HEBREW – Precept


piqqûḏ [and] pāqaḏ


The third name for God’s Word is the term precept. The Hebrew here is piqqûḏ (H6490), a masculine noun also meaning “instruction.” It’s a poetic word found only in the Psalms (twenty-four times, all but three in 119), always in the plural, that speaks of injunctions and moral obligations.


Especially noteworthy is the fact that piqqûḏ comes from the root pāqaḏ (H6485), a verb that means “to attend to, visit, search out, scrutinize, or make careful inspection of.” One aspect of this word is the idea of paying attention to something. Joseph, for example was made the “overseer” of Potiphar’s house (Gen_39:1-4), paying attention to and caring for all the affairs of the house.


The word is especially significant when used of God paying attention to something. In a positive way, at his death Joseph told his brothers that God would “visit” them and bring them into the Promised Land (Gen_50:24). Likewise, God was certainly paying attention to the plight of His people in their bondage in Egypt and said to Moses, “I have surely visited [pāqaḏ] you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt” (Exo_3:16). He went on to say He would deliver them. The negative is also true, that God pays attention to those who are doing evil, as when He gave the commandment in the Decalogue not to make any type of image or idol or bow down to any false god, for He is “a jealous God, visiting [pāqaḏ] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children” (Exo_20:5).


One authority, in fact, provides a definition in this vein that should particularly strike us: “[pāqaḏ] expresses the idea that God is paying attention to how He wants things ordered.” It continues to amaze me how church leaders today, as if God isn’t watching, persist in doing things the way theychoose, from creating whatever methods and ministries they deem fit, to running the church as they would a corporation. Instead of opening Scripture to see how God wants things ordered, we do what pleases people. Psa_119:4, for example, declares, “Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently,” underscoring that God wants things done His way. Let us commit ourselves to that principle, for God is paying attention.


Scriptures for Study: Read just a few of the occurrences of precept in Psalms 119, noting what our attitude and response should be: Psa_119:4; Psa_119:15; Psa_119:27; Psa_119:40; Psa_119:45; Psa_119:87, and Psa_119:93.




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