Lent 2013 – day 2

14 Feb

Ok, day 2 of lent and my first working day when I am doing this. I have decided to do this first before anything else, but unfortunately it is on the back of a bad night’s sleep in which I spent the last 3-4 hours before starting this meditation trying (or rather failing) to get to sleep.

Ok, today is Psalm 139:5-6
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Do you ever have those moments when something just doesn’t make sense? And you keep on thinking about it and it still doesn’t make sense. But you know you need to keep on going, yet all of a sudden the distractions seem far more interesting because they are understandable and, in some cases, solvable. And, if you have read yesterday’s comments, you will know that I have many distractions!

Verse 6 would make perfect sense after yesterday’s verses, but because of verse 5 it just doesn’t make sense. Being hemmed in is, generally, a combat-related term. If you are hemmed in on all sides it means that you are surrounded by the enemy, which is not a good thing at all. You don’t get hemmed in by your own side! So on first, second, third and so on readings of these verses David seems to be saying that it is wonderful that God is attacking him and that he has no way of escape. Basically, David is waiting to die! And in all the other times that David talks about this in other Psalms he is crying out to God for help, yet here he says that the fact that he knows this is “too wonderful for me”! David, you make no sense!!!

So I struggled a lot with this passage this morning. I came close to almost writing it off as a wasted meditation. But then I thought to look at other translations (the bonus of using a Bible app, rather than a physical Bible) to see if they might make more sense of it. I had to go through several translations, but finally I found one that helped. In the New Living Translation it says:
You go before me and follow me.You place your hand of blessing on my head.
And all of a sudden it makes sense.
David is amazed, not because of God attacking him, but because of God protecting him! And when you put that alongside verses 1-4 you can understand why David declared it was “too wonderful” and “too lofty”, because to be known and protected on all sides by someone who is not physically tangible all the time is hard enough to try and explain, but to know it alongside that understanding is beyond our earthly ability to truly comprehend. I almost imagine David just standing back, whistling and then saying “Wow!”

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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2 Responses to “Lent 2013 – day 2”

  1. Les February 14, 2013 at 09:00 #

    The problem with the english language is that our words have many meanings and sometimes we need to know why was that word used so different translations / interpretations and commentaries on a passage can help to elaborate on the text as the Holy Spirit is allowed to inspire and teach.
    Yes many thimes I want to scream my head off at the amazingness of God – so keep going only 38 more days!

  2. Les February 14, 2013 at 10:07 #

    By way of post script – the “being hemmed in ” like in combat is a good descriptor too except instead of being gripped with fear of being killed David is gripped with Awesome Fear of his Living Loving Almight Incredible God

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