord in the name of Yeshua the Messiah, and keep an idol in our hearts, would we receive the correct answer from the Lord? Many people have secret idols hidden in the chambers of their hearts from the sight of men which is not hidden from God. Because these idols are a stumbling block to the idol barer, it might be that the idol that is in the heart will decide what is received from God. Hebrews 4:12-13 states 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (NASB) All the things that people try to hide from the Lord are open before Him. The difficulty is however that the idol that is set up in the heart is harder to recognize than the others since these are not made of wood and stone. In Ezekiel’s day, God dealt thoroughly with this kind of secret idolatry. His throne on earth is within the hearts of His people. The rabbis say that in the last days these idols will be caused to bow down before the Lord. The Apostle Paul wrote that in the last days every knee will bow to the Lord. Consider this for a moment, if pride is the idol that is on one’s heart, in the last day during the great throne of judgment, the Lord will cause that idol to kneel before Him and confess that He is Lord of all! Note the consistency with the rabbinic commentary and the Apostolic Writings.

Romans 14:11-12

14:11 For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.’ 14:12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. (NASB)

Philippians 2:9-11

2:9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 2:11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NASB)

There is an interesting connection here between the idols that are given a “little semblance of life
in the midrash to the idols of the heart, and the power of God that will cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Yeshua is Lord of all. The midrash concludes stating “… That is will happen you can tell from the verse, And this will be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the peoples that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh will consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes will consume away in their sockets, and their tongue will consume away in their mouth (Zechariah 14:12). But the other said, As an idol is melted down by fire, so those who bow down to it will be consumed by fire.” If we maintain idols in our heart, the Scriptures say (Ezekiel 14:8) that the Lord will cut the person off who does such a thing and “So you will know that I am the Lord.” How many peoples lives have been ruined today because they have maintained idols before God in their hearts and say because of Yeshua I am saved and turn around and question the problems that are going on in their lives and ask why God doesn’t help them? The answer to that is, “there is a very large number of people today in that situation and they do not even realize it.” The rabbis say the idols will burn and melt before God by the fire that proceeds from Him, the question is on that great day, will you also be consumed by the fire because of the idol that is hold up in your soul?

Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 6 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “Rabbi Joshua son of Levi taught, Why do the words will be ashamed occur twice?” It is interesting that the Psalm does have the word ashame occur twice and David asking not to be put ashamed (אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה) but rather for the wicked to be made ashamed.

Tehillim / Psalms 31:2

ב בְּךָ יְהֹוָה חָסִיתִי אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה לְעוֹלָם בְּצִדְקָתְךָ פַלְּטֵנִי:

Tehillim / Psalms 31:18

יח יְהוָה אַל-אֵבוֹשָׁה כִּי קְרָאתִיךָ יֵבשׁוּ רְשָׁעִים יִדְּמוּ לִשְׁאוֹל:

The homiletic introduction (פתיחתא, Petihta) to the Midrash states “Because in the time to come, when the Holy One blessed be He, judges Israel, the righteous as well as the wicked, He will grant pardon to the righteous, that they may enter the Garden of Eden, but will send the wicked back to Gehenna.” The midrash states that both the righteous and the wicked will be judged guilty, however the righteous will be pardoned and set free and not sent to Hell (Gehenna). The rabbis go on to describe how the wicked will be put to shame for their sin and reason how they have no excuse for not repenting of their sins before God.

Then He will return and take the wicked out of Gehenna, and bring them into the Garden of Eden, and say to them, Here is a place for the righteous, but here also are places still empty, so that you can not say, Even had we repented, there would have been no place open to us with the righteous in the Garden of Eden. Then He will take the righteous from the Garden of Eden and bring them into Gehenna, and say to them, Here is a place for the wicked, but here also are places still empty, so that you can not say, Even had we been found guilty, there would have been no place open to us in Gehenna. But as the wicked have inherited the places you might have had, as well as their own places in Gehenna, for Scripture says to the wicked, Because your shame was double therefore in their land they will possess double (Isaiah 61:7), so have you inherited in the Garden of Eden your own places as well as the places they might have had. And because the wicked will be ashamed, David said, O Lord, let me not be ashamed (Tehillim / Psalms 31:18). Upon whom the shame? Upon the wicked. Let the wicked be ashamed, let them be put to silence in the nether world. (Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 6)

