Wednesday of Pentecost 14 – Psalm 119:129-136

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
    therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
    it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
    because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    as is your way with those who love your name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
    and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression,
    that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
    and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
    because people do not keep your law.

Psalm 119 is just a fun psalm. Unfortunately, it is also the longest chapter in the Bible and that fact often keeps us from reading it as we should. As we have noted before, Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem. Every verse in this section of the psalm begins with the letter “pe” which roughly corresponds to our letter “p.” We cannot replicate this in English without destroying what the psalm says. We translate the meaning and put the Hebrew letter above the section to remind us of this acrostic structure. 

Here’s another fun fact. Most letters in the Hebrew alphabet also are words. Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet means “ox.” Beth, the second letter, means “house.” Pe means “face.” You can add that to the other Hebrew words you may already know: Amen (it is so), Hallelujah (praise the LORD), Sabbaoth (hosts), and Bethlehem (house of bread). 

Now, Look at verse 135. The word “pe” shows up in our psalm. God’s face shines on us. You probably heard a similar thing when your pastor spoke a benediction at the end of the last church service you attended, “The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.”  The picture is the beaming and smiling face of God. No frown of judgment, no storm clouds of anger or wrath here. God’s face is the bright sunshine of joy at seeing you. If you have ever seen a person’s face light up at seeing someone they love, you know the image. I pray it was when that other person saw you. That’s how God sees you. 

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