OH HOW I LOVE YOUR TORAH, יהוה - Psalm 119:97-104

(Note: יהוה = Yahweh;   יהושע = Yahushua (Yahweh is our Salvation/Saviour))

Shalom to you all, may you truly be blessed in יהוה as we enjoy this fellowship together in Him, aměn!  How many of you have heard the expression, or rather I am sure you are aware of the expression, “Oh how I love…!” Ever found yourself saying that? Perhaps over a favourite food, like ice cream or chocolate, or perhaps over shopping, or reading a book, walking on the beach or even as I have said in my life… pumping iron! Do we realise the impact of our words and how the very words we speak in fact have a critical role in determining our steps and motives and then ultimately doing that “which we love”.  

Love is expressed in obedience as we naturally tend to do that which we love to do rather than that which we hate! As we know in Scripture in Yoḥanan Bět/2 John:6 “And this is the love, that we walk according to His commands. Speaking here of loving one another; and in Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:3 “For this is love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy.

Our love for יהוה is expressed in our obedience to His commands – to His Torah! So now understanding that, do you think we can we truly say, based on our actions that ought to correspond with our confession of faith, that we love His Torah? My message tonight is simply called, “Oh how I love Your Torah, יהוה!” and it is the words that we see being declared by Dawiḏ in Tehillim/Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is a beautifully constructed masterpiece that truly expresses the psalmists love for the Torah of YHWH. In this Tehillim/Psalm we see various words used repeatedly in reference to the instructions, decrees, words and ordinances etc. of יהוה .Throughout the entire Tehillim/Psalm 119 there is in every verse one of the following expressions; except for one verse and that is verse 122 and these ten expressions correspond to or rather point us to ‘The 10 Words’ or as we know it as the Ten Commandments:  So let us take a brief look at these ’10 words of Tehillim/Psalm 119’:

1 - ‘Torah - תּוֹרָה is used 25 times and refers to the whole body of Scriptures teaching and instructions as found in the writings of Mosheh.  Torah, from its root, means - to aim or point in the right direction and move or shoot in that way. We fix our eyes on Yahushua – the Living Torah - and walk in Him! The Word is first used in Berěshith/ Genesis 26:5 in the Plural and in this Tehillim/Psalm 119 it is used in the following verses:  1, 18, 29, 34, 44, 51, 53, 55, 61, 70, 72, 77, 85, 92, 97, 109, 113, 126, 136, 142, 150, 153, 163, 165, 174.

2 - ‘Mitsvahמִצְוָה' meaning ‘commandments’ from the word ‘zavah’ which is to set up or constitute and hence speaks of the constitutional or set up commands and is used 22 times referring to the clear definitive directives issued by יהוה. Used first in Berěshith/Genesis 26:5 and here used in the following verses: 6, 10, 19, 21, 32, 35, 47, 48, 60, 66, 73, 86, 96 (sing.), 98, 115, 127, 131, 143, 151, 166, 172, and 176.

3 – Derek’ – דֶּרֶךְ means ‘way’ from ‘darak’ which is to tread with the feet and speaks of the act of walking – how we are to walk in Him! It is used 13 times in this Tehillim/Psalm. First occurrence is Berěshith/Genesis 3:24 and in this Tehillim/Psalm in the following verses: 1, 3, 5, 14, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 37, 59, 168.

4 – ‘Eduth’ – עֵדוּתmeaning ‘commandments’ from the word ‘ud’ which is to turn back, or go over again or to reiterate, hence to testify, occurring 23 times in this Tehillim/Psalm. The first occurrence Berěshith/Genesis 21:30. It occurs in this Tehillim/Psalm twenty-three times; nine times ('eduth), vv. 14, 31, 36, 88, 99, 111, 129, 144, 157; fourteen times ('edah, fem. sing.), vv. 2, 22, 24, 46, 59, 79, 95, 119, 125, 138, 146, 152, 167, 168. In Shemoth/Exodus 31:18 which we will be reading as part of this week’s torah portion in the morning speaks of the two tablets or stones of the witness and is the word ‘eduth’, speaking clearly of His commandments!

5 – ‘Pikkudim’ – פִּקּוּדִיםtranslated as ‘precepts’ and refers to mandates that are joined together – precept upon precept! It is used 21 times here in 119. It occurs only in the Book of Tehillim/Psalms (see 19:8; 103:18; 111:7). In this Tehillim/Psalm in the following: 4, 15, 27, 40, 45, 56, 63, 69, 78, 87, 93, 94, 100, 104, 110, 128, 134, 141, 159, 168, and 173.

