The Torah of Yahweh (Part 1)


Blessed is the man who does not walk in the advice of the wicked; nor does he stand in the way of sinners; nor does he sit in the assembly of mockers. Instead, in the law of Yahweh is his delight, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1–2, LEB)

When you move through the Psalms you can’t help but experience the deep love the writers had for God’s word. I don’t think it is an accident that the book of Psalms starts its first stanza with words like delight and meditate. In Psalm 19, the writer looks at the revelation of God in the universe, and pairs it with the beauty of the word of God. One commentator put it this way…

The very sound of the two movements of the psalm tells something of their two concerns: the broad sweep of God’s wordless revelation in the universe, expressed in the exuberant lines of verses 1–6, and the clarity of his written word, reflected in the quiet conciseness of verses 7–10, to which the heart-searching of 11–14 is the worshipper’s response.[2]

Today, there seems to be a fierce attack on the Word of God. The methods of this attack may change but the underlying message is still the same – did God really say?

The word used in our english for Torah is law. This is also a huge problem since “law” brings many pre-concieved ideas from our culture that just are not true of the Bible.

The basic idea behing the word Torah is to throw, cast, or to shoot an arrow at the mark. The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament defines the scope of this word very nicly…

The word tôrâ means basically “teaching” whether it is the wise man instructing his son or God instructing Israel. The wise give insight into all aspects of life so that the young may know how to conduct themselves and to live a long blessed life (Prov 3:1f.). So too God, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insight into how to live with each other and how to approach God. Through the law God shows his interest in all aspects of man’s life which is to be lived under his direction and care. Law of God stands parallel to word of the Lord to signify that law is the revelation of God’s will[1]

What an amazing thought that God’s compassion and love are poured out through his instruction to allow us to live with each other and be able to approach God. Paul a man who lived by that instruction did not look at that instruction as a burden, but as a gift that reveals his standing before God…

Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”” (Romans 7:7, ESV)

This verse from chapter 7 of Romans continues a theme Paul starts back in Romans chapter 5, then he drives it all home in Romans 7:25…

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25, ESV)

The word “Serve” that Paul uses means to be a slave to, controlled by, or to serve. So even though Paul struggled in the flesh with sin, his mind was controlled by the Lord. We see this re-emphasized in Romans 8:5…

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5, ESV)

How is this done, how do we set our minds on things of the spirit? It is in the same book a few chapters later that Paul tells us to not be conformed to this age, literally to not be in union with the patterns and fashion of the existing culture. “But to be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may approve what is the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God”. How can we know what is the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God? The Psalmist knew…read and meditate on Psalm 119 and you can see just how much the word of God can do in the life of a believer.


[1] Hartley, J. E. (1999). 910 יָרָה. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 404). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2]Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, p. 114). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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