TSADHE - Righteous You Are
(137) Righteous you are, Yahweh, and your judgments are right. (138) You commanded your statutes in righteousness. They are exceedingly trustworthy. (139) My zeal has consumed me because my adversaries have forgotten your words. (140) Your words have been tested exceedingly, and your servant loves them. (141) Though I am insignificant and despised, I do not forget your precepts. (142) Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is true. (143) Trouble and anguish have found me, but your commands are my delight. (144) Righteous are your statutes forever. Give me understanding that I may live.
It does not take a lot of research to discover the predominant theme of this stanza. Five times a variant of the Hebrew word for “righteous” which begins with the Hebrew letter, “tsadhe,” is found in these eight verses. This term opens both the first and the final verses (vss. 137 & 144), essentially bracketing the stanza. “Righteous” is used again in the second verse (vs. 138) and then later in the psalm (twice in vs. 142). Three times the psalmist states that Yahweh is “righteous” (vss. 137 & 142). The other two occurrences describe God’s statutes as “righteous” (vss. 138 & 144).
Three other words receive emphasis by repetition. Twice the psalmist uses the modifier “exceedingly” in connection with the scriptures. First, he describes God’s Word as “exceedingly trustworthy” (vs. 138). Then he states that God’s Word had been “tested exceedingly” (vs. 140). In contrasting uses of the word “forget,” the psalmist first describes his enemies as those who have “forgotten” or ignore God’s words (vs. 139). He then commends himself as one who does not “forget” God’s precepts despite being lowly and despised (vs. 141).
In a final repetition at the end of the stanza, the psalmist twice uses a Hebrew term translated by two English words, “everlasting” and “forever.” Each occurrence is coupled with the key word of the stanza with the result that God’s righteousness is described as “everlasting” (vs. 142), and God’s statutes are portrayed as “righteous forever” (vs. 144).
- The righteousness of God and his Word (137 & 138)
- My responses (139-141)
- The righteousness of God and his Word (142)
- My responses (143 & 144)
When we depend on God’s righteousness as revealed in his Word to sustain us, we triumph in any situation we may face.
In considering God’s attribute of righteousness, we often focus on the negative because we are so preoccupied with personal sinfulness as well as the brokenness of the world in which we live. We describe Christ as being “without spot or defect...without guile,” or we think about God as lacking nothing or that there is no one holy like him.
Rather than describing God and his glorious righteousness in negative terms, we do well to balance our thoughts of him with positive, affirmative word choices. This stanza sets a good standard for us to follow. Today, as we offer God our praises, let us try to stay positive with language like, “God, you are righteous, glorious in your perfections. You delight us with the beauty of your holiness. Your Word is trustworthy and reliable. Your righteousness and truth will last forever.”