6 – ‘Imrah’ – אִמְרָהTranslates as ‘word’ from ‘amar’ which is to bring forth light, hence to say and is rendered as ‘speech’ and is used 19 times here in 119.First occurrence in Berěshith/Genesis 4:23 rendered as ‘speech’ and here, 11, 38, 41, 50, 58, 67, 76, 82, 103, 116, 123, 133, 140, 148, 154, 158, 162, 170, 172.

7 – ‘Mishpat’ – מִשְׁפָּטmeans judgement and is from ‘shaphat’ which is to set upright or erect, hence to judge and is used here 23 times. First occurrence in Berěshith/Genesis 18:19. Here: 7, 13, 20, 30, 39, 43, 52, 62, 75, 84, 91, 102, 106, 108, 120, 121, 132, 137, 149, 156, 160, 164, 175.

8 – ‘Tsedek, Tsedekah, Tsaddik’ – צֶדֶק צְדָקָה צַדִּיק 3 words used here is this Tehillim/Psalm translated as righteousness and are collectively used 15 times here. By comparing the first occurrence (Wayyiqra/Leviticus. 19:15) with the second (Wayyiqra/Leviticus. 19:36) we get the idea that the word has special reference to equal balancing. Tsedek (masculine.) occurs twelve times, and is rendered "righteousness" : vv. 123, 142 (second), 144, 172; "right", v. 7, 62, 106, 138, 160, 164; "justice", v. 121.  Tsedakah (feminine), first occurrence, Berěshith/Genesis 15:6.  In Tehillim/Psalm 119, "righteousness", vv. 40, 142 (first).  Tsaddik (adj.), spoken of a king (Shemuʼĕl Bet/2 Samuel . 23:3), once, in v. 137. 

9 – ‘Hoq and Hukka’ – חק חֻקֶּיStatutes - from the word meaning to cut, engrave or inscribe, hence to decree or ordain making decrees or ordianances. It is used 22 times. First occurrence in Berěshith/Genesis 26:5. Here: 5, 8, 12, 16, 23, 26, 33, 48, 54, 64, 68, 71, 80, 83, 112, 117, 118, 124, 135, 145, 155, 171.

10 – ‘Daḇar’ – דָּבָר‘Word or Words’ and means to arrange in a row or set forth in speech and refers to that which has been stated or spoken, used 24 times here, usually giving reference to the 10 Words spoken at Mount Sinai. First occurrence in Berěshith/Genesis 11:1. Here: 9, 16, 17, 25, 28, 42 (twice), 43, 49, 57 (pl.), 65, 74, 81, 89, 101, 105, 107, 114, 130 (pl.), 139 (pl.), 147, 160, 161, 169.

Ok, are you still all with me? A whole lot of Hebrew words at once – crazy I know, but what I am showing you is in a nutshell the wonder and design of this magnificent Psalm which praises יהוה and His Word as Dawiḏ continually expresses the joy he finds in Scripture.  I know we cannot expect to dissect the entire Tehillim here tonight; however what I want to do briefly is look at a section of this alphabetic Psalm – alphabetic as it contains 22 sections just as there are 22 letters in the Hebrew Aleph Bet (alphabet), each with 8 verses and within each section each verse begins with the Hebrew letter of that section. The section I want to look at is from verse 97-104 in the section known as ‘Mem’ – the letter ‘mem’ in Hebrew (מ)  is known as the letter of water and is so pictured in the Ancient text, and symbolises the ‘spring’ of Torah and so may we be immersed in His Word that washes us, aměn!

Turn with me to Tehillim 119:97 (Read).

Oh how I love your Torah is how Dawiḏ begins this section! Oh how I love your Torah – something we too are to declare. In what we have just read I would like to give you 6 reasons why we are to praise יהוה and love His Torah, understanding clearly that ‘Torah’ in the Hebrew mind-set simply means a set of instructions from a father to his children and violation of these instructions will result in discipline in order to foster and teach obedience, training his children in the way they should go and grow in maturity.

The Torah of יהוה is the way of life from birth to death that יהוה teaches us in how to live a set-apart life growing in maturity and pleasing Him in every way, bringing esteem to His Name!

