Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Psalm 31

The 'word-field' is a term in a book I found at the library early in my study of the psalms (Creach, Jerome F. D. Yahweh as Refuge and the Editing of the Hebrew Psalter JSOT SS 127 1996). Creech concentrates on the word-field encompassing refuge חסה and mercy חסד. We traditionally translate חֲסִידִים (chasidim) as saints or its singular חסיד as one who is godly (Psalm 4:3, Psalm 12:1) or even the Holy One (Psalm 16:10) and in this tradition of translation, while the result of holiness in the relationship with God is emphasized, the reality of mercy is downplayed and in my opinion, is lost. Do not get me wrong here - I am not emphasizing the attitude that 'deserves' mercy - (as if this psalm were penitential - it isn't), but the astonishing Attitude that delivers it.

I continue to stretch in translating these terms - loving kindness and mercy or covenant mercy as does tradition, but for 'saints' I search for a term: those under his protection, or even the mercied, a coinage, or the circumlocution I have used here - those who are the targets of his loving kindness. That means us.

The reality is better than words or imagination - even our religious imagination.

For the leader
A Psalm
Of David
In you יְהוָה I take refuge
let me not be ashamed for ever
in your righteousness deliver me
Incline your ear to me
with haste rescue me

Become to me as a strong rock
as a house, a fortress to save me
for my crag and my fortress you are
so for the sake of your name
lead me and guide me

you will spring me from the net that they have hidden for me
for you are my strength
into your hands I entrust my spirit
you have redeemed me יְהוָה God of truth
I hate those keeping vanities of emptiness
but I, I in יְהוָה will trust

I will be glad and rejoice in your loving kindness
since you have seen my trouble and know the distress of my life
and you did not shut me up in the hand of the enemy
but have set my feet in a large place

Have mercy on me יְהוָה for there is distress in me
my eye, my being and my belly are consumed with grief
for filled with sorrow is my life and my years with groaning
my power fails with iniquity and my bones are consumed

From all the distress I became a great reproach to my neighbours
and a dread to those knowing me
those seeing me outside fled from me
I am forgotten as death from the heart

I have become as a broken vessel
for I have heard the whispering of many
they arranged terror surrounding
they planned together against me to take my life

but I, I have trusted in you יְהוָה
I said you are my God
in your hands are my times
rescue me from the hand of my enemy and those persecuting me

Make your face shine on your servant
save me in your loving kindness יְהוָה
let me not be ashamed for I have called you
let the wicked be ashamed

let them be still in the grave
let lips of deceit be bound
speaking of the righteous
arrogance of pride and contempt

How great your goodness
which you have treasured for those fearing you
you have made for those seeking refuge in you
before the children of humanity

You will hide them in the secret of your presence from the bonds of a human
you will treasure them in a booth from the strife of tongues
Blessed is יְהוָה
for he has made wonderful his loving kindness to me in a safe city

But I - I said in my hurry
I am destroyed from before your eyes
nevertheless you heard the voice of my supplications
when I cried out to you

Love יְהוָה all who are the targets of his loving kindness
יְהוָה preserves the faithful
and rewards the one working growth with plenty
be courageous and he will confirm your heart
all you hoping in יְהוָה

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