Friday, June 24, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Mem

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
This week's selection,  verses 97 - 104, from the NIV 84:

Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

In the Hebrew, these verses each start with the letter mem, kind of a boxy pointy thing.  Which  actually has an 'm' starts the word 'mitsvah', which I've encountered several times.  So it's interesting that so many of those verses start with 'I'.

But, that whole English-uses-a-different-word-order thing is quite possibly to blame.  We'll see if I can manage to keep the original word order when doing the word-by-word look at the dictionary...

...and, wow, word order is definitely an issue.

Every time I plow through one of these sections I learn something new.  Today I observed that in many of the verses, there is a noun and a modifier (which is either a word or a phrase) that are put on either end of the sentence.  Sometimes the noun is first, sometimes the modifier is first, but for the sentence to make sense I've got to pull them together and rearrange things...otherwise I end up with a sentence that reads something like  Your word has restrained from the road evil my two feet for the sake of keeping guard.  Um.  Leaning on the original translators for their wisdom in the subject of the sentence, and putting the phrases that go together next to each other, I get  [I] have restrained my two feet from the evil road  for the sake of keeping  your word.

I also realized that it appears that a modifying word is sometimes split and the word it modifies is inserted into it.   At least, that was the only way I could find one particular preposition word anywhere in the text...split around the word it referenced.

Gives me a whole new appreciation for those scholars that really dig into the original language for the best and most accurate translation.

I don't pretend that this is either good or accurate, but it is interesting.

Indeed [I] love your instruction;  all the day it [is] my meditation.
More than my enemies, I am made wise, because your commandments are forever with me.
To me, more than all those who teach me, [comes] comprehension because your testimonies are my meditation.
More than [the] old,  I show myself discerning, because your precepts I keep.
[I] have restrained my two feet from the evil road for the sake of keeping your word.
From your judgements I have not turned aside, for you have taught me.
How pleasant [are] your words; better than honey to my mouth.
By [and] through your precepts I show myself discerning; therefore I hate every path of falsehood.

Obviously, the NIV is far more poetic in English than what I came up with, but I really wanted to try and keep it as word-for-word as I could, mostly because I don't think I'm skillful enough at this to really discern a better translation.

But there are some interesting points to be made here.  The whole theme of this bit is how much better at life one is when attention and care is paid to the commandments of God.  Which dovetails nicely with the post I did  a couple of weeks ago about the benefits of studying the Word an average of four times a week. 

The other thing that struck me is that it does almost sound arrogant...'I'm smarter than my teachers and more discerning than my elders'...but  I think it is more  that 'I get more comprehension from meditating on your testimonies than from all my teachers' and 'I have more discernment than those folks who messed up back in the day ('ancients' is one possible translation) because I  keep your precepts'.

Because it's true that David's ancestors messed up...a lot...and it's also true that genuine personal attention to God's word is  superior to only listening to the insight others share. 

Sorta like  a  freshly cooked dinner is superior to a microwaved entree from the freezer section of the store.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

One Down, On to the Next...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I finished the first course of the Master's degree program last night;  I actually enjoyed the class.  But, then, blogging and all...a class on writing was not a real stretch.  Plus, I really liked the textbook (Keys to Great Writing, by Stephen Wilbers) and plan to keep it handy for reference.  All in all, a good first step.

But the rest of the classes on the course list were...intimidating. I mulled around a bit over which course on the list I wanted to tackle next and decided on Biblical Interpretation.

I downloaded the syllabus, which includes the name and ISBN number of the textbook...but not the author's name.  Popped over to Amazon and typed the name into the search bar and was shocked when the image of the book appeared.  Didn't I already have that????

A quick look at the bookshelf and...not only did I have it, it was ready to hand.  I'm not sure how long that book has been in my possession... years, I'm sure.  I haven't actually read it through; however, a fair amount of the material is included in the  International Inductive Study Bible, and  I've been slowly marking my way through my copy of  the IISB (NAS version) for something like 15 or 20 years, so I'm very familiar with the Inductive method.

Familiar enough that I almost felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend.

I'm actually glad to be required to read it.

