Tehillim / Psalms 61, Part 2, Prayer, Truth, and the King Messiah

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In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 61:1-8, the psalm opens saying, א לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל-נְגִינַת לְדָוִד: For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David. (NASB) David asks the Lord to hear his prayer saying, ב שִׁמְעָה אֱלֹהִים רִנָּתִי הַקְשִׁיבָה תְּפִלָּתִי: 61:1 Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer (NASB). What is it about prayer that David asks for the Lord to hear his prayer? Does he think the Lord has not heard his prayer? Are there circumstances in which our prayers would not be heard? What do the Scriptures speak of concerning living a life that is acceptable before God? Notice how David seeks the Lord no matter where he is, ג מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ | אֵלֶיךָ אֶקְרָא בַּעֲטֹף לִבִּי בְּצוּר-יָרוּם מִמֶּנִּי תַנְחֵנִי: 61:2 From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (NASB) What is this rock that he seeks to be led to? If the Lord God in heaven is our rock (see Parashat Haazinu), why doesn’t he request to be led back to the Lord? David continues saying, ד כִּי-הָיִיתָ מַחְסֶה לִי מִגְדַּל-עֹז מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב: ה אָגוּרָה בְאָהָלְךָ עוֹלָמִים אֶחֱסֶה בְסֵתֶר כְּנָפֶיךָ סֶּלָה: 61:3 For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy. 61:4 Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. (NASB) The tower analogy provides imagery of being lifted up high out of the reach of the enemy. He also asks to dwell in the tent of the Lord forever. What does it mean to dwell forever in God’s tent? David believes the Lord has answered him saying, ו כִּי-אַתָּה אֱלֹהִים שָׁמַעְתָּ לִנְדָרָי נָתַתָּ יְרֻשַּׁת יִרְאֵי שְׁמֶךָ: 61:5 For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name. (NASB) What does it mean that the Lord has given David the inheritance of those who fear God’s Name? He continues saying, ז יָמִים עַל-יְמֵי-מֶלֶךְ תּוֹסִיף שְׁנוֹתָיו כְּמוֹ-דֹר וָדֹר: 61:6 You will prolong the king’s life; His years will be as many generations. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states, ז יומין על עלמא דאתי יומי מלכא משיחא תוסיף שנוי היך דרי עלמא הדין ודרי עלמא דאתי׃ 61:7 You will add days to the age to come, the days of the King Messiah; his years are like the generations of this age and the generations of the age to come. (EMC) The targum interprets this verse as a reference to the Messiah. How is the Messiah understood within this context of the Psalm? The Psalm concludes saying, ח יֵשֵׁב עוֹלָם לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת מַן יִנְצְרֻהוּ: ט כֵּן אֲזַמְּרָה שִׁמְךָ לָעַד לְשַׁלְּמִי נְדָרַי יוֹם | יוֹם: 61:7 He will abide before God forever; Appoint lovingkindness and truth that they may preserve him. 61:8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may pay my vows day by day. (NASB) David says this king will abide before the Lord forever and appoint lovingkindness (grace) and truth that will preserve. Aren’t grace and truth something the Lord provides? How does singing praises enable David to pay his vows day by day?

עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek

ספר תהלים פרק סא

א לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל-נְגִינַת לְדָוִד: ב שִׁמְעָה אֱלֹהִים רִנָּתִי הַקְשִׁיבָה תְּפִלָּתִי: ג מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ | אֵלֶיךָ אֶקְרָא בַּעֲטֹף לִבִּי בְּצוּר-יָרוּם מִמֶּנִּי תַנְחֵנִי: ד כִּי-הָיִיתָ מַחְסֶה לִי מִגְדַּל-עֹז מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב: ה אָגוּרָה בְאָהָלְךָ עוֹלָמִים אֶחֱסֶה בְסֵתֶר כְּנָפֶיךָ סֶּלָה:

סםר טוביה פרק סא

א לשבחא על תושבחן לדוד׃ ב ביל יהוה בעותי אצית צלותי׃ ג מן סייפי ארעא קדמך לוותך אצלי באישתלהיות לבי בכרך תקיף דמיתבני על טינר טור רם מיני דבר יתי׃ ד ארום הויתא רחיץ לי בקוש טקא עישונא עושנא מן קדם בעיל דבבא׃

ΨΑΛΜΟΙ 61

61:1 εἰς τὸ τέλος ἐν ὕμνοις τῷ Δαυιδ εἰσάκουσον ὁ θεός τῆς δεήσεώς μου πρόσχες τῇ προσευχῇ μου 61:2 ἀπὸ τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς πρὸς σὲ ἐκέκραξα ἐν τῷ ἀκηδιάσαι τὴν καρδίαν μου ἐν πέτρᾳ ὕψωσάς με 61:3 ὡδήγησάς με ὅτι ἐγενήθης ἐλπίς μου πύργος ἰσχύος ἀπὸ προσώπου ἐχθροῦ

ו כִּי-אַתָּה אֱלֹהִים שָׁמַעְתָּ לִנְדָרָי נָתַתָּ יְרֻשַּׁת יִרְאֵי שְׁמֶךָ: ז יָמִים עַל-יְמֵי-מֶלֶךְ תּוֹסִיף שְׁנוֹתָיו כְּמוֹ-דֹר וָדֹר: ח יֵשֵׁב עוֹלָם לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת מַן יִנְצְרֻהוּ: ט כֵּן אֲזַמְּרָה שִׁמְךָ לָעַד לְשַׁלְּמִי נְדָרַי יוֹם | יוֹם:

Tehillim / Psalms 61

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David. 61:1 Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer. 61:2 From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 61:3 For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy. 61:4 Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. 61:5 For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name. 61:6 You will prolong the king’s life; His years will be as many generations. 61:7 He will abide before God forever; Appoint lovingkindness and truth that they may preserve him. 61:8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may pay my vows day by day. (NASB)

ה אדור במשכנך לעלמיא איתרחיץ בטלל שכינתך לעלמין׃ ו ארום אנת את יהוה שמעת נדרי יהבתא ירותא לדחלי שמך׃ ז יומין על עלמא דאתי יומי מלכא משיחא תוסיף שנוי היך דרי עלמא הדין ודרי עלמא דאתי׃ ח יתיב לעלמין קדם יהוה טיבו וקשוט מן מרי עלמא ינטרון ליה׃ ט בכן אשבח שמך לעלמיא כד אשלים נדרי ביומא דפורקנא דישראל וביום דיתרבי מלכא משיחא למהוי מליך׃

Toviyah / Psalms Chapter 61

61:1 For praise, with the psalms of David. 61:2 Accept, O Lord, my petition, hear my prayer. 61:3 From the ends of the earth I will pray in your presence when my heart is weary; lead me to a strong fortress built on a rock that is higher than I. 61:4 For you have been security for me, in truth, a stronghold before the enemy. 61:5 I will dwell in your tent forever, I will be secure in the shade of your presence forever. 61:6 For you, O Lord, have heard my vows; you have given the inheritance to those who fear your name. 61:7 You will add days to the age to come, the days of the King Messiah; his years are like the generations of this age and the generations of the age to come. 61:8 He will dwell forever in the presence of the Lord; goodness and truth from the Lord of the World will guard him. 61:9 Therefore will I praise your name forever, when I pay my vows in the day of the redemption of Israel, and in the day the King Messiah is anointed to be king. (EMC)

61:4 παροικήσω ἐν τῷ σκηνώματί σου εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας σκεπασθήσομαι ἐν σκέπῃ τῶν πτερύγων σου διάψαλμα 61:5 ὅτι σύ ὁ θεός εἰσήκουσας τῶν εὐχῶν μου ἔδωκας κληρονομίαν τοῖς φοβουμένοις τὸ ὄνομά σου 61:6 ἡμέρας ἐφ᾽ ἡμέρας βασιλέως προσθήσεις ἔτη αὐτοῦ ἕως ἡμέρας γενεᾶς καὶ γενεᾶς 61:7 διαμενεῖ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἔλεος καὶ ἀλήθειαν αὐτοῦ τίς ἐκζητήσει 61:8 οὕτως ψαλῶ τῷ ὀνόματί σου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἀποδοῦναί με τὰς εὐχάς μου ἡμέραν ἐξ ἡμέρας

