The exquisite uniqueness of Psalm 119 is that its composer uses each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet to sing an octave of praise to God’s Word. Tsadde, the eighteenth letter, has two intertwined themes—righteousness and trials. Though stated explicitly in the New Testament (2 Timothy 3:12), it has been true since the beginning of human history that all who desire to live righteous lives shall suffer persecution.
The theme of righteousness is found in the following verses: “Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments. Your testimonies, which You have commanded, are righteous and very faithful…Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth…The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting” (vv. 137-138, 142, 144).
The notes of trials are heard in verses 139, 141, and 143. Here, it is written, “My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words…I am small and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts…Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights.”
In the middle of Tsadde’s tribute is the truth which ties these two themes together. “Your word is very pure; therefore, Your servant loves it” (v. 140). This eulogy fittingly concludes with “give me understanding, and I shall live” (v. 144).
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).