How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the LORD’s instruction! Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart. Psalm 119:1-2
The word “instruction” in verse 1 of today’s passage is the Hebrew word “torah”. It can be translated as law, instruction, and/or teaching. It is used 36 times in the book of Psalms and 223 times in the rest of the Old Testament. Whether singular or plural, torah indicates particular laws or instructions. Torah as a collective denotes instruction for particular individuals or nations. Torah describes civil and religious laws, the book of Deuteronomy, all of Moses’ writings, the Prophets, or the whole Word of God. The focus of torah is not a specific literary form but divine authority; any communication from God constitutes torah. Torah, also, pictures a parent’s teaching. It appears as instructions, revelation, ruling, legal, and legally required. Torah derives from “yarah”, which means teach, instruct, or show.
The NIV translation of these two passages words them in this way, “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of LORD. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him all their heart.” The Hebrew word that is used here that the NIV translated as “blessed” and the CSB (Christian Standard Bible) translated as “happy” means this: a heightened state of happiness and joy implying very favorable circumstances, often resulting from the kind acts of God. What the writer of this psalm is saying here is that God promises to generously bless those who have chosen to live by his Word with its standards, guidelines, instructions, commands and promises. They will enjoy his personal presence, which will bring them strength, help and protection.
The Hebrew word in verse 2 that the NIV translates as “statutes” and the CSB translates as “decrees” means: testimony, statute, stipulation, regulation; it can also mean “the Testimony” as a formal written copy of the precepts and stipulations of a covenant. What the writer of this psalm is saying here is that God’s statutes represent the covenant requirements-his guidelines and plans for his chosen people, particularly for Israel-throughout the Old Testament. However, the moral and ethical principles of these statutes still apply to Christ’s followers today. These statutes described how the people could remain in a right relationship with God. Which was the whole point of God’s instructions to the people of Israel and to us. The whole point of the statutes, decrees, or laws that God gave in the Old Testament was to point out to the people of Israel and to us that there is no way for us to ever perfectly follow all of God’s laws, decrees, or statutes. Which means that the Old Testament points us directly to Jesus and that is why it is important to not just be focused on the New Testament, but to also spend time in the Old Testament.