Friday, June 13, 2014

The Torah of YHWH in Psalm 1

So often so many, in my view, interpret wrongly the phrase “the torah of YHWH” (תוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָ֗ה) in Psalm 1. It is often taken simply to mean “the instruction of YHWH.” No one, to my knowledge, really doubts that the word “torah” (תּוֹרָה) does in fact often simply mean "instruction." That much is clear.

However, in Psalm 1, which sets the agenda for the whole Psalter, should we understand “the torah of YHWH” simply to mean “the instruction of YHWH”? I doubt it. I’ll not reproduce the argumentation of Mark D. Futato in his excellent handbook Interpreting the Psalms, but I will provide his conclusion, with which I joyfully concur in my inner being. He says:
So the תוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָ֗ה in Psalm 1 naturally refers to the Five Books of Moses. When we combine the sense of תּוֹרָה as ‘instruction’ with תוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָ֗ה as the Five Books of Moses, we conclude that the book of Psalms invites believers to meditate on the Five Books of Moses[1] as a source of instruction for experiencing the joy/blessings (v. 1) and prosperity/success (v. 3) held out in Psalm 1.
— Mark D. Futato, Interpreting the PsalmsAn Exegetical Handbook (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), 61–62.

[1] Italics mine.

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