David makes the point that he is not afraid of his enemies, no matter how important or powerful they are. The only thing he is afraid of is violating G-d’s word.
Radak says the שרים refers to Absalom. David is not so much afraid of the rebellion but of the sin that led to it:
And David returns to the theme of finding joy in the Torah. The Vilna Gaon explains that ששון is the feeling of joy mixed with the regret that there is too much there there. The more we know, the more we know how much we don’t know. (Artscroll cites this, but I haven’t found the original source).
Seven often just means “a lot”:
חז״ל try to interpret שבע more literally:
Thus שבע ביום means “on seven things in the day”. The Yerushalmi, on the other hand, connects it to davening; specifically the ברכות around קריאת שמע:
The implications of this are that the ברכות of קריאת שמע are even older than the אנשי כנסת הגדולה, existing in some form even in the time of David. That’s not unreasonable, since we know that the idea of תפילה three times a day existed even then:
And the themes of the ברכות are, in part, exactly what this פרק תהילים is about: creation, the ontic revelation of G-d’s will (to use the terms from the section on letter ק); and revelation, the noetic revelation of G-d’s will. The מעשה בראשית בעולם שנברא בעשרה מאמרות and the מעמד הר סיני בתורה שניתנה בעשרה דברות (in Rav Hutner’s words) are both “Torah” and we thank ה׳ for both in the ברכות before שמע. The ברכות after שמע deal with redemption, which has been another theme of this perek (though one we have not dealt with explicitly), and comes up in the next psukim:
And so we get back to the underlying theme of this perek: love of Torah and all that it means.
We’re almost done with this very long chapter, and as I read it, a few ideas keep coming back. We need an abstract or an executive summary to keep track of it all.
Creation represents G-d’s will, and this is manifest both in the created physical universe and in the rules of human behavior, the הלכה, the normative universe. Both aspects are broadly called “Torah”.
G-d is infinite and Man is finite, so we can never truly understand G-d. But we have to try.
The universe was for the purpose of fulfilling the הלכה, so learning the revealed הלכה is the most direct way of understanding G-d’s will.
It is possible, however, to hear G-d’s voice in the created and normative universe. This is called דרך ארץ or אינו מצווה ועושה or לפנים משורת הדין.
We experience joy in learning Torah, but it is not joy in the knowledge but joy in the process. Learning and obeying are ways of becoming close to G-d. Learning Torah is closer to performing or listening to music than it is to studying for a test.
As it happens, David wrote his own TL;DR and it’s a lot more poetic than mine:
We are very familiar with this perek; we say it every שבת. Much of this analysis comes from Rav Elchanan Samet’s shiurim on תהילים. The perek consists of two halves; the first describes how the heavens wordlessly praise ה׳:
This is the idea we’ve discussed many times, that the laws of nature are a manifestation of ה׳'s will, and the fact that the universe obeys the laws of nature is a form of proclaiming His majesty. Then, as Rav Samet notes, there is a partial volta as David focuses on one heavenly body, the sun:
The sun is full of joy at obeying ה׳'s will. Then the line ends with אין נסתר מחמתו, which is generally translated as “nothing is hidden from its heat” but the word is חַמָּתוֹ, not ֹחוֹמו. A literal translation is “nothing is hidden from its sunniness”. We’ll have to see what that means.
The second half turns to the other manifestation of ה׳'s will, the Torah itself. These four psukim are very similar to the psukim in תהילים קיט that we have been studying, with all the synonyms of Torah that we have seen:
Then, in a parallel to the first half, David turns from the general to the specific, to himself:
The two halves represent the two ways of “hearing G-d’s voice”:
But there is a contrast with the sun. The sun serves ה׳ with joy, but David, while appreciating the Torah that is מתוקים מדבש, is worried. This is a prayer, יהיו לרצון אמרי פי. The difference is fundamental between the way the universe obeys ה׳ and the way human beings do:
For the sun, אין נסתר מחמתו, there is nothing hidden from it being the sun, from fulfilling its duty. It by definition obeys the laws of nature; it has no free will. Human beings, however, have to choose to obey. Not everything is obvious; we have to ask, מנסתרות נקני. But because we have to make the choice, it is a higher way of serving.
But how can we learn Torah, the word of the infinite G-d, if we are finite? That is a gift; ה׳ allows us the ability to determine His will, by deciding the הלכה. We have quoted the Vilna Gaon, that real אמת is impossible for human beings to comprehend, so ה׳ ”threw the truth to the earth“:
Rav Hutner says that מתן תורה gives us, כנסת ישראל, the ability to decide אמת in two ways.He quotes the gemara:
What we do as Jews as עדות, testimony to ה׳‘s will, is עדות of ה׳’s will.