I have seen an end of all perfection, but thy command is exceeding broad. KJV
I see the limits to everything human, but the horizons can’t contain your commands! MSG
Not the most liberating word. Authoritative. Harsh. Controlling. Confining. Restrictive.
Do this. Not that. Walk this way, not that.
Coming upon Psalm 119:96 in a random reading tonight, I was struck by it. It made me pause over mitzvah. Again.
I know this isn’t scientific. But then, I’m not trying to prove anything. Merely illustrate it.
Hebrew letters in their ancient form were pictures, each picture representing a sound. (I may have mentioned this before. A time or two.) This begs my imagination to play with the pictures, to see in each Hebrew word a potential rebus loaded with possibilities. And what a possibility laden rebus is mitzvah.
Four Hebrew letters:
Tsade is the key – which perhaps is why it’s crowned. It’s a picture of a trail, a path. And this picture of a path is sandwiched between a picture of flowing water (mem) and a fixed nail (vav) leading to the upraised hands of one who sees (hey).
What is a command? A mere order or instruction (do this, go here, put that down)?
No! So much more!
A command is a fluid yet firm path leading to vistas of comprehension and boundless beauty.
Or to use the classic KJV rendering of Psalm 119:69, it is “exceeding broad.” How broad?
“The horizons can’t contain it.”
Which makes it sound like a path you can get lost in even as you are found.
And if this is the case, then I suppose “command”
just might be the most liberating, adventurous word of all.