Friday, April 29, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Zayin

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
True confession:  I really, really want to start off with, "I'm just zayin'" dum dum....

But, zayin (NIV; King James renders it as zain) is an actual Hebrew letter and, in the original language, begins each of the verses in today's passage, vs. 49 - 56.

I originally read through the section in staff prayer, and was really struck by the timeliness of it; I could see lots of parallels between those verses and my Facebook feed....

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law.
I remember your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who  have forsaken your law.  
Your decrees are the  theme of my song wherever I lodge.
In the night I remember your name, O LORD,  and I will keep your law.
This has been  my practice:  I obey your precepts.

Now, the arrogant aren't mocking me specifically, personally, but I am seeing much mockery of values I hold and of those who are more vocal than I am about the particulars of those values.  And my general reaction is, truly, that those folks who are  posting such demeaning things honestly don't have a clue, but have drunk the kool-aid of the day without so much as a consideration that maybe, just maybe, there is a God who has standards as reflected in His word.  Truth be told, I feel sorry for them, and the indignation manifests as frustration that I can't find a way to share what I believe and why, as the generally accepted interpretation of those precious truths is about 180 degrees from their actual purpose.  It's really, really difficult to reason with anyone who's mind is already made up that any opinion contrary to the popular one is  laughably bogus.  There's no common ground to even begin a discussion.

So I hold my peace and pray a lot.

Now, shall we explore the Hebrew dictionary?

Remember speaking to your servant concerning that for which I wait;
This my comfort in my misery: certainly your word refreshes me.
Presumptuous [ones] mock me exceedingly: I absolutely will not turn aside from your instruction.
[I] recall your judgements from antiquity, Yahweh, and so comfort myself.
Burning indignation has taken hold of me on account of [those who are] hostile to God and abandon your instruction.
My songs have come into being [from?] your decrees in my household dwelling place.
[I] have remembered your name, Yahweh,  in the night and have guarded your instruction.
This has been established for me, since [I] watch over your precepts.

Can I agree with the psalmist and comfort myself knowing that my faith is established, regardless of how hostile the rest of the world becomes?   What is the foundation of my songs?

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Tour through Psalm 119: Waw

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
This week's Hebrew letter is rendered as 'waw' in the NIV and 'vau' in King James, and it begins each of the verses 41 - 48 in the Hebrew text.
Here's the passage from my old friend the NIV 84:
May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord,  your salvation according to your promise;
Then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statues before kings and will not be put to shame,
For I delight in your commands because I love them.
I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.

Just mulling over this, I see the psalmist pondering, studying, and delighting in God's word, laws and promises in his personal devotional life, but he also is not hesitant to declare that word in front of folks who mock him and those who have authority...and he trusts that God will back up his word so that he is not put to shame.

Let's see how my 'tediously rendered paraphrase' filters through from the Hebrew dictionaries.

Your goodness, kindness and faithfulness do come upon me, Yahweh, your salvation, your word--
Speech to answer to [one who] reproaches me; as [I] am confident in your word.
[I] have waited for your judgements; do not strip away the firmness of your word completely out of my mouth.
So [I] will guard your instruction forever for ever,
And [I] shall walk about in the broad[ness], indeed to seek with care your precepts.
And [I] shall speak of your testimonies in front of kings, not ashamed.
Delighting myself in your commandments, which I have loved.
Meditating upon your statutes and lifting up my two hands to your commandments, which I have loved.

(And folks tell us English is a complicated language...)

Do you just get the feeling that the Psalmist is taking in God's instruction as if it were his life's breath? Delighting, meditating...other words in the dictionary were pondering, studying, watching over...  the firmness of your word in my mouth... He's asking God to not shake his confidence, his conviction that the word will do what it says it will do.  With that confidence, there's nothing that can restrict him or intimidate him...

How firm is God's word in my mouth?

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Tour Through Ps. 119: He

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Somehow I skipped another week...oh, yeah; we spent last Friday buying a car. Who woulda thought that it would take most of the day to buy, finance, insure and license a new car? should get somewhat less hectic now that The Actor can  use the clunker without having to worry about my schedule.  I never thought we'd be a 3 car family again, but, well, you do what you gotta do.

2012 Hyundai Santa Fe. I'm no longer driving the mom van.  My Sweet Babboo has it because he can haul camping gear.  When it is ready for trade, he'll get a pickup truck.  But that's a few years away yet.

