Lent 2013 – day 9

21 Feb

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.

Really struggled to wake up this morning when I had aimed to. Bit frustrated by that, but will try not to let it get me down.

Last week when I read this I focused pretty much solely on the first half of verse 5. Today, however, my attention was drawn to the second half if it. And, just like last week, I went to the other translations to see what it looked like.

The 2 that I really liked were the New Living Translation:
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
And, as yesterday, The Voice:
You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.

The first version gives us an image of blessing, such as a father would have given a firstborn son when he was coming into his inheritance (see the story of Jacob taking Esau’s blessing from Isaac or Solomon being made king by David). It speaks of God giving His inheritance (for us, now, it is the Holy Spirit) and also confirming that upon those who He gives His blessing that they are His chosen heirs.
The Voice translation might suggest that it is at odds with the NLT, given that one is a blessing of sonship and the other is a hand on the shoulder, but as I read it, they appear to be intertwined in how God works with us. Normally we would see the image of a hand on a shoulder to be one of comfort, which has no direct link to inheritance. However, I would see an image more of a hand that is attached to an arm that is resting across the shoulders, linked to a body that is pressed against the opposite shoulder to the one being touched by the hand. Put simply, I believe it to be a sideways hug!
And, when you put the 2 images together, I see an image first of God giving out His blessing and then raising up the heirs to His inheritance, grasping them in a sideways hug and then using His other hand to point out everything on the road ahead, as they start on the journey together.

You see, God doesn’t just give us His Spirit and then leave us to it. He is with us for the whole journey. He is guiding us when we are lost, He is supporting us when we are weak, He is looking after us as we sleep and He is never letting us wander off on our own. Sure, we might sometimes feel like we have strayed. But if our eyes are turned away from someone it only means that we can no longer see them, not that they have left us.

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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Archbishop Cranmer

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