Psalmoi / Psalms 61

For the end, among the Hymns of David. 61:1 O God, hearken to my petition; attend to my prayer. 61:2 From the ends of the earth have I cried to thee, when my heart was in trouble: thou liftedst me up on a rock thou didst guide me: 61:3 because thou wert my hope, a tower of strength from the face of the enemy. 61:4 I will dwell in thy tabernacle for ever; I will shelter myself under the shadow of thy wings. Pause. 61:5 For thou, o God, hast heard my prayers; thou hast given an inheritance to them that fear thy name. 61:6 Thou shalt add days to the days of the king; thou shalt lengthen his years to all generations. 61:7 He shall endure for ever before God: which of them will seek out his mercy and truth? 61:8 So will I sing to thy name for ever and ever, that I may daily perform my vows. (LXX)

In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 61:1-8, the psalm opens saying, א לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל-נְגִינַת לְדָוִד: For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David. (NASB) This psalm is dedicated as a song for the director of music. The Psalms are a collection of lyrical poems, which are identified as a composite work containing multiple authors. Proverbs is another book from the Tanach that also identifies itself as a composite work. For example, some psalms name their author in the first line of the MT. The collection of the psalms of David is titled Tehillim (תְּהִלִּים), which means praise songs” in Hebrew. The English title of “Psalms” originates from the Septuagint’s Greek title “Psalmoi,” also meaning “songs of praise.” The Psalms many times consist of laments from the author to express the author’s crying out to God in difficult circumstances. The Psalms of praise are also called hymns, and portray the author’s offering of the direct admiration to God. There are thanksgiving psalms which also reflect the author’s gratitude for a personal deliverance or provision from God. The book of Psalms expresses not only laments, praise, and thanksgiving, but also worship. David in the Psalms encourages his readers to praise God for who He is and what He has done. The Psalms are designed to describe the greatness of our God, affirm His faithfulness to us in times of trouble, and reminds us of the absolute centrality of His Word for our lives as it is found in the Torah. The Psalms present a clear picture of God lovingly guiding His people; the guidance that God provides produces responses of praise and worship which also provide us with a glimpse of the hearts of men who are devoted to seeking the Lord. We also are given examples of how to repent before the Lord and how our lives will change due to having an encounter with God. All of these things establish the importance of the psalms and the reason for our studying these Scriptures.

In the opening verse, David asks the Lord to hear his prayer saying, ב שִׁמְעָה אֱלֹהִים רִנָּתִי הַקְשִׁיבָה תְּפִלָּתִי: 61:1 Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer (NASB). What is it about prayer that David asks for the Lord to hear his prayer? Does he think the Lord has not heard his prayer? Are there circumstances in which our prayers would not be heard? Did you know that the Scriptures speak of the need for us to live in a worthy manner so as to be approved of God? If we do not live in a worthy manner, our prayers will not be heard. If one does not take his or her faith seriously, can one expect the Lord to work in a miraculous way in his life? What do the Scriptures speak of concerning living a life that is acceptable before God? The Aramaic Targum states, ב ביל יהוה בעותי אצית צלותי׃ 61:2 Accept, O Lord, my petition, hear my prayer. (EMC) suggesting prayer is something that is either acceptable or unacceptable. Under what circumstances would prayer not be acceptable in God’s sight? These questions are related to being counted worthy to dwell in His presence and/or of the calling that we are given. Note that these concepts are found throughout the entire Bible. Parashat Yitro provides us with an example about our calling and our being counted worthy of His presence in our lives. The Scriptures, according to Shemot / Exodus 19:14-17, tell us that Moshe went down to the people and consecrated them, they washed their clothing. Contained within this instruction, the Torah tells us that Moshe instructed the people to not go near a woman for the Lord will show Himself on the third day. What was the purpose of this instruction to not go near a woman for three days because the Lord was going to show Himself upon the mountain of Sinai to the people?

Shemot / Exodus 19:14-17

19:14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. 19:15 He said to the people, ‘Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.’ 19:16 So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 19:17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. (NASB)

ספר שמות פרק יט

יד וַיֵּרֶד מֹשֶׁה מִן-הָהָר אֶל-הָעָם וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת-הָעָם וַיְכַבְּסוּ שִֹמְלֹתָם: טו וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל-הָעָם הֱיוּ נְכֹנִים לִשְׁלשֶׁת יָמִים אַל-תִּגְּשׁוּ אֶל-אִשָּׁה: טז וַיְהִי בַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי בִּהְיֹת הַבֹּקֶר וַיְהִי קֹלֹת וּבְרָקִים וְעָנָן כָּבֵד עַל-הָהָר וְקֹל שֹׁפָר חָזָק מְאֹד וַיֶּחֱרַד כָּל-הָעָם אֲשֶׁר בַּמַּחֲנֶה: יז וַיּוֹצֵא מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הָעָם לִקְרַאת הָאֱלֹהִים מִן-הַמַּחֲנֶה וַיִּתְיַצְּבוּ בְּתַחְתִּית הָהָר:

The Lord instructs Moshe to go down and consecrate the people, and in the process, Moshe instruct the people to wash themselves and their cloths and to not go near a woman for three days prior to the Lord revealing Himself on the mountain? When thinking about “not going near,” in relation to a wife (אִשָּׁה), this reminds us of the mitzvah regarding being intimate with one’s spouse during niddah. In addition to this, we are also reminded of the term negiah (נגיעה) meaning literally “touch,” which is a concept in Rabbinical law (Halakha) that forbids or restricts physical contact with a member of the opposite sex (except for one’s spouse, children, siblings, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents). A person who abides by this halakha is colloquially described as a shomer negiah (“keeper of negiah” or “one observant of negiah”). In the rabbinic literature, earlier sources do not use the word “negiah,” but use the word “k’reiva” (“coming near”) or one of its grammatical variations (See, e.g. Sefer Mitzvos Gadol 126, Rambam Issurei Biah 21:1). Note that the word “k’reiva” is from the Hebrew word קרב meaning “to come near” and is the same root word for קרבן (Korban) as a reference to the “Sacrifice or Offering,” where one draws near to God in the Sacrificial system. It is interesting in the biblical text, Moshe says, לִשְׁלשֶׁת יָמִים אַל-תִּגְּשׁוּ אֶל-אִשָּׁה “for three days do not approach unto a woman.” The word used here is “Tigshu” (תִּגְּשׁוּ) from the root word “nagash” (נָגַשׁ) written in the Qal Imperfect form, meaning as a verb, “to get near to, come close to, approach.” This word is used 19,885 times in the Tanach. What exactly was Moshe trying to say when he said that one is not to draw near to his wife (אִשָּׁה) for three days prior to the Lord revealing Himself to the people?

The prohibition of negiah is derived from two verses in Leviticus, 18:6 “Any man shall not approach (קרב qarab) his close relative to uncover nakedness; I am God,” and 18:19 “You shall not approach a woman in her time of unclean separation, to uncover her nakedness” The laws of negiah are typically followed by the Orthodox with varying levels of observance. Some Orthodox follow the Halakha with strict modesty and take measures to avoid accidental contact, such as avoiding sitting next to a member of the opposite sex on a bus, airplane, or other similar seating situation. Others are more lenient, only avoiding purposeful contact. Adherents to the Conservative and Reform Judaism do not follow the strict observance of this Halakha. The verse from Vayikra / Leviticus 18:6 is regarding being intimate with a close relative, and 18:19 is with regard to niddah. It is interesting to note how these prohibitions are described by the rabbis. The prohibition against physical contact with arayot (Forbidden relationships in Judaism) is codified by the Rishonim (ראשונים) “the first ones” including Maimonides (Hilchos Issurei Biah 21:1) and Moses ben Jacob of Coucy (Sefer Mitzvos Gadol 126), note that the rabbis take into consideration of whether the contact is done in an affectionate or lustful manner. Maimonides and the Shulchan Aruch formulate this prohibition as “hugging, kissing, or enjoying close physical contact” (Rambam Hilchos Issurei Biah 21:1, HaEzer 20:1, and Be’er Heitev 2). Note that the Rishonim were the leading Rabbis who lived during the 11th to 15th centuries, in the era before the writing of the Shulchan Aruch (שׁוּלחָן עָרוּך), the code of Jewish law, 1563 CE, and following the Geonim (589-1038 CE). Based upon these texts and the rabbinic interpretations, the rabbis do not indicate that mere touching is forbidden. So one conclusion we could make regarding Shemot / Exodus 19:15 is not with regard to touching one’s wife. The requirement of restricting the men from approaching their wives appears to be on an intimate level as opposed to merely touching as in the case of casual contact, touching a hand, or a kiss, etc.