So!  Back to Psalms 119!  This is actually Week 5:  Verses 33 - 40, which all begin with the Hebrew letter 'He'.

NIV 84 renders it thusly:

Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees;  then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;  preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.

Now, to see what comes of the Hebrew, courtesy of Mr.Zodhiates and Bible Study Tools dot Com:

Instruct me, Yahweh, [in] the prescribed course of life and consequently [I will] guard it.
[I shall] guard your instruction and protect it, understanding with my inner man: mind, will and heart.
Cause me to  tread your path of commandments, for therein I take delight.
Influence my conscience towards your testimonies and not toward unjust profit.
Cause my two eyes to pass by giv[ing] attention to worthlessness; preserve me alive in your ways.
Establish your word to your servant, who [is in] reverence of you.
Good thing you cause me to pass over the disgrace due me, which I dread, by your judgements.
Behold, I continually long for your precepts! Preserve me alive in your righteousness.

I have actually read this passage over in the NIV several times in the, um, three weeks since the last Ps. 119 post. What impressed me was that the Psalmist asked God to do what we would normally consider to be in the area of personal discipline:
Teach me
Give me understanding
Direct me
Turn my heart towards...
Turn my eyes away...  

I wondered how much my personal determination to study, understand, choose the right path,  focus my heart and eyes on the right stuff is taking on to myself more than I can handle.

Maybe my studying, understanding, choices, etc, are more a matter of submitting to God than strict personal discipline?    Hmmm...

As usual, though, digging through the Hebrew dictionary shines a little different light.  Now, I have to admit, some of those verses (especially verse 39) were really tricky, considering the grammar of them in the Hebrew.  I really tried to leave the sentence structure as it was...or as best as I could tell...and to leave verbs as verbs and nouns as nouns and paying attention to the tenses.  But a few times I had to move things around to get them to make sense.

I thought verses 33 and 34 were particularly interesting in the Hebrew... the idea that the psalmist is going to guard, protect, oversee the course God has laid out.  That's a little stronger than simply keeping to the way.  Not just learning, but understanding and putting into practice.

That's a challenge for today!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Best Souvenir Ever

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We spent the last few days in Gatlinburg, TN, which is either the most blatant tourist trap east of the Mississippi and north of Orlando, or the coolest place to just have a relaxing, fun family time...depending on your point of view.

I'm not big on touristy stuff or cheesy shows or country music; but I do love the mountains and I really appreciate real artisan crafts.  So I guess I'm somewhere in the middle.

We skipped all the 'tourist attractions' this go round and spent some time hiking one of the mountain trails...2.25 miles of the 8ish mile trail, climbing about 700 feet before we turned around (my calves are still complaining about that).  But once we passed the first muddy place on the trail,  most of the crowd dropped back and we pretty much had the trail to ourselves.  It was a beautiful day. and I got some beautiful pictures, like this one:

 And this one...if you look closely, you can see Gatlinburg  through the gap.  We could pick out the Space Needle, although it doesn't show in the  photo.
And this one...which made me think of Middle Earth...

But probably the neatest thing happened on the day when we cruised the Arts and Crafts Loop.

No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a trip to Alewine Pottery, and we were there before the crowd.  Whilst we were perusing the stock, just taking in the vast array of beautiful pieces, a young lady came up to us and asked if we'd like our portraits drawn.  'It's free,' she said, 'Or, if you like, you can make a donation to St. Jude.'

Now, I follow AP on Instagram and Facebook, and I knew that there was a particular reason she was fundraising for St. Jude.  So we asked her if she'd like us to come and sit for the portrait.  She said that would be great, so we  arranged ourselves in the rocking chairs in the lobby by the fireplace and watched as she picked up an ink pen and proceeded to studiously draw on one of the sheets of paper used to wrap the pottery after purchase.

We also watched work on lamp bases...careful finishing and embellishing of the basic we sat for our portraits.    After a bit, she commented that she wasn't going to draw the poses we were in...but that was fine with us.    Eventually, she asked for our names and notated the picture, then she signed it.

Of course, we had to get a photo with the artist.   We made our donation to St Jude in the jar on the counter; you can make yours here.  It is one of the few organizations about which I feel no hesitation at all to promote on the blog.