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Exploring Psalm 119 from a scientist’s perspective: Zayin 

 Peter Gray-Read BSc MSc

ZAYIN
49  Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope
50  This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me
51  The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law
52  I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself
53  Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law
54  Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage
55  I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law
56  This I had, because I kept thy precepts

 
Zayin is the seventh letter of the Aleph-bet the Hebrew alphabet.  The theme of these 8 verses is not hard to see… REMEMBER occurs three times firstly in verse 49 asking Yahweh to:

Zayin‘Remember the word unto thy servant…’,    then verse 52
‘I remembered thy judgements of old…’      and thirdly the evocative
‘I have remembered thy name, O Yahweh, in the night…’

 

The 7th day is a day for us to remember and reflect on what Yahweh has done – a day of rest.  We can get direction and encouragement from seeing how the Lord has guided us in the past. Of course He can still do new things but His purpose is consistent

The WORD or LOGOS is the same for all of us – it is a treasure essential for our spiritual life.  But we also need a specific Rhema word for our lives.  It seems that David is reminding the Lord of the rhema word he received.  Perhaps it was the revelation of grace,  ‘… grant me thy law graciously’,  or the anointing from Samuel, or ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want…’

50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me

In a tough situation many of us will have known the comfort / strength that recalling God’s word gives – particularly individual words of prophecy.  This is not to confirm us in a wrong path but to ‘quicken us’ – I love that expression in following through and persevering… maybe in a job, on a course, in a difficult relationship.  God knows how to encourage us and where needed, correct us

51 The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law

Goliath held David in derision to his own cost; however it can also be those who claim to be on our side but who have an uncharitable attitude.  But Yahweh knows how to ‘lift the needy out of the dunghill’, he knows how to ‘put down the mighty from their seat and exalt them of low degree’, he lifts up those who ‘walk humbly with their God’.  People may seem to win an argument… maybe on evolution grounds or on some intellectual level, but hold on to what you have received, your testimony… God will come through for you.  He did for Job…  ‘Who is this that darkeneth council by words without knowledge?’ …Where wast thou…  (Come on Yahweh…)

52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself

These judgements could range from Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Judgement on Pharaoh in Egypt and at the Red Sea, judgement on Korah and those who led rebellion in the wilderness.  God is involved…,  he did not just wind up the universe  and let it run.  He chooses, he makes covenant, he delivers, he provides, he gives laws, he judges.  David was comforted because he knows God is Emmanuel – He is ‘with us’

53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law

Knowing what God has done in the past David is horrified… a strong word, a strong emotion.  He does not fear for himself but for ‘the wicked’ those who think they can please themselves how they behave, how they treat and exploit others, how they defy God.  I have heard sobering accounts of swift judgement but there are also times when Gods people cry… ‘how long…,  when…,  how many are the days of thy servant…’  Psalm 73 is good here

54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage

Get the song book out… Ancient and modern, or Redemption Hymnal or Songs of Fellowship – even the Psalms!  There is nothing like praising God to lift the spirit. The old songs have power but I appreciate we have to allow space for the new.
If it was good enough for Moody and Sankey its good enough for me… ‘Gi  me that ol’ time religion…’  Sorry behave!   The ‘house of my pilgrimage’ may be my local church, my own home, or asylum seekers make shift tent. We are pilgrims passing through to the heavenly city… we must leave the aroma of Christ, be overcomers wear the armour and pray,  testify and witness.  John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s progress is still a valuable companion – we face the same challenges

55 I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law
56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts


We have to consider these verses together.  Verse 55 is such a powerful verse. There is nothing more powerful than God’s name - in the mouth of a believer.  Blaspheming God’s name is so common and just shows people’s ignorance.  But David is careful to put it in context… he was dedicated to following closely and so for Him the name of Yehovah was everything.  It represented all power and authority in the universe.  The old hymn says ‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believers ear…’  The name of Yehovah is a battle cry, it’s a comfort, it’s a strong tower, it’s a refuge.  I was in a situation many years ago when I had to disarm a man wielding a large axe – he had already hit his wife and split her hand.  It was the name of Jesus that gave the victory.  Whatever darkness or ‘night’ you are in – remember the name.  Speak the name!  Paul and Silas remembered the name, locked up in their cell at midnight… they began to praise… and God joined the praise party

Yes, let’s take this up a gear… The New Testament shows us that we are required to remember.  It mentions several things we need to remember in order to be effective.  It is part of who we are.  Chief of these is of course to remember the cutting of the New Covenant at the last supper with Jesus and the disciples.  Paul received the word: Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you:  this do in remembrance of me and then…  This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me

Remembering what God has done is vital.  It defines who we are.  Just as we need to remember whose image we have and whose likeness from Genesis 1, we need to remember our new creation.  Teaching of the law to succeeding generations was a key principle of Judaism…

 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:7

This is talking about remembering and understanding

In his teaching Jesus was frequently referring to Old Covenant laws… ye have heard it said… but I say unto you.  He expected the people to remember.  He expected his disciples to remember the miracles he did… He himself used Old Testament scripture to resist the temptations of Satan.  The amazing ability of our brains to remember is there by design.  We need to make use of that capacity to store up words of life so they become who we are and we become embodiments of the living word

We could give many other examples but to finish with… the book of Revelation has many references to remembering.  In the letters to the churches in chapter 2 and 3 the awesome figure of the glorified Jesus with… ‘feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace…’ speaks to the seven churches.  In particular to the church of Ephesus he says  …thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent


Questions:

  1. What is your earliest scripture related memory?

  2. Sometimes our memories need healing… discuss

  3. Does God remember everything?  How does this make us feel?

  4. Do you have a schedule of scripture memorisation?  Would it help?

  5. What are your favourite verses?

  6. Should they still teach the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ in schools?


 53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law


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