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To Know Christ and to Make Christ Known
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    Saturday, February 4, 2023

    Psalm 23

    1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
    3 He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
    4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
    5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;
    you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
    6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
    and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

     

    I like, from time to time, to search out an Interlinear Hebrew Bible, for the original Hebrew often differs from the words we see in our English translations.

    This ancient prayer, for instance, is beloved by many. In Hebrew, its first line reads this way:

    Yahweh/ one-being-shepherd-of-me/ not/ I-shall-lack

    The Hebrew offers only four words. But what words! We English-speakers change the name of God into two words, “the Lord.” We break the second word into three: “is,” “my,” “shepherd.” Finally, we rearrange the closing words, making two into four: “I shall not want.” Other translations add, subtract, or exchange words at the whim of various translators.

    All translations become in some sense interpretations, for a person moving thought from one language to another must always choose from a vast array. Words do not have one-for-one meaning as they move from one language to another. Many, for instance, love Eugene Peterson’s translation, “The Message,” for he uses very modern vernacular that becomes easier to read and which speaks clearly to the American ear.

    “God my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.”

    What do the words mean?

    It’s a beautiful morning. A bright 18-degree sun shines down from a clear sky. The finches came early, as usual, sitting momentarily in the bush just outside my window, their feathers puffed to lock out the cold. It’s wonderful to watch them. Usually one comes alone, an intrepid explorer perhaps, sees the seed, and begins eating. Within moments others follow. They eat and watch in turn, always alert.

    I know my seeds are not what sustains their lives. Were my seeds not there, they would find others. Free of charge. Given daily.

    The sustenance and stuff of life. Provided-for, protected, beloved, beautiful.

    They live without fear. Cautious, certainly. But unafraid. They know their maker in ways we can only imagine with our words. The importance doesn’t lie in the words, but rather the reality. Can we sense it in our own lives? Know it as our gift? Embrace and react to it in the only way possible, thankfully?

    That’s what matters! Maybe that’s why Peterson makes it an exclamation rather than a simple sentence.

    It’s like: “Wow! God loves me!”

    It ought to surprise us.

     

    Hymn of the day: Gratitude. On Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDHCzm0mhuk or click media link on rossfordumc.org.

     

     

     

    Rev. Lawrence Keeler