Tuesday, July 17, 2018

In the Morning

I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
But I will sing of your might; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress.
Psalm 59:16

Verses 16 and 17 are a further demonstration of why Psalm 59:9 is incorrectly translated in most modern versions of the psalms. Verse 9 refers to "his strength"—note the ending on the Hebrew word: עֻזּוֹ. While v. 16 has a different ending, indicating "your strength": עֻזֶּךָ, in v. 17, there's another ending, rending it "my strength": עֻזִּי. 

I don't really want to talk about that this morning, however. I just wanted to show how valuable it can be to look at the Bible in its original language. What inspires me this morning is morning itself. The psalter portion appointed for the day I was born* says that "weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning" [Ps. 30:5b], and that pretty much describes what's happening in Psalm 59:16. The danger is real, but even in the midst of dire threat, the psalmist is able to affirm that s/he will be singing for joy at sunrise. The protection offered by God in the time of distress is so real that, even before reaching safety, the psalmist celebrates what's to come.

I suppose this could be dismissed as the power of positive thinking if we were to take it out of its original context. But the context is so fraught with danger, so full of bad news, that it's not exactly possible to accuse the psalmist of "positive thinking" when most of the psalm appears to be so negative. Happiness in God, therefore, isn't found in denying reality, but in incorporating the bad news I experience into the promise of good news to the faithful.

Keep me true to you, O God. Transform me not into a Pollyanna who sees only the positive, but into a David who keeps the faith when all else seems to have gone wrong. If my present is filled with danger, pain, or sadness, help me through your word to remember victories of the past and to look forward to the coming victory in Jesus Christ my Sovereign. Amen.

*Okay, so I'm the one who did the "appointing"—but all systems have some origin, after all.