Psalm 119:137-144 (Tzadik)

Psalm 119 is about loving God’s Torah, His statutes, commands and precepts.  It is broken up into sections with strange looking words or letters which are the Hebrew alphabet.  In the Hebrew Scriptures, each line of each section starts with a word beginning with this letter.  This is called an acrostic poem.    Each Hebrew letter also has a  word picture associated with it giving greater meaning and symbolism to each line of the specific letter-ed section.

Word Picture - A Fishhook

צ Tzadik – A Fish Hook

To pull toward, something inescapable, desire (hooked on), trouble, harvest

“You are righteous, Adonai; and your rulings are upright. You have commanded your instructions in righteousness and great faithfulness. My zeal is destroying me, because my foes have forgotten your words. Your word is refined to complete purity, and your servant loves it.  I may be small and despised, but I do not forget your precepts. Your righteousness is eternal righteousness, and your Torah is truth. Trouble and distress have overtaken me, but your mitzvot are my delight. Your instruction is righteous forever; give me understanding, and I will live.”

Most, if not all English translations like the Amplified, the King James and New International Version, use the word ‘law’ in verse 142.  However, if one uses a concordance to find the exact Hebrew word that King David used, it is torah.  King David knew and understood that torah was synonymous with the Word of God and there was no confusion between the two (‘law of sin and death’ and God’s teachings and instructions).   He speaks of the Word/Torah as being refined to complete purity.

In John 17:17, Yeshua says, “Sanctify them by your word, your word is truth.”  The Greek for ‘word’ in this verse is logos and means that which is spoken, commanded, taught, instructed. Yeshua is saying that those things which God has spoken, commanded, taught and instructed, is torah,  and torah sanctifys us.  The Hebrew word kadosh meaning ‘sanctify or holy’  is also used in the sense of making one pure and having met all of God’s requirements when worshipping Him.   There is no difference between what King David said about the Torah and what Yeshua said about God’s Word.  They are one and the same; they are truth; they both sanctify us.  

Three words stand out to me in this passage are righteousness, faithfulness and delight.   In Hebrew, the word righteousness tzadak comes from the letter tzadik and means ‘to be in the right, be justified, be just.’  Though this is one nuance of the word, it isn’t used often in Scripture and is found mostly in the book of Job.

The basic meaning of the verb tzadak is ‘to be righteous’, a legal term which involves God’s process of justice when He makes a divine pronouncement of guilt or innocence on the wicked or righteous.  In Genesis, Abraham meets Melchizedek or Melek Tzadek – ‘King of Righteousness” and they share bread and wine.   This type of tzadek is the righteousness credited to Abraham because he believed the Lord’s  promises.  Tzadek is the type of relationship where two people or a person and God are faithful to one another as seen in the relationship between Melek Tzadek and Abraham.  Tzadek brings with it the idea of loyalty and faithfulness and embodies all that God expects of His people.

There are at least these two views of righteousness and both are aspects of torah.  One view is where a person judges, deals, sacrifices and speaks righteously using torah as a guideline.  The other is where a person learns, teaches, and pursues after righteousness using torah as a guideline.  Both symbolize the fishhook.  In the word pictures,   righteousness is being hooked to the path of life that you follow – straight and without turning back.    Like King David we are to delight in God’s Word, His precepts, His instructions so that we are hooked on God’s righteousness walk in faithfulness as did our father Abraham and our living Torah example, Yeshua.

““Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). 

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