Understanding the difference here from the perspective of the rabbis is very significant. Shemot / Exodus 19:15 is a very significant passage especially in light of the rabbinic interpretation on these verses and the concept of lustful thoughts that is coupled with Moshe’s instructions to the people on preparing themselves to see the Lord God on the mountain on the third day. Note that the meeting place of God and man is within the heart. The Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence in our bodies (dwells) where our bodies are called the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. Yeshua taught that from our hearts proceeds our sin because sin is first conceived in the heart and then is manifest by our lips, and our actions. If one keeps lustful thoughts in one’s heart, do you think such a person will see the face of God or even the Lord working in his life? The application for us today, men or women who are sinning in pornography, will not be able to see the face of God. This is also related to the Lord working in the man who is living in unrepentant sin. With regard to prayer, David said in Tehillim / Psalms 66:18, יח אָוֶן אִם-רָאִיתִי בְלִבִּי לֹא יִשְׁמַע | אֲדֹנָי: 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear (NASB). The idea of keeping lustful thoughts in one’s heart and the Lord not hear the prayer of such a person is a biblically based concept.

The Rabbis in Midrash Rabbah Shemot, Parashat 28, Part 3 have the following to say concerning this section of verses from the Torah.

Midrash Rabbah Shemot, Parashat 28, Part 3

And Moshe reported the words of the people unto the Lord (Shemot / Exodus 19:8). God wished at the moment to give them the Torah and to speak with them, but Moshe was still standing and God said, What can I do because of Moshe? Rabbi Levi said, It can be compared to a king who wished to pass acts without consulting the lieutenant governor; when he said to him, do this thing the reply was, It has already been done. The king tried once again, Go and call this counselor that he may come with you, and when he had gone, the king carried out his wish. So when God desired to give the Ten Commandments, Moshe was standing at His side. God thought, When I reveal the heavens to them and say, I am the Lord your God, they will ask, Who is speaking? God or Moshe? Let Moshe therefore descend and then I will proclaim, I am the Lord your God. Hence, when God said to Moshe, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments (Shemot / Exodus 19:10), he said, I have already sanctified them; for it says, For you did charge us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it (Shemot / Exodus 19:23). God then said to him, Go down and you will come up, you and Aaron with you (Shemot / Exodus 19:24); and as Moshe descended, God revealed Himself; for immediately after it says, So Moshe went down unto the people, we are told that God spoke.

מדרש רבה שמות פרשה כח סימן ג

ג וישב משה את דברי העם אל ה׳, אותה שעה בקש הקב״ה ליתן להם את התורה ולדבר עמהם והיה משה עומד אמר הקב״ה מה אעשה מפני משה, א״ר לוי משל למלך שבקש לעשות אופימשטאטא חוץ מדעתו של אפרכוס אמר לו עשה דבר פלוני אמר לו כבר נעשית, ושוב א״ל לך קרא לפלוני סינקליטקוס ויבא עמך, עד שהוא הולך עשה המלך מה שביקש, כך ביקש הקב״ה ליתן י׳ דברות היה משה עומד מצדו אמר הקב״ה אני גולה להם את הרקיע ואומר אנכי ה׳ אלהיך הם אומרים מי אמר הקב״ה או משה אלא ירד משה ואח״כ אני אומר אנכי ה׳ אלהיך, כך אמר הקב״ה למשה לך אל העם וקדשתם היום ומחר וכבסו שמלותם א״ל כבר הקדשתים שנאמר כי אתה העדותה בנו לאמר וגו׳, א״ל לך רד ועלית אתה ואהרן עמך, עד שמשה יורד נגלה הקב״ה, שנאמר וירד משה אל העם, מיד וידבר אלהים,

In the midrash, the rabbis are discussing Moshe who is up on the mountain of Sinai and the Lord God who is going to speak to the people. The question is if Moshe remained on the mountain, they might be confused between the Lord speaking and Moshe speaking. The idea was that Moshe was a very great man in the eyes of the rabbis. Could it be that the people were so deprived in their thinking (e.g. Parashat Ki Tisa, idolatry coupled with sexual sin) that they would have been unable to discern between the Lord God speaking and Moshe speaking? The explanation is that God told Moshe to descend the mountain so the people would not be confused. According to the Scriptures, the Ten Commandments were given from God both orally and in written form. The Lord instructs Moshe to descend the mountain and sanctify the people. The Scriptures say, יד וַיֵּרֶד מֹשֶׁה מִן-הָהָר אֶל-הָעָם וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת-הָעָם וַיְכַבְּסוּ שִֹמְלֹתָם: 19:14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. (NASB) The word sanctify or consecrated comes from the word קדש meaning “holy,” or “to set apart.” The washing of the garments is another way of saying “get yourselves cleaned up to be presentable before the Lord.” Note that getting yourself all cleaned up before coming before the Lord, this is applied to those who already are in a covenant relationship with God in the Messiah Yeshua. If one is coming to faith and believing in the Messiah, the Lord helps to clean up his life following placing one’s faith in Him and seeking for His help. The idea is that when coming to faith, just go to the Lord in prayer to receive forgiveness in the Messiah Yeshua, in His name, and enter into a covenant relationship with the Lord by faith. Seek the Lord to help overcome sin, and to walk in His ways. The instructions Moshe has given are related to seeing God, something that comes following faith and forgiveness. Moshe descends the mountain and does just that, he causes the people to get cleaned up and he adds the instruction to not go near a woman for three days prior to the Lord revealing Himself on the mountain. The sense that Moshe is giving in this instruction, based upon the rabbinic interpretation on these verses regarding lustful thoughts,” is that we are to set out hearts on the things above and not upon pornographic materials or the things of this world. If one wants to see the Lord God on the mountain on the third day, or to dwell in His presence, one needs to clean themselves up and seek the Lord. The point is, this is a daily walk and way of life.

What is interesting in Shemot / Exodus 19:10-11 the Lord tells the people to sanctify themselves because He is going to visit in three days. We have been discussing what it means to consecrate ourselves (set ourselves apart) and the Torah instructs us that we set in order our lives, to walk in God’s ways, and we set in order our hearts, turning from sin and towards the Lord God in heaven. Notice how the instruction to consecrate yourself is repeated through the Torah over and over again. For example, we read in Vayikra / Leviticus 20:7 ‘You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. 20:8 ‘You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you. (NASB) Note both the people and the Lord are involved in the sanctification process. Note also, as mentioned previously, the word used for “consecrate yourselves” is ְקִדַּשְׁתָּם derived from the root קדש meaning to make holy. Thus, the biblical use of the verb “consecrate” is a synonym for “sanctify,” meaning “to make holy.” This is an important point because in this world we need to be aware that there is a great amount of unholiness and there are many ways for unholiness to enter our lives. As believers, we should not choose to rub shoulders with what is unclean and be defiled. What we look at can defile our hearts. What we listen to can defile our hearts. The company we keep can defile, as Paul suggests by quoting from Isaiah 52:11 in 2 Corinthians 6:17. Paul says we are to separate ourselves from everything that defiles and then the Lord will accept us (read 2 Corinthians 6-7). If we are to expect God to work in your lives, we need to take the necessary steps to sanctify our lives before the Lord. If you are expecting the gifts of the Spirit to be manifest in your life, have you taken the necessary steps to sanctify your mind, body, and soul for that purpose? Note, the sanctification of the soul is a joint process with our desire seeking the Lord for that sanctification in His Messiah Yeshua. Additionally, the concept of setting up an idol in one’s heart (Ezekiel 14) is a way of bringing the soul into bondage to the things of this world.

God’s command to be holy is not only in the Torah, it is spoken of throughout all of Scripture (compare Vayikra / Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:17 with 1 Peter 1:16 and 2 Corinthians 6). In addition to this, Revelation 19:7-8 tells us the bride of Christ sanctified herself for the coming of the Lord. Who is the bride of Christ? According to the Scriptures, consecrated people are never lazy people, this is the lesson that is illustrated in the priesthood with Aaron and his sons from Shemot / Exodus 28:41 “… consecrate them … that they may minister unto Me in the priest’s office.” Take for example, hypothetically, “if you knew the exact day and time Yeshua would return on the clouds for His people, how would you behave? How would you behave yourself?” With these things in mind, are you able to put yourself into the shoes of the Children of Israel in Shemot / Exodus 19:14-17 and understand what Moshe was telling them to Sanctify/Consecrate themselves? Should we not be living consecrated lives daily? If the Lord has not been working in your life, there may be a reason. If you are sick, ill, and dying, there may be a reason. If the gifts of the Spirit are not manifest in your life, there may be a reason. If you feel distant from the Lord and His Messiah Yeshua, there may be a reason. Have you offered your body, mind, soul, and spirit as a living sacrifice unto God? (Romans 12) Remember, spiritual sin is related to things that we set up as idols in our hearts, or turning from the Lord. Parashat Yitro provides for us an example of the important aspect of our lives, our faith, and our walk before the Lord God in Heaven. We need to take our faith and walk before the Lord seriously and doing so by the demonstration of our faith in all areas of our lives. This is what David was saying when he sought the Lord to hear his prayer.