Let us look at why Dawiḏ declared his love for the Torah and may we too learn to do the same:

A – THE TORAH TEACHES US WISDOM (97-100)

Dawiḏ declared that the Torah makes him wiser than his enemies – why? Because it is ever before me he says. In other words, “I constantly have Your Word before me יהוה." – I make it my own and take responsibility with that which you have freely given me, and by it I have more understanding than my teachers – why? Because I study your witnesses and I meditate on your Word. I can understand more than the aged – why? Because I have observed your orders – in other words I do what your Word says to do! Wisdom is gained through cultivating knowledge and understanding – when we reject the knowledge of the Torah we will never gain understanding in the doing and so be wise in our ways. Mishlĕ/Proverbs 4:7 tells us that whatever you do, get wisdom and in getting it get understanding! We cannot get wisdom if we are not growing in the Knowledge of the Torah. Hoshea/ Hosea 4:6 tells us that His people are dying for lack of knowledge. This Torah is not for the elite only, but for all who call upon the Name of יהוה!

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 2:1-8 “My son, if you accept my words, And treasure up my commands with you, 2 So that you make your ear attend to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as hidden treasures, 5 Then you would understand the fear of יהוה, And find the knowledge of Elohim. 6 For יהוה gives wisdom; Out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 And He treasures up stability for the straight, a shield to those walking blamelessly, 8 to watch over the paths of right-ruling, and the way of His kind ones He guards.

Out of His mouth – His very words – comes knowledge and understanding, and when that is cultivated in obedience and is worked out in faithful living, wisdom grows! The Torah gives us the wisdom we need and that is why we love it!

B – THE TORAH TEACHES US SET-APARTNESS (101)

There is a way to please יהוה and it is found in His Torah and His Writings. Faith as we know according to Scripture comes by hearing the Word and without faith it is impossible to please יהוה. יהוה has made His instructions very plain for us – He has certainly not demanded things from us that He has not told us how to do it – His Torah is His instructions for us and teaches us how to live a set-apart life stripping away the worldly junk that has so easily fastened itself to us through traditions and lies! When our hearts are seeking after יהוה then we can begin to take that which He writes upon our heart and guard to do all we hear, becoming a set-apart people unto Him as we learn from His Torah!

Tehillim/Psalm 119:11 “I have treasured up Your word in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Tehillim/Psalm 119:105-106 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn, and I confirm, To guard Your righteous right-rulings.

Without His Torah, we cannot ever be able to learn how to be a set-apart people, but with his Torah we are able to be restrained from evil ways. The churches are teaching lawlessness and all you see more and more is not a set-apart people but rather corrupt hypocrites that compromise their way of daily living in many ways assuming a claim to be under a ‘grace’ that is nothing other than a perversion of the Truth as a licence to sin and be lawless! Living set-apart is not easy, but oh how we love His Torah that teaches us set-apartness!

C – THE TORAH TEACHES US FAITHFULNESS (102)

Dawiḏ credits יהוה for teaching him the way and in a sense is writing and declaring the faithfulness of יהוהFor You Yourself have taught me! יהוה never left Dawiḏ on his own to try and figure it all out -  יהוה instructed him – through the Torah – instructing him in righteousness, for as we know Sha’ul writes to Timotiyos that all Scripture is breathed by Elohim and is profitable for teaching, reproof, setting straight and for instruction in righteousness. Dawiḏ knew this and his obedience was an outward expression of his gratitude to יהוה and His faithfulness. You see, how you act in response to the instructions and commands and precepts and ordinances – collectively His Torah – demonstrates your faithfulness toward Him and your gratitude for His faithfulness toward you! You want to learn how to be faithful and stop turning aside to evil ways - then let the Torah of יהוה teach you and be led by His Ruach (Spirit) in all Truth! When we ignore the commands of Elohim, we in effect are abusing His faithfulness for our own hedonism – hedo what? Hedonism – that is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life! In other words – when people are chasing their own pleasure and happiness regardless of the cost they will naturally turn away from the straight and narrow way and easily forsake their faithful walk. Too many today claim to be faithful followers yet you find them forsaking the Sabbath for example to satisfy their pleasures in sport or other activities many claim they deserve for working so hard!

When we obey His commands we show that we have learned the true meaning of faithfulness, which is sticking to His Torah even when it at times does not seem pleasurable to the flesh or impeding circumstances, as we have learned it from Him through His Torah! Come on you gotta love the Torah! The Torah teaches us to keep on keeping on!!!

D – THE TORAH TEACHES US HOPE (103)

Dawiḏ certainly had a lot of bad things happen to him during his life, as he faced death many times from people, including his rebellious son. Dawiḏ as we all know was a murderer and an adulterer and everyone knew it. He faced public shame more than once - that is for sure – and lost many family members to death. Yet here he speaks of the Word of יהוה as something sweeter than honey! Dawiḏ never let go of the hope he had in יהוה!

It is the Torah that teaches us wisdom, set-apartness and faithfulness and it is the Torah which gives us hope through the storms! Let me ask you all, ‘who is going through some pretty rough storms right now or seemingly headed toward one?’

