Background. Go with me on this- it winds but there is a point….What is the point of the words of the Psalms? Certainly, to communicate meaning, but is that all? Words also have a music, an ability to evoke feelings beyond the meaning. Particularly for the Psalms that were poetry and often even word puzzles-like acrostics. But most of us will never hear them as written. We don’t hear the carefully chosen words, often chosen for their sound as well as their meaning. Maybe I can find a reading of the Psalms in old Hebrew listen to in class, but the sound will still be disconnected from the connotations of the words. Other poet scholars have tried to translate the meaning and the poetry into Greek and from there Latin and from there English, like some poetry form of the game “telephone” still hoping that the writer’s voice can be heard. There have been some misconceptions and confusions added which we will talk about examples later, but perhaps they just are a different version of a new truth. Robert Frost once was asked what he meant in the poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” and he said that he wrote it, it was our job to figure out what it means. We bring to the Psalms our own internal connection to the Holy Spirit- each finding our own truth that can be different and not wrong. Together we get a richer view of the Word.
Reading Psalm 23: 1-3 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Reflection This is the first part of the Psalm 23 about being cared for and following the Lord. I use the familiar King James version here because we are used to this modern interpretation (1000s of years and two languages removed from the original). Tomorrow we will see how looking at the Hebrew can help us see something we may have missed in the English. But I do love the way this sounds and the meaning shines. Yet think also about the words- what do they mean to you? What do you hear and feel. Lorna in our class sent me something today about the use of want here that I think makes this point, and perhaps encourages us all to “unpack” the language. She said “I shall not WANT…”Want” is a synonym of “lack.” Saying “I shall not want” is similar to saying “I shall not lack” or “I shall not be in need” or “I shall not be lacking anything.” As an exercise- pick for yourself any word in these three verses and “unpack” it- what are the meanings that strike you?