Stephen I. Ternyik 

The Ethics of Righteousness: Remembering !

-A Semantic Review of Psalm 34:16-

JEL: Z1, Z10, Z12


Psalm 34:16

The eyes of YHVH are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry."


This verse is truly difficult ! What does "the eyes of YHVH are on the righteous" mean? If it is because the Holy One, looks after them to do good for them in this world, then we see how many righteous people there are who cannot even find sustenance like the 🐦 ravens 🐦 of the field ! So what does it mean, the eyes of YHVH are on the righteous"? The verse implies surely that God listens to the pleas of those who are righteous and helps them in their times of trouble.

The existence of righteous people who struggle to find sustenance like the ravens of the field may be seen as a test of faith and perseverance. These difficulties may also serve as a way to inspire empathy and charity in others. It is also possible that these individuals have a unique spiritual role or journey that involves experiencing and overcoming such hardship. It's important to remember that in the Jewish tradition, material wealth is not necessarily seen as a sign of righteousness or divine favor, and adversity is not always a punishment or sign of lack of righteousness.


"The righteous," and not all people generally, are in view here. Many others pray, at least in a manner of speaking, and have no basis for assurance that their prayers are acceptable to God and will be answered with a blessing from Him.The whole Psalm 34 stresses this truth. Only the man who trusts in the LORD is truly blessed . Only one who fears Him suffers no lack . Only a person who keeps their tongue from evil, who departs from evil and does good, and who seeks peace and pursues it, has the LORD’s eyes of watchful care upon them, and His ears open to their cry. This psalm testifies, very disturbingly for the majority, that "the face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth" . He will remove both them and their memory from the eternal society and fellowship of His people.

 "The righteous" are described in verses 17, 18: they are a people who suffer "troubles," translating a Hebrew word which means "need, distress, anxiety," "extreme distress of body or mind" . They are characterized here as "the brokenhearted" and the "crushed in spirit," as the original language might be rendered. All this goes against the popular dispenser theology, where it is believed that there is a correspondence between faith and visible blessing in this life, i.e. the prosperity testament.


In an absolutely unequivocal way, these verses assure the righteous that the LORD "delivers" and "saves" them. The words mean "to free from harm or evil, and in some cases from imprisonment," and, "to save from ruin, destruction, or harm". But we are not assured that this will be done as soon as we pray, or even fully in this life !Those who teach its presence only in the here and now are guilty of an over-realized consummation, of erroneously taking from the completeness of theblessings reserved for the age to come.


Psalm 34:16 fundamentally suggests that when righteous individuals pray or cry out to God during their times of trouble, God hears their pleas and delivers them from their difficulties. It emphasizes the Jewish belief in God's attentiveness to prayer and His ability to provide relief from hardship for those who are righteous; Psalm 34:16 speaks to the divine surveillance of the righteous, implying God's protection and care for those who live according to His will. The core part signifies that God pays close attention to their prayers or "cries", suggesting that He is never distant or unconcerned, but responsive and involved in the lives of the righteous, in this world and the world-to-come.


(Psalms Chapter 34 )

(One of the most fascinating aspects of human cognition is our ability to withdraw from the current moment and to mentally transport ourselves to another time, place, or perspective).


The Torah is acquired with 48 qualities: study, listening, verbalizing, comprehension of the heart, awe, fear, humility, joy, purity, serving the sages, companionship with one's contemporaries, debating with one's students, tranquility, study of the scriptures, study of the Mishnah, minimizing engagement in business, minimizing socialization, minimizing pleasure, minimizing sleep, minimizing talk, minimizing gaiety, slowness to anger, good heartedness, faith in the sages, acceptance of suffering, knowing one's place, satisfaction with one's lot, qualifying one's words, not taking credit for oneself, likableness, love of G-d, love of humanity, love of charity, love of justice, love of rebuke, fleeing from honor, lack of arrogance in learning, reluctance to hand down rulings, participating in the burden of one's fellow, judging him to the side of merit, correcting him, bringing him to a peaceful resolution [of his disputes], deliberation in study, asking and answering, listening and illuminating, learning in order to teach, learning in order to fulfill, wising one's teacher, exactness in conveying a teaching, and saying something in the name of its speaker.

— Ethics of the Fathers 6:6