Notice how this idea follows through in the Psalm by David’s words saying that he seeks the Lord no matter where he is, ג מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ | אֵלֶיךָ אֶקְרָא בַּעֲטֹף לִבִּי בְּצוּר-יָרוּם מִמֶּנִּי תַנְחֵנִי: 61:2 From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (NASB) David says that he will seek the Lord even to the end of the earth. He also requests for the Lord to lead him to the rock that is higher than he is. What is this rock that he seeks to be led to? If the Lord God in heaven is our rock (see Parashat Haazinu), why doesn’t he request to be led back to the Lord? When David is asking the Lord to lead him to a rock that is higher, this suggest that he seeks for help to go to a place that he is unable to reach on his own effort. In Tehillim / Psalms 27:5, the rock denotes an asylum, a place of refuge for safety. Here, David’s words appear to be a request to find a place of refuge rather than for God Himself as a Rock of refuge (Tehillim / Psalm 62:2-7). David’s wanderings may have led to this metaphor (1 Samuel 24:2, 1 Chronicles 11:15) where it is believed the rock may be a reference to the cave in which David was hiding from Saul.

1 Samuel 24:1-4

24:1 Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, ‘Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.’ 24:2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 24:3 He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. 24:4 The men of David said to him, ‘Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’‘ Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. (NASB)

1 Chronicles 11:12-16

11:12 After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. 11:13 He was with David at Pasdammim when the Philistines were gathered together there to battle, and there was a plot of ground full of barley; and the people fled before the Philistines. 11:14 They took their stand in the midst of the plot and defended it, and struck down the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great victory. 11:15 Now three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam, while the army of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim. 11:16 David was then in the stronghold, while the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. (NASB)

In 1 Chronicles 11:15-16, it appears that the rock and the cave are a stronghold against the enemy. This is consistent with the Aramaic Targum which states, ג מן סייפי ארעא קדמך לוותך אצלי באישתלהיות לבי בכרך תקיף דמיתבני על טינר טור רם מיני דבר יתי׃ 61:3 From the ends of the earth I will pray in your presence when my heart is weary; lead me to a strong fortress built on a rock that is higher than I. (EMC) David continues saying,ד כִּי-הָיִיתָ מַחְסֶה לִי מִגְדַּל-עֹז מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב: 61:3 For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy. (NASB) The tower analogy provides imagery of being lifted up high out of the reach of the enemy. He then says, ה אָגוּרָה בְאָהָלְךָ עוֹלָמִים אֶחֱסֶה בְסֵתֶר כְּנָפֶיךָ סֶּלָה: 61:4 Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. (NASB) He asks to dwell in the tent of the Lord forever. What does it mean to dwell forever in God’s tent? In Tehillim / Psalm 27:4, David also says that he seeks to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. Throughout the Torah the Lord speaks of being our God and us being His people in a covenant relationship. Living in the presence of God means offering our lives (Romans 12) for the sake of others and for the sake of God, because He has shown us mercy, we likewise should show mercy to others, etc. We walk in the goodness of God and as a result we are able to stand in His presence, or His presence will be manifest in our lives. Dwelling in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives means living in His presence and His presence dwelling in our midst, no matter where we might be, for where God’s people are gathered. With the idea of offering our bodies, minds, soul, and spirit as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, we are reminded of Scripture from the Torah portion, Parashat Bechukotai:

ספר ויקרא פרק כו

א לֹא-תַעֲשֹוּ לָכֶם אֱלִילִם וּפֶסֶל וּמַצֵּבָה לֹא-תָקִימוּ לָכֶם וְאֶבֶן מַשְֹכִּית לֹא תִתְּנוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶם לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹת עָלֶיהָ כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם: ב אֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ אֲנִי יְהוָֹה: פ פ פ [פרשת בחקותי] ג אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת-מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם: ד וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ: ה וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹֹבַע וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח בְּאַרְצְכֶם:

Vayikra / Leviticus 26:1-5

26:1 ‘You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God. 26:2 ‘You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord. 26:3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 26:4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 26:5 ‘Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. (NASB)

The opening verse of Parashat Bechukotai begins with the statement “if you walk in My statutes and keep My commands so as to carry them out…” These Scriptures describe who owns the statutes and the commandments. Ownership of the “statutes” (בְּחֻקֹּתַי) and the “commandments” (מִצְוֹתַי) is the Lord and not man. This is a very important concept with regard to obeying God’s commands and who is to observe the commands. For example, the idea that the Law was given only to the Jew and not to the Gentile presupposes that the Jew has ownership of the Law where the Gentile does not. The point is that the Lord God in heaven gave these Laws (the Torah) to His people (You and I) to live by, for truth, holiness, righteousness, justice, and life. I have been told “oh you want to return to the Law” (Galatians 2:11-21 and 5:1). I have also heard others say “oh he just wants to be a Jew so badly.” These opinions come not only from a misunderstanding of the Scriptures, but also for a deep root of antisemitism that is found within all Christian theologies today. Take for example, Galatians 5:1 and the various translations of this verse:

New International Version

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

New Living Translation

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

English Standard Version

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

New American Standard Bible

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

King James Bible

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The context does not speak of the Torah being a form of bondage, but the idea that one is able to earn their way or right into heaven (an earned form or righteousness). Yeshua set us free from sin, and showed us that our love for God is demonstrated in our obedience to Him. The way the verse is written in Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3, we understand that the statutes and commands in the Torah are give by God to His people, to those who trust, believe, and love Him. This idea is born out of the natural progression of the Torah’s narrative, that God delivered a mixed multitude and brought a mixed multitude of people before the mountain of Sinai and gave them His Torah to live by. The “mixed multitude” whom God delivered from Egypt provides us with a future expectation of what our Father in Heaven has planned from the beginning, that both Jew and non-Jew (Gentile) are grafted into one family of God (Galatians 3:28). The Scriptures state that God sanctifies both the Jew and non-Jew in the same way, He saves us in the Messiah Yeshua by faith in the same way, and the Lord wants us to live and walk before Him in the same way, in the way that brings glory to His name. The rabbis in Midrash Tehillim Vayikra, Parashat 35, Part 1 (מדרש רבה ויקרא פרשה לה סימן א) point out this fact and the importance of these words in the Torah saying the following.

Midrash Rabbah Vayikra, Parshah 35, Part 1

“If you walk in My statutes (Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3). This bears on the text, I considered my ways, and turned my feet unto Your testimonies (Tehillim / Psalms 119). David said, Sovereign of the Universe. Every day I used to plan and decided that I would go to a particular dwelling house, but my feet always brought me to Synagogues and Houses of Study. Hence it is written, and turned my feet unto Your testimonies…”

א אם בחקותי תלכו הה״ד (תהלים קיט) חשבתי דרכי ואשיבה רגלי אל עדותיך אמר דוד רבש״ע בכל יום ויום הייתי מחשב ואומר למקום פלוני ולבית דירה פלונית אני הולך והיו רגלי מביאות אותי לבתי כנסיות ולבתי מדרשות הה״ד ואשיבה רגלי אל עדותיך

The midrash references Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3 commenting on “if you walk in My statutes,” and draws a parallel to David’s words in Tehillim / Psalms 119. David says he considered his ways and turned his feet unto the testimonies of God.

Tehillim / Psalms 119:57-66

119:57 The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words. 119:58 I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word. 119:59 I considered my ways And turned my feet to Your testimonies. 119:60 I hastened and did not delay To keep Your commandments. 119:61 The cords of the wicked have encircled me, But I have not forgotten Your law. 119:62 At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances. 119:63 I am a companion of all those who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts. 119:64 The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes. 119:65 You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. 119:66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments. (NASB)

According to the Psalm, David considered his ways and turned his feet unto the testimonies of God. The Psalm speaking of dwelling in the presence of God mandates that we walk in His ways for the simple reason of having fellowship with God. This conclusion is based on the idea that there is no fellowship with God for those who live their lives in opposition to God’s ways. Both the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and the Apostolic Writings speak to this truth.

