Examine My Reins

Prove me, O Lord, and try me: examine my reins, and mine heart.
—Psalm 26:2 (Geneva Bible 1560)

My meditation on this verse last year bears repeating year after year. 

What the NRSV translates as "test my heart and mind," the old Geneva Bible (as well as the King James Version) rendered "examine my reins and mine heart." At first glance, neither seems to be a literal translation of the Hebrew, which asks God to "refine my kidneys and my heart." But it turns out the Geneva Bible actually is. That's because rein, which to us is a strap that connects horse and rider (or driver) is also an archaic word for kidney (something a bit more obvious in French*). "Heart and kidneys" is symbolic language for my inner self. So I suppose it's just a happy accident that I understand the word rein in a different sense today.

I live in the 21st century, so it's not part of my everyday experience; but I would imagine that testing the reins is especially important when traveling by horse and buggy. Testing the reins would help guarantee that I could get where I'm going in one piece—it would ensure that my horse was properly hooked up to my carriage, and that I would be able to direct the horse once we were underway.

So when I ask God to "examine my reins," I might be asking that my connection be checked: Am I living in God's presence or outside God's presence? Is there healthy communication from my end, or am I disregarding the Divine in my workaday life? And I'm also asking if I'm taking direction properly. Am I studying the word and other things that are edifying? Am I allowing for holy silence, inviting God not just into my thoughts, but into my thinking process?

Examine my reins, O God: Strengthen the connection between me and you, and give me the grace of having you direct my path; in the Name of the One who taught me to pray: Our Father...

*The French word for kidney is rein.