Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Even the Sparrow

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
 
Ps 84:3-4 
Raised as I was on the RSV and loyal it the NRSV which replaced it, I have always counted on the above translation to be correct. But it might not be. Calvin interprets it differently, and he gives good reason. I need to hear him out:


The psalmist (probably David, he says, but he'll allow that he might be wrong) has no access to the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God. Even birds have nests, the psalmist says. Full stop. Then is added the exclamation, O your altars, O Lord of hosts! My King and my God! Happy are the people who can live in God's house and sing God's praise. In other words: birds have homes, but the psalmist isn't saying that they've infested the tabernacle and built nests on the altars. It would be rather silly to think that Israel paid no more mind to the holiest of its shrines than that. And just as birds have places where they are secure and happy, so the person writing this psalm longs to have that same feeling in the sanctuary of God. As swallows and sparrows happily tweet their praises to God from their nests in the trees, so God's happy people sing their praises in the tabernacle.

How can I find examples in nature of both my longing for God and how that longing is fulfilled?

As you care for all creatures, O God, I know you care for me. Help me to find my place in your created order, give me words to sing, the generosity to share my blessings with others, and the courage to include the truth in my song of praise; through the One who taught me to pray...

Though I maintain it's based on the incorrect interpretation of Ps. 84:3, this is a pretty song, and worth listening to.