David believes the Lord has answered him saying, ו כִּי-אַתָּה אֱלֹהִים שָׁמַעְתָּ לִנְדָרָי נָתַתָּ יְרֻשַּׁת יִרְאֵי שְׁמֶךָ: 61:5 For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name. (NASB) What does it mean that the Lord has given David the inheritance of those who fear God’s Name? The Aramaic Targum states, ו ארום אנת את יהוה שמעת נדרי יהבתא ירותא לדחלי שמך׃ 61:6 For you, O Lord, have heard my vows; you have given the inheritance to those who fear your name. (EMC) The Septuagint states, 61:5 ὅτι σύ ὁ θεός εἰσήκουσας τῶν εὐχῶν μου ἔδωκας κληρονομίαν τοῖς φοβουμένοις τὸ ὄνομά σου 61:5 For thou, o God, hast heard my prayers; thou hast given an inheritance to them that fear thy name. (LXX) The MT states literally, כִּי-אַתָּה אֱלֹהִים שָׁמַעְתָּ לִנְדָרָי נָתַתָּ יְרֻשַּׁת יִרְאֵי שְׁמֶךָ “You God, You hear/listen to my vows, You give inheritance to those who fear your name.” The MT does not say “You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name.” Why does the NASB translate the MT in this way? Both the Aramaic Targum and the Septuagint translate this verse as the MT states, the Lord gives an inheritance to those who fear His name. The Lord is not giving David the inheritance of others (those who fear God’s name). Benson Commentary, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, The pulpit Commentary, all translate Tehillim / Psalms 61:5 to say “You have given me the heritage of those who fear God’s name,” where the word heritage is meant to clarify the meaning of this verse. John Calvin states the following regarding this verse:

Had the letter ל, lamed, been prefixed to the Hebrew word יְרֻשַּׁת יִרְאֵי, which is rendered fearing, there would have been no reason left to doubt that the words which follow were of the nature of a general assertion, to the effect, that God has given the inheritance to those who fear him. As it is, they may be construed to mean, that God had given David the inheritance of those who fear him. Still I prefer attaching the more general sense to the words, and understand them as intimating that God never disappoints his servants, but crowns with everlasting happiness the struggles and the distresses which may have exercised their faith. (John Calvin’s Commentary on Tehillim / Psalms 61:5)

This seems to be the reason why the NASB translation renders the verse as David receiving the inheritance of others. The intent of the verse though seems to be more consistent with the Aramaic Targum translation, 61:6 For you, O Lord, have heard my vows; you have given the inheritance to those who fear your name. (EMC) than that of the NASB translation.

David continues saying, ז יָמִים עַל-יְמֵי-מֶלֶךְ תּוֹסִיף שְׁנוֹתָיו כְּמוֹ-דֹר וָדֹר: 61:6 You will prolong the king’s life; His years will be as many generations. (NASB) The MT states יָמִים עַל-יְמֵי-מֶלֶךְ “days upon days of the king,” and the idea is David asking the Lord to “add days to the days of his life.” The Peshat (פשט) explanation given by Rashi on this passage is that David Hamelech is asking HaShem that even if it has been decreed that he die young at the hand of his enemies, HaShem should remove that decree and grant him the full 70 years of every generation. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (1808 – 1888 CE) understood David’s words to mean that he is praying that days should be added to him far beyond the limited years of his life on this earth. He wishes that the example he sets through his every day life, a life filled with seeking the Lord God in heaven, to draw near to Him (Tehillim / Psalms 61:5) should remain as an inspiration to mankind through all generations, forever. This life style, David’s actions recorded in the Psalms, will live on long after his physical death. This illustrates that our actions have profound consequences that we may not know about in this life, and that our actions may influence generations to come. As students of God’s Torah and of Yeshua, our actions are constantly scrutinized by those around us. Therefore we are to life the life of faith through our actions. In doing so, our example that has been demonstrated to others (e.g. our children) will last forever and influence generations to come for the glory of God!

It is interesting that the Aramaic Targum states, ז יומין על עלמא דאתי יומי מלכא משיחא תוסיף שנוי היך דרי עלמא הדין ודרי עלמא דאתי׃ 61:7 You will add days to the age to come, the days of the King Messiah; his years are like the generations of this age and the generations of the age to come. (EMC) The targum interprets this verse as a reference to the Messiah. How is the Messiah understood within this context of the Psalm?

Aramaic Targum

Toviyah / Psalms Chapter 61

61:1 For praise, with the psalms of David. 61:2 Accept, O Lord, my petition, hear my prayer. 61:3 From the ends of the earth I will pray in your presence when my heart is weary; lead me to a strong fortress built on a rock that is higher than I. 61:4 For you have been security for me, in truth, a stronghold before the enemy. 61:5 I will dwell in your tent forever, I will be secure in the shade of your presence forever. 61:6 For you, O Lord, have heard my vows; you have given the inheritance to those who fear your name. 61:7 You will add days to the age to come, the days of the King Messiah; his years are like the generations of this age and the generations of the age to come. 61:8 He will dwell forever in the presence of the Lord; goodness and truth from the Lord of the World will guard him. 61:9 Therefore will I praise your name forever, when I pay my vows in the day of the redemption of Israel, and in the day the King Messiah is anointed to be king. (EMC)

The idea of “adding days to the days” are connected to living a life of faith and obedience before the Lord. Living a faithful life will add days in the sense that the days will not be cut short due to wickedness (see 1 Corinthians 11). The King Messiah will live to glorify the Lord in heaven. The rabbis interpret the idea that one’s faithful life will have an influence on generations to come whereas the King Messiah will work such great works, if the performance of maasim tovim” does add days to one’s life, “the King Messiah; his years are like the generations of this age and the generations of the age to come,” the rabbis are saying that his deeds will influence men for all eternity. Does this not sound a lot like someone we know? (Yeshua the Messiah) Yeshua lived a perfect life, He obeyed God’s Torah, showed us the way to live a life of faithfulness, and he laid his life down for ours. The Lord God in heaven raised Him up from the grave as a testimony to the work that He had come to accomplish, that is to save us from our sins, and to make atonement before our Father in heaven. His maasim tovim” is eternal and has influenced many generations for the last 2000 years, and will influence many generations to come, and on into eternity (i.e. the generations of the age to come). The Apostolic Writings states that He dwells in the presence of the Lord forever, and being in His presence, He acts as an intercessor on our behalf before our Father in heaven. We are able to seek the Lord God our Father in heaven, in the Name of His Son Yeshua the Messiah, and Yeshua will take our prayers to the Lord on our behalf. This is a very rabbinic concept based upon the Aramaic Targum and the Midrashim. What an awesome thing that is and we can say as David said in the concluding verse of the Psalm, 61:9 Therefore will I praise your name forever, when I pay my vows in the day of the redemption of Israel, and in the day the King Messiah is anointed to be king. (EMC) The MT states, ח יֵשֵׁב עוֹלָם לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהִים חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת מַן יִנְצְרֻהוּ: ט כֵּן אֲזַמְּרָה שִׁמְךָ לָעַד לְשַׁלְּמִי נְדָרַי יוֹם | יוֹם: 61:7 He will abide before God forever; Appoint lovingkindness and truth that they may preserve him. 61:8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may pay my vows day by day. (NASB) Yeshua the Messiah paid our debt before the Lord and we are able now to go before Him with praises upon our lips. David says this king will abide before the Lord forever and appoint lovingkindness (grace, חֶסֶד) and truth (וֶאֱמֶת) that will preserve. This is exactly what the King Messiah did, Yeshua has appointed the grace of God, His truth, and life, for the preservation of His people. Praise the Lord, Halleluia, and Amen! Let’s Pray!

Rabbinic Commentary

The Rabbinic Commentary (Midrash) on Tehillim / Psalms 61 has 3 parts. Reading through the Midrash we will be looking at Part 1, 2, and 3. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Chapter 61, Part 1, 2, and 3.

Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 61, Part 1, 2, and 3.

Part 1

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “For the leader; with string music. A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer (Tehillim / Psalms 61:1-2).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Elsewhere, this is what Scripture says, The Lord is far from the wicked; but He hears the prayer of the righteous (Mishley / Proverbs 15:20).
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to discuss the opening verse and the concept of the Lord not listening to or hearing the prayer of the wicked.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis expand upon the mashal providing examples from the Torah, the Neviim, and Ketuvim on the Lord listening (hearing) the prayer of Moshe, Israel, Samuel, etc.
  • The Concluding phrase says “As is prophesied in Scripture, Then will you cry unto Me, and you will go, and pray unto Me, and I will listen unto you. And you will seek Me (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Moshe also said, But from thence you will seek the Lord your God; and you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul. In your distress, when all these things are come upon your (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:19-30). Hence, it is said, From the end of the earth will I cry unto You.”

