י Yod (Theme: God, The Almighty & Creator & His Direction In Our Relations With Others)
Hand: the hand is the symbol of God’s almightiness. He created everything. He keeps everything in His hands & provides. Mentioned here is the creation of man by God & the ability to understand one’s destination (v. 73, 74) in circumstances shaped by God’s hands for our salvation. Made wise by subduing circumstances (v. 75), the Prophet prays for divine mercy to descend & alter his destiny relying on God’s words (v. 76) with the aid of divine animation (v. 77), for the sake of putting to shame the haughty sinners (v. 78) & communion with the godly (v. 79), but most of all for the shaping of a heart blameless in God’s statues.
73 Your hands have made me & fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
74 Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, & that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
76 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant.
77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight.
78 Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; but I will meditate on Your precepts.
79 Let those who fear You turn to me, those who know Your testimonies.
80 Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, that I may not be ashamed.
כ Kaph (Theme: God’s Aid In Struggle Against Insults, Discouragements, Enemies)
Palm of the hand: the Palm can slap or caress. The Prophet here presents a person insults in, pressed by injustice & appealing to God for aid. What is described here is very much relevant to Joe, the martyrs, & to all who struggle against sin & the passions. We have here a short course on how to find the strength & the capability in the endless struggle against difficulties in spiritual life.
81 My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word.
82 My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, “When will You comfort me?”
83 For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, yet I do not forget Your statutes.
84 How many are the days of Your servant? When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?
85 The proud have dug pits for me, which is not according to Your law.
86 All Your commandments are faithful; they persecute me wrongfully; Help me!
87 They almost made an end of me on earth, but I did not forsake Your precepts.
88 Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
ל Lamed (Theme: Teaching Ourselves To Follow God’s Will & Word & Truth)
To teach: to teach others or to teach oneself. Here, of course, the latter is met: to learn to understand God’s will & to act in accordance with it. In heaven & on earth everything complies with the will of God (v. 89-91), & we should do likewise. Acting thus, we will not perish under humbling circumstances (v. 92); behaving in accordance with God statutes we will be quickened (p. 93); seeking them, we will feel God’s protection over us (v. 94). The understanding of God’s testimonies will teach us how to avoid enemies (v. 95), & at last the entry upon the path of God’s will give spaciousness & freedom (v. 96).
89 Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, & it abides.
91 They continue this day according to Your ordinances, for all are Your servants.
92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.
94 I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts.
95 The wicked wait for me to destroy me, but I will consider Your testimonies.
96 I have seen the consummation of all perfection, but Your commandment is exceedingly broad.
מ Mem (Theme: Reforming Defects In The Soul In Conformance With The Law)
Spot, blot, vice, moral imperfection, sin. This octave reveals how defects of the soul are reformed: blindness of the mind, corruption of the will, roughness of the heart, insensibility. A life in conformance with the law opens the eyes of the mind, which then understands everything clearly (v. 97-100); it restores righteousness to the will & regulates all its moves (v. 101, 102). In the heart it quickens the repressed feeling to all that is holy & instills a repulsion to all that is evil.
97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
נ Nun (Theme: The Law As A Guide In Dealing With Infirmities)
Tribe, father, founders of the family, etc.: There is relationship in the manifestations of spiritual life. Every virtue & vice have their ancestors in children, & the Prophet here speaks of them. God’s revelation sanctifies faith (v. 105); from it comes the firm determination to serve God (v. 106), but in spite of her strong volition, the soul sees her weakness & humbles herself before God (v. 107). What is done with zeal is done well (v. 108). So dispose, the soul submits herself entirely to God’s will (b. 109) & in spite of any obstacles, does not deviate from the law (v. 110). And the carrying out of God’s commandments she finds great joy (v. 111) & sores on wings of hope of receiving the eternal reward from God (v. 112), according to our Savior’s Beatitudes.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet & a light to my path.
106 I have sworn & confirmed that I will keep Your righteous judgments.
107 I am afflicted very much; revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.
108 Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, & teach me Your judgments.
109 My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not strayed from Your precepts.
111 Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
112 I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.
ס Samek (Theme: Dispositions & Decisions Of The Will For A God Pleasing Life. God’s Grace & Man’s Love Of The Law Of God.)
Support: here is a discussion of dispositions & decisions of the will that service support of a God-pleasing Life. The 1st such prop is the decision to love the law (v. 113), followed by the always ready assistance of the grace of God (v. 114). Firm determination & God’s grace give boldness & make a strong man out of a weakling (v. 115). Trust, however, is not based on one’s own strength, but on the assistance of God’s grace (b. 116). These mainstays of a God-pleasing Life are upheld by prayer (v. 117), the remembrance of God’s non-sparing of sinners (v. 118), the cheerless less of their lives (v. 119), & especially by the fear of God & the remembrance of God’s judgments (v. 120).
113 I hate the double-minded, but I love Your law.
114 You are my hiding place & my shield; I hope in Your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my God!
116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; & do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold me up, & I shall be safe, & I shall observe Your statutes continually.
118 You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, For their deceit is falsehood.
119 You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; Therefore I love Your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of You, & I am afraid of Your judgments.
ע Ayin (Theme: Meditation On Our Relationship With God)
The Eye: The eye is the window of the soul. But there also is a spiritual eye which the holds a spiritual world: that is the mind or the spirit which perceives God, professes God’s Providence, teaches obedience to God, longs for God & season God is ultimate happiness: this is the state of meditation. Here is the talk of the hopeful longing of the eyes of the heart & the mind towards God & of the devotion to the will of God in various circumstances which callout for such hope. The base of hope is devotion to God’s will through fulfillment of His holy commandments… The one who hopes has one eye directed towards God, awaiting His mercy, & the other upon the commandments, in order not to put an obstacle to this mercy.
121 I have done justice & righteousness; do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for Your servant for good; do not let the proud oppress me.
123 My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation & Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy, & teach me Your statutes.
125 I am Your servant; Give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.
126 It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void.
127 Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!
128 Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.
פ Pe (Theme: Expression Of God’s Words, Testimonies & Teaching, & Man’s Learning & Receiving)
Mouth: God’s mouth pronounces orders & commandments, the mouth of God-fearing people professes their absolute submission to God & they pray to Him to teach them & give them the strength to fulfill precisely all that is pronounced by His mouth, expressing contrition & repentance, if it ever will occur, to forsake it. God’s words are wonderful & attract the attention of the soul (v. 129), the word of God makes wiser & enlightens (v. 130); the longing for God’s commandments attracts His grace (v. 131). He who devotes himself to God finds himself under God’s protection (v. 132), & the fear of the Lord protects him & guides him in his ways (v. 133). In the hour of trial it gives him the strength not to leave the path of virtue (v. 134), brings down upon him God’s benevolence (v. 135), & bestows upon him the gift of tears for his sins (v. 136).
129 Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth & panted, for I longed for Your commandments.
132 Look upon me & be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
133 Direct my steps by Your word, & let no iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts.
135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant, & teach me Your statutes.
136 Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law.
Prayer after the Second Stasis:
Glory to the Father & to the Son & to the Holy Spirit; now & ever & unto ages of ages. Amen.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia; Glory to Thee, O God. (3x)
Lord, have mercy. (3x)
Glory to the Father & to the Son & to the Holy Spirit; now & ever & unto ages of ages. Amen.