I think this class will be ok, too.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Lamedh

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

(a sample of the scribbled notes from the last Ps. 119 post...)

This week we have Ps. 119: 89-96; which all begin with the Hebrew Letter Lamedh, which is an interesting extra-tall squiggle...sort of like a '7' with a Ronald Reagan hairdo.  Here 'tis in the NIV '84 translation:

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;  you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statues.
To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.

That.  Right there.  Just sayin'.

 This is so plain I don't even really feel like I need to pull out the Zodhiates...but I'll stick to the established I go to see what I come up with.

Except in cases where it just exceedingly awkward, I try to preserve the word order that appears in the Hebrew....which is about half the time, I think. 

From everlasting, Yahweh, your word is established in the two heavens.
Generation after generation, your steadfastness establishes the whole earth, and it remains.
By your ordinances, all your servants stand to this day.
If your law had not been my delights, then [I would have] strayed in my misery.
Never in eternity will I forget your precepts, for they preserve me alive.
Yours am I,  give [me] victory because I carefully seek your precepts.
[The] wicked lie in wait to destroy me; I will show myself attentive to your divine testimonies.
[I] have perceived the end of all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly wide.

Really not that different, but there is an interesting bit in verse 89...'heavens' has a prefix that denotes 'dual' in, two, specifically.  And the word 'heaven' can be translated either the physical, visible heavens...the sky, the stars...or the throne room of God.  Kind of a clever implies God's word is established and firm in BOTH.

The other verse that intrigued me is verse 92...'perished' can also be translated 'strayed'; 'affliction' can also be translated 'misery'...and, as I pondered that, I thought about how easy it is to get caught up in a tough spot and give up on God...if His word is not a refuge and a delight.

It's not a legalistic, religious thing to love God's word.  It's life-preserving.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Time to Breathe

 Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi's good to just take a break.

The Princess, the Flute Player and I headed back to the farm in Indiana for a few days...I had a little connection to make while I was there, but, mostly, we went to see family and soak up the quiet.

'Cause there's no quiet like a farm quiet.

Occasional cars on the state highway or the county road...or maybe a piece of farm equipment moving from one field to the other, the dog barking at deer crossing the field, the wind in the pine trees, the mourning doves and red-winged blackbirds.  A walk back to the 'crick', past the grain bins and the no-till beans peaking through last year's corn residue.



And, thanks to daylight savings time, the sunrise is late enough to catch it, too....

And, finally, a photo with the Indiana Master Farmer and his dad and mom.  Retired, but still hard-working.
It was a treat that I get too seldom...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Perfection not required

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Sometimes you stumble across something on the 'net that truly generates an 'aha!' moment.

Whilst waiting for a late load of laundry to come out of the dryer last night, I followed a link from Facebook.

It was posted back in April by Dr. Pamela Ovwigho; an interesting bit of research she titled 'The Power of 4" (click that link for the article).

Basically, she found that
The life of someone who engages scripture four or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-Christians. 

The article goes on to list a number of statistics of just how much engaging in the Scripture at least 4 times a week changes behavior.  But what jumped out at me was her statement that the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-Christians.   

That would be...the same percentage of divorces.  The same rate of pornography addiction. The same...the same...the same... as non-Christians. 

And it wasn't dependent upon what church was attended, or how often, or whether or not they claimed to be spirit-filled, or how much time they spent in prayer...not even how much time they spent studying the Bible. She was looking solely at how often they engaged the Bible. 

She published another post a week or so later, detailing just what she meant by 'engaging the Bible' ...and it is surprisingly basic.

Receiving the words of the Bible through reading or listening
Reflecting on the meaning of those words
Responding to them in your own life

Receive - reflect - respond.   

You don't have to spend hours with  a Zodhiates text to engage with the fact, you could spend hours with a Zodhiates text and not engage with what you're reading at all.  It's not about time.

It's about, well, paying attention.

And those who do that a minimum of 4 times a week...have statistically significant differences in their lives from those who don't.