Part 2

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “When my heart faints (Tehillim / Psalms 61:2).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “For how long a time is a man required to stand at prayer?
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to discuss the opening verse and the homiletic introduction by describing the amount of time necessary for prayer is when one has sufficiently poured out one’s heart to the Lord.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis expand upon the mashal by drawing a parallel to the one who desires to dwell in the presence of God, up on the mountain, up in a stronghold (upon the Rock), and upon the Temple Mount, in the court of the Lord.
  • The Concluding phrase says “And in yet another Psalm, For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather stand a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Tehillim / Psalms 84:11).”

Part 3

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “Another comment. I will dwell in Your tent forever.”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Could the thought have come into David’s mind that he would live forever?
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to discuss the opening verse and the homiletic introduction by describing the amount of time necessary for prayer is when one has sufficiently poured out one’s heart to the Lord.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis expand upon the mashal by drawing a parallel to the one who desires to dwell in the presence of God, up on the mountain, up in a stronghold (upon the Rock), and upon the Temple Mount, in the court of the Lord.
  • The Concluding phrase says “And in yet another Psalm, For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather stand a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Tehillim / Psalms 84:11).”

Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 1 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “For the leader; with string music. A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer (Tehillim / Psalms 61:1-2).” The homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Elsewhere, this is what Scripture says, The Lord is far from the wicked; but He hears the prayer of the righteous (Mishley / Proverbs 15:20).” The concept being put forward here in the opening sentences of the Midrash are to make a contrast between the wicked and the righteous. The Lord does not hear the prayer of the wicked, whereas, the Lord does hear the prayer of the righteous. Are there any circumstances when the Lord would hear the prayer of the unrighteous? In addition, based upon these opening sentences, do the wicked pray to the Lord in heaven? It would be surprising to see the unrighteous praying and seeking the Lord in heaven for help. Could it be possible for a person to presume himself to be a righteous man (in his own eyes), however based upon his actions towards others he is not? The Midrash goes on to provide examples from the Torah on the righteous who pray and the Lord listens.

Wherever the children of Israel cried out to the Holy One blessed be He, He heard them. Thus in Egypt, they cried out to God, and He heard them, as is said, I have heard their cry (Shemot / Exodus 3:7). At the Red Sea, they cried out to God, and He heard them, as is said, Wherefore cry you unto Me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward (Shemot / Exodus 14:15). In the wilderness, they cried out to the Lord, and He heard them, as is said, And the Lord listened to the voice of Israel (Bamidbar / Numbers 21:3). After they entered the Land of Israel, they cried out to the Lord, and He heard them, as is said And Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him (1 Samuel 7:9); they cried out also in the time of Solomon, as is said, When Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord (1 Kings 8:54). And the Lord hears us now, us that are banished as is said, I called upon Your name, O Lord, out of the lowest dungeon. You heard my voice (Lamentation 3:55-56). Therefore, From the end of the earth will I cry unto You, when my heart faints (Tehillim / Psalms 61:3). (Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 1)

The first example that is given is that of the Lord speaking to Moshe saying that He has heard Israel’s cry due to their bondage and hard labor (slavery) in Shemot / Exodus 3:7. The second example is when the people arrived at the Red Sea and they cried out to the Lord (Shemot / Exodus 14:15). The third example from the Torah is from Bamidbar / Numbers 21:3 The LORD heard the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities. Thus the name of the place was called Hormah. (NASB) Examples are then taken from the Prophets with Samuel praying and the Lord listening (1 Samuel 7:9), Solomon praying and the Lord listening (1 Kings 8:54), Solomon in Lamentations and David stating that he will travel to the end of the earth and call out to the Lord God in heaven. Reading these examples taken from the Midrash, these are only a few examples from the Scriptures where the Lord listened to the prayer of the people and responded. This reminds us of the words Yeshua spoke in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (NASB) The key phrase here is “He that does the will of my Father,” where stress is placed upon the physical aspect of our faith, which has the capacity to nullify the confession of faith as Yeshua describes the one who calls out “κύριε, κύριε” (Lord Lord). Not doing the will of God, results in a failure to enter heaven. Is Yeshua teaching a works based faith? A further development of the same thought is found in John 7:17 (“If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”). The point is that by “doing” the will of God, walking in His ways, we learn about the Lord God in heaven because He walks in these ways as well. In John 7:17, we are taught that it is by doing the will of God ourselves, by being willing to do His will, we gain the power to distinguish truth from error, and distinguish the difference between man’s teaching and God’s. The idea taken from the Apostolic Writings, the Psalms, and the Midrash, is that a man can presume himself to be righteous when in fact he is very wicked. With these things in mind, how is one to determine whether one is righteous or wicked in a general sense? What about prayer with regards to David’s words in Tehillim / Psalms 61? One way may be to examine your prayer life, what are the things that you pray about? Are they selfishly motivated? Or is the motivation to serve God and others? Are you praying for others more than for yourself? This is an important question because if our prayers are always “I want” or “me” do you think the Lord will give an answer? I believe that if we are doing what is right, living humble lives, and seeking the best for others in prayer, word, and deed, the Lord will bless us. We do not have to ask “Oh Lord bless me…” This seems to be the attitude that is laid out in Parashat Bechukotai (Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-27:34).

The Midrash concludes stating the following:

But the Holy One blessed be He, replies, From the ends of the earth you cry out to Me. As Scripture says, I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that had not cried unto My name (Isaiah 65:1). You did not call upon My name when you were within the Land. But whence do you cry out to Me now? From the ends of the earth. As is prophesied in Scripture, Then will you cry unto Me, and you will go, and pray unto Me, and I will listen unto you. And you will seek Me (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Moshe also said, But from thence you will seek the Lord your God; and you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul. In your distress, when all these things are come upon your (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:19-30). Hence, it is said, From the end of the earth will I cry unto You. (Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 1)

The rabbis say concerning David’s phrase “from the ends of the earth” the Lord will reply that you did not cry for me within the Land, but now you cry out to My name when you are outside the Land? This may be a reference to only praying when times are tough and ignoring the Lord when times are good. According to the Scriptures, difficult times are meant to test our identity and relationship with God. In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), Yeshua described several situations. The seed that landed on rocky places did not have much soil because the soil was shallow and there was no place to take root. The sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Yeshua then said the one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But again such a man has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution come because of the word or righteousness, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries about this life and he is unfruitful. The seed that fell on good soil produced a good crop. By allegory, the one who was well rooted (good ground) received the word (seed) and produced maasim tovim, he was not destroyed by trouble, he remained faithful to the Lord during persecution, and he was not drawn away by wealth. Troubling times tests our faith and sense of purpose. The Apostle James said, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:2) Troubling times also produces obedience. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:9 “The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything” Troubles are brought to teach us to rely upon the Lord. Paul explained this to the Corinthians in his second epistle saying, 2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 1:9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 1:10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 1:11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. (NASB) The prophetic message in the Torah given by Moshe was of a repetitive pattern of when blessing comes, one will forget about the Lord, when troubles come one will pray to the Lord. In Paul’s case he did not forsake the Lord, he was doing the Lord’s work and was being persecuted as a result. Moshe said that if you seek the Lord your God, you will find him. The condition is if you seek the Lord will all of your heart and all of your soul. Do not wait until distressing times, seek the Lord now!

Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 2 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “When my heart faints (Tehillim / Psalms 61:2).” The homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “For how long a time is a man required to stand at prayer?” The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק סא סימן ב

ב בעטוף לבי. עד היכן חייב אדם לעמוד בתפלה, ר׳ יהודה אומר עד שיעטוף לבו, שנאמר תפלה לעני כי יעטוף [ולפני ה׳ ישפוך שיחו] (תהלים קב א), הוי בעטוף לבי. בצור (ירוממני) [ירום ממני]. איזו זו ירושלים, שנאמר ורחבה ונסבה למעלה (יחזקאל מא ז), לכך בצור (ירוממני) [ירום ממני], אמרה כנסת ישראל לפני הקב״ה רבונו של עולם איני מבקשת לישב אצל האויב, אבל אגורה באהלך עולמים, וכן הוא אומר ה׳ אהבתי מעון ביתך ומקום משכן כבודך (תהלים כו ח), וכן הוא אומר כי טוב יום בחצריך מאלף בחרתי הסתופף בבית (ה׳) [אלהי] מדור באהלי רשע (שם תהלים פד יא).

Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 2

2. When my heart faints (Tehillim / Psalms 61:2). For how long a time is a man required to stand at prayer? Rabbi Judah said, Until his heart grows faint, as is said, A prayer of the afflicted, when he faints and pours out his complaint before the Lord (Tehillim / Psalms 102:1). Hence it is said, When my heart faints. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Tehillim / Psalms 61:3). What rock? The rock of the Temple in Jerusalem, of which it is said And the side chambers were broader as they encompassed the house higher and higher (Ezekiel 41:7). Hence it is said, Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. The congregation of Israel said to the Holy One blessed be He, Master of the universe, I do not seek to dwell with the enemy; I would dwell in Your tent forever (Tehillim / Psalms 61:5). So, too, it is said in another Psalm, Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells (Tehillim / Psalms 26:8). And in yet another Psalm, For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather stand a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Tehillim / Psalms 84:11).

The midrash is speaking on the verse “when my heart faints” and asks the question, “For how long a time is a man required to stand at prayer?” Where do the rabbis get the idea that there is a length of time that is required for prayer? Is there a length of time required for prayer? According to the Oral Torah, (Talmud Bavli, Taanit 2a), prayer is a Biblical command derived from the Scripture passage which says, “You shall serve God with your whole heart” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:13) with the idea of how does one give service to the Lord that is performed with the heart? The answer is “prayer.” Prayers are therefore referred to as “Avodah sheca-Lev” (“service that is in the heart”). Rabbi Maimonides in a similar manner categorizes prayer as a Biblical command of both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Prayer 1:1). In Judaism, prayer takes its form based upon the siddur, the traditional liturgical prayer book. In general, men are obligated to pray three times a day within specific time ranges. The three prayer services that are recited daily are listed below.

Three Prayer Services Recited Daily

  1. Shacharit (שַחֲרִת), from the Hebrew word shachar (שַחָר) meaning “morning light.”
  2. Mincha (מִנְחָה) is a reference to the afternoon prayers named for the flour offering that accompanied sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem during this time.
  3. Arvit (עַרְבִית) or Maariv (מַעֲרִיב) refers to “nightfall.”

The Oral Torah (Talmud Bavli Berachoth 26b) provides two reasons why there are three basic prayers, (i) Each service was developed in order to parallel a sacrificial act in the Temple in Jerusalem (e.g. the morning Tamid offering, the afternoon Tamid, and the overnight burning of this last offering), and (ii) each of the Patriarchs instituted one prayer, Abraham in the morning, Isaac in the afternoon and Jacob in the evening. (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Berachoth 26b, “the morning sacrifice Tamid, the afternoon Tamid, and the overnight burning of the afternoon offering. The latter view is supported with Biblical quotes indicating that the Patriarchs prayed at the times mentioned. However, even according to this view, the exact times of when the services are held, and moreover the entire concept of a mussaf service, are still based on the sacrifices.”) This interpretation on praying three times a day is supported with quotes from the Scriptures which indicate the Patriarchs prayed at these specified times. Rabbi Maimonides states that up until the Babylonian exile (586 BCE), all prayers were composed of a personal nature (i.e. one composed his own prayers). However, following the Sages of the Great Assembly, the prayers were codified (composed) in the siddur. (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Prayer 1:4)

The midrash describes the heart that faints, the solution is for the Lord to lead him to the rock that is higher then he is. The rock is the Temple in Jerusalem, and the idea is to seek and to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. This reminds us of Tehillim / Psalms 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple. (NASB) Does David suggest that he would rather just remain in God’s house rather than work, take care of his family, and provide help for the needy? All of these things are a Torah mandate for believers. The concept may be to dwell in the house of the Lord, in prayer, and away from our enemies, is to realize how we can perpetually be thinking of the Lord God and His will for our lives, while at the same time be about our daily work. Is this possible? The point David may be making, as well as the rabbis in the midrash, is to have a underlying conscious thought process that prayerfully seeks the Lord God in heaven and His Messiah Yeshua, making petition for others. This is the kind of emphasis that the Apostle Paul seems to be making when he was writing to the Ephesians in Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, (NASB) This sort of attitude or mentality is possible with the help of the Lord. The midrash states, “The congregation of Israel said to the Holy One blessed be He, Master of the universe, I do not seek to dwell with the enemy; I would dwell in Your tent forever (Tehillim / Psalms 61:5).” This reference could also be a way of thinking, dwelling with the enemy can be synonymous to thinking on sin, walking in sin, and not thinking on things from above. (Colossians 3:2) The midrash continues saying, “So, too, it is said in another Psalm, Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells (Tehillim / Psalms 26:8).” The habitation of the house of God, as a parallel to our bodies which house the Holy Spirit of God, we should be careful to guard what we bring into and do with these bodies.

Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 2 concludes saying, “And in yet another Psalm, For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather stand a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Tehillim / Psalms 84:11, יא כִּי טוֹב-יוֹם בַּחֲצֵרֶיךָ מֵאָלֶף בָּחַרְתִּי הִסְתּוֹפֵף בְּבֵית אֱלֹהַי מִדּוּר בְּאָהֳלֵי-רֶשַׁע:).” This word is used in Tehillim / Psalm 84:11, the psalmist suggests that he would rather stand at the door of God’s house and merely look in, than dwell in houses where iniquity prevailed. In a similar way, when we pray, the parallel is to one who is looking into God’s dwelling place and calling out to Him seeking an answer. The tents of the wicked are placed in contrast to the Tent of God (Mishkan), a Torah reference to the Tabernacle. Dwelling in the tents of the wicked, this brings up memory of the Scripture in Bereshit / Genesis 13:12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. (NASB) Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom, and Sodom was the tent of sin, a wicked place. The idea is that peering in to look at sin, one can not also peer in to look at God. There is a distinction made, one can only do one or the other and not both. It is better to pray and seek the Lord, where standing as a doorkeeper is a reference to those who pray and seek the Lord. Are you a doorkeeper who seeks to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of your life? What does your prayer life look like?

Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 3 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “Another comment. I will dwell in Your tent forever.” The פתיחתא (Petihta), the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Could the thought have come into David’s mind that he would live forever?” The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק סא סימן ג

ג דבר אחר אגורה באהלך עולמים. וכי עלה על דעתו של דוד להיות חי עולמים, אלא אמר דוד לפני הקב״ה יהי רצון מלפניך שיהו שירות ותשבחות שלי נאמרין בבתי כנסיות ובבתי מדרשות לעולם. כמו דור ודור. כדורות של עולם הזה ושל עולם הבא. חסד ואמת מן ינצרוהו. חסד ואמת שהן מזומנים לעולם לפניך הן יכבדוהו, שנאמר חסד ואמת יקדמו פניך (תהלים פט טו), ואין מן אלא מזומן, כמה דאת אמר וימן להם (דניאל א ה).

Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 3

3. Another comment. I will dwell in Your tent forever. Could the thought have come into David’s mind that he would live forever? No. David was saying to the Holy One blessed be He, May it be Your will that my songs and praises of You will be sung forever in houses of prayer and in houses of study. May his years be as many generations (Tehillim / Psalms 61:7), May the Messiah’s years be as many as the generations of this world and of the world to come. Appoint (man) mercy and truth, that they may preserve him (Tehillim / Psalms 61:8), Mercy and truth, which are appointed to go before You forever (Tehillim / Psalms 89:15). The Hebrew word man clearly means appoint, as in the verse, And the king appointed (wayeman) for them (Daniel 1:5).

