Tehillim / Psalms 40, Part 2, Seeking the Lord to Establish Our Feet

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This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms 40:1-17, David opens the Psalm saying, א לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר: ב קַוֹּה קִוִּיתִי יְהֹוָה וַיֵּט אֵלַי וַיִּשְׁמַע שַׁוְעָתִי: For the choir director. A Psalm of David. 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. (NASB) David says that he waited patiently for the Lord and he listened to his cry for help. The Lord’s help resulted in the following: ג וַיַּעֲלֵנִי | מִבּוֹר שָׁאוֹן מִטִּיט הַיָּוֵן וַיָּקֶם עַל-סֶלַע רַגְלַי כּוֹנֵן אֲשֻׁרָי: ד וַיִּתֵּן בְּפִי | שִׁיר חָדָשׁ תְּהִלָּה לֵאלֹהֵינוּ יִרְאוּ רַבִּים וְיִירָאוּ וְיִבְטְחוּ בַּיהֹוָה: 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord. (NASB) He established David on a solid foundation, he made his steps firm, the Septuagint states that the Lord put in order his steps. The Lord’s work in his life causes him to say, 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. (NASB) David says ז זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה | לֹא-חָפַצְתָּ אָזְנַיִם כָּרִיתָ לִּי עוֹלָה וַחֲטָאָה לֹא שָׁאָלְתָּ: 40:6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. (NASB) This draws a parallel to Samuel the prophet’s words in 1 Samuel 15:22. David’s words in Tehillim / Psalms 40:6-8 are quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7. David continues saying 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.’ 40:9 I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; Behold, I will not restrain my lips, O Lord, You know. 40:10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation. 40:11 You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. (NASB) It is interesting how he states that he does not hide the righteousness of God in his heart and that he does not restrain his lips. What do you think it means to hide the righteousness of God in the heart? He concludes saying 40:14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together Who seek my life to destroy it; Let those be turned back and dishonored Who delight in my hurt. 40:15 Let those be appalled because of their shame Who say to me, ‘Aha, aha!’ 40:16 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!’ 40:17 Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God. (NASB)

עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek

ספר תהלים פרק מ

א לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר: ב קַוֹּה קִוִּיתִי יְהֹוָה וַיֵּט אֵלַי וַיִּשְׁמַע שַׁוְעָתִי: ג וַיַּעֲלֵנִי | מִבּוֹר שָׁאוֹן מִטִּיט הַיָּוֵן וַיָּקֶם עַל-סֶלַע רַגְלַי כּוֹנֵן אֲשֻׁרָי: ד וַיִּתֵּן בְּפִי | שִׁיר חָדָשׁ תְּהִלָּה לֵאלֹהֵינוּ יִרְאוּ רַבִּים וְיִירָאוּ וְיִבְטְחוּ בַּיהֹוָה:

סםר טוביה פרק מ

א לשבחא לדוד תושבחתא׃ ב מסברא סברית יהוה וצלא לותי וקביל בעותי׃ ג ואסקני מגוב אתרגושתא מכסן טישטושא ואקיף ואקים על כיפא ריגלי תקין אסתורי׃ ד וסדר בפומי שבח חדת תהי תושבחתא קדם יהוה אלהנא יחמון סגיעין וידחלון ויסברון ויסוברון במימרא דיהוה׃

YALMOI 40

40:1 εἰς τὸ τέλος τῷ Δαυιδ ψαλμός ὑπομένων ὑπέμεινα τὸν κύριον καὶ προσέσχεν μοι καὶ εἰσήκουσεν τῆς δεήσεώς μου 40:2 καὶ ἀνήγαγέν με ἐκ λάκκου ταλαιπωρίας καὶ ἀπὸ πηλοῦ ἰλύος καὶ ἔστησεν ἐπὶ πέτραν τοὺς πόδας μου καὶ κατηύθυνεν τὰ διαβήματά μου 40:3 καὶ ἐνέβαλεν εἰς τὸ στόμα μου ᾆσμα καινόν ὕμνον τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν ὄψονται πολλοὶ καὶ φοβηθήσονται καὶ ἐλπιοῦσιν ἐπὶ κύριον

ה אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר-שָֹם יְהוָֹה מִבְטַחוֹ וְלֹא-פָנָה אֶל-רְהָבִים וְשָֹטֵי כָזָב: ו רַבּוֹת עָשִֹיתָ | אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהַי נִפְלְאֹתֶיךָ וּמַחְשְׁבֹתֶיךָ אֵלֵינוּ אֵין | עֲרֹךְ אֵלֶיךָ אַגִּידָה וַאֲדַבֵּרָה עָצְמוּ מִסַּפֵּר: ז זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה | לֹא-חָפַצְתָּ אָזְנַיִם כָּרִיתָ לִּי עוֹלָה וַחֲטָאָה לֹא שָׁאָלְתָּ: ח אָז אָמַרְתִּי הִנֵּה-בָאתִי בִּמְגִלַּת-סֵפֶר כָּתוּב עָלָי: ט לַעֲשֹוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ אֱלֹהַי חָפָצְתִּי וְתוֹרָתְךָ בְּתוֹךְ מֵעָי: י בִּשַּׂרְתִּי צֶדֶק | בְּקָהָל רָב הִנֵּה שְֹפָתַי לֹא אֶכְלָא יְהֹוָה אַתָּה יָדָעְתָּ: יא צִדְקָתְךָ לֹא-כִסִּיתִי | בְּתוֹךְ לִבִּי אֱמוּנָתְךָ וּתְשׁוּעָתְךָ אָמָרְתִּי לֹא-כִחַדְתִּי חַסְדְּךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ לְקָהָל רָב: יב אַתָּה יְהֹוָה לֹא-תִכְלָא רַחֲמֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי חַסְדְּךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ תָּמִיד יִצְּרוּנִי: יג כִּי אָפְפוּ עָלַי רָעוֹת עַד-אֵין מִסְפָּר הִשִּׂיגוּנִי עֲוֹנֹתַי וְלֹא-יָכֹלְתִּי לִרְאוֹת עָצְמוּ מִשַּׂעֲרוֹת רֹאשִׁי וְלִבִּי עֲזָבָנִי: יד רְצֵה-יְהֹוָה לְהַצִּילֵנִי יְהֹוָה לְעֶזְרָתִי חוּשָׁה: טו יֵבשׁוּ וְיַחְפְּרוּ | יַחַד מְבַקְשֵׁי נַפְשִׁי לִסְפּוֹתָהּ יִסֹּגוּ אָחוֹר וְיִכָּלְמוּ חֲפֵצֵי רָעָתִי: טז יָשֹׁמּוּ עַל-עֵקֶב בָּשְׁתָּם הָאֹמְרִים לִי הֶאָח | הֶאָח: יז יָשִֹישֹוּ וְיִשְֹמְחוּ | בְּךָ כָּל-מְבַקְשֶׁיךָ יֹאמְרוּ תָמִיד יִגְדַּל יְהֹוָה אֹהֲבֵי תְּשׁוּעָתֶךָ: יח וַאֲנִי | עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן אֲדֹנָי יַחֲשָׁב לִי עֶזְרָתִי וּמְפַלְטִי אַתָּה אֱלֹהַי אַל-תְּאַחַר:

ה טובוי דגברא דשוי יהוה רוחצניה ולא אסתכי יסתכל לות סורבניא וממללי כדיבותא כדכובא׃ ו סגיעי ניסיא דעבדתא את אנת יהוה אלהי פרישותך ורעותך ורעיונינך לותנא לית איפשר לסדרא לותך תושבחתך אתני ואמליל תקיפו מן לחואה׃ ז ניכסא ודורונא לא צביתא אודנין לאצתא פורקנך כריתא לי עלתא וקורבן חטתא לא שיילתא׃ ח הידין אמרית הא עלית לחיי עלמא כד אעסוק במגילת סיפרא אוריתא דאכתיב אמטולתי׃ ט למעבד רעותך אלהי רעיתי ואוריתך כלילא במצע מעייני׃ י בשרית צדקא בכנישתא רבא הא סיפותי לא אמנע יהוה אלהי את חכימת׃ יא צדקתך לא טמרית בגו לבי קושטך ופורקנך אמרית לא כסיתי טיבותך טובך והימנותך בקהלא רבא׃ יב בגלל כן היכנא את יהוה לא תמנע רחמך מיני טובך וקושטך תדירא ינטרונני׃ יג ארום תקיפין תכפו עלי בישין בישן עד דלית מניין אדביקו יתי חובי ולא יכלית למחמי תקפו מן בינתי רישי ורעיוני שבקוני׃ יד אתרעי יהוה לשזבותני למפצא יתי יהוה לסיועי זריז׃ טו יבהתון ויתחסדון כחדא תבעי נפשי למיגמרה יזורון לאחורא ויכספון דצביין בישתי׃ טז יתביירון מטול בהתיהון דאמרין לי חדינא על תבריה חדוא חדינא על סיגופיה׃ יז יחדון וידוצון במימרך כל בעייך ויימרון תדירא יסגי חילא דיהוה די רחימין פורקנך׃ יח ואנא ענייא וחשוכא יהוה יחשיב טב לי עלי סיועי ושיזבותי את אלהי לא תוחר׃

40:4 μακάριος ἀνήρ οὗ ἐστιν τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου ἐλπὶς αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐνέβλεψεν εἰς ματαιότητας καὶ μανίας ψευδεῖς 40:5 πολλὰ ἐποίησας σύ κύριε ὁ θεός μου τὰ θαυμάσιά σου καὶ τοῖς διαλογισμοῖς σου οὐκ ἔστιν τίς ὁμοιωθήσεταί σοι ἀπήγγειλα καὶ ἐλάλησα ἐπληθύνθησαν ὑπὲρ ἀριθμόν 40:6 θυσίαν καὶ προσφορὰν οὐκ ἠθέλησας ὠτία δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι ὁλοκαύτωμα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας οὐκ ᾔτησας 40:7 τότε εἶπον ἰδοὺ ἥκω ἐν κεφαλίδι βιβλίου γέγραπται περὶ ἐμοῦ 40:8 τοῦ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημά σου ὁ θεός μου ἐβουλήθην καὶ τὸν νόμον σου ἐν μέσῳ τῆς κοιλίας μου 40:9 εὐηγγελισάμην δικαιοσύνην ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ μεγάλῃ ἰδοὺ τὰ χείλη μου οὐ μὴ κωλύσω κύριε σὺ ἔγνως 40:10 τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου οὐκ ἔκρυψα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ μου τὴν ἀλήθειάν σου καὶ τὸ σωτήριόν σου εἶπα οὐκ ἔκρυψα τὸ ἔλεός σου καὶ τὴν ἀλήθειάν σου ἀπὸ συναγωγῆς πολλῆς 40:11 σὺ δέ κύριε μὴ μακρύνης τοὺς οἰκτιρμούς σου ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ τὸ ἔλεός σου καὶ ἡ ἀλήθειά σου διὰ παντὸς ἀντελάβοντό μου 40:12 ὅτι περιέσχον με κακά ὧν οὐκ ἔστιν ἀριθμός κατέλαβόν με αἱ ἀνομίαι μου καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθην τοῦ βλέπειν ἐπληθύνθησαν ὑπὲρ τὰς τρίχας τῆς κεφαλῆς μου καὶ ἡ καρδία μου ἐγκατέλιπέν με 40:13 εὐδόκησον κύριε τοῦ ῥύσασθαί με κύριε εἰς τὸ βοηθῆσαί μοι πρόσχες 40:14 καταισχυνθείησαν καὶ ἐντραπείησαν ἅμα οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχήν μου τοῦ ἐξᾶραι αὐτήν ἀποστραφείησαν εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ ἐντραπείησαν οἱ θέλοντές μοι κακά 1 40:5 κομισάσθωσαν παραχρῆμα αἰσχύνην αὐτῶν οἱ λέγοντές μοι εὖγε εὖγε 40:16 ἀγαλλιάσαιντο καὶ εὐφρανθείησαν ἐπὶ σοὶ πάντες οἱ ζητοῦντές σε κύριε καὶ εἰπάτωσαν διὰ παντός μεγαλυνθήτω ὁ κύριος οἱ ἀγαπῶντες τὸ σωτήριόν σου 40:17 ἐγὼ δὲ πτωχός εἰμι καὶ πένης κύριος φροντιεῖ μου βοηθός μου καὶ ὑπερασπιστής μου σὺ εἶ ὁ θεός μου μὴ χρονίσῃς

