Friday, July 8, 2016

A Tour through Psalm 119: Samekh

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

If you flat-topped an o and gave it a hint of a stroke on the upper left, you'd have something that looks kinda like the letter samekh, which starts each of verses 113-120 in the Hebrew, rendered thusly in the NIV 84 :

I hate double-minded men, but I love your law.
You are my refuge and my shield;  I have put my hope in your word.
Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.
You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is in vain.
All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.
My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.

My first reaction  to this, kinda harsh there.  Words like 'hate', 'reject',  and 'discard'  fly in the face of the 'God loves you no matter what' philosophy that seems so prevalent.

Now, to be strictly honest, I do believe He really does love us no matter what.  He wouldn't have sent Jesus, while we were still in opposition to Him, if  He did not love us no matter what.  But 'love' is not the same thing as 'excuse'... somehow those words have gotten confused, so that 'God loves you no matter what' becomes understood as 'God excuses you no matter what'.

But then you still have to reconcile that with those strong words.  And, while God loves, he does not excuse.  He does distinguish between the holy and the profane.  And ....well, there are consequences.

But that's the NIV.  Let's see what we find in the dictionary exploration...

Whew.  That took a while, but I think I have something more-or-less coherent...

I hate skeptical thinking, but I love your law.
My shelter and shield you are; [I] wait for your word.
Away from me, doers [of] evil!  [I] keep the commandments of Elohim.
Sustain me by your word, so [I] have life and [am] not confused by my hope.
Sustain me [and I will] be victorious and [have] regard for your statutes continually.
[You] make light of all those who go astray from your statues, for their treachery is falsehood.
You remove the wicked from the earth like dross, therefore I love your testimonies.
I get goosebumps ( literally, 'My flesh bristles')  from reverent dread of your judgements. 

That doesn't strike me as being quite as strident as the actual translation, but I wouldn't build a doctrine on what I came up with...there's just too much I'm guessing at.  But the word 'dross' has only one translation, and the intention is clearly that the wicked...those folks who go astray from God's command and behave treacherously, based on lies and falsehood...are cleared away like dross from silver.

But...on a lighter note...I smiled when I saw that what had been translated as 'my flesh trembles' literally means 'my flesh bristles'...goosebumps, y'all.  He's talking about goosebumps.

Y'know, I probably should check the Message and see how it translates some of these verses...just to see if I'm close...

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