May I remind you that יהושע calmed 2 storms that we know of  - remember the first when ?He and His disciples were out on the lake and a storm arose while יהושע was sleeping and the disciples woke Him up afraid and He calmed the storm and the second time when the disciples were sent out ahead of Him and during the night a storm arose that left them in a state of fear and יהושע came walking upon the water eventually getting in the boat and calming the storm. Well this is the sweetness of the Torah that Dawiḏ was speaking about – The Torah is sweeter than any bitter storm or battle that you may find yourself in and the only One who can bring that sweet honey taste is יהושע - the Living Torah. His word is Alive, aměn!

Let me tell you:

The wise man knows the power of יהושע through His Torah!

The set-apart man knows the goodness of יהושע through His Torah!

The faithful man knows the dependability of יהושע through His Torah!

The wise, set-apart, faithful man knows that hope does not give in to trouble for as we know through the Torah that יהושע is the powerful, good and dependable foundation of his life!

We love the Torah for it teaches us hope!

E – THE TORAH TEACHES US TRUTH (104)

In Yoḥanan/John 18:38 Pontius Pilate asked יהושע “What is Truth?” He was speaking to the Truth and he didn’t even know it. Right now we live in a time where so many people are so blinded by their sin that they do not see the Truth even when it is right before their eyes! What is sin?

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 3:4 “Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

There you have it – as simple as it is has been written – sin is lawlessness – the Greek word ‘anomia’ which means ‘violation of law’ or better translated ‘violation of Torah’. Sin is torahlessness! And so the majority of professing Christians today who simply refuse to submit to the Torah are in violation of it and they, without the Torah in their lives cannot discern right from wrong. I mean think about it – the world cannot discern whether it is wrong to abort a baby or whether it is wrong for a man to lie with another man – to which many today in church are teaching tolerance or acceptance of these immoral acts in direct violation of the Torah of Elohim!

In a world primarily led in lawless living – that is living in contradiction to the Torah of Elohim – we must realise that His Torah is that which holds us to the Truth – it is the very Rock upon which we stand – יהושע - our Rock teaches us through His Word how to discern and rightly divide the Truth from falsehood and lawlessness! Without Torah we cannot know the Truth, just as Pontius Pilate did not know! In noting what Dawiḏ says here in verse 104 – in that he hated every false way – I have begun to understand more and more just what he is declaring here. Knowing the Truth leads to us hating lies! I can agree with this as the more we learn of His Truth and embrace it and grow in wisdom, the more we hate the falsehood and lies and twisted ways of the ‘church’! If you do not hate something that is evil you will tend to become tolerant of it and will even be drawn to fully accept it and may even walk in its deception and lies. We must hate that which is evil and cling to that which is good – His Torah is that which is good – not a twisted application and disregard for it sold under a false banner of grace! It is the Torah that teaches us truth. The Torah is our schoolmaster that leads us to יהושע – the Way, The Truth and the Life! There are also many who claim to be in the Truth yet they are not as they may be in a lot of ‘stuff’ and teachings that are only leading to fear and not in the Truth and love that casts out all fear!

We love the Torah for it teaches us TRUTH!!!

F – THE TORAH TEACHES US BROKENNESS

The 6th and final point I want to give tonight is not directly linked to this passage, yet is truly a significant reason for us to love His Torah – and that is that His Torah teaches us brokenness and humility!

Romiyim/Romans 7:7 “What, then, shall we say? Is the Torah sin? Let it not be! However, I did not know sin except through the Torah. For also the covetousness I knew not if the Torah had not said, “You shall not covet.

The Torah of Elohim is like an x-ray machine that reveals to us who we are or who we were! We were sick from sin –that is lawlessness (Torahlessness), but we would not have known that if the Torah did not teach us and we would have never been able to find healing from the very Living Word. Many do not like to hear and discuss the Torah as it exposes them in their lawlessness; however it is always good to show a sick person his true condition!  The Torah teaches us very quickly to lose pride and arrogance, sadly many struggle at this as they use knowledge in a puffed up state rather than to grow in understanding through doing and in wisdom! The Torah teaches us humility and service – as long as we hear, guard and do!

We love the Torah of יהוה!

Scripture is sweet to our taste as it renews life; it is the joy of our heart; it sustains hope; it shape our values; it gives understanding to the simple and gives us confidence in prayer and it is filled with promises and causes us to praise – in fact it causes us  to overflow with praise!!! DO YOU LOVE THE TORAH!!!

Let us now read the entire Tehillim/Psalm 119 and be truly touched by the power of these very words of praise for the Torah of יהוה

Prayer and Praise…… 

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