Psalm 119:81-88

Psalm 119:81-88

to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice

July 29, 2019 – Friday

Psalm 119:81-88    NIV

 כ Kaf/Kaph/Khaf/

81 My soul faints with longing for Your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for Your promise; I say, “When will You comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your decrees.
84 How long must Your servant wait? When will You punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to Your law.
86 All Your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken Your precepts.
88 In Your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of Your mouth.


The  letter kaf, the eleventh in the Hebrew alphabet, is the most unusual Hebrew letter to date. At the top you see two versions* (see note) of the letter kaf, one with a dot or dagesh in the center. It is only given without the dagesh when it is shown at, but that is incorrect. It is incorrect because whenever the kaf is the first letter in a word it requires the dagesh as shown here when you look at the first word of each verse from 81-88. Whenever it is within a word it no longer has a dagesh. Even more unusual when it is the last letter of a word it no longer has the look of a reversed English C, but instead it has a horizontal top and then a vertical line dropping below the line the other letters rest upon. Going back to the interlinear bible here, look at the first word in verse 88 and you can see kaf as the first and last letter of the Hebrew word kchsdk. Something else unusual about kaf as the eleventh letter is that it does not correspond to the numerical value of eleven as one might expect as the first ten letters corresponded to the numbers one through ten. Instead kaf’s numerical value is twenty – 20. Directions for drawing kaf may be found here, here, and here.

With all that being said, let us now take a look at these eight verses and what they have to say to us. They are in their entirety about longing (81), looking/waiting (82), waiting and remembering (83), waiting while being persecuting (84), waiting while those who oppose God set traps for David (85), while waiting and being persecuted trust in God’s commands remains (86), while waiting and almost defeated David remains faithful to God’s precepts, and finally a plea for God to save (preserve) his life (88) so he can continue to obey God’s commands.

It is interesting that the letter kaf has some special significance here as David asks to receive God’s blessings,

Some writers… pointed out that for the ancients there was often significance in the shape of the Hebrew letters. Such is the case here. This is the kaph stanza. Kaph is a curved letter, similar to a half circle, and it was often thought of as a hand held out to receive some gift or blessing… He holds out his hand toward Him as a suppliant.”  Boice quoted by Guzik

While waiting and under great duress one thing stands out throughout this stanza, David’s faith in God and His laws, precepts, and statutes remains firm. This is instructive for us. What are we to do when we call out to God and we have to wait on Him for His answer? According to David we are to remain faithful and continue to trust as we wait upon God’s answer – His salvation as noted in the first verse. David was speaking about salvation from his circumstances, but we have, because of Jesus, eternal salvation. Thus for us faith and trust should be just as great or greater than that of David’s.

How strong is our faith and trust day to day when we are under duress? David did not falter, nor should we.

RileyD, nwJ
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)