Did You Catch The CAPH?
Psalm 119:81–88 81 CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: But I hope in thy word. 82Mine eyes fail for thy word, Saying, When wilt thou comfort me? 83For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; Yet do I not forget thy statutes. 84How many are the days of thy servant? When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? 85The proud have digged pits for me, Which are not after thy law. 86All thy commandments are faithful: They persecute me wrongfully; help thou me. 87They had almost consumed me upon earth; But I forsook not thy precepts. 88Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; So shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
Did you catch the CAPH?
I heard that sentence in my mind and imagined someone with a New England accent saying, “Did you catch the cough” but that is certainly not what I was talking about. Aren't you glad I didn't, we are living in a time where a public clearing of your throat or mention of a cough causes mass panic. Don’t get your mask in a wad, I didn’t say “cough”.
I said, “CAPH”.
The CAPH is the eleventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is the first thing we read in this portion of the Psalm.
Psalm 119:81 CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: But I hope in thy word.
Did you catch the CAPH?
Here is the CAPH or KAPH or KAF
Charles Spurgeon, in his wonderful commentary on the Psalms, refers to the writings of some of the early Christian pastors like Ambrose and Jerome and how they caught the CAPH. They mention how some ancient scholars saw some significance in the curved shape of the Hebrew letter. Look at what they said,
"The eleventh letter, Caph...like veteran soldiers, stooping with years and toil…Others extend the notion to the saints of the church, weighed down by the sorrows and cares of this life and therefore desiring to be dissolved and to be with Christ…
In other words, some thought the Hebrew letter resembled an exhausted person bowing down under the weight of a heavy burden.
Still, according to Spurgeon, others saw in the shape of the CAPH a hollowed hand.
“...the hand is hollowed...to receive something about to be placed in it by another… the whole scope of the section, as a prayer for speedy help, is that man holds out his hand as a beggar, supplicating the mercy of God".—Jerome, Ambrose, and others, in Neale and Littledale.
I don’t know that the appearance of the Hebrew letter entered into the mind of the author, I am not so sure that he intended us to catch this visual from the CAPH, but both pictures are an accurate representation of this portion of the Psalm.
The Psalmist is certainly bowing under the weight of his burden
Psalm 119:81 My soul fainteth for thy salvation: But I hope in thy word.
Can you see him weary from carrying his load and about to faint?
Psalm 119:82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, Saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
The author’s ability to see his way through the fog is fading.
Psalm 119:83 For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; Yet do I not forget thy statutes.
Like an old wineskin in the smoke, he has been aged and wrinkled by the weariness of his suffering.
The symbol is accurate, isn’t it? He is bent over and about to collapse.
The Psalmist is surely still sticking out his hand in hope.
Spurgeon had this to say about this portion of Psalm 119.
“This octave is the midnight of the Psalm, and very dark and black it is. Stars, however, shine out, and the last verse gives promise of the dawn.”
Yes, he is bowed down under his burdens!
Yes, he can’t see the way forward through the darkness and fog!
Yes, he is weak and weary but despite his lack of strength, this suffering saint is still hoping in his God!
The tone of the Psalm will improve after this section and we will see a much more positive Psalmist. Obviously, his God came through, proving his faith had been well placed!
So, what is the point?
Catch the CAPH!
Are you weary? Catch the CAPH!
Is your back bowing under the heaviness of your load? Catch the CAPH!
Reach up to the Father with an open hand of faith and our merciful and gracious God will eventually fill it with blessings!
Reading from 10/30/20
 Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 308). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.  Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 304). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.