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.

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