וחוזר ומוציאן מגיהנם, ומכניסן לגן עדן עם הצדיקים, ואומר להן הרי מקום הצדיקים, ומוציא את הצדיקים מגן עדן ומכניסן לתוך גיהנם, ואומר להם הרי מקום הרשעים, והרי עוד מקום פנוי ביניהם, אלא שהרשעים יורשין לגיהנם שלהם ושלכם, והוא שאמר הכתוב תחת בשתכם וגו׳ משנה יירשו (ישעיה סא ז), ומחזיר הצדיקים לגן עדן והרשעים לגיהנם, ולפי שאומות העולם מתביישין לעתיד לבא, לכך אמר דוד אל אבושה כי קראתיך, ולמי היא הבושה לרשעים, שנאמר יבושו רשעים ידמו לשאול (תהלים לא יח). אמר רב מי שנותן פגם אל יראה באותה הטובה, שנאמר מה רב טובך אשר צפנת ליראיך (שם שם תהלים ל״א כ)

According to the midrash, both the righteous and the wicked will be judged guilty however the righteous will be pardoned. The Lord will send the righteous to the Garden of Eden (לגן עדן, Paradise) and the wicked to Hell (גיהנם, Gehenna). The midrash states that then the Lord will take the wicked from hell and show them the empty places in Heaven that were reserved for them had they repented, and likewise, the righteous are shown in hell the empty places that were for them had they not turned from their sins. According to the midrash, “Rab said, He who puts his faith in a battered idol will not behold God’s goodness, for it is said O how abundant is Your goodness, which You have laid up for them that fear You (Tehillim / Psalms 31:20).” Our faith and trust is to be in the Lord, not in idols. Regarding the discussion on idols, repentance, and sin, it is interesting what the Apostle Peter says in his second epistle regarding repentance and walking in sin.

2 Peter 2:1-22

2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2:2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 2:3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 2:5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 2:6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 2:7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 2:8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 2:10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 2:11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 2:12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 2:13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 2:14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 2:15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 2:16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. 2:17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 2:18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 2:19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 2:21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 2:22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.’ (NASB)

Notice how Peter draws upon the Torah for authority regarding the truth of what he is writing about. He refers to false prophets, angels reserved for judgment, Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah, Balaam, etc. Peter’s point here in 2 Peter 2 is speaking about the ungodly men who do not repent of their sins but follow their lusts and indulge in the flesh and its corrupt desires and despise authority. Peter says that these men escaped the defilements of the world in Yeshua but then become entangled again in the world and the last state is worse than the first, it would have been better that they did not know the way of righteousness. These men turn away from the commandment of God that was handed to them (i.e. the Torah, God’s way of truth and righteousness) and it is interesting that he describes a man who escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but then turns around and is entangled again and the last state is worse than the first and it would have been better to have not known the way of righteousness. The midrash concludes stating “Rabbi Isaac son of Teradyon said, The sword of the Holy One blessed be He, smites sixteen ways, for in Scripture the sword is spoken to as follows, Turn yourself backwords, or turn to the right, or set yourself forward, or turn to the left, withersoever (ayh) your edge is ready (Ezekiel 21:21), and the numerical value of ayh (אי״ה) is sixteen. Now, if the measure of punishment, in which God limits Himself, smites sixteen ways, how much greater is the measure of God’s goodness, which is unlimited.” (אמר ר׳ יצחק בן תרדיון חרבו של הקב״ה יש לה שש עשרה פיות, שנאמר התאחדי הימיני [השימי] השמילי (איה) [אנה] פניך מועדות (יחזקאל כא כא), כמנין אי״ה בגימטריא. ומה אם מדת פורעניות שהיא מועטת יש לה שש עשרה פנים, מדה טובה שהיא מרובה, על אחת כמה וכמה.) The rabbis say that God’s goodness is unlimited, His mercy is a part of His goodness, therefore one could say that His mercy is unlimited also. Sometimes our lives can feel like what Peter is saying in 2 Peter 2:22, as a dog returns to his vomit or a sow to wallowing in the mire. The point of the midrash and the epistle of Peter is to continually seek the Lord for forgiveness in His Messiah Yeshua and to turn from our sins, to walk in righteousness, and not be overcome by this world, to walk in repentance and being humble before the Lord daily.

Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 8 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “Blessed be the Lord, for He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city (Tehillim / Psalms 31:22).” The homiletic introduction to the Midrash states “… that is, in wicked Rome.” Let’s read through Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 8.

מדרש תהלים פרק לא סימן ח

ח ברוך ה׳ כי הפליא חסדו לי בעיר מצור. זו רומי הרשעה. ואני אמרתי נגרזתי. אין נגרזתי אלא לשון חיתוך כלי ברזל, כמה דאת אמר מקבות והגרזן (מ״א מלכים א׳ ו ז). דבר אחר נגרזתי מנגד עיניך, במלכות רומי הרשעה. אכן שמעת קול תחנוני. זו יון. אהבו את ה׳ כל חסידיו. אלו צדיקי ישראל. אמונים נוצר ה׳. אלו גרי הצדק. דבר אחר אמונים נוצר ה׳. אלו פושעי ישראל, שהם עונין אמן בעל כרחם באמונה, ואומרים ברוך מחיה המתים. דבר אחר אמונים נוצר ה׳. אלו ישראל שאומרים ברוך מחיה המתים, ובאמונה עונין אמן, שמאמינים בכל כחם בהקב״ה שמחיה המתים, ועדיין לא בא תחיית המתים, אומרים גואל ישראל, ועדיין לא נגאלו, אומרים ברוך בונה ירושלים, ועדיין לא נבנית, אמר הקב״ה ישראל לא נגאלו אלא לשעה וחזרו ונשתעבדו, והם מאמינים בי שאני עתיד לגואלם, הוי אמונים נוצר ה׳.

Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 8

8. Blessed be the Lord, for He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city (Tehillim / Psalms 31:22), that is, in wicked Rome. For in the words I said in my haste, I am cut off (migrazti) from before Your eyes (Tehillim / Psalms 31:22), nigrazti, which comes from the same stem as garzen in “neither hammer nor axe (garzen)” (1 Kings 6:7), can only mean being cut down by an iron weapon. Another comment, I said in my haste, I am cut off from before Your eyes in wicked Rome; You heard the voice of my prayers when I cried to You in Greece. O Love the Lord, all you who worship Him (Tehillim / Psalms 31:24) that is, those who are complete proselytes. Another comment, the Lord preserves those who affirm the faith, that is, preserves even those sinners in Israel who reluctantly yet regularly say Amen, and regularly say Blessed are You, O Lord, who raises the dead. Another comment, The Lord preserves those who affirm the faith, that is, preserves children of Israel who say, Blessed are You O Lord, who raises the dead, although the raising of the dead has not yet come to pass; who say, Blessed are You, O Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, although they have not yet been redeemed; and who say, Blessed are You, O Lord, who rebuilds Jerusalem, although Jerusalem has not yet been rebuilt. Of them the Holy One blessed be He, declares, Only for a little time were the children of Israel redeemed, and then again were they enslaved, but still they affirm their faith in Me, that I will redeem them. Hence The Lord preserves those who affirm the faith.

