Continuing in Psalm 119 with the letter ‘Gimel‘ ג.
Psalm 119:17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
The words deal bountifully is the Hebrew word ‘gamal’ גמל and is same root word for the spelling of the letter ג itself. It has the idea of being nourished until completely ripe as in grapes or other fruit. It also refers to a child being weaned from its mother.
In this verse I see a motif of “maturing in God” while using the image of a vineyard with grapes ripening to maturity.
I believe that the word with (‘al’ עַל) is a play on words with deal bountifully (gamal). The word with is a preposition, however when not used as a preposition, its root word ‘alah’ עלה can means to grow up. Unless a vine grows and bears fruit to maturity it is of no use or value.
Your servant is from the root word ‘abad’ עבד and when speaking of the ground, refers to tilling, cultivating or dressing a vineyard. ‘Abad can also mean Servant of the Lord, one doing the will of God, as a true worshiper or one executing the purpose of God. Tending the “garden of our heart” is an act of worship.
The words may live ‘chayah’ היה mean to live, become strong, food, and restored from sickness. When considering the maturing vineyard motif, this word live would oppose the idea of the fruit never maturing and simply rotting on the vine as worthless, never becoming what they were intended for.
Then we have the words and keep ‘shamar’ שׁמר which is the word for watchman, to keep, preserve, and to guard. Interestingly, it can also mean’ lees of wine’ which refers to the deposits of dead or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate or are carried by the action of fining ,a process to clarify wine, that settles at the bottom of the the vat after fermentation and aging.
Lastly, word ‘dabar’ דבר can be explained as, words spoken from the “heart” of God.
In order for grapes to fully mature the plants need to be carefully watched over and pruned. If they are not pruned regularly they will become wild and overgrown, never reaching maturity. They will simply be worthless and can even spread disease to the rest of the vineyard, also making it difficult to produce again the following season. Isaiah 5:2 speaks of God giving us everything needed to produce good fruit but instead, only worthless grapes were produced. He dug it all around, removed its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it And also hewed out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.
God expects us to bear eternal fruit…fruit that remains. John 5:15 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. We must remain in Him, yielded to God’s timing and pruning process that will bring us into full maturity, reaching our potential and fulfilling our purpose in Him.
Lastly, The Hebrew word for fruit is ‘parah’ פרה and when looking at the meaning of the letters we see a ה, which is the broken letter and in this context can refer to the seed of God’s word spoken ( פ ), and broken (ה ) open, which by the grace of God and power of Holy Spirit ( ר ), it will sprout and grow and accomplish all it was intended for.
The Hebrew word for grape ‘anav’ אנב means fruit bearer. Looking at the letters we have: the Nun (נ) faith in God the Aleph (א) dwelling in your hearts (ב)….which is needed to remain and endure, while yielded to the process. By God’s grace, and in His timing we will be fruit bearers for the Kingdom of God.