“The opening of your words gives light, it imparts understanding to the simple.” -Psalm 119:130
פֵּתַח דְּבָרֶיךָ יָאִיר מֵבִין פְּתָיִֽים׃
This is the verse I chose to be the verse of this ministry when I first started Pilgrim’s Light Ministries. I chose it because in English it conveys the meaning of anyone can understand the Bible. While this is true the verse has much more to say than that. What follows is a word-by-word breakdown of the verse:
The word peytach (פֵּתַח) means: to open. That is to open in the sense of opening a door. As such the word is also translated as entrance. Some have used unfolding as a translation and it is a good term and rather poetic, however opening seems to be the most accurate choice. In this sense it would be like unfolding a card by opening it to read the inside.
The concept of peytach is that a door is going to be opened and through that open door a way is going to be made for something to enter. In this verse the next thing that enters through the open door is God’s Word.
This is the only occurrence of this form of the word in the entire Bible. However when the vowels are changed the word petach is used many times in the Bible. The interesting thing about this is that the word is most commonly used to refer to opening the mouth in order to speak. We see this exact phrase being used when Jesus begins His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:2 with the phrase ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα (anoixas tah stahma: he opened his mouth) in the Hebrew translation of Matthew we see the word וַיִּפְתַּח (va-yeef’-tach: and he opened his mouth) coming from the word petach.
“And he opened His mouth and taught them saying:” -Matthew 5:2
Also in Matthew 13:35 it reads:
“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
This is the same Greek word in Matthew 5:2. This verse in Matthew is referring to Psalm 78:2
“I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter hidden mysteries of ancient times.” (Author’s Translation)
The connection is this: The opening of the mouth is the preparation for the entrance of information through the door of the mouth. This information (God’s Word) comes from His own mouth and the mouth of His Messiah.
D’-Vah-Reh-kha, from the word DeVaR, Dalet-Bet-Resh.
The word devar (דְבַר) means: word or thing. In this verse the word d’varekha means ‘your word’. The ‘kha’ ending is used to indicate the pronoun ‘your’ in reference to a man.
The context here is that it is God’s word(s) that are entering through the opening. God’s Word is entering from the opening of His mouth. His Words bring life. When God speaks His Word it is going to do something. What His Word does is explained in the next word of the verse.
Ya-eer, from the word OWR, Aleph-Vav-Resh.
The word yaer (יָאִיר) means: he/it gives light.
Now we can see that this verse connects directly to Genesis 1:3
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
God opened His mouth and spoke the words, “Let there be light.” Is it just coincidence that this is the 3rd word of Psalm 119:130 and God speaks these words in the 3rd verse of Genesis? If God is the author of His Word then it is not. This is connection is planned. Light is the first thing that God created so it is primary to our understanding of Him. God is light. He spoke words that created light, and here we see His Words are a light in another sense as well. In Psalm 36:9 we read this:
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”
We see that in God’s physical light, we see spiritual light, and that light leads to life. However in this verse Psalm 119:130 the emphasis is on another function of God’s Word bringing instruction in the light. It is going to do something.
May-Veen, from the word BiYN, Bet-Yod-Nun.
The word mayveen (מֵבִין) means: gives understanding.
So now we one of the effects of the light of God. It gives understanding. The word mayveen is referring to the type of understanding that is not just an intellectual understanding of knowledge. It is also not referring to an experiential knowledge. That is the word yada (to know) in Hebrew. Mayveen is referring to understanding between one thing and another. To pick the better choice. To understand the difference between two choices. So the opening of God’s Words gives a person what we call discernment. This is the ability to see what is evil even when others cannot. This is attained through God revealing His Word, His instruction. Those who are given the light God’s word are given understanding. Now this understanding is given to a certain type of person which leads us to the next word.
P’ta-yim, from the word PeTY, Pey-Tav-Yod.
The word P’tayim (פְּתָיִֽים) means: naive or simple people. The following entry in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains this nicely:
Simple, foolish. petî generally describes the naive (not deranged) in Proverbs who must be well taught, since an immature person believes anything (Prov 14:15). [But is not something worse than immaturity implied when the pĕ tāyim along with mockers lēṣîm and fools kĕ sîlîm (Prov 1:22) are said to have “rejected me,” “ignored my advice” and not to have “accepted my rebuke” (1:24–25 NIV)? R.L.H.] If the petî refuses to learn he will go on to inherit folly (ʾîwwelet, the impairment of moral and spiritual values, Prov 14:18). To achieve moral and spiritual maturity, the naive are encouraged to receive prudence (Prov 1:4), to understand wisdom (Prov 8:5), and to dwell where wisdom makes her home (Prov 9:4). Otherwise, he may drift into temptation and then sin, immorality (Prov 7:7f.), robbery and murder (Prov 1:10–14). Apart from godly tutelage, he is on the road to death (Prov 7:7; 22:3).
Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (743). Chicago: Moody Press.
The root of the word comes from the idea of being open, or spacious. People who typify this mentality are open to any kind of learning and do not limit their learning to what God has taught. They are open-minded. They are open to ideas that go against God’s word. They do not discern very well between what is harmful and what is beneficial. They are liberally minded in their thinking and accepting of new things, as opposed to following what God has already given.
So God’s Words change a person from being accepting of everything to only being accepting of things which proceed from the mouth of God. That’s what Psalm 119:130 is talking about. Knowing these things I would translate the verse in the following way:
“The opening of your words gives light, it gives discernment to the naive.”
So the what I believe that what God wants is to use Pilgrim’s Light Ministries to assist people in knowing God’s Word for themselves so that they can discern good from evil. That is, discern what comes from God and what does not. I see this happening in two parts. Teaching people to study the Bible for themselves, and then applying this knowledge to choose what is right and reject what is wrong. This is actually more than I had in mind when I started, but I see that God is using the choice of the verse used for the ministry to show me where He wants the ministry to go.