Friday, January 09, 2015


It snowed again last night.  When Firewood Man cleared my sidewalks earlier this week, he did so at 5:00 in the morning.  So, when I awoke around noon to fetch fresh icepacks and noticed the unbroken bank of snow still covering my walks from the swirling winds of the night before, I texted Tim to see if he'd mind coming by today to clear them.  Given that he'd only had an inch of snow out in the boondocks and all that blowing kept everything clear, he was unaware I was in need.  Happily, he popped by after work and magically cleared it all in about 10 minutes.

Happily because Amos was laboring beneath a herculean effort to withhold his major business.  You see, he finds it hard enough to relieve himself on just two paws and two paws is about all he wishes to have on the ground at the moment at any given time.  I think he'd fly if he could.

My poor puppy dog has been asking to go outside, and then once outside, begging to come back inside.  Firewood Man, always mindful of my puppy dog, used his snow blower to clear a patch of the yard on either side of the back sidewalk.  To be blunt, Amos had pooped not once, but three times before Firewood Man finished his fine-tuning shoveling.  Amos had been holding things inside for over 36 hours.

It is really, really, really cold when the windchill gets below zero.

Amos' dunce of a mother used hot water to clean off the bottom step, because that was as far as he made it the night before the sidewalks were cleared.  Hot water turns to ice when the temperature is in the single digits.  Ice on your bottom step will cause both you and your puppy dog to go flying off into the snow if you try to walk on it.  So, when I was clearing off the steps to the back porch with my broom in the wee hours of the morning to let Amos relieve himself before heading back to be, I left the snow atop the bottom one.  And I left a note for Tim not to clear it.

I am not sure if he laughed more at my glazing of the steps or Amos' repeated trips to make deposits.  SIGH.

My pastor read to me Psalm 103 yesterday.  In short, it is one of the forgiveness Psalms.  He actually had me read it with him, which I have not done for a long while.  Hearing the Word is so completely different from reading it yourself.  My two-cents, thus, if you are wont to read the Living Word, is to always read it aloud (even if merely to yourself).  I find that to be a better means of "hearing" the Word, but even reading aloud to yourself is worlds different from having it read to you.

While we were reading, I became lost in thought over the final bit of the psalm.  After he left, I read it in my beloved NASB (1977) since we had used the hymnals he had brought, which are ESV.  Then I looked the psalm up in King James, New King James, Revised Standard Version, and, out of what might be called morbid curiosity, the New International Version.

Words matter.  They really do.  So, I've been thinking about the structure of the prayer of the psalm and the way it was translated.  Try as I might, I cannot quite pen what is troubling my waters; I cannot quite frame the thoughts swirling within me.  But I thought I might post the Coverdale translation here, since few are familiar with it, as contrast to whatever version of the Bible you might be reading.  If you read it.

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, praise his holy Name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgiveth all thy sin, and healeth all thine infirmities, who saveth thy life from destruction, and crowneth thee with mercy and loving-kindness, who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, making thee young and lusty as an eagle.

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgement for all them that are oppressed with wrong. He showed his ways unto Moses, his works unto the children of Israel. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, long-suffering, and of great goodness. He will not always be chiding; neither keepeth he his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our wickednesses. For look how high the heaven is in comparison of the earth; so great is his mercy also toward them that fear him. Look how wide also the east is from the west; so far hath he set our sins from us.

Yea, like as a father pitieth his own children, even so is the Lord merciful unto them that fear him. For he knoweth whereof we are made; he remembereth that we are but dust. The days of man are but as grass; for he flourisheth as a flower of the field. For as soon as the wind goeth over it, it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the merciful goodness of the Lord endureth for ever and ever upon them that fear him; and his righteousness upon children’s children; Even upon such as keep his covenant, and think upon his commandments to do them.

The Lord hath prepared his seat in heaven, and his kingdom ruleth over all. O praise the Lord, ye angels of his, ye that excel in strength, ye that fulfil his commandment, and hearken unto the voice of his word. O praise the Lord, all ye his hosts, ye servants of his that do his pleasure. O speak good of the Lord, all ye works of his, in all places of his dominion; praise thou the Lord, O my soul.

By comparison, here is the final bit in ESV:

Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!  Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion.  Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Aside from the different "paragraph"/"stanza" break, I find the Coverdale to be more ... earthy and visceral ... and more specific, which brings a different sort of intimacy to the prayer.

Just one note in the differences I found in comparing the two translation:  To "hearken" is to listen.  That is a very different translation that to "obey."  I know that Jesus speaks of obeying the commandments, but more than anything else I have noticed in the two Gospels I've plowed through time and time again via the Michael Card commentaries, is both the charge to listen and the query if folk are listening.  The emphasis is more on hearing the Word of God than on our obeying it.  In other words, the emphasis is on the Word (and consequently God's work) not man (or his work).

But with even that one note above I am straying into the mire of trying to put into words what hearing Psalm 103 stirred within me. So, I will leave off there.

I will add that, out of curiosity, I found myself looking up Psalm 77 in the Coverdale, that chief Go-To psalm amongst my Go-To psalms.

I will cry unto God with my voice; even unto God will I cry with my voice, and he shall hearken unto me. In the time of my trouble I sought the Lord; my sore ran, and ceased not in the night-season; my soul refused comfort.  When I am in heaviness, I will think upon God; when my heart is vexed, I will complain. Thou holdest mine eyes waking; I am so feeble that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, and the years that are past. I call to remembrance my song, and in the night I commune with mine own heart, and search out my spirits.

Will the Lord absent himself for ever? And will he be no more intreated? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? and is his promise come utterly to an end for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? