P A L G E Y M A Y I M
In this teaching we are going to be covering Psalm I in detail. This Psalm contains one of the most beautiful illustrations of Eastern culture and uses a Figure of Speech to illustrate clearly how God watches over us, takes care of us, protects us and guides us. In “Figures of Speech Used In The Bible” in this teaching, this one figure, referred to as Condescensio [explained later], thrilled my soul. Remember to review it again and again until it becomes part of the fleshly table of your heart. What makes the teaching come alive is that the Psalm contains an analogy that converts to a Figure of Speech. It’s something that we can all understand – it is so simple and so beautiful and so very important for us to apply in our renewed mind walk. This subject will comfort you to no end and show you that our God Almighty is always there for us directing our lives. What a relief. There are also many figures of speech used in only these 6 verses, but we will only cover a few to keep the teaching as simple as possible so that you can focus on what is being taught. Let’s begin.
Although our teaching revolves mainly around verse three in Psalm 1, we are going to examine closely every verse including verse one which helps us with the context of the chapter and take a look at a verse in Proverbs 21: 1 which will aid our overall understanding.
In verse 1, there are what is referred to as gradations and there is so much truth contained in this verse that volumes of information might be written.
BLESSED is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. -- Psalm 1: 1
First let's review the basic ideas mentioned in the verse as we usually do. A person who keeps away from the ungodly and the sinners and the scornful -- blessed is that man.
This is a rather intricate figure of speech called Parallelism or Parallel Lines. The technical definition of this figure is “The Repetition of similar, synonymous, or opposite thoughts or words in parallel or successive lines.” This gives you an idea of what I studied for 1 and 1/2 years. Although it may look confusing, it is not and actually is extremely exciting since this extensive work on figures is only available through Bullinger. Now keep an eye on the explanation that I put in quotations above as we study this verse.
We have three series of gradation. Now pay attention and you will see that the words are obviously gradations.
walketh, standeth, and sitteth
counsel, way, and seat
Ungodly, sinners, scornful
These gradations are what point out to us that there is a mine of truth in this verse. God chooses to start out the Psalm using a figure of speech. You remember that figures are where God marks important spiritual matters in His Word. There are many types of parallelism and this one is referred to as simple which means it is synonymous or gradation. I would say that the best way to explain this to you is the following: it is the form of a different type of figure called Synonymia by which the subject of one line is repeated in the next line in different, but so-called, synonymous terms. Take a look at the small chart again that is centered in the above text and you will see that these words, even though they are in different gradations are synonymous. I hope this helps you to understand this figure of speech. For this reason, I may not delve into all the figures that are in this Psalm. But it's a good introduction to those who are interested in studying figures of speech.
But his delight is in the law [the Word] of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. – Psalm 1: 2
Isn't that a beautiful verse? Instead of fellowshipping with the ungodly and with sinners and the scornful, this man of God, delights in the Word of God. And also, as I have stressed time and time again, he meditates on God's Word day and night. Never mind the world - the world is from hell and you surely don't want to think on that all day. I have stressed the importance of Scripture retemory time and time again to many of my readers and here it is right here in this Psalm. The word ‘meditate’ means to ‘say it to yourself’. Could it be any simpler? Say what to yourself? Say the Word to yourself. And again, how can you do that if you do not have your Bible with you? Because it is seared and burned into your heart because you have memorized that Word of God as a result of your efforts pertaining to Scripture retemory. The trick is that this is too much work and it doesn't pay off. But you'll never see something from God until you act first. You must act first and then see the results. That's how it works with God. So the above man is thrilled and joyful and is delighted in the Word and he thinks about this Word day and night. I'm not going to go over Philippians 4: 8, but you should take a look at it right now. And you should take a look at I Corinthians chapter 13 and see just how we are supposed to think according to the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation. It is true that God says the same thing to us many times in many different ways and that is how we learn. We must put forth an effort. What else is there to do? I'm going to say this before I go on to verse three. Many times I sit down to work at a teaching and I don't feel so great. I say, I'm tired today. This teaching is one that will take me forever etc. etc. All a bunch of bull that the enemy is trying to whisper in my ear. Why? Because when I start teaching, I start to feel really good. In fact I feel great. And I realize that there is nothing more important that I could be doing and nothing more that will bless me to such an extent than doing a teaching. And that applies to any facet of the Word of God.
Before continuing in Psalms, we are going to go first go to a verse in Proverbs that will help us understand our teaching – same subject – Palgey Mayim used in a slightly different context.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth whithersoever he will. – Proverbs 21: 1
This latter part of the verse is not complete as you will see. This is a Figure of Omission – something is missing!! Figures are exciting as you will see! The context tells us that this is a righteous king and it should be mentioned.
This is a perfect example to introduce Psalm 1: 3. The second sentence in Proverbs is obviously incomplete. We have a subject, no verb and no object. We have to supply both the verb and the predicate in the latter sentence.
[Before we go any farther, I want you to understand that we are now going to be dealing with FIGURES INVOLVING OMISSION ALSO KNOWN AS ELLIPSIS. The word in English is omission.]
This figure is so-called because some gap is left in the sentence, which means that a word or words are left out or omitted.
In the latter half of Proverbs 21: 1 above, the missing words are more clearly seen when we examine the context and translation more correctly. The expression “rivers of water” is in the Hebrew palgey mayim. Palgey means “divisions of”, and is the plural construct of palag, to divide.
