This is part 2 of Douglas Van Dorn‘s translation of Psalm 119. Read it, recite it, meditate on it.
And we are going to answer the question: why acrostics?
So, why did the biblical writers arrange some of their poetry based on the Hebrew alphabet? Well, they didn’t tell us, and they’re all dead now, so we’ll never know for sure until we get to heaven and ask them. But that, of course, doesn’t stop us from speculating on that, and other things, like the meaning of “Selah” in the Psalms.
The two prevailing answers are 1) to aid memorization, and 2) to emphasize completeness, i.e. Psalm 119 is telling us about delighting in God’s law from A-Z, or Proverbs 31 is telling us about the noble woman from A-Z. These, of course, are not mutually exclusive.
Personally, I favor 3) because it’s really cool, and 4) because it make it more challenging to write, and who doesn’t like a challenge? I mean, can’t you imagine the Psalm 119 author saying to the other psalmists, yeah, that’s good, but take a look at this 176 line acrostic masterpiece!
Why do you think they wrote in acrostics? Comment below.
And without further adieu, here is part 2 of Doug Van Dorn‘s Psalm 119 translation.
4 thoughts on “Psalm 119, part 2, and Why Acrostics?”
I will hold to #2. The purpose of the Psalm was to impart the wisdom of God’s lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness to the youth of the day. I even pay youth to memorize the Psalm to establish what God wants from them. It is a good way to challenge youth and make it easier to memorize. It is a shame that it can’t doesn’t translate to English that way.
The people of Israel were in captivity for seventy years before Ezra wrote this psalm. Many young people were born in captivity and didn’t know the Hebrew language properly by then, which meant they could not read the scriptures. so Ezra being a scribe wrote this psalm as an acrostic psalm to combine the theme of the beauty of god’s word and the poetic beauty of the Hebrew language.