David says in Tehillim / Psalms 61:4, ה אָגוּרָה בְאָהָלְךָ עוֹלָמִים אֶחֱסֶה בְסֵתֶר כְּנָפֶיךָ סֶּלָה: 61:4 Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states, ה אדור במשכנך לעלמיא איתרחיץ בטלל שכינתך לעלמין׃ 61:5 I will dwell in your tent forever, I will be secure in the shade of your presence forever. (EMC) The Septuagint states, 61:4 παροικήσω ἐν τῷ σκηνώματί σου εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας σκεπασθήσομαι ἐν σκέπῃ τῶν πτερύγων σου διάψαλμα 61:4 I will dwell in thy tabernacle for ever; I will shelter myself under the shadow of thy wings. Pause. (LXX) Based upon the words “I will dwell in Your tent forever” (אגורה באהלך עולמים) the rabbis ask whether David had thought that he would live forever. The Midrash answers saying “No,” David was actually saying to the Lord that may his songs be remembered and sung forever in the houses of prayer and the houses of study. The Midrash continues saying, “May the Messiah’s years be as many as the generations of this world and of the world to come.” The word “Messiah” is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to describe both priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil as described in Shemot / Exodus 30:22-25. In Jewish Eschatology, the term Mashiach come to also refer to the future King who descended from the Davidic line. This Mashiach is expected to be anointed with oil and rule over Israel during the Messianic Age. The Messiah is often referred to as the King Messiah” in the Aramac Targums (Tehillim / Psalms 61:7) and in the rabbinic literature. The general view is that the Messiah will descend from his father through the line of King David and gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel ushering in an era of peace, rebuild the Temple, set up the Sanhedrin, etc. The Talmud discusses the coming of the Messiah extensively in Sanhedrin 98a. The Talmudic description is in the time of the King Messiah, there will be freedom and peace, and a time of goodness for all peoples.

Maimonides writes the following concerning the King Messiah” in the section Hilkhot Melakhim Umilchamoteihem, chapters 11 and 12 (http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/682956/jewish/Mishneh-Torah.htm):

“The anointed king is destined to stand up and restore the Davidic Kingdom to its antiquity, to the first sovereignty. He will build the Temple in Jerusalem and gather the strayed ones of Israel together. All laws will return in his days as they were before: Sacrificial offerings are offered and the Sabbatical years and Jubilees are kept, according to all its precepts that are mentioned in the Torah. Whoever does not believe in him, or whoever does not wait for his coming, not only does he defy the other prophets, but also the Torah and Moses our teacher. For the Torah testifies about him, thus: “And the Lord Your God will return your returned ones and will show you mercy and will return and gather you… If your strayed one shall be at the edge of Heaven… And He shall bring you” etc.(Deuteronomy 30:3-5).” “These words that are explicitly stated in the Torah, encompass and include all the words spoken by all the prophets. In the section of Torah referring to Bala’am, too, it is stated, and there he prophesied about the two anointed ones: The first anointed one is David, who saved Israel from all their oppressors; and the last anointed one will stand up from among his descendants and saves Israel in the end. This is what he says (Numbers 24:17-18): “I see him but not now” – this is David; “I behold him but not near” – this is the anointed king. “A star has shot forth from Jacob” – this is David; “And a brand will rise up from Israel” – this is the anointed king. “And he will smash the edges of Moab” – This is David, as it states: “…And he struck Moab and measured them by rope” (2 Samuel 8:2); “And he will uproot all Children of Seth” – this is the anointed king, of whom it is stated: “And his reign shall be from sea to sea” (Zechariah 9:10). “And Edom shall be possessed” – this is David, thus: “And Edom became David’s as slaves etc.” (2 Samuel 8:6); “And Se’ir shall be possessed by its enemy” – this is the anointed king, thus: “And saviors shall go up Mount Zion to judge Mount Esau, and the Kingdom shall be the Lord’s” (Obadiah 1:21).” “And by the Towns of Refuge it states: “And if the Lord your God will widen up your territory… you shall add on for you another three towns” etc. (Deuteronomy 19:8-9). Now this thing never happened; and the Holy One does not command in vain. But as for the words of the prophets, this matter needs no proof, as all their books are full with this issue.” “Do not imagine that the anointed king must perform miracles and signs and create new things in the world or resurrect the dead and so on. The matter is not so: For Rabbi Akiva was a great scholar of the sages of the Mishnah, and he was the assistant-warrior of the king Bar Kokhba, and claimed that he was the anointed king. He and all the Sages of his generation deemed him the anointed king, until he was killed by sins; only since he was killed, they knew that he was not. The Sages asked him neither a miracle nor a sign…” “And if a king shall arise from among the House of David, studying Torah and indulging in commandments like his father David, according to the written and oral Torah, and he will impel all of Israel to follow it and to strengthen breaches in its observance, and will fight Hashem’s [God’s] wars, this one is to be treated as if he were the anointed one. If he succeeded and built a Holy Temple in its proper place and gathered the dispersed ones of Israel together, this is indeed the anointed one for certain, and he will mend the entire world to worship the Lord together, as it is stated: “For then I shall turn for the nations a clear tongue, to call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship Him with one shoulder (Zephaniah 3:9).” “But if he did not succeed to this degree, or if he was killed, it becomes known that he is not this one of whom the Torah had promised us, and he is indeed like all proper and wholesome kings of the House of David who died. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, only set him up to try the public by him, thus: “Some of the wise men will stumble in clarifying these words, and in elucidating and interpreting when the time of the end will be, for it is not yet the designated time.” (Daniel 11:35).”

Notice how Rambam states the messiah will not come performing signs or resurrecting the dead. This may be a reference to Yeshua who come performing miracles and resurrecting the dead. The example he provides is from Bar Kokhba since Rabbi Akiva had a part in the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans, and the reconsecration of the Temple, he died and the sages did not request a sign from him to prove he was the messiah of Israel. Rambam’s understanding of the messiah, in his comments here, comes from the comparison of Bar Kokhba. He continues saying the messiah will come teaching others to obey God’s Torah, gathering his people, and will mend the entire world to worship the Lord together quoting from Zephaniah 3:9 “For then I shall turn for the nations a clear tongue, to call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship Him with one shoulder” Many of the Scriptural requirements concerning the Messiah, what he will do, and what will be done during his reign are found in the Book of Isaiah. The interpretation of the Hebrew Bible on Isaiah varies among Jewish scholars. The general arguments proceed saying ancient Israel looked at the meaning in original context in the time frame in which they were written and not as a future expectation of the coming King Messiah. These types of arguments are based on an anti-missionary attempt to turn people away from Yeshua the Messiah.

Isaiah Scriptures

  • Isaiah 1:26 – “And I will restore your judges as at first and your counselors as in the beginning; afterwards you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City.” (Isaiah 1:26)
  • Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)
  • The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:11-17)
  • He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:8-10, 2 Chronicles 7:18)
  • The “spirit of the Lord” will be upon him, and he will have a “fear of God” (Isaiah 11:2)
  • Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)
  • Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)
  • He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)
  • All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)
  • Death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8)
  • There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)
  • All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)
  • The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)
  • He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)
  • Nations will recognize the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)
  • The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)
  • The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)
  • Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)
  • The people of Israel will have direct access to the Torah through their minds and Torah study will become the study of the wisdom of the heart (Jeremiah 31:33)
  • He will give you all the worthy desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)

The point is concerning these things, including the rabbinic interpretation on these verses, there are close parallels to Yeshua the Messiah according to the account of His life in the Apostolic Writings. Yeshua claimed to be the anointed one. Rambam says Daniel prophesied saying “And the children of your people’s rebels shall raise themselves to set up prophecy and will stumble.” (Mishneh Torah, Sefer Shofetim, Melachim uMilchamot, Chapter 11, Halacha 4, Chabad translation by Eliyahu Touge) Is this not the stumbling block, a self imposing stumbling block, that is interpreted to be prophesied by Daniel concerning the Messiah Yeshua? The prophets speak of the anointed one who saves Israel, rescues them, gathers them, brings peace between man and God, strengthens the mitzvot to follow and obey the Lord God our Father in heaven (See Matthew 5-7). The interesting point concerning Yeshua the Messiah, his teachings has gone out to the entire world, even far away islands among nations and peoples for the glory of God. Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 3 speaks of the desire to dwell in the tent of God, dwelling in His presence, seeking the Lord, to serve, to listen, and to obey. The rabbis parallel this to the King Messiah to whom His life be added “Days upon days” (יָמִים עַל-יְמֵי), a reference the Midrash interprets as “the Messiah’s years will be as many as the generations of this world and of the world to come,” the King Messiah will live forever. Yeshua was raised from the grave to live forever, consistent with the rabbinic interpretation of the Hebrew text, David’s words, and the rabbinic future expectation of the Messiah. Taking all of these things into consideration, Yeshua is none other than the King Messiah, sent of God to save and deliver His people just as the Scriptures say according to the Apostolic Writings.

Midrash Tehillim 61, Part 3 concludes saying, “And in yet another Psalm, For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather stand a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Tehillim / Psalms 84:11).” This psalm and the midrash state that the Messiah is very close, and urge all to pray, to seek the Lord and His Messiah in prayer, and to seek to be a doorkeeper in the house of God. Let’s Pray!

Tehillim 61-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!