Many, many years ago, I took a group of kids to a major youth crusade event.  In the course of the teaching, the kids were encouraged to sign a personal statement of intent to have a daily quiet time.  Just for their own commitment...not to be turned in or necessarily shared with anyone. In our discussion of the event at our next group meeting, most of the kids stated something to the effect of  'I knew I couldn't keep it up, so I didn't sign it.'

They knew they wouldn't be perfect, so why try?

But the study shows...perfection is not required.   

Most of us go to church twice a week; if the service actually engages the attendees in the Word,  that means doing personal study only twice a week.  Two days out of 7.    That's kinda like batting .286.

Not a huge, difficult commitment...but one that is statistically proven to change lives.

Three 'R's' , four times a week.  

It will make a difference.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Tour through Psalms 119: Kaph

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Well, here it is, pushing towards evening on Friday and I'm just now sitting down to do my weekly post.

Plans for the evening are fluid...I may or may not get this posted in a timely fashion.  With the West Coast classes to work on, my blogging time has been even more, um, squeezed.

But this week's letter, Kaph, is the 11th letter out of the 22.  We've hit the halfway point!

In Hebrew, verses 81 to 88 all begin with Kaph..which looks sorta like a backwards capital C...

Here's how the NIV 84 translates the passage:

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.  
My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, "When will you comfort me?"
Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.  
How long must your servant wait ?  When will you punish my persecutors?
The arrogant dig pitfalls for me, contrary to your law.
All your commands are trustworthy;  help me, for men persecute me without cause.
They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.
Preserve my life according to your love, and I will obey the statutes of your mouth.

Um...that's interesting.  'I am like a wineskin (KJV: bottle) in the smoke'...I wonder if that is an idom that was significant to his original audience?

I confess, after last week, I really thought I was beginning to see a pattern in the segments and came to this week's passage just a little smug, expecting to see the same formula that has been in the others.

Um, not so much.  He wrote this in an especially rough spot, I do believe, and is reminding himself (and the Lord) that God will protect and preserve him, no matter how tough it gets.  He's hanging onto hope with his fingernails...but he is hanging on.

At least, that's my take here.  Let's see what comes out of the dictionary dig:

...and here it is, Saturday afternoon, and I finally finished the dictionary dig.  I don't know if I'm getting more picky about it, or if it really is getting more difficult as I go...but my confidence in some of this is not very high.  Think paraphrase.  Really...

My soul is completed in your salvation; in your word [I] hope.
My two eyes, exhausted, say, 'When [will you] comfort me by your word?'
For [though I] am like a bottle of smoke,  your statutes [I] do not forget.
How long are the days of your servant?   When will judgement be accomplished on those who harass me?
The insolent have dug pits for me illegally.
All your commandments are steadfast;  help me, [for I am] fraudulently harassed.
[They] have almost exterminated me from the earth; but I have not departed from your precepts.
By your goodness, revive me, so [I shall] guard the testimony of your mouth.

At least 'a bottle of smoke', one who is emptied out...makes more sense to me than 'a wineskin in smoke'...and, as the indication is just that there is a preposition attached to the word 'smoke', 'of' makes as much sense to me as 'in'.

But my initial sense is still the same... this is the lament of the harassed, the one whose faith has put him in the crosshairs of society, and society is firing.

Verse 85 is a serious paraprhase...NIV uses 'contrary to'; KJV is even more awkward 'not according to', but the Hebrew just uses a negation with a preposition prefix and a pronomial suffix attached to 'law'. I used the word 'illegally', which carries the same basic meaning, but I kinda get the feeling that  the Psalmist is making a distinction between the law the insolent are following and God's law...'The insolent have dug pits for me according to their law, not yours' but that's an even bigger paraphrase than 'illegally'.  But...that's still the implication of it, to me.

The insolent make up their own laws and then use them against those who would follow God's laws.


Because...and this is just simple logic...if God exists and gave us laws, then wouldn't anything contrary to his laws be fraudulent?  Could one, by simple denial of God, justify laws contrary to God's law?  And what happens to such a one when he must deal with the God whose existence he denied?

They have almost exterminated me from the earth, but I have not departed from your precepts.

Hanging on.