Tehillim / Psalms 40

For the choir director. A Psalm of David. 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord. 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. 40:6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. 40:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.’ 40:9 I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; Behold, I will not restrain my lips, O Lord, You know. 40:10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation. 40:11 You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. 40:12 For evils beyond number have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see; They are more numerous than the hairs of my head, And my heart has failed me. 40:13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; Make haste, O Lord, to help me. 40:14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together Who seek my life to destroy it; Let those be turned back and dishonored Who delight in my hurt. 40:15 Let those be appalled because of their shame Who say to me, ‘Aha, aha!’ 40:16 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!’ 40:17 Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God. (NASB)

Toviyah / Psalms Chapter 40

40:1 For praise. Of David, a psalm. 40:2 I truly hoped in the Lord, and he turned to me and received my supplication. 40:3 And he brought me up from the pit of turmoil, from the mire of filth; and he set my feet on the rock, he made my steps firm. 40:4 And he put in my mouth a new psalm: Let there be praise before the Lord our God, let many see and fear and hope in the word of the Lord. 40:5 Happy the man who made the Lord his confidence, and did not look toward the disobedient and those who speak falsehood. 40:6 Many are the miracles that you have done, O Lord my God; your wonders and favor towards us are impossible to set out; I will recount and speak to you your praise; they are too great to tell. 40:7 You do not want sacrifice and offering; you have scooped out ears for me to hear your redemption; you have not asked for holocaust and sin offering. 40:8 Then I said, “Behold, I have entered into eternal life,” whenever I occupy myself with the scroll of the book of Torah that was written for my sake. 40:9 I desire to do your will, O God; and your Torah is contained in my deepest self. 40:10 I have proclaimed righteousness in the great assembly; behold, I will not withhold my lips; O Lord my God, you know [this]. 40:11 I have not concealed your righteousness in my heart, I have uttered your truth and your redemption; I have not kept back your goodness and faithfulness in the great assembly. 40:12 Therefore you, O Lord, do not withhold your mercy from me; may your goodness and truth always keep me. 40:13 For evils are strong against me, until they are without number; my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see; they are more numerous than the hairs of my head; and my thoughts have left me. 40:14 Be pleased, O Lord, to save me; O Lord, hasten to my aid. 40:15 Those who seek to destroy my soul will be ashamed and confused together; those who desire my ruin will turn back and be disgraced. 40:16 They will become senseless because of their shame – those who say to me, “We have rejoiced at his ruin, we rejoiced at his misery.” 40:17 All who seek you will rejoice and be glad in your word; and those who love your redemption will say continually, “Let the might of the Lord be magnified.” 40:18 But I am humble and poor, O Lord; let good be devised for me, you are my help and salvation; O my God, do not delay. (EMC)

Psalmoi / Psalms 40

For the end, a Psalm of David. 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; and he attended to me, and hearkened to my supplication. 40:2 And he brought me up out of a pit of misery, and from miry clay: and he set my feet on a rock, and ordered my goings aright. 40:3 And he put a new song into my mouth, even a hymn to our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall hope in the Lord. 40:4 Blessed is the man whose hope is in the name of the Lord, and who has not regarded vanities and false frenzies. 40:5 O Lord my God, thou hast multiplied thy wonderful works, and in thy thoughts there is none who shall be likened to thee: I declared and spoke of them: they exceeded number. 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and sacrifice for sin thou didst not require. 40:7 Then I said, Behold, I come: in the volume of the book it is written concerning me, 40:8 I desired to do thy will, O my God, and thy law in the midst of mine heart. 40:9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo! I will not refrain my lips; O Lord, thou knowest my righteousness. 40:10 I have not hid thy truth within my heart, and I have declared thy salvation; I have not hid thy mercy and thy truth from the great congregation. 40:11 But thou, Lord, remove not thy compassion far from me; thy mercy and thy truth have helped me continually. 40:12 For innumerable evils have encompassed me; my transgressions have taken hold of me, and I could not see; they are multiplied more than the hairs of my head; and my heart has failed me. 40:13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, draw nigh to help me. 40:14 Let those that seek my soul, to destroy it, be ashamed and confounded together; let those that wish me evil be turned backward and put to shame. 40:15 Let those that say to me, Aha, aha, quickly receive shame for their reward. 40:16 Let all those that seek thee, O Lord, exult and rejoice in thee; and let them that love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. 40:17 But I am poor and needy; the Lord will take care of me; thou art my helper, and my defender, O my God, delay not. (LXX)

In Tehillim / Psalms 40:1-17, David opens the Psalm saying, א לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר: ב קַוֹּה קִוִּיתִי יְהֹוָה וַיֵּט אֵלַי וַיִּשְׁמַע שַׁוְעָתִי: For the choir director. A Psalm of David. 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. (NASB) It is interesting that here the word that is used to translate “wait” is the Hebrew word “kavveh” (קַוֹּה) and David repeats the word twice (קַוֹּה קִוִּיתִי), the second time with the first person singular pronominal suffix. The root verb appears to be the word “tikvah” which is the Hebrew word for “hope,” therefore, the word “kavveh” may also be rendered as “hope” or “in the expectation of, looking for with anticipation,” etc. David says that his hope is in the Lord and because of his hope, the Lord “vayet” (וַיֵּט) unto him and listened. “Vayet” is from the root נטה meaning “to turn,” the Lord turned toward David because he patiently hoped in the Lord. It is interesting that David says that he waits on the Lord in a previous psalm, in Tehillim / Psalms 27:14 יד קַוֵּה אֶל-יְהוָה חֲזַק וְיַאֲמֵץ לִבֶּךָ וְקַוֵּה אֶל-יְהֹוָה:27:14 Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. (NASB) In Tehillim / Psalms 27:14 he couples the words to wait / hope with “chazak” (חֲזַק) to be strong and the idea is that one must first step out in faith, to obey God by trusting and hoping in Him. Following our obedience to hope and to seek Him, He causes our hearts to be filled with courage to be strong (chazak, חֲזַק). So David is saying in Tehillim / Psalms 27:14 to be strong and courageous and that our hope in the Lord is not a form of weakness but a form of strengthening. Because David has placed his hope in the Lord (i.e. he patiently waits on the Lord) the Lord turns and hears his prayer. Have you ever been told that having faith or hope in God is a form of weakness? Know without a doubt, when we humbly hope / wait upon the Lord, He hears our prayers.

David says that because of his hope, the Lord brought him out of the pit of destruction and placed his feet upon a solid foundation. ג וַיַּעֲלֵנִי | מִבּוֹר שָׁאוֹן מִטִּיט הַיָּוֵן וַיָּקֶם עַל-סֶלַע רַגְלַי כּוֹנֵן אֲשֻׁרָי: ד וַיִּתֵּן בְּפִי | שִׁיר חָדָשׁ תְּהִלָּה לֵאלֹהֵינוּ יִרְאוּ רַבִּים וְיִירָאוּ וְיִבְטְחוּ בַּיהֹוָה: 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 40:3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states ג ואסקני מגוב אתרגושתא מכסן טישטושא ואקיף ואקים על כיפא ריגלי תקין אסתורי׃ ד וסדר בפומי שבח חדת תהי תושבחתא קדם יהוה אלהנא יחמון סגיעין וידחלון ויסברון ויסוברון במימרא דיהוה׃ 40:3 And he brought me up from the pit of turmoil, from the mire of filth; and he set my feet on the rock, he made my steps firm. 40:4 And he put in my mouth a new psalm: Let there be praise before the Lord our God, let many see and fear and hope in the word of the Lord. (EMC) The Septuagint states 40:2 καὶ ἀνήγαγέν με ἐκ λάκκου ταλαιπωρίας καὶ ἀπὸ πηλοῦ ἰλύος καὶ ἔστησεν ἐπὶ πέτραν τοὺς πόδας μου καὶ κατηύθυνεν τὰ διαβήματά μου 40:3 καὶ ἐνέβαλεν εἰς τὸ στόμα μου ᾆσμα καινόν ὕμνον τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν ὄψονται πολλοὶ καὶ φοβηθήσονται καὶ ἐλπιοῦσιν ἐπὶ κύριον 40:2 And he brought me up out of a pit of misery, and from miry clay: and he set my feet on a rock, and ordered my goings aright. 40:3 And he put a new song into my mouth, even a hymn to our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall hope in the Lord. (LXX) It is interesting that we read David describing “the pit of destruction,” whereas the rabbis say “the pit of turmoil and mire of filth,” and “the pit of misery” in the Targum and the Septuagint. Ezekiel 26 describes the pit in this way:

Ezekiel 26:19-21

26:19 For thus says the Lord God, ‘When I make you a desolate city, like the cities which are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you and the great waters cover you, 26:20 then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lower parts of the earth, like the ancient waste places, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set glory in the land of the living. 26:21 ‘I will bring terrors on you and you will be no more; though you will be sought, you will never be found again,’ declares the Lord God. (NASB)

יט כִּי כֹה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהֶֹוִה בְּתִתִּי אֹתָךְ עִיר נֶחֱרֶבֶת כֶּעָרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נוֹשָׁבוּ בְּהַעֲלוֹת עָלַיִךְ אֶת-תְּהוֹם וְכִסּוּךְ הַמַּיִם הָרַבִּים: כ וְהוֹרַדְתִּיךְ אֶת-יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר אֶל-עַם עוֹלָם וְהוֹשַׁבְתִּיךְ בְּאֶרֶץ תַּחְתִּיּוֹת כָּחֳרָבוֹת מֵעוֹלָם אֶת-יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר לְמַעַן לֹא תֵשֵׁבִי וְנָתַתִּי צְבִי בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים: כא בַּלָּהוֹת אֶתְּנֵךְ וְאֵינֵךְ וּתְבֻקְשִׁי וְלֹא-תִמָּצְאִי עוֹד לְעוֹלָם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהֶוִֹה:

