Lamed (also written as Lamedh) is the twelfth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Lamed has the same sound as “l” as in “lake”. Every line in Psalm 119:89-96 starts with this letter. Lamed looks like this:

lamed“Lamed” is unique in the Hebrew alphabet because it is the tallest letter.


Also, it is considered the central letter, or “heart” of the Hebrew alphabet.
By the way, the Hebrew word for “heart” starts with the letter “lamed”.

Heart = לֵב (lev)


The word “lamed” means to learn or to teach and it is first seen in the Bible in Deuteronomy 4:1, “Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you.” Learning has always been viewed as sacred to the Jewish people. It was a high calling for a man to become a Rabbi because it meant devoting his whole life to learning the Torah and teaching it to others. Every student’s goal was to move from knowledge to understanding to wisdom. Knowledge alone came up short without moving from the head to the heart. The wisest Rabbis were seen as head and shoulders above everyone else, just like the “lamed” rises above the other Hebrew letters.

In the Jewish tradition, learning wasn’t an end in itself, but found its purpose in action. The accumulation of knowledge was only of value if it spurred one to do something. James, Jesus’ brother, wrote about this idea in his letter.

“But be ye doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
deceiving your own selves.”

(James 1:22)

A true disciple, then, is both a learner and a doer,
one who “learns” in order to “do.”
Sometimes we need a little prodding to “learn” and “do”.
The “lamed” is shaped like a cattle prod,
which farmers used to direct their animals.
A little poke, a kick in the behind, or a spur in the side
motivates us to keep moving along.

Even though Jesus was a Teacher while He lived on earth, He also was a learner. “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” Heb. 5:8

Israel = יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisrael)

The name Israel starts with the smallest letter, “yod”, and ends with the biggest letter, “lamed”. Some scholars interpret this to mean that the nation of Israel may have started out small, but in the Last Days it will be higher than all the other nations, teaching them the truth about God and Jesus, the Messiah.

The first eleven letters of the Hebrew alphabet revealed the gospel. The second set of eleven letters will reflect the response of a believer and the walk of faith. It all starts with learning, being teachable, and recognizing the prodding of the Holy Spirit.


Next: My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “M”.


Long Song Study, part M

David made it through the low point, or “midnight of the psalm” in last week’s passage. In this section, his tone changes from despair and doubt to steady reliance on God’s words.

Psalm 119:89-96

Verse 89
Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Here is why it is worth our time to study the Bible: it’s going to last forever. Every moment we spend in the Word will be of value in eternity. The Bible is the only thing on this earth that is not temporary. It is a permanent fixture in heaven that we will recognize and rejoice in when we get there. 

Verse 90
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
Just as the Word is firmly fixed in the heavens, so too, the faithfulness of the Lord is firmly fixed on the earth. Hundreds of generations of people have come and gone, and God has faithfully endured every one. Evidence of His faithfulness is everywhere. The hymn writer said it best:

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
(Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Thomas Chisholm)

Verse 91
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
David saw the sun rise every morning, the planets stay on their tracks, and the seasons turn in time. God had organized the universe with His creative word. This gave David confidence that if he held on to the Creator God and His creative words, he was secure.
David used every expression he could think of to drive this idea home. Verse 89: “firmly fixed”; verse 90: “established” and “stands fast”; verse 91: “stand” — they all mean the same thing. “The order and stability of the created work of God is guaranteed by the authority of the word of God. And therefore the believer who rests upon that word, rests upon firmness and will not fall into a pit.” (Christopher Ash) All of nature is serving the purposes of God, to show us His power and faithfulness.

Verse 92
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
Looking back on his period of suffering, David realized how close he came to giving up. And sometimes people do give up. For some, affliction can lead to destructive anger, bitterness and hopelessness.  For others, trials drive them deeper into the arms of God where His Word sees them through dark times. David understood that holding on to the word that was firmly fixed in creation was his only place of security.

Verse 93
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
Having come out on the other side of suffering, David had fresh appreciation for life. He would not soon forget the help and hope he received from God’s Word.
There are some verses I will never forget, because they spoke to my heart during difficult circumstances. Those words are marked in my Bible with a date in the margin. They stand as a testimony of God’s help when I was struggling. Spending regular time in the Word keeps me from forgetting His provision in the past and His promises for the future.

Verse 94
I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
David had given himself to God, so he knew he could continue to depend on God’s care. All believers have the seal, or mark, of the Holy Spirit, God’s sign of ownership. “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” (Eph. 1:13-14) We belong to Him. Guaranteed. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Verse 95
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
His troubles weren’t over, but David had learned not to obsess about what his enemies were up to. He knew they were watching him, but David turned his attention from them to God’s testimonies. The wicked were lying in wait for David, but David was waiting upon God. It takes strength and resolve to keep our eyes on Jesus when under attack. It’s another three word prayer I whisper often — “Eyes on Jesus, eyes on Jesus, eyes on Jesus.”

Verse 96
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.
As a bit of a perfectionist (Enneagram #1), I’m always bumping up against imperfection. What a relief to come to terms with the fact that perfection isn’t required or even expected. Spurgeon said, “He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.” God is different. He is limitless, bottomless, boundless, inexhaustible, immeasurable, and every other word in my thesaurus.


Things I know for sure from this passage:

  • During times of uncertainty, I need the firmly fixed Word of God that stands fast.
  • Nature is constantly speaking to me of God’s faithfulness.
  • Delighting in God’s Word is a mark of spiritual maturity.
  • I am His and I can trust Him to take care of me.
  • Perfection belongs to God alone.

Next: Lamedh

Stanza M

The second half of Psalm 119 begins today!

The first eleven letters of the Hebrew alphabet tell the story of our rescue, from the God-man bridging the gap between heaven and earth (Aleph) to the believer’s place of safety and security in the hands of the Father (Kaph). The 12th letter marks the beginning of the second half, and a new story. The theme shifts from God’s work on our behalf, to our response and our need to persevere to the end with our faith intact.

Psalm 119:89-96

Made to last beyond space and time,
     Your divine word stays rock solid.

Marching through time, You are faithful.
     The earth lasts because You say so.

Morning to night, Your laws live on,
     and all creation waits on You.

Minus Your laws that delight me,
     I couldn’t have survived for long.

Mindful of all You’ve said to me,
     I feel reinvigorated.

My life is all Yours, so save me,
     for I keep on searching Your Word.

Many foes are out to get me,
     still I fix my thoughts on Your law.

Most of the time I’m deficient,
     But not You — You are limitless.


Next: Long Song Study, part M