Psalm 119:137-144 | ץ Tsadhe
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.2 Corinthians 5:21
In my last post, we talked about how the Hebrew alphabet is set up intentionally. Each letter’s formation and order is specific and purposeful. The meaning and formation of one letter sets up the following letter. And if you switched the letters around, their definitions would contradict each other.
The previous letter, Pe, signifies mouth, which helps us understand the verses in its section in relation to how we lead our lives verbally. This next letter is a combination of several meanings, but it builds upon the meaning of Pe.
As Pe means mouth, Tsadhe signifies a fishing hook and righteousness. It seems totally unrelated, but let’s look at the definition more closely and then connect it to the verses in Psalm 119:137-144.
Definition of Tsadhe
The letter Tsadhe got its name from the shape of a fishing hook or a hunter’s trap. The letters’ formation is a combination of the letters Nun, Waw, and Yod, which when combined, represent a righteous person in the letter form. Hebrew speakers often call this letter tzaddik which actually means the righteous person. (Reference).
Charles Spurgeon notes that, “The initial letter with which every verse commences sounds like the Hebrew word for righteousness: our keynote is righteousness.”
Just like a fisher’s hook clips on to a fish’s mouth and pulls it out of the water, God’s righteousness does the same for us. His “fishing hook” of righteousness clips on to your mouth and pulls you out of the darkness and life in sin. You become set apart, dead to sin, and alive in Him (Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 6:11). That hook leaves a mark on you and your mouth!
When you become a new creation, it’s still often hard to believe that our identity and nature got changed in God. There’s a lot of unlearning of your old ways that happens, while simultaneously learning about your new self in God. The letter Pe reminds us that speaking God’s truth is helpful, but Tsadhe helps us remember why: because you’re marked by His righteousness.
Christ restores your identity when you come to Him. And as new creations, righteous in Him, He set apart you to advance His kingdom and spread the Gospel! Next, we’ll look at the verses in this section and see what the psalmist has to say about being righteous in God.
Recognize His Righteousness
You are righteous, Lord, and Your judgments are right. You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness and great faithfulness.Psalm 119:137-138.
From the get-go, the psalmist recognizes that God is righteous and gets captivated, or hooked, by this truth. He understood that God’s righteousness and faithfulness is displayed in His word. Similarly, we need to remind ourselves that God and His word are righteous.
Like a fish grabs the hook, grab hold of who God is.
He is faithful and righteous in many ways, particularly, by sending Jesus to die for us and restore us to our original identity in God. He pulls us out of the darkness like a fisher pulls a fish out of water.
When you believe in God and Jesus as your Savior (who died and resurrected so that you could have a new life), your entire identity changes. You become a new creation, alive in Christ, and dead to sin. Without Jesus, you wouldn’t really recognize righteousness and faithfulness in God. But by believing in Him, you do, just like the psalmist here. And that’s the initial “hooking.”
Revel in His Righteousness
My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words. Your word is very pure, therefore, Your servant loves it.Psalm 119:139-140.
Once we recognize God’s righteousness, we can revel and rejoice in our new identity. Sadly, many still don’t want to receive this truth. These next 2 verses talk about how the word brings forth a response from the psalmist (and us). God doesn’t just save us and lets us be. He ignites a passion, zeal, and love for His truth and His word, and a hatred for disobedience.
By receiving God’s truth, we must take the further step and live it out.
Being dead to sin means to not resurrect the corpse but to pursue God and His truth for further transformation. God’s righteousness helps us receive the truth that Jesus came and died for us, and that this alone is worth sharing with others.
The psalmist also says his enemies forgot God’s words, and it brings to mind Jesus’s zeal for His Father’s house when He cleared the temple of the merchants (John 2:13-17). By saying this, the psalmist is pointing out that they disobey God, which is what stirs his passion to know the Word even more. When we see disobedience, especially in ourselves, it should lead us to spending more time with Him and His word.
To receive God’s truth makes us fishers of men because we realize it isn’t just for us. As we revel in the fact that we are new and made righteous in Him, zeal consumes us to pursue our relationship with God, and then to share the good news with others.
Renewed through His Righteousness
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth.Psalm 119:141-142.
We go through life and experience brokenness and hardship like anyone else. And these situations often drive us back into the corner where we believe lies like you’re not worthy of His love. The truth is you weren’t, but now, through Jesus, you are!
I often hear people say they are sinners saved by grace, which I don’t believe is an accurate statement. Right after salvation, we become restored sons and daughters. Restored in our identity in God. We are not only righteous in God; we are His righteousness.
Although this is true, it doesn’t exclude us from experiencing feelings of smallness and despise. The psalmist shares this with us. He knows what it’s like to feel small and despised, but despite these feelings, he chooses to remember God’s word. To not forget His precepts and everlasting righteousness. He takes his thoughts captive and reminds himself that no matter how he feels, God’s word remains solid.
It’s not about how you feel or view yourself, but about what’s actually true. He restored you and now renews you. You must remind yourself of God’s word and what it says about you when you feel this way. You’re restored, you’re righteousness, and you have the mind of Christ. If you believe that God’s righteousness is everlasting and His law is truth, get renewed in it.
Recharged in His Righteousness
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, yet Your commandments are my delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.Psalm 119:143-144.
And as we continue living in this world, we’ll come across trouble repeatedly. Jesus said it himself when He taught the crowds and disciples. You will experience trouble and anguish. You will get persecuted and get anxious. But you can find peace that surpasses all understanding as you delight in His word, as you look to Him for understanding, because His testimonies are righteous forever.
It’s a dual action! Like the psalmist, we must realign and get recharged by His truth, saying, God, despite what I feel and am going through, I find delight in your word.
As Christ’s disciples, we aren’t excluded from experiencing trouble in life, but we are dead to flesh and alive in Him which gives us peace that helps us get through absolutely anything. This is a solid truth we can stand on as we ask God and trust Him to, give me understanding so that I can continue, that I can keep living, help me know your righteousness and walk it out. Let it be hooked on my mouth for the rest of my days, because it’s the truth I need.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize on just how much God loves us. He is personal and present in our daily life. When we don’t feel like it, we need to remind ourselves that His word is truth and that we can get strength in it. The more we read the Bible, the more we’ll know God’s righteous character and learn how to reflect Him more each day.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I know it can be a lot to digest at once, but it means a lot to me you read it. I hope to learn how to write more effectively and simply, so that you can takeaway more for your daily walk with God. Stay tuned for the next section of Psalm 119 here 🙂
“The Bible mirrors the character of God. Anyone who cares about knowing what is righteous and wants to act righteously should study the Bible.”(Boice)
Several years ago, I challenged myself to read one chapter from the book of Proverbs every day of the month for twelve months. Yep, a whole year. Each month, I changed the translation (or version) of the Bible. I read King James, English Standard, New American, the Russian translation (I’m Russian), and even the Passion…
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life. Proverbs 13:3