The term palgey mayim is the technical term for the little channels, or gullies of water which divide the Eastern garden into small squares of about 12 feet each, for purposes of irrigation. Hence, the word is used for any little channel by which the water is distributed or divided, especially the channels which divide up a garden.
Going right to the supplying of the Omission/Ellipsis in Proverbs 21: 1, is the following:
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord as the palgey mayim [ are in the hand of the gardener] : He turneth it whithersoever He will. – Proverbs 21: 1
To the Eastern mind, this expression is perfectly clear without the Ellipsis, but for the Western mind, the ellipsis makes the verse much clearer.
Now that we understand what ‘palgey mayim’ means and Figures of Omission, we can proceed with Psalm 1, verse 3. Here is where God presents His magnificent Figure of Speech involving Palgey Mayim.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his [its] fruit in his [its] season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. -- Psalm 1: 3
Remember who we are talking about here. This is the man who meditates upon God's Word day and night. His delight is in God and His Word. According to this verse, his life is going to be like a tree planted by the rivers of water and nothing he does shall wither or fail. Whatsoever this man does, it shall prosper.
An Eastern gardener must have his garden situated in a location where it will have a sure and constant supply of water in the form of a spring, or well, or fountain. And this garden must also have the constant care of the gardener. A palgey mayim, to review, is composed of little channels or gullies of water. These can also be referred to as any very small artificial channels for irrigation. The term in the above Scripture ‘rivers of water’ is referred to in Hebrew as ‘palgey mayim’. The water is first sent into one channel and then into another, by the simple movement of the gardener's foot. The gardener does not use a tool, nor does he stoop down to use his hands. By this simple movement of his foot he damns up one stream, or by a similar movement he releases the water into another. Is this not a beautiful illustration when we compare it to how God watches over us and puts His foot where there should be no irrigation and removes His foot where we need guidance. The water is referring to the water of life that God gives to His children who walk uprightly. We should not limit God's Almighty power for it is that power that is required to turn the heart of man. We should understand that the heart of an Easterner understands the palgey mayim and has no problem turning his life around by his obedience to God. This is the same as God does for us in this figurative garden by a simple movement of His foot and our obedience to Him.
Where is the Figure of Speech in verse 3? It is a very common figure used many times throughout the Bible. When God is given human attributes, it is a figure called Condescensio. We talk about God using His foot in the Eastern garden. God is Spirit and does not have a foot. Therefore we resort to the Figure of Speech.
I hope this is understood by most of my readers. God is using an analogy to show us that he can turn things around, block things, and adjust things to the benefit of the standing believer. We can be assured and full of comfort that God is making adjustments as the Eastern gardener makes adjustments with the simple movement of his foot. We don't realize that God is working within us many times. Our Lord makes mighty adjustments for us just like in the palgey mayim with simple movements like the gardener's foot. Take notice that the gardener in the East always had a constant supply of water. In this spiritual situation, God always has a constant supply of love.
So the next time you feel distraught or something is bothering you, just remember that God is moving around those little mounds of dirt that contain those gullies so that you will have the more than abundant life. I honestly felt that this was the most beautiful illustration that I have read in the Bible in many years. We see how important it is to understand Eastern culture. I think we should move on to verse four and ask you to reread this section pertaining to verse three.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. -- Psalm 1: 4
God has a natural tendency to protect and to love a teachable believer. He is able to bring all types of blessings to the person who is similar to the Eastern gardener. That gardener is always there to watch over his fields. As we remember from verse two, he thinks about God day and night and his soul is thrilled because of God's Word. In contrast, verse four says that the ungodly are not like this man. Remember from Ephesians that we are not to be blown about with every wind of doctrine. Verse four says that the ungodly are like the chaff which the wind drives away and blows around. They have no stability and no common sense and absolutely no wisdom whatsoever.
Although I mentioned that we were going to learn some figures of speech, they are rather involved and I do not want to confuse you, but to keep it simple, based on our subject matter in verse three. To delve into the many figures of speech in this first chapter of Psalms would blemish the overall simple teaching that I'm trying to get across to you. I would rather play it safe and be wise.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. -- Psalm 1: 5
God is now contrasting the ungodly man to the righteous man that was previously mentioned. He says that the ungodly man shall not stand in the judgment and he will not be in the congregation of the righteous. When we reach the end of our time and even now as we look forward to a new heaven and earth, we are not going to have to stand in the same judgment as the ungodly. We do not congregate or fellowship with sinners. We, who are righteous are protected from these people as God operates the palgey mayim for us. He will block any irrigation that originates from the ungodly and sinners.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. – Psalm 1: 6
God knows a righteous person. You can't fool God -- He knows everything. He is all- knowing. And in contrast to that He knows that the way of the ungodly person shall perish. Many times that person, if not always, perishes in this present life. We just don't get to see it because God knows it is not best. We are not to rejoice in iniquity.
God Almighty can use many illustrations which put images in our mind -- images that are permanent. This image of the Eastern gardener and the analogy and figure of speech relating to God has always stayed with me and made a great positive impact on my life. So many times, we think that things are going wrong and actually it is God's foot moving the irrigation channels [the palgey mayim] for our benefit. This is one of the most striking lessons that I learned lately. Our old man thinks that we should do things a certain way, but God knows that sometimes the opposite way is how He wants it done. In the long run, we always see that God's way is the best way. I can only hope that this teaching blessed you to no end and that it always stays with you to take away any doubt, worry, or fear from your mind. God takes care of His children and no one, but no one, messes with God’s kids. God bless.