What exactly are the rabbis trying to say in this midrash? They speak of the kindness of the Lord by a strong city (Tehillim / Psalms 31:22). The Aramaic Targum states כב בריך יהוה ארום פריש טיבותיה לי בקרתא כריכתא׃ 31:22 Blessed be the Lord, for he has exhibited his kindness to me in the walled city. (EMC) and the Septuagint states 31:21 εὐλογητὸς κύριος ὅτι ἐθαυμάστωσεν τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ ἐν πόλει περιοχῆς 31:21 Blessed be the Lord: for he has magnified his mercy in a fortified city. (LXX) The Lord exhibits his kindness in the walled city and magnifies his mercy in a fortified city, the midrash states that this city is “wicked Rome.” The Lord cuts off our enemies even when we find ourselves in their midst, in their cities. The rabbis go on to say “Another comment, I said in my haste, I am cut off from before Your eyes in wicked Rome; You heard the voice of my prayers when I cried to You in Greece. O Love the Lord, all you who worship Him (Tehillim / Psalms 31:24) that is, those who are complete proselytes.” A spin is placed on the parable to say David was saying he is cut off before God’s eyes in Rome but the Lord heard his prayers, it is interesting that they say the Lord hears the prayers of the one who is a “complete proselyte.” The term “proselyte” is an Anglicization of the Koine Greek term προσήλυτος (proselytos), as used in the Septuagint for “stranger,” a “newcomer to Israel,” or a “sojourner in the land,” and in the Apostolic Writings is used as a reference to a first century convert to Judaism (see Matthew 23:15, Acts 2:10, 6:5, and 13:43). The Greek term προσήλυτος (proselytos) is a translation of the Hebrew phrase גר תושב (ger toshav, see Strongs H1616 for list of references in the Torah). Proselyte today has the more general meaning in English of a new convert to any particular religion or doctrine, also known as Proselytism. There are two kinds of proselytes in Rabbinic Judaism (i) ger tzedek (righteous proselytes, proselytes of righteousness, religious proselyte, devout proselyte) and (ii) ger toshav (resident proselyte, proselytes of the gate, limited proselyte, half-proselyte). A “righteous proselyte” (ger tzedek, גרי הצדק) is a gentile who has converted to Judaism, is bound to all the doctrines and precepts of Judaism, and is considered a full member of the Jewish community. They are to be circumcised as adults (note this is different from a brit milah) and immersed in a mikvah should they wish to eat of the Passover sacrifice. The gate proselyte (ger toshav) is only someone who lives in the land of Israel and follows only some of the precepts in the Torah. So, the rabbis are commenting on the minimum requirements for one to receive God’s kindness, those whom the Lord preserves are those who are complete converts to Judaism. The rabbis continue saying “Another comment, the Lord preserves those who affirm the faith, that is, preserves even those sinners in Israel who reluctantly yet regularly say Amen, and regularly say Blessed are You, O Lord, who raises the dead.” Is it logical to say that the Lord preserves those who affirm the faith by “reluctantly saying Amen” and “Blessed are you O Lord who raises the dead?” It seems that the rabbis are referring to the Amidah (תפילת העמידה, Tefilat HaAmidah “The Standing Prayer”), also know as the Shmoneh Esreh (שמנה עשרה, “The Eighteen,” in reference to the original number of constituent blessings, there are now nineteen), the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. Their short comment of affirming the faith and saying “Amen” seems to suggest that they are referring to the Amidah and the reference to the second prayer of the Amidah to say “Blessed are you O Lord who raises the dead.” The affirmation of the faith seems to be related to seeking the Lord in prayer and persevering even in the midst of troubles. This seems to be the idea in the concluding phrase to Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 8 which states “Of them the Holy One blessed be He, declares, Only for a little time were the children of Israel redeemed, and then again were they enslaved, but still they affirm their faith in Me, that I will redeem them. Hence The Lord preserves those who affirm the faith.” What is interesting is the idea that of the Lord hearing a gentiles prayer and the rabbinic thought that one needed to be a complete proselyte to Judaism. It is interesting that this is where the Greek verb ioudaïzō (ἰουδαΐζω “live according to Jewish customs”) comes from. This term is most widely known from its single use in the Greek New Testament in Galatians 2:14 where the Apostle Paul publicly challenges Peter for compelling gentile converts to become like the Jews or to “judaize” at Antioch. This is an interesting rabbinic concept because it helps us to understand Galatians 5 regarding circumcision of the new Gentile believers.

Galatians 5:1-26

5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 5:2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 5:3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 5:4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5:5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. 5:7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 5:8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 5:10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 5:11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 5:12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 5:21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (NASB)

The interesting thing is that in rabbinic Judaism, according to Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 8, in order for God to hear one’s prayer a person needed to be a complete convert, a “righteous proselyte” (ger tzedek, גרי הצדק). Based upon the teaching of the rabbis, Peter was doing what he knew regarding Gentile converts and when the Jews come and his withdrawing from the Gentiles, he was essentially getting pressure from his friends to follow the traditions rather than the teachings of Yeshua. Paul said that it is by faith we are saved, not by the work of the flesh. He uses the concept of circumcision because this is the key to being a ger tzedek, (גרי הצדק) a righteous proselyte. Paul however argues that one does not enter into a relationship with the Lord by man’s teachings which are paralleled to the works of the flesh, rather, we enter into a relationship with the Lord by faith like Abraham. Paul then parallels the works of the flesh to the uncleanness that proceeds from the heart, which is listed in Galatians 5 as anger, jealousy, immorality, sensuality, idolatry, outbursts, drunkenness, etc. He said that he was not teaching against circumcision (see Galatians 5:11) and remember that Paul had Timothy circumcised (see Acts 16:1-3) therefore Paul was not speaking against the Torah, or against circumcision, he was speaking against relying upon the flesh for entering into the kingdom of God and for salvation. The main issue was regarding tradition and whether God would work in the life of a Gentile convert if they did not become a “complete proselyte” (ger tzedek, גרי הצדק) according to rabbinic Judaism.

Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 9 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “In commenting on the passage Then will you return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God, and him that serves Him not (Malachi 3:17-18).” The homiletic introduction (פתיחתא, Petihta) to the Midrash states “Rabbi Akha son of Ada said that the words between the righteous and the wicked mean between him who has faith and him who has no faith, that he who serves God is he who is willing to serve God’s need, and that he that does not serve Him is he who is not willing to serve God’s need.” What does it mean to serve God’s need? Think about the covenant that we have made with God, this is an agreement that has been made in blood and we believe the Lord has also made this with us today in Yeshua the Messiah. According to the Covenant agreement, we – God’s People – have special duties and responsibilities that are commanded by God, for example, the people of God are to establish a just society, walk in righteousness and holiness, and serve only the Lord God Almighty. Therefore, when thinking about serving God’s needs, we do so according to His Holy Word, the Scriptures, and not based solely upon personal opinion. The midrash says that by obeying the Torah we can serve God’s needs, and state “Thus a man should not make the words of Torah an edged tool for his own use, nor make them a crown to crown himself.” Have you ever used the Torah, or any part of the Word of God, to cut someone down? The midrash says not to use the Word as an edged tool to cut nor to make a crown for yourself. It is easy to conclude that they are talking about pride. Reading further in the midrash rabbi Samuel states “Between him that serves God and him that serves Him not means, Between him who repeats his chapter one hundred and one times and him who repeats it only one hundred times. The Lord repays the others who would act proudly (Tehillim / Psalms 31:24) refers to such of the disciples who study Torah not for the sake of heaven, but for the sake of doing themselves proud in this world, and to such others who expect a reward in this world for their study of the Torah. But as for them who occupy themselves with the Torah and hope for the reward in the world to come.” The contrast that is drawn between the righteous who repeats a chapter from the Torah 101 times verses the unrighteous who repeats a chapter of Torah 100 times, suggests that the righteous person loves God’s Word and does not keep count of the number of times he has read the Torah, verses the unrighteous who counts it as a burden to read the Torah and keeps an exact count for the purpose of pride. The explanation of this parable is that one reads for the hope of the world to come and the other hopes for exaltation in this world for their study of God’s Word. Have you ever thought in that way before regarding studying God’s Word? Midrash Tehillim 31, Part 9 concludes saying “Of sin, it is written, My strength fails because of my iniquity (Tehillim / Psalms 31:11); of wayfaring, it is written He weakens my strength in the way (Tehillim / Psalms 102:24); of fasting, it is written My knees are weak through fasting (Tehillim / Psalms 109:24); of the oppressor’s rule, it is written He has made my strength to fail, the Lord has delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up (Lamentations 1:14). Rabbi Tanchuma said, Trouble also makes a man’s strength fail, for it is written, By reason of the disquieting of my heart my heart pants, my strength fails me (Tehillim / Psalms 38:9, 11).” David speaks of not being ashamed, of pride, and of sin in Tehillim / Psalms 31; the rabbis parallel this to Tehillim / Psalms 102:24 that sin (iniquity) causes a man’s strength to fail. Indeed sin does make a man’s strength to fail by reason of the loss of restfulness of ones heart and our relationship with God. The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (NASB) Our study of God’s Word should be led from an innocent heart with a desire to draw near to the Lord, not one of pride. Have you put to death the flesh along with this passions and desires? Even the rabbis speak of the importance of recognizing the failings of the flesh in pride, and serving ourselves rather than serving the Lord. This week let’s take time to meditate on how we can serve God more in Yeshua the Messiah and server ourselves less. Let’s pray!

Tehillim 31-Part1-and-2

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!