Ezekiel describes the Lord speaking in a prophecy against Tyre saying “when I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living.” Who are the people of old time of dead long ago? Ezekiel 26:19 speaks of cities and the Lord bringing deep and great waters over the cities, is this a reference to the great flood and the wicked generation that was destroyed by the waters of the flood? The pit of destruction and of miry clay implies that one’s feet are sinking and stuck and unable to be moved. If you have ever gotten your foot stuck in sticky-clay-mud, it is very difficult to remove the foot once it has sunken down. It is also next to impossible to get your shoe out of the mud once it is lodged firmly and the only thing one can do is leave the shoe and pull your foot out. The pit of destruction and miry clay implies that the way one walks as a man is not the Lord’s ways. David says it is the Lord who raises up his foot and sets it upon a rock to make his steps firm (וַיָּקֶם עַל-סֶלַע רַגְלַי כּוֹנֵן אֲשֻׁרָי) and therefore we are to seek the Lord to guide and directs our steps. It is interesting that he says the Lord raises up the foot upon a rock, will establish happiness or blessing (כּוֹנֵן אֲשֻׁרָי). The Lord established David on a solid foundation, he made his steps firm, the Septuagint states that the Lord put in order his steps (Tehillim / Psalms 40:2). The apostle Peter wrote it this way, in 1 Peter 2:20 ποῖον γὰρ κλέος εἰ ἁμαρτάνοντες καὶ κολαφιζόμενοι ὑπομενεῖτε; ἀλλ’ εἰ ἀγαθοποιοῦντες καὶ πάσχοντες ὑπομενεῖτε, τοῦτο χάρις παρὰ θεῷ. εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ ἐκλήθητε, ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἔπαθεν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ὑμῖν ὑπολιμπάνων ὑπογραμμὸν ἵνα ἐπακολουθήσητε τοῖς ἴχνεσιν αὐτοῦ: For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. (NASB) This illustrates that we are to shine forth the light of the Messiah in our lives to the world and to expect suffering if we follow in the Messiah’s footsteps. This is what it means to “count the cost” of following Christ. In Parashat Ekev, Moshe writes contrasting the humbleness of heart, hunger, and the provision of Manna in the wilderness written as the “bread from Heaven,” so that the people would understand that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does a man live” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:3). Moshe understood the Lord God to be actively pursuing us through His Word and He is setting our feet upon a solid rock that results in happiness and blessing. Take for example in Devarim / Deuteronomy 9:1-3, Moshe says that there are cities and nations greater and mightier than Israel in the land that they are about to enter and possess. He reinforces what he is saying by writing: “Who can stand before the sons of Anak?” He answers saying “Know therefore today that it is the Lord your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire.” (אֵשׁ אֹכְלָה הוּא) The Lord will subdue them before you so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly just as the Lord has spoken. This is written so we know that the Lord God is always in the process of delivering His people. It is also interesting to note that in the Targum Onkelos from Devarim / Deuteronomy 9 (תרגום אונקלוס ספר דברים פרק ט) it is written in verse 3 ג וְתִדַּע יוֹמָא־דֵין אֲרֵי יְיָ אֱלָהָךְ הוּא־יֵעִבַר קֳדָמָךְ מֵימְרֵהּ אֶשָּׁא־אָכְלָא הוּא יְשֵׁצִנּוּן וְהוּא יְתָרֵכִנּוּן קֳדָמָךְ וּתְתָרֵכִנּוּן וְתוֹבְדִנּוּן בִּפְרִיעַ כְּמָא־דִי מַלִּיל יְיָ לָךְ: the “Memra is a consuming fire.” The “Memra” (מֵימְרֵהּ) the Word of God, the creative work of God, the agent by which God created the world, is the one who goes as a “Consuming Fire.” According to the Torah, God humbled Israel and fed them “… with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:3) These Scriptures are very appropriately showing us today that the Lord is taking steps to set our feet upon the correct path and to save us. It is now our part to seek the Lord to do such a thing in our lives. We also know that the Torah has been given to us to guide, direct, and point us in the correct path, not only to direct us to Yeshua the Messiah, but also for living right before the Lord God Almighty.

David continues saying ה אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר-שָֹם יְהוָֹה מִבְטַחוֹ וְלֹא-פָנָה אֶל-רְהָבִים וְשָֹטֵי כָזָב: ו רַבּוֹת עָשִֹיתָ | אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהַי נִפְלְאֹתֶיךָ וּמַחְשְׁבֹתֶיךָ אֵלֵינוּ אֵין | עֲרֹךְ אֵלֶיךָ אַגִּידָה וַאֲדַבֵּרָה עָצְמוּ מִסַּפֵּר: 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. (NASB) It is interesting to note how the Hebrew text is written, David says “Ashrei Hagever” (אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר) “How blessed is the strong man” drawing a Hebrew reader back to Parashat Noach in the Torah. It is interesting to note that according to the Aramaic Targum Onkelos we read the following from Parashat Noach:

Targum Onkelos (תרגום אנקלוס)

תרגום אנקלוס ספר בראשית

א וַהֲוָה כַד שָרִיאֻו בְנֵי אֲנָשָא לְמִסגֵי עַל אַפֵי אַרעָא״אדמתא״ וֻבנָתָא אִיתִילִידָא לְהוֹן׃ ב וַחזוֹ בְנֵי רַברְבַיָא יָת בְנָת אֲנָשָא אֲרֵי שַפִירָן אִינִין וֻנסִיבֻו לְהוֹן נְשִין מִכֹל דְאִתרְעִיאֻו״דאיתבחרו״׃ ג וַאֲמַר יוי לָא יִתקַיַים דָרָא בִישָא הָדֵין קְדָמַי לְעָלַם בְדִיל דְאִנֻון בִסרָא וְעוֹבָדֵיהוֹן בִישִין אַרכָא יְהִיב לְהוֹן מְאָה וְעַסרִין שְנִין אִם יְתֻובֻון׃ ד גִיבָרַיָא הְווֹ בְאַרעָא בְיוֹמַיָא הָאִינֻון וְאַף בָתַר כֵין דְעָלִין״די עלין״ בְנֵי רַברְבַיָא לְוָת בְנָת אֲנָשָא וְיָלְדָן לְהוֹן מנהון אִנֻון גִיבָרַיָא דְמֵיעָלְמָא״דמן עלמא אֲנָשִין דִשמָא״דשמן׃ ה וַחזָא וַגְלִי קדם יוי אֲרֵי סְגִיאַת בִישַת אֲנָשָא בְאַרעָא וְכָל יִצרָא הרהור מַחשְבָת לִבֵיה לְחוֹד בִיש כֹל יוֹמָא׃ ו וְתָב יוי בְמֵימְרֵיה אֲרֵי עֲבַד יָת אֲנָשָא אדם בְאַרעָא וַאֲמַר במימריה לְמִתבַר תֻוקפְהוֹן כִרעֻותֵיה׃ ז וַאֲמַר יוי אִמחִי יָת אֲנָשָא דִברֵיתִי די בראתי מֵעַל אַפֵי אַרעָא מֵיאֲנָשָא עַד בְעִירָא וְעַד רִחשָא וְעַד עוֹפָא דִשמַיָא אֲרֵי תְבִית תַבִית בְמֵימְרִי אֲרֵי עֲבַדתִינֻון׃

Bereshit / Genesis 6:1-7

6:1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 6:2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 6:3 Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ 6:4 Heroes (strongmen) were in the land in those days and also those the sons of the master had sexual relations with the daughters of men and took possession of them, they being heroes (strong men) who were eternally famous. 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6:6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 6:7 The Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’ (NASB)

This provides some insight into the meaning behind David’s choice of words regarding “Ashrei Hagever” (אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר) “How blessed is the strong man.” The Aramaic Targum to the Hebrew text on Parashat Noach, the word הַנְּפִלִים (Nephilim) is replaced with the word גִיבָרַיָא (Gibarayah) in the Aramaic translation. Note also that the word גִיבָרַיָא (Gibarayah) is very close to the Hebrew word הַגִּבֹּרִים (Gibborim) meaning “mighty man” or “strong man.” The word גִיבָרַיָא (Gibarayah) is repeated in the same verse in the Aramaic translation and is translated as “heroes / strong men.” It is safe to say that גִיבָרַיָא (Gibarayah) may be translated in the same way as “heroes / strong men” in Bereshit / Genesis 6:4. In addition to this, while studying the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, one will notice that there is a close proximity of the Semitic languages Hebrew and Aramaic. For example the word for “between” בין is used in the same way in both the Hebrew and Aramaic languages. Therefore, the words גִיבָרַיָא (Gibarayah) and הַגִּבֹּרִים (Gibborim) have a Semitic connection and the same meaning. According to the biblical narrative, the הַנְּפִלִים (Nephilim) is a name that is given to describe men who had the extraordinary ability for making war. They were mighty warriors and hence the reason for the Aramaic translations use of the word גִיבָרַיָא (Gibarayah). Note also the Aramaic Translation of Tehillim / Psalms 40:5 states ה טובוי דגברא דשוי יהוה רוחצניה ולא אסתכי יסתכל לות סורבניא וממללי כדיבותא כדכובא׃ using the same word “hagibora” (דגברא). If we consider the context of these verses and the reason God destroyed the earth using a global flood, the reason that is given is because of the great wickedness of mankind that was throughout all of the earth (ה וַיַּרְא יְהֹוָה כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ וְכָל-יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ רַק רַע כָּל-הַיּוֹם:, 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. NASB) The Torah (Bereshit / Genesis 6:4) describes the reason for the wickedness of the men in those days. Thinking on the topic of wicked men and war, we know from modern history that when an army would make its way through to conquer a nation, especially an army filled with wicked/evil men, the men of war would kill and destroy everything and would take the women of the nation they were conquering, they would rape and pillage the land. Examples from our modern day may be found in the Muslim armies of the Sudan, they rape, mutilate, and kill the women, of the land and especially Christian women. The wickedness of man in those days, in the days of Noah was so great, these mighty men of war would just take whatever woman they wanted, having their way with them, and possibly even destroying/killing the women afterwards. These verses do not give justice to the extent of wickedness that was occurring in those days. The wickedness of that generation was so great and the sin of the people was so extensive that the only way to redeem the land was to destroy all life that existed on the face of the earth in those days. David says אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר-שָֹם יְהוָֹה מִבְטַחו “how blessed is the man who places his trust in the Lord.” The contrast here within the Torah text suggests that this man who is mighty and powerful is to trust in the Lord and is not to turn to the proud or falsehood, the very thing that was occurring with the men of the earth in Parashat Noach. David says many are the wonders of God, His miracles are to numerous to count. The Septuagint states 40:4 μακάριος ἀνήρ οὗ ἐστιν τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου ἐλπὶς αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐνέβλεψεν εἰς ματαιότητας καὶ μανίας ψευδεῖς 40:5 πολλὰ ἐποίησας σύ κύριε ὁ θεός μου τὰ θαυμάσιά σου καὶ τοῖς διαλογισμοῖς σου οὐκ ἔστιν τίς ὁμοιωθήσεταί σοι ἀπήγγειλα καὶ ἐλάλησα ἐπληθύνθησαν ὑπὲρ ἀριθμόν 40:4 Blessed is the man whose hope is in the name of the Lord, and who has not regarded vanities and false frenzies. 40:5 O Lord my God, thou hast multiplied thy wonderful works, and in thy thoughts there is none who shall be likened to thee: I declared and spoke of them: they exceeded number. (LXX). The Aramaic Targum states ה טובוי דגברא דשוי יהוה רוחצניה ולא אסתכי יסתכל לות סורבניא וממללי כדיבותא כדכובא׃ ו סגיעי ניסיא דעבדתא את אנת יהוה אלהי פרישותך ורעותך ורעיונינך לותנא לית איפשר לסדרא לותך תושבחתך אתני ואמליל תקיפו מן לחואה׃ 40:5 Happy the man who made the Lord his confidence, and did not look toward the disobedient and those who speak falsehood. 40:6 Many are the miracles that you have done, O Lord my God; your wonders and favor towards us are impossible to set out; I will recount and speak to you your praise; they are too great to tell. (EMC) The man (strong man) who seeks the Lord God, the Lord Himself will order his ways and be blessed.

