Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Psalm 16 - my goodness!

Protestants are always on about the non-relevance of our good before God. Is that what the bet verse is about? טוֹבָתִי בַּל עָלֶיךָ, tovati bal aleika, or in the vulgate: quoniam bonorum meorum non eges, translated as 'you don't need my goods'.

What good is this that is ours? It is, whatever we might think as pious and correct folks, nevertheless important to us. When my good is impacted, I respond, even with violence, whether of desire or of defense. It is good to me! It is not my righteousness - it might even be my unrighteousness, the old man, my second heart - as the sages say, the reason for the dagesh forte in heart. But this whole person is what God loves, so loves. And so do I. So tovati bal aleika is not a doctrinal statement of Lutheran protest against works-righteousness!

I passed over this phrase too quickly in my last post. My good - which is very important to me, is nonetheless, beside the good that God gives to me, not important - because God has given to me a good that is greater than my good, but he has made it truly mine - and that alone is trouble since I must in due course submit that gift also to God!

So how to put this across in three words (or 6) in English!

I suppose it is just as pious to declare God's good for me better than my idea of my good.

My good pales beside you.

This is I think, an answer to theodicy, with or without a doctrine of the age to come. We really have choice and we really must discover the chosen.

The tone of the Psalm is not then so much about a deliverance from a past or present crisis (Craigie) as about the deliverance in hope from the crisis of life in the flesh (Weiser sort of agrees with this in his long paragraphs). The rest of the poem must reflect this - let's wait and see if it does.

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