David continues saying ז זֶבַח וּמִנְחָה | לֹא-חָפַצְתָּ אָזְנַיִם כָּרִיתָ לִּי עוֹלָה וַחֲטָאָה לֹא שָׁאָלְתָּ: 40:6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. (NASB) This draws a parallel to Samuel the prophet’s words in 1 Samuel 15:22.

1 Samuel 15:22-23

15:22 Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 15:23 ‘For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.’ (NASB)

כב וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל הַחֵפֶץ לַיהֹוָה בְּעֹלוֹת וּזְבָחִים כִּשְׁמֹעַ בְּקוֹל יְהֹוָה הִנֵּה שְׁמֹעַ מִזֶּבַח טוֹב לְהַקְשִׁיב מֵחֵלֶב אֵילִים: כג כִּי חַטַּאת-קֶסֶם מֶרִי וְאָוֶן וּתְרָפִים הַפְצַר יַעַן מָאַסְתָּ אֶת-דְּבַר יְהֹוָה וַיִּמְאָסְךָ מִמֶּלֶךְ:

King Saul had sinned by keeping alive the choice animals when the Lord commanded that everything be destroyed, including the animals. Saul’s excuse was these animals would be made a sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel responds that the Lord desires obedience rather than sacrifice. In other words, one is not to use the sacrifice to walk in disobedience to the Lord. The Lord is looking for repentance, justice (מִשְׁפָּט) and righteousness (צְדָקָה) over sacrifice and David realized this in Tehillim / Psalms 51:18-19, and also implicitly in Tehillim / Psalms 40:4-5 on how blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose foot is established by the Lord. The Psalm is verifying God’s way that our relationship with God begins with getting our heart right by seeking the Lord and His ways and for His help to order our ways and our steps (placing our feet upon a solid rock).

Studying the apostolic Writings, David’s words in Tehillim / Psalms 40:6-8 are quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7.

Hebrews 10:1-10

10:1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 10:2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 10:5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me; 10:6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. 10:7 ‘Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’‘ 10:8 After saying above, ‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them (which are offered according to the Law), 10:9 then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will.’ He takes away the first in order to establish the second. 10:10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NASB)

1Σκιὰν γὰρ ἔχων ὁ νόμος τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν, οὐκ αὐτὴν τὴν εἰκόνα τῶν πραγμάτων, κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ταῖς αὐταῖς θυσίαις ἃς προσφέρουσιν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς οὐδέποτε δύναται τοὺς προσερχομένους τελειῶσαι: 2ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἂν ἐπαύσαντο προσφερόμεναι, διὰ τὸ μηδεμίαν ἔχειν ἔτι συνείδησιν ἁμαρτιῶν τοὺς λατρεύοντας ἅπαξ κεκαθαρισμένους; 3ἀλλ’ ἐν αὐταῖς ἀνάμνησις ἁμαρτιῶν κατ’ ἐνιαυτόν, 4ἀδύνατον γὰρ αἷμα ταύρων καὶ τράγων ἀφαιρεῖν ἁμαρτίας. 5Διὸ εἰσερχόμενος εἰς τὸν κόσμον λέγει, Θυσίαν καὶ προσφορὰν οὐκ ἠθέλησας, σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι: 6ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας οὐκ εὐδόκησας. 7τότε εἶπον, Ἰδοὺ ἥκω, ἐν κεφαλίδι βιβλίου γέγραπται περὶ ἐμοῦ, τοῦ ποιῆσαι, ὁ θεός, τὸ θέλημά σου. 8ἀνώτερον λέγων ὅτι Θυσίας καὶ προσφορὰς καὶ ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας οὐκ ἠθέλησας οὐδὲ εὐδόκησας, αἵτινες κατὰ νόμον προσφέρονται, 9τότε εἴρηκεν, Ἰδοὺ ἥκω τοῦ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημά σου. ἀναιρεῖ τὸ πρῶτον ἵνα τὸ δεύτερον στήσῃ: 10ἐν ᾧ θελήματι ἡγιασμένοι ἐσμὲν διὰ τῆς προσφορᾶς τοῦ σώματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐφάπαξ.

In the book of Hebrews, the author states that the blood of bulls and of goats never fully removed (take away) the sin of the person. If this is the case, then why did the Lord require a person to bring the offerings of bulls and goats again and again to the Tabernacle? What was the purpose of the sacrifices if it did not take away sin? The reason is for “obedience” to God’s Word. Both David’s words in Tehillim / Psalms 40:4-5 and 1 Samuel 15:22 state that the Lord delights in obedience rather than sacrifice. The Lord desires for us to be obedient to His Word. With this understanding on the blood of bulls and goats not removing sin from a person, is there something about the Temple (Tabernacle) sacrifice that we do not understand today regarding the reason for bringing the sacrifice before the Lord for sin and guilt? What about the time of the Millennial Kingdom, or when the Third Temple is built in Jerusalem and the daily sacrifice is reinstated, how will that affect our lives as believers in Yeshua the Messiah? In Acts 21, the Apostle Paul took the vow of the nazarite. Note what is required when one completes the vow of a nazarite according to Bamidbar / Numbers 6:13-21.

Bamidbar / Numbers 6:13-21

6:13 ‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 6:14 ‘He shall present his offering to the Lord: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering, 6:15 and a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering. 6:16 ‘Then the priest shall present them before the Lord and shall offer his sin offering and his burnt offering. 6:17 ‘He shall also offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, together with the basket of unleavened cakes; the priest shall likewise offer its grain offering and its drink offering. 6:18 ‘The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings. 6:19 ‘The priest shall take the ram’s shoulder when it has been boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair. 6:20 ‘Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.’ 6:21 ‘This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the Lord according to his separation, in addition to what else he can afford; according to his vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation.’ (NASB)

In completing the vow of a nazarite one is to bring a whole burnt offering, a sin offering, a peace offering, and an offering of unleavened bread. When the Apostle Paul completed the vow of a nazarite, he brought these offerings and he did these things many years after his new found faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Today we are taught that the sacrifices at the temple were replaced by Yeshua. If this is the case, what was Paul doing bringing these sacrifices to the Lord at the Temple? If the blood of bulls and goats did not remove sin, then the idea of spiritual cleansing was something that was a work of God and not something that was efficacious by our hands. How are the sacrifices in the Temple (Tabernacle) related to the differences between the cleansing of the body verses the cleansing of spirit and soul? The Scriptures never tell us that man is able to make himself spiritually clean. The purpose of the purity laws and those regarding what is clean and unclean is to train us to separate ourselves from the world, to make a distinction between what we should and should not be doing. We are holy because God has made us holy and thus calls us to live holy lives. The body, even today, is in need of cleansing because of impurity, if the Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem and we desired to go before the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem. How do you think that fits with who we are in Yeshua the Messiah today? Note that the physical impurity does not prevent us from seeking the Lord in prayer and His hearing out prayers. We have access to our Father in the Son, Yeshua the Messiah.

David continues saying ט לַעֲשֹוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ אֱלֹהַי חָפָצְתִּי וְתוֹרָתְךָ בְּתוֹךְ מֵעָי: י בִּשַּׂרְתִּי צֶדֶק | בְּקָהָל רָב הִנֵּה שְֹפָתַי לֹא אֶכְלָא יְהֹוָה אַתָּה יָדָעְתָּ: יא צִדְקָתְךָ לֹא-כִסִּיתִי | בְּתוֹךְ לִבִּי אֱמוּנָתְךָ וּתְשׁוּעָתְךָ אָמָרְתִּי לֹא-כִחַדְתִּי חַסְדְּךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ לְקָהָל רָב: יב אַתָּה יְהֹוָה לֹא-תִכְלָא רַחֲמֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי חַסְדְּךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ תָּמִיד יִצְּרוּנִי: 40:8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.’ 40:9 I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; Behold, I will not restrain my lips, O Lord, You know. 40:10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation. 40:11 You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. (NASB) It is interesting to note how David says “to do the will of God, I delight” (לַעֲשֹוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ אֱלֹהַי חָפָצְתִּי) and this is paralleled to one keeping the Torah of God in his heart (וְתוֹרָתְךָ בְּתוֹךְ מֵעָי). David does not say “heart” (לב) but uses the word מֵעָי meaning “bowels” or “intestines.” There are a number of words for body parts in the Hebrew Scriptures which are used having metaphorical meanings that are quite different from the metaphorical meanings of the same body parts in our English speaking culture. It is interesting here in the biblical passage, the internal physical organs are given as a reference to the heart, the metaphorical location of the center of speech and thought. Take for example the three metaphorical uses of the word for heart is (i) the seat of emotions, (ii) being in the midst of something, and (iii) as a metaphor for self will. What is interesting about David’s use of the internal organs is the connection to the Torah. According to the Torah, the organs are a very important part of the Sacrifices in the Tabernacle. Note what it says in Vayikra / Leviticus 3:3 regarding the internal organs, 3:3 ‘From the sacrifice of the peace offerings he shall present an offering by fire to the LORD, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, (NASB) The Torah however does not use the same Hebrew word (מֵעָי) in reference to the entrails, however, the text describes the “fat around the entrails” making reference to the intestines of the animal sacrifice. According to the Scriptures, the fat is the savory portion of the animal that is burned up on the altar. Anyone who has cooked steak or meat on a grill can imagine the crackling, popping, and smell of the fat as it went up in smoke upon the altar. The interesting aspect is that the location of the fat upon the intestines, is in reference to the command of God on the Sacrifice and is an important requirement for making a peace offering before God. David cites the intestines as the location of the keeping of the Torah, the heart, or the intestines, the central part of his body (his being). A parallel then is that our thought life is also a very important aspect of our lives before God and the meditation of our heart might be considered an important form of sacrifice before God. This may be the reason the rabbis speak so often on the importance of studying Torah, so our thought life is brought in line with the Most High and we follow through with our lives accordingly. David also states that he does not hide the righteousness of God in his heart and that he does not restrain his lips. What do you think it means to hide the righteousness of God in the heart? What did David mean when he said that he did not hide the righteousness of God in his heart? He says “I will sing of your righteousness in the great assembly” (בִּשַּׂרְתִּי צֶדֶק | בְּקָהָל רָב) and so the point was that he would proclaim the mercy of God to the people and not hide how the Lord has worked in his life but will share these things with the people. Have you ever hid what the Lord has done for you? How about the sharing of your faith?

The Aramaic Targum and the Septuagint say the following.

Aramaic Targum

Tehillim / Psalms 40:9-12

40:9 I desire to do your will, O God; and your Torah is contained in my deepest self. 40:10 I have proclaimed righteousness in the great assembly; behold, I will not withhold my lips; O Lord my God, you know [this]. 40:11 I have not concealed your righteousness in my heart, I have uttered your truth and your redemption; I have not kept back your goodness and faithfulness in the great assembly. 40:12 Therefore you, O Lord, do not withhold your mercy from me; may your goodness and truth always keep me.

ט למעבד רעותך אלהי רעיתי ואוריתך כלילא במצע מעייני׃ י בשרית צדקא בכנישתא רבא הא סיפותי לא אמנע יהוה אלהי את חכימת׃ יא צדקתך לא טמרית בגו לבי קושטך ופורקנך אמרית לא כסיתי טיבותך טובך והימנותך בקהלא רבא׃ יב בגלל כן היכנא את יהוה לא תמנע רחמך מיני טובך וקושטך תדירא ינטרונני׃

Septuagint

Tehillim / Psalms 40:8-11

40:8 I desired to do thy will, O my God, and thy law in the midst of mine heart. 40:9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo! I will not refrain my lips; O Lord, thou knowest my righteousness. 40:10 I have not hid thy truth within my heart, and I have declared thy salvation; I have not hid thy mercy and thy truth from the great congregation. 40:11 But thou, Lord, remove not thy compassion far from me; thy mercy and thy truth have helped me continually. (LXX)

40:8 τοῦ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημά σου ὁ θεός μου ἐβουλήθην καὶ τὸν νόμον σου ἐν μέσῳ τῆς κοιλίας μου 40:9 εὐηγγελισάμην δικαιοσύνην ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ μεγάλῃ ἰδοὺ τὰ χείλη μου οὐ μὴ κωλύσω κύριε σὺ ἔγνως 40:10 τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου οὐκ ἔκρυψα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ μου τὴν ἀλήθειάν σου καὶ τὸ σωτήριόν σου εἶπα οὐκ ἔκρυψα τὸ ἔλεός σου καὶ τὴν ἀλήθειάν σου ἀπὸ συναγωγῆς πολλῆς 40:11 σὺ δέ κύριε μὴ μακρύνης τοὺς οἰκτιρμούς σου ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ τὸ ἔλεός σου καὶ ἡ ἀλήθειά σου διὰ παντὸς ἀντελάβοντό μου

The Aramaic Targum and the Septuagint state essentially the same thing, David kept the Torah in the midst of his heart, in the deepest part of his being. Note that in Aramaic we read ואוריתך which is used in various ways as a reference to “the Torah,” or “so that the word written in their Torah should be fulfilled,” or as “instruction or interpretation of Jewish law.” (Definition location: http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/, Access date: April 16, 2014) So David is stating that he has hidden God’s instruction on the inside and that he has not withheld his lips from speaking of the mercy, salvation, and righteousness of God.

David concludes saying יד רְצֵה-יְהֹוָה לְהַצִּילֵנִי יְהֹוָה לְעֶזְרָתִי חוּשָׁה: טו יֵבשׁוּ וְיַחְפְּרוּ | יַחַד מְבַקְשֵׁי נַפְשִׁי לִסְפּוֹתָהּ יִסֹּגוּ אָחוֹר וְיִכָּלְמוּ חֲפֵצֵי רָעָתִי: טז יָשֹׁמּוּ עַל-עֵקֶב בָּשְׁתָּם הָאֹמְרִים לִי הֶאָח | הֶאָח: יז יָשִֹישֹוּ וְיִשְֹמְחוּ | בְּךָ כָּל-מְבַקְשֶׁיךָ יֹאמְרוּ תָמִיד יִגְדַּל יְהֹוָה אֹהֲבֵי תְּשׁוּעָתֶךָ: יח וַאֲנִי | עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן אֲדֹנָי יַחֲשָׁב לִי עֶזְרָתִי וּמְפַלְטִי אַתָּה אֱלֹהַי אַל-תְּאַחַר: 40:13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; Make haste, O Lord, to help me. 40:14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together Who seek my life to destroy it; Let those be turned back and dishonored Who delight in my hurt. 40:15 Let those be appalled because of their shame Who say to me, ‘Aha, aha!’ 40:16 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!’ 40:17 Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God. (NASB) David seeks the Lord’s will in his prayer to deliver him from his enemies. David wants those who are pursuing him to be ashamed and humiliated, essentially stating that they need to realize what they are doing and what they have done and be ashamed before God. This should lead to repentance and seeking the forgiveness of God. Throughout all of his troubles, David continues to trust in the Lord and seek His salvation. The Aramaic Targum and the Septuagint say the following.

Aramaic Targum

Tehillim / Psalms 40:14-18

40:14 Be pleased, O Lord, to save me; O Lord, hasten to my aid. 40:15 Those who seek to destroy my soul will be ashamed and confused together; those who desire my ruin will turn back and be disgraced. 40:16 They will become senseless because of their shame – those who say to me, “We have rejoiced at his ruin, we rejoiced at his misery.” 40:17 All who seek you will rejoice and be glad in your word; and those who love your redemption will say continually, “Let the might of the Lord be magnified.” 40:18 But I am humble and poor, O Lord; let good be devised for me, you are my help and salvation; O my God, do not delay. (EMC)

יד אתרעי יהוה לשזבותני למפצא יתי יהוה לסיועי זריז׃ טו יבהתון ויתחסדון כחדא תבעי נפשי למיגמרה יזורון לאחורא ויכספון דצביין בישתי׃ טז יתביירון מטול בהתיהון דאמרין לי חדינא על תבריה חדוא חדינא על סיגופיה׃ יז יחדון וידוצון במימרך כל בעייך ויימרון תדירא יסגי חילא דיהוה די רחימין פורקנך׃ יח ואנא ענייא וחשוכא יהוה יחשיב טב לי עלי סיועי ושיזבותי את אלהי לא תוחר׃

Septuagint

Tehillim / Psalms 40:13-17

40:13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, draw nigh to help me. 40:14 Let those that seek my soul, to destroy it, be ashamed and confounded together; let those that wish me evil be turned backward and put to shame. 40:15 Let those that say to me, Aha, aha, quickly receive shame for their reward. 40:16 Let all those that seek thee, O Lord, exult and rejoice in thee; and let them that love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. 40:17 But I am poor and needy; the Lord will take care of me; thou art my helper, and my defender, O my God, delay not. (LXX)

40:13 εὐδόκησον κύριε τοῦ ῥύσασθαί με κύριε εἰς τὸ βοηθῆσαί μοι πρόσχες 40:14 καταισχυνθείησαν καὶ ἐντραπείησαν ἅμα οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχήν μου τοῦ ἐξᾶραι αὐτήν ἀποστραφείησαν εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ ἐντραπείησαν οἱ θέλοντές μοι κακά 1 40:5 κομισάσθωσαν παραχρῆμα αἰσχύνην αὐτῶν οἱ λέγοντές μοι εὖγε εὖγε 40:16 ἀγαλλιάσαιντο καὶ εὐφρανθείησαν ἐπὶ σοὶ πάντες οἱ ζητοῦντές σε κύριε καὶ εἰπάτωσαν διὰ παντός μεγαλυνθήτω ὁ κύριος οἱ ἀγαπῶντες τὸ σωτήριόν σου 40:17 ἐγὼ δὲ πτωχός εἰμι καὶ πένης κύριος φροντιεῖ μου βοηθός μου καὶ ὑπερασπιστής μου σὺ εἶ ὁ θεός μου μὴ χρονίσῃς

It is interesting that the Aramaic Targum translates David’s words to say that those who seek his destruction “will be ashamed” and “will be humiliated,” as compared to the unsure statement of “let them be…” David concludes saying “but I am poor/miserable (עָנִי) and needy/a pauper (וְאֶבְיוֹן)” This is a description that he is greatly depressed and destitute and seeking help from the Lord. Note how the Targum translates “but I am humble (ענייא) and deprived/needy/poor (וחשוכא).” The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. (NASB) This is an interesting concept of becoming poor or humble so as to make us rich through his poverty. How does this work? In Parashat Acharei Mot, on the bringing of the Sacrifice to the Lord before the Tent of Meeting, we read an interesting concept in Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parashah 22, Part 2. In Midrash Rabbah Parashah 22, Part 1, the midrash is drawing upon the idea of oppressing the poor, and the denial of justice and righteousness into the context of the command of God and bringing a holy sacrifice. Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parsha 22, Part 2 continues from Part 1 saying the following:

Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parashah 22, Part 2

“… The king is the Holy One blessed be He, of whom it is written, the Lord reigns; He is clothed in majesty (Tehillim / Psalms 93:1). That makes himself servant to the field, that is, to Zion, of which it is written, Therefore shall Zion be plowed as a field (Micah 3:12). Accordingly, He that loves silver will not be satisfied with silver (Ecclesiastes 5:9). He who loves the commandments will not have his fill of the commandments. Nor he that loves abundance, with increase, that is to say, any one who covets and is greedy for the fulfillment of religious acts and has not to his credit a religious act designed for future generations, what benefit has he? There is proof that this is so. For Moshe, surely, performed every so many religious deeds and acts of righteousness, and had ever so many good deeds to his credit, yet he performed a religious deed designed for future generations, as is proved by the text, Then Moshe separated three cities beyond the Jordan (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:41).”

Midrash Rabba Vayikra, Parsha 22, Part 2 introduces a few interesting a concepts speaking of a person who “performs religious acts for future generations.” What does it mean to do/perform religious acts for future generations? In the midrashim, the rabbis say that the purpose of performing religious acts (maaseh ha’mitzvot) is to earn merit that can be passed on to future generations. Is this similar to what Yeshua has done for us in becoming poor to make us rich? The Talmud Bavli Bava Metzia 86b explains that “whatever Abraham did on his own, God rewarded his children directly.” This might be understood in the sense that the blessing comes when we do what is right, living in righteousness and justice, studying God’s Word and passing that lifestyle on to our children (Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:5-7) verses those who do what is wrong, living in unrighteousness, robbing and cheating people, and their children learn to do the same. This is the whole idea of living by example so others can learn from us. Is this how 2 Corinthians 8:9 is to be understood or is this verse understood in some other manner? (i.e. spiritual riches?) Note how Yeshua, though he was rich, he humbled himself and became poor. David says that 40:17 Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God. (NASB) Yeshua humbled himself, he was afflicted, and he was needy, and our Father in heaven was mindful of him. By humbling himself, becoming poor, he laid his life down on our behalf, to live as the example, and to pay the penalty for our sins and provided forgiveness in his blood. His becoming poor has made us rich in our relationship with our Father in heaven. If Yeshua lived the example for how we should be living our lives, are we to make ourselves poor in order to make someone else rich? How might we be able to do that? Is poverty described as a reference to financial poverty only? Will our Father in heaven hear us if we humble ourselves and become poor for the benefit of someone else? Let’s Pray!

Rabbinic Commentary

The Rabbinic Commentary (Midrash) on Tehillim / Psalms 40 has 4 parts. Reading through the Midrash we will be looking at Part 1, 2, 3, and 4. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Chapter 40, Part 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 40, Part 1, 2, 3, and 4

Part 1

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “For the Leader. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry (Tehillim / Psalms 40:1-2).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says These words are to be considered in the light of the verse And it will be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, For whom we waited, that He might save us (Isaiah 25:9)
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to expand upon David’s words saying that it is not in the power of Israel to do anything but to wait upon the Lord.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis go on to speak about how Israel is to wait upon the Lord.
  • The Concluding phrase says “Hence, it is said I waited patiently for the Lord; and He listened to me, and heard my cry. Therefore, God said, David who waited for Me him I answered.”

Part 2

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “He brought me up also out of the tumultuous pit, out of the miry clay (Tehillim / Psalms 40:3).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says But did David ever go down into the pit or into mire?
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to expand upon David going down into the pit and even to Gehenna which is called the tumultuous pit.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis state that the Lord did not cause David to sink into Gehenna and He did not abandon his soul in the netherworld.
  • The Concluding phrase states “Hence, it is said Many will see and fear; and thereupon they will trust in the Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 40:4). So, when Israel saw the great work which the Lord did (Shemot / Exodus 14:31), therefore, Moshe and the children of Israel sang this song (Shemot / Exodus 15:1).”

Part 3

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “Blessed is the man that makes the Lord his trust, and respects not the proud, nor those who turn aside to lies (Tehillim / Psalms 40:5).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says a man should not say, Because I have sinned, there is no mending me.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis speak about a man who places his trust in the Lord.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis expound upon one placing their trust in the Lord and speak on turning from pride and repentance.
  • The Concluding phrase says “Such as turn aside to lies are they who incline to schemes of deceit. So too, the Scriptures say I hate the works of them that turn aside (Tehillim / Psalms 101:3).”

Part 4

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are toward us (Tehillim / Psalms 40:6).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says Rabbi Khanina son of Papa said, This verse refers to the wondrous works and thoughts You conceived to make Abraham choose the yoke of kingdoms for himself…
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to expand upon David’s words speaking of Abraham receiving the yoke of the kingdom.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis expound upon the “yoke of the kingdom” and draw parallels to fire and ice, Gehenna, and burnt offerings.
  • The Concluding phrase says “Book and Torah refer to what is said of a king, When he sits upon the throne of his kingdom he will write him a copy of this Torah in a book and it will be with him that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all these statutes to do them, ect. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 17:18-19).”

Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 1 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “For the Leader. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry (Tehillim / Psalms 40:1-2).” The Homiletic Introduction (פתיחתא, Petihta) to the Midrash states “These words are to be considered in the light of the verse And it will be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, For whom we waited, that He might save us (Isaiah 25:9)…” The rabbis continue saying “… it is not in the power of Israel to do anything but wait for the Holy One blessed be He, to redeem them in reward for saying I waited patiently for the Lord, as it is written The Lord is good to them that wait for Him (Lamentations 3:25), and also Return to the Stronghold, you prisoners of hope (Zechariah 9:12).” Reading through Part 1 of the midrash, it is interesting to study the rabbis opinion on David’s words regarding waiting patiently on the Lord. The rabbis continue saying the following regarding waiting upon the Lord.

But perhaps you say, The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved (Jeremiah 8:20); then wait for the Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 27:14). Note wait for the Lord and again wait for the Lord keep on waiting and waiting. So, though you wait and still are not saved, Be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait and wait again. And if you say, How long must we wait? Long ago it was written O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever (Tehillim / Psalms 131:3), and also be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you that wait for the Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 31:25). If you wait, you will be saved, for it is said they will not be ashamed that wait for Me (Isaiah 49:23), and they that for the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31); and also those that wait for the Lord will inherit the land (Tehillim / Psalms 37:9). Hence, it is said I waited patiently for the Lord; and He listened to me, and heard my cry. Therefore, God said, David who waited for Me him I answered. (Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 1)

שמא תאמר עבר קציר כלה קיץ ואנחנו לא נושענו (ירמיה ח כ), קוה אל ה׳ חזק ויאמץ לבך וקוה אל ה׳ (תהלים כז יד), קוה אל ה׳, וקוה אל ה׳, תקוה אחר תקוה, חזק ויאמץ לבך, אם קויתם ולא נושעתם, קיווי ושובו וקיווי, ואם תאמר עד מתי נקוה, כבר כתיב יחל ישראל אל ה׳ מעתה ועד עולם (שם תהלים קלא ג), ואומר חזקו ויאמץ לבבכם כל המיחלים לה׳ (שם תהלים לא כה), אם עושין כן, הרי אתם נושעים, שנאמר אשר לא יבושו קווי (ישעיה מט כג), וכתיב וקוי ה׳ יחליפו כח (שם ישעיהו מ לא), וכתיב וקוי ה׳ המה יירשו ארץ (תהלים לז ט), לכך נאמר קוה קויתי ה׳ ויט אלי וישמע שועתי, דוד שקיווה לי עניתיו.

What is interesting regarding the midrash and the rabbis comments is the way in which Judaism is speaking about “Salvation.” Today, there are many interpretations that are imposed upon the Scriptures, especially those theologies that result from comparative studies of the New Testament and the Tanach (Torah, Prophets, and Writings). Occasionally, issues, difficulties, or problems arise when theologies are developed and taught about the Apostolic Scriptures that result in apparent contradictions to the Torah, or that have an impact upon the authority of God’s word. Many times this happens when theologians find themselves caught between the Jewish Jesus, Judaism, and Christian dogma. The aspect that we want to look at is today how believers, teachers and preachers, often try to point to a situation in which Yeshua and the disciples, and specifically the Apostle Paul, are battling against the concept of the Jewish people attempting to “earn their salvation.” The arguments go something like this, “Mary was met by the angel who was explaining to her that her child was going to end the dispensation of the Law,” or “upon until the time of Jesus, the Jews had fallen into the mindset that they had to earn their salvation. Yeshua taught against this and Paul’s primary ministry was aimed at correcting this fallacy. Paul’s epistles are aimed at this end (particularly Romans and Galatians) when he contrasts works verses grace through faith.” Other preachers today say “To try and be obedient to the Law is not only futile, but contrary to the Spirit of Christ, especially since there is nothing we could ever do to merit salvation, after all, our righteousness is as filthy rags…” and the list of questions goes on, etc. The basic idea at the root of these statements is the belief that the Torah was given at Sinai for the explicit purpose of “earning” or “meriting” one’s salvation. According to the Prophets (1 Samuel 15:22), and the Writings however, does this assumption hold any weight? When hearing the questions listed above, many questions come to mind, (i) “Was this really what Yeshua came to do, His purpose was to overthrow the previous way of his Father in heaven?” (ii) “Was the method of the Jewish person entering into the Kingdom different in the ‘Old Testament’ as compared to the ‘New Testament?’” (iii) “Was the Law (the Torah) an imperfect revelation of the Lord God Almighty?” (iv) “Was no one declared righteous prior to the coming of the Messiah?” (v) “If there were some who were declared righteous, did this method of righteousness need changing and why did this method of righteousness need changing?” The list could go on and on, but I think the point is made, it may be because of the ignorance of the Torah, straw man arguments have been developed which appear to hold weight simply because most people have a very weak understanding of the Torah. Most believers have not wrestled with the Scriptures to sort out the teachings of Yeshua the Messiah, the Apostle Paul, and the Torah as they are laid out in the Apostolic Scriptures. And because of the reliance upon standard Christian doctrine rather than to search, study, and learn about God’s Word, ignorance of the Torah is all the more increased, and the understanding of the Scriptures in general continues under a veil of mystery. Today, in Modern Christianity, the primary focus is upon “Salvation” and nobody ever moves beyond this point in their lives. In addition to this, because of the ignorance of the Torah, which comes not only by not knowing (having the knowledge of) the Torah, but also not living out the commandments as they are given according to the Bible, coupled with the misunderstanding and belief that the Judaism of the first century taught “earning salvation” by the commandments, we are appalled at the idea that the people of the first century were attempting to earn their salvation based on obedience to God’s Law rather than a righteousness based on the free grace of Jesus. All of these problems are the result of (i) not having a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Torah, and (ii) not having a solid understanding of Judaism. As a result of this, most people have a disconnected understanding of the Bible, the ministry of Yeshua, the teachings of the Apostles, that was deeply rooted in Jewish soil through which the religion of the Bible grew. Here is one way of looking at the Torah. All of the mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah, in some aspect or another, reveal the Messiah. They each reveal some essential element of His person or character and the mitzvot are the very will and wisdom of God. The Apostolic Gospels record the Messiah Yeshua’s words when he said in Luke 22:42 “Not My will, but Yours be done,” or in John 8:28 “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” Yeshua also said in John 15:10, “I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Therefore, by Yeshua’s keeping the mitzvot, the mitzvot (commandments) then teach us about His behavior. There is a direct relationship between the commandments and the person of Messiah, because the commandments are a direct revelation from God and His godliness. Yeshua said in John 14:9 “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.” and therefore when we see or even perform a mitzvah (a command) we see a part of Yeshua the Messiah and our Father in Heaven. This is connected to our living in righteousness, justice, mercy, love, and grace.

The rabbis of Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 1, on the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) stating “For the Leader. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry (Tehillim / Psalms 40:1-2),” they provide the conclusion that patiently waiting upon the Lord is effective for salvation. They say “… it is not in the power of Israel to do anything but wait for the Holy One blessed be He, to redeem them in reward for saying I waited patiently for the Lord, as it is written The Lord is good to them that wait for Him (Lamentations 3:25), and also Return to the Stronghold, you prisoners of hope (Zechariah 9:12).” The midrash states that “If you wait, you will be saved, for it is said they will not be ashamed that wait for Me (Isaiah 49:23), and they that for the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31); and also those that wait for the Lord will inherit the land (Tehillim / Psalms 37:9). Hence, it is said I waited patiently for the Lord; and He listened to me, and heard my cry.” The Lord is the One who brings salvation. The idea of salvation, or being saved from their enemies, was not based upon whether or not one had brought a sacrifice in the Tabernacle. The reality is that obedience is considered to be synonymous to believing (having faith) in the Lord. Take for example a parable Yeshua spoke in Matthew 21:28-32.

Matthew 21:28-32

21:28 ‘But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 21:29 ‘And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. 21:30 ‘The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will sir’; but he did not go. 21:31 ‘Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. 21:32 ‘For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him. (NASB)

28Τί δὲ ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; ἄνθρωπος εἶχεν τέκνα δύο. καὶ προσελθὼν τῷ πρώτῳ εἶπεν, Τέκνον, ὕπαγε σήμερον ἐργάζου ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι. 29ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, Οὐ θέλω, ὕστερον δὲ μεταμεληθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν. 30προσελθὼν δὲ τῷ ἑτέρῳ εἶπεν ὡσαύτως. ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, Ἐγώ, κύριε: καὶ οὐκ ἀπῆλθεν. 31τίς ἐκ τῶν δύο ἐποίησεν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός; λέγουσιν, Ὁ πρῶτος. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 32ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάννης πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης, καὶ οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ: οἱ δὲ τελῶναι καὶ αἱ πόρναι ἐπίστευσαν αὐτῷ: ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰδόντες οὐδὲ μετεμελήθητε ὕστερον τοῦ πιστεῦσαι αὐτῷ.

In the parable, Yeshua states explicitly that “believing” is equal to “following and obeying” the Fathers commands. This is why Paul is able to say in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus … They will be punished with everlasting destruction…” Based upon this Scripture, Yeshua’s gospel is more than simply a “belief for salvation,” obedience is also a necessary component. Acceptance of the Gospel of Christ will push us beyond the mental exercise of belief to obedience which is the living out of our faith. In Yeshua’s parable (see Mark 10), was the rich young man trying to “earn” his salvation by following the commandments? When Yeshua responded to the rich man, was He coming against the rich man’s “self-righteousness?” Was Yeshua trying to say that the Pharisees were wrong by their faithful and obedience to the commandments of his Father? Of course not! These concepts are a later interpretative phenomenon which attempt to inject a theology, which is foreign to Yeshua and his disciples, onto the biblical narrative. The rich young ruler was faithfully and sincerely serving the God of his forefathers and Yeshua praised him for it, while challenging him at the same time. There was no attempt on behalf of this young man to “earn” his way into the Kingdom of God. In Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 1, the rabbis say they that “wait” for the Lord will renew their strength, they will inherit the land, the Lord will hear their prayer, and for those who wait the Lord will save and the one who waits upon the Lord will not be ashamed. When we wait upon the Lord, we are patiently seeking His help and we are not actively trying to help ourselves.

Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 2 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “He brought me up also out of the tumultuous pit, out of the miry clay (Tehillim / Psalms 40:3).” The Petihta, “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says “But did David ever go down into the pit or into mire?” The midrash continues saying the following:

This is what David meant, I was already on the way that leads to Gehenna, which is called the tumultuous pit and miry clay, but I prayed and waited for the reward of my worship, and won it, for the Holy One blessed be He, did not suffer me to sink into Gehenna, as it is written, You would not abandon my soul to the nether-world; neither would You suffer Your godly one to see the pit (Tehillim / Psalms 19:16). (Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 2)

אלא אמר דוד כבר הייתי בדרך שהולכת לגיהנם הנקרא בור שאון וטיט היון והתפללתי וקויתי שכר תפלתי ומצאתי, ולא הנחני הקב״ה (ליטמע) [לטבע] בתוכו, דכתיב כי לא תעזוב נפשי לשאול לא תתן חסידך לראות שחת (תהלים טז ט)

Note how it is said that Gehenna is called the “tumultuous pit and miry clay.” In addition to this, the midrash states that David prayed and waited for the reward of his worship and won it because the Lord did not allow David to sink into Gehenna neither did he abandon his soul. Is it interesting that Judaism attributes reward to the worship of God? Is this a biblical concept “reward as a result of worship?” A quick search on google.com reveals that Christianity also attributes reward to the worship of God. King David and the Psalms exemplifies the spirit of praise and worship and the Psalms records more verses of praise than any other book of the Bible. The Scriptures also speaks of the Lord wanting praise from His people.

Tehillim / Psalms 150:1-6

150:1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. 150:2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. 150:3 Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. 150:4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. 150:5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! (NASB)

Obviously, God wants praise from His people. According to Parashat Ki Tavo (Devarim / Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) Moshe says מז תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָבַדְתָּ אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּשִֹמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב מֵרֹב כֹּל: 28:47 ‘Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; (NASB) It is interesting to note the context of Devarim / Deuteronomy 28, the Lord will cause Israel to serve her enemies (Devarim / Deuteronomy 28:48) because they did not serve the Lord with joy and gladness of heart. When we give praise to the Lord, we are acknowledging that it is not our own efforts that produce blessings and prosperity, it is the Lord who has brought these things. In Parashat Ekev (Devarim / Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) we are told to remember the Lord for the abundance that we receive. These things come by the Lord God Almighty and not by their own efforts. This is worded to say we are to be humble before the Lord and realize that praise is a form of being humble before the Lord by acknowledging He is the cause of our prosperity. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians saying 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (KJV) Paul’s words “abounding therein with thanksgiving” means to have joy and gladness of heart and praise for our Messiah Yeshua. The midrash continues saying:

And it was not enough that He did not suffer me to go down into the pit; He also made me know in what way I ought to walk, as it is written, You made me to know the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy (Tehillim / Psalms 16:11), that is, the Garden of Eden. Hence, David said, He brought me up also out of the tumultuous pit, as it is written He set my foot upon a rock, He established my goings (Tehillim / Psalms 40:3); by rock is clearly meant a very high and lofty place, as it is said He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks (Isaiah 33:16). Hence, David said, He set my foot upon a rock. And why such things for me? Because of my waiting, because I waited for God, He desires neither burnt offerings nor whole burnt offerings, nor sacrifices, only waiting. They asked David, How do we know that God did such things for you? David replied, You know from the song that I sing, He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God (Tehillim / Psalms 40:4) (Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 2)

It is interesting that the rabbis say “He desires neither burnt offerings nor whole burnt offerings, nor sacrifices, only waiting.” This follows through from the previous discussion regarding the giving of the Torah; the Torah was not given so to earn one’s way into heaven. The Torah is given to direct us to the Lord, to walk in a manner that is acceptable and pleasing to Him, and provided a means for drawing near to Him. How does Yeshua the Messiah fit into all of this? We have been given access to the throne of God in Yeshua the Messiah, we are able to draw near to Him no matter where we are located on this earth. Does this fact however exempt us from walking in God’s ways according to the Torah? The idea that the Lord does not desire burnt offerings but only waiting on Him is a concept that is put forth throughout the Scriptures. Note the context of 1 Samuel 15:22 where we read the Prophet Samuel saying that the Lord desires obedience rather than sacrifice. Samuel is speaking of a rebellious spirit before God and this rebellious spirit is one which does not desire to live in obedience to His Word. Samuel says that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23).

1 Samuel 15:22-23

15:22 Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 15:23 ‘For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.’ (NASB)

Samuel is speaking to King Saul and paralleling rebellion with the sin of divination and insubordination to be the same as iniquity and idolatry as a result of what he had done not listening to the word of the Lord. The Midrash concludes saying “Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation; and let a willing spirit uphold me (Tehillim / Psalms 91:14), shows that the Holy Spirit had been taken away from him, and God said to me, I now give you back your spirit. Thus, David explained a new song. Many will see and fear (Tehillim / Psalms 41:14), He who wishes to repent should look upon David, of whom it was written, behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples (Isaiah 55:4). Hence, it is said Many will see and fear; and thereupon they will trust in the Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 40:4). So, when Israel saw the great work which the Lord did (Shemot / Exodus 14:31), therefore, Moshe and the children of Israel sang this song (Shemot / Exodus 15:1).” The midrash states כל הרוצה לעשות תשובה יסתכל בדוד, דכתיב הן עד לאומים נתתיו (ישעיה נה ד) saying “all who want to do ‘teshuvah’ observe/watch/look upon David, because it is written behold I gave as a witness to the people.” David provides us with the example of obeying God’s Word, performing Teshuvah, and waiting upon the Lord for help. Let’s talk a little more about Teshuvah in Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 3.

Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 3 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “Blessed is the man that makes the Lord his trust, and respects not the proud, nor those who turn aside to lies (Tehillim / Psalms 40:5).” The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק מ סימן ג

ג אשרי הגבר אשר שם ה׳ מבטחו ולא פנה אל רהבים ושטי כזב. אל יאמר אדם מאחר שחטאתי אין לי תקנה, אלא ישים בטחונו בהקב״ה ויעשה תשובה ויקבל אותו, ואל יאמר אם כן אין לי רבנות, ישנא את הרבנות, וישפיל עצמו, ויחזור בתשובה, ולא ילך אחרי שטי כזבים, הם שנוטים אחרי מעשה כזבנות, וכן הוא אומר עשה (שטים) [סטים] שנאתי (תהלים קא ג).

Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 3

3. Blessed is the man that makes the Lord his trust, and respects not the proud, nor those who turn aside to lies (Tehillim / Psalms 40:5), a man should not say, Because I have sinned, there is no mending me. Let him rather put his trust in the Lord, and let him repent, and the Lord will receive him. Nor should a man say, If I repent, I will be left without pride. Rather, let pride be hateful to him, and let him abase himself, and return to penitence. Such as turn aside to lies are they who incline to schemes of deceit. So too, the Scriptures say I hate the works of them that turn aside (Tehillim / Psalms 101:3).

What is interesting about Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 3 is how the rabbis are speaking of David’s words regarding pride and those who turn aside to lies and of repentance. It is important to understand what the biblical meaning of repentance is about and how it is related to pride, and rebellion. Let’s look at the first century commentary on repentance from the gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 3:1-3

3:1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 3:2 ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 3:3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’‘ NASB (1Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας 2[καὶ] λέγων, Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. 3οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ.)

The Scriptures state that the purpose of John the Baptist was to prepare the way in the wilderness for repentance and for the kingdom of heaven. It is stated that this is the one crying in the wilderness “Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!” Here Matthew is quoting from Isaiah 40:3, ג קוֹל קוֹרֵא בַּמִּדְבָּר פַּנּוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהֹוָה יַשְּׁרוּ בָּעֲרָבָה מְסִלָּה לֵאלֹהֵינוּ: 40:3 A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. (NASB) It is interesting looking at the Hebrew text of Isaiah, the Scriptures say “kol kore bamidbar, panu derech YHVH…” which translates “a voice calling in the wilderness, to turn toward the path / way of the Lord…” The prophet Isaiah uses the word “panu” (פַּנּוּ) which is a Piel Imperative Verb (H6437) meaning “turn toward or from or away.” This turning toward the way of the Lord is paralleled to the making straight (יַשְּׁרוּ) the highway (מְסִלָּה) in the desert (in the Arabah, בָּעֲרָבָה) for our Lord (לֵאלֹהֵינוּ). (Note the Arabah is a section of the Jordan Rift Valley running in a north-south orientation between the southern end of the Sea of Galilee (as the Jordan river valley) down to the Dead Sea and continuing further south where it ends at the Gulf of Aqaba. It includes most of the border between Israel to the west and Jordan to the east.) In Matthew, turning toward the path/way of God is synonymous to repentance and the coming of the kingdom. According to the Apostolic Writings, the Greek word for repentance is μετάνοιαν (metanoian) meaning “a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done.” Note also the following references from Matthew 4:17, Luke 5:31-32, and Romans 2:3-5.

Matthew 4:17

4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ NASB (17Ἀπὸ τότε ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς κηρύσσειν καὶ λέγειν, Μετανοεῖτε, ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.)

Luke 5:31-32

5:31 And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 5:32 ‘I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’ NASB (31καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ὑγιαίνοντες ἰατροῦ ἀλλὰ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες: 32οὐκ ἐλήλυθα καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν.)

Romans 2:3-5

2:3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, NASB (3λογίζῃ δὲ τοῦτο, ὦ ἄνθρωπε ὁ κρίνων τοὺς τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντας καὶ ποιῶν αὐτά, ὅτι σὺ ἐκφεύξῃ τὸ κρίμα τοῦ θεοῦ; 4ἢ τοῦ πλούτου τῆς χρηστότητος αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς ἀνοχῆς καὶ τῆς μακροθυμίας καταφρονεῖς, ἀγνοῶν ὅτι τὸ χρηστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς μετάνοιάν σε ἄγει; 5κατὰ δὲ τὴν σκληρότητά σου καὶ ἀμετανόητον καρδίαν θησαυρίζεις σεαυτῷ ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως δικαιοκρισίας τοῦ θεοῦ,)

Notice how according to the Greek mind, the word for repent (μετάνοιαν) means “a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done.” According to the Greek, the idea of repentance is merely a mental exercise that one does. The Hebrew mindset from the Hebrew Scriptures, on the other hand, speak of physically turning from sin and toward the way of the Lord God Almighty. Think about this for a moment. Repentance from sin is not merely a mental exercise but also involves a life change, going in a new direction, as Isaiah 40:3 states involving “turning toward the way of the Lord.” Another interesting point to think about is often we hear that we are supposed to “turn our backs on sin.” What do you think is wrong with this statement according to the Hebrew mindset? The issue is that in the statement “We are to turn our backs on sin,” is that we have made the subject of the sentence “sin” and the thing about which we are to do, the focus is upon “sin.” Can you see how significant of a problem this is? The Hebrew text speaks of “repentance” (תשובה, Teshuvah) from the word שוב meaning “to return, come back, turn” and in Isaiah 40:3 the subject of the sentence is to turn to the way of the Lord. Our focus need to be upon the Lord and His ways, and not sin. The Midrash states “Let him rather put his trust in the Lord, and let him repent, and the Lord will receive him. Nor should a man say, If I repent, I will be left without pride. Rather, let pride be hateful to him, and let him abase himself, and return to penitence. Such as turn aside to lies are they who incline to schemes of deceit.” (אלא ישים בטחונו בהקב״ה ויעשה תשובה ויקבל אותו, ואל יאמר אם כן אין לי רבנות, ישנא את הרבנות, וישפיל עצמו, ויחזור בתשובה, ולא ילך אחרי שטי כזבים, הם שנוטים אחרי מעשה כזבנות) Repentance is the activity of trusting in the Lord that is connected to one’s actions and regret for past wrongs. The Hebrew Scriptures and including the Rabbinic commentaries state that repentance involves a commitment to personal change and to turn to the way of the Lord, away from pride, lies, and deceit. Repentance is a change of mind that involves a conscious turning away from wrong actions, attitudes and thoughts that conflict with a Godly lifestyle and the Torah commands, which in and of itself involves an intentional turning toward and doing what the Bible says pleases God. The direction one takes is to walk in the way of the Lord. Ezekiel 14:6 states, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” When one changes one’s mind regarding sin, a change in behavior is to occur simultaneously. Some examples include those who repented of their sins in the Tanach often showed outward evidence by tearing down idolatrous statues. (see 2 Kings 11:18) The rabbis speak extensively in the Rabbinic literature on the subject of repentance. The rabbinic sources state that repentance is necessary for the existence of this world (derived from Parashat Vayera, Bereshit / Genesis 18:1-22:24, regarding Abraham’s discussion with the Lord over Sodom and Gemorah), and that it was one of the seven provisions which God made from before the Creation (Talmud Bavli, tractates Pesahim 54a; Nedarim 39b; Midrash Genesis Rabbah 1). The rabbis say “The Holy One, blessed be His name, said to Elijah, ‘Behold, the precious gift which I have bestowed on my world: though a man sins again and again, but returns in penitence, I will receive him.’” (Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 28b) They also say “Great is repentance: it brings healing into the world,” “it reaches to the throne of the Lord” (Hosea 14:2,5), “it brings redemption” (Isaiah 59:20), and “it prolongs man’s life” (Ezekiel 18:21, Talmud Yoma 86a). “Repentance and works of charity are man’s intercessors before God’s throne”.(Talmud Bavli Shabbath 32a) and it is said “sincere repentance is equivalent to the rebuilding of the Temple, the restoration of the altar, and the offering of all the sacrifices.” (Pesiqta, ed. Buber, 25:158; Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 7; Talmud Sanhedrin 43b) Here the rabis are obviously paralleling the repentance of Israel to the Lord’s blessing and allowing the rebuilding of the Temple and reinstating of the daily sacrifices. Can you see the significance of repentance for believers today and the purpose is to turn towards the Lord and His ways? Repentance is a very important activity that is essential for our faith and for salvation.

Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 4 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are toward us (Tehillim / Psalms 40:6).” The Petihta, “the homiletic introduction,” to the Midrash states “Rabbi Khanina son of Papa said, This verse refers to the wondrous works and thoughts You conceived to make Abraham choose the yoke of kingdoms for himself…” Similar to Midrash Tehillim 38, Part 2, we find here in Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 4 the rabbis speaking of Abraham taking on the Yoke of the Kingdom. The Midrash states:

Rabbi Khanina son of Papa said, This verse refers to the wondrous works and thoughts You conceived to make Abraham chose the yoke of kingdom for himself, toward us implying that he did so for our sake, that we might endure in this world and also possess life in the world to come. Rabbi Yudan and Rabbi Idi, and Rabbi Khama son of Khanina taught in the name of a certain elder what he had said in the name of rabbi Judah, Abraham did not know that he had to choose the yoke of the kingdom for himself. Indeed, the Holy One blessed be He, chose the yoke of the kingdoms for Abraham, left to himself, Abraham might have chosen Gehenna. (Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 4)

אמר ר׳ חנינא בר פפא נפלאות ומחשבות שחשבת [כדי] שיברור לו אברהם את המלכיות, אלינו [בשבילנו] כדי שנעמוד בעולם הזה, ונירש חיי עולם הבא. ר׳ יודן ור׳ אידי ור׳ חמא בר חנינא בשם זקן אחד שאמר בשם רבי, לא היה אברהם יודע שיברר לו את המלכיות, אלא הקב״ה בירר לו את המלכיות, [והוא ברר לו גיהנם]

The question is “what do the rabbis mean by Abraham chose the yoke of the kingdom for himself, toward us implying that he did so for our sake, that we might endure in this world and also possess life in the world to come?” What are the rabbis implying here? Are they saying the merit of Abraham is effective for getting his descendent’s into heaven? Is that an interpretation we are applying based on a Torah/works/salvation mentality that we have been taught? Note how the midrash states that the Lord had a part in Abraham choosing the yoke of the kingdom because left to himself, Abraham might have chosen Gehenna (Hell). The midrash continues with a description of Gehenna as a place containing fire, snow, and ice by which the wicked are punished, whereas the righteous are brought into a cool place for rest and peace. The midrash quotes from Isaiah 43:2 which states the following:

Isaiah 43:1-11

43:1 But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 43:2 ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. 43:3 ‘For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. 43:4 ‘Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. 43:5 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. 43:6 ‘I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, 43:7 Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.’ 43:8 Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes, And the deaf, even though they have ears. 43:9 All the nations have gathered together So that the peoples may be assembled. Who among them can declare this And proclaim to us the former things? Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified, Or let them hear and say, ‘It is true.’ 43:10 ‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. 43:11 ‘I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me. (NASB)

Using Isaiah 43:2, the rabbis say the Lord will save Israel and the fire will not scorch His people. Note the context of Isaiah 43, the Creator God says that He has formed us, do not fear, the flood and the fire will not harm us, the Lord God Almighty is our Savior, we are precious in His sight, He will regather our offspring from the north, south, east, and west. He will gather those who have eyes but cannot see, and ears but cannot hear. All of the nations will gather together to present their witness before God and His people, the Lord God is our Salvation and there is no other besides Him. This is a pretty awesome context to the idea of Abraham taking on the yoke of the kingdom and his descendent’s obtaining eternal life don’t you think? The midrash continues saying “Rabbi Berechiah taught, Abraham sat still and was silent all of that day, and the Holy One blessed be He, asked him, How long will you sit still and be silent? Bring the melancholy to an end, and choose the yoke of kingdoms for yourself. The Holy One blessed be He, thus brought him to a decision in the matter, as is said In that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying (Bereshit / Genesis 15:18). Hence, Scripture says Your wonderful works and Your thoughts which are toward us, that is, they are for the sake of us so that we are not enslaved in Gehenna. They cannot be reckoned up in order unto You (Tehillim / Psalms 40:5).” Based on the context of Isaiah 43, and this section from Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 4, it was the covenant with Abraham that appears to be that which saves his children. If Abraham had refused to accept the covenant promises, he and his wife would have died at an old age with no children. Remember, Abraham’s wife Sarah had a miracle baby, in her old age she gave birth to a son. Without God’s help Sarah would not have had a child and the entire nation of Israel would not have been born. The rabbis say it is the Lord who brought Abraham to the decision in the matter of the covenant, to believe the promises. In addition to this, it was not simply that the children of Israel would not have been born by Abraham refusing to choose to believe in the Lord and in His promises. The midrash also states that it was for this reason we are not enslaved in Gehenna (Hell). The idea is that by Abraham’s example, his faith in the midst of the impossible (i.e. the Lord calling him to a new unknown land, making his descendent’s as vast as the stars, him and his wife’s old age and having a son, etc) he believed in the Lord. Abraham leads us by his example as it is recorded in the Torah to live by faith and trust in the Lord. The rabbis go on to conclude and emphasize in Midrash Tehillim 40 Part 4 saying that the Lord delights in obedience over Sacrifice saying the following

Sacrifice and grain offering You have no delight in; my ears have You opened; burnt offering and sin offerings You have not required (Tehillim / Psalms 40:7) is to be considered in the light of what Scripture says elsewhere, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? (1 Samuel 15:22). In the words, My ears have You opened (Karita), the literal meaning of karita is clearly dug out as in the verse, If a man will dig (yikreh) a pit (Shemot / Exodus 21:33). Then I said, Lo, I am come with the roll of a book which is prescribed for me, yes, Your Torah is in my inner most parts (Tehillim / Psalms 40:8-10). Book and Torah refer to what is said of a king, When he sits upon the throne of his kingdom he will write him a copy of this Torah in a book and it will be with him that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all these statutes to do them, ect. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 17:18-19). (Midrash Tehillim 40, Part 4)

זבח ומנחה לא חפצת. זהו שאמר הכתוב החפץ (ה׳ בעולה ומנחה) [לה׳ בעולות וזבחים] כשמוע בקול ה׳ (ש״א שמואל א׳ טו כב). אזנים כרית לי. אין כריתה אלא לשון חפירה, כמה דאת אמר כי יכרה איש בור (שמות כא לג). אז אמרתי הנה באתי במגלת ספר כתוב עלי. וכתיב וכתב לו את משנה התורה הזאת על ספר (דברים יז יח).

The point regarding Midrash Tehillim 40 is obeying, believing, and trusting in the Lord supersedes the sacrifice. The reason being, the Sacrifice was not given for a man to save himself from his sins as is taught so often today within the very fabric of modern Christian Theology. This is the result of the ignorance of the Torah, which comes not only by not knowing (having the knowledge of) the Torah, but also not living out the commandments as they are given according to the Bible, and coupled with the idea that the Judaism of the first century taught one may “earn salvation” by the commandments. It is important to note that some of the rabbis teach this and others do not, rabbinic literature offers a vast array of opinion on many topics. The interesting point, as noted earlier, is that all of the commandments in the Torah, in some aspect or another, reveal the Messiah. Each mitzvah reveals some element of His (the Messiah’s) person or character. The commandments are the way in which we are to repent by turning to the will and wisdom of God. Yeshua said in John 8:28, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me,” and in John 15:10, “I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” If we think about this, in Yeshua’s keeping the commandments of the Father, the commandments teach us about His behavior. There is a direct relationship between the commandments and the person of Messiah, because the commandments are a direct revelation from God and they are a revelation of godliness. Yeshua said “He who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9) thus when we perform a command we are seeing something of Yeshua and of our Father in heaven. This is the very essence behind the idea of repentance and turning to the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3). Because of the anti-Torah sentiment teaching today, most people have a disconnected understanding of the Bible, the ministry of Yeshua, and the teachings of the Apostles, all of which are deeply rooted in Jewish soil through which the religion of the Bible grew. The salvation, is contained within the covenant that God has made with us. Salvation that we have today with our Father in Heaven, is in His Messiah Yeshua our Savior and King, because this is what God has done on our behalf. With regard to repentance and salvation, obedience is a key factor. If we listen and hear His voice, if we who are called by His name will listen, we will believe in His Messiah (Yeshua) and our lives will be changed, we will walk in a new direction, in newness of life, because of the thing that our Father in Heaven has done. Let’s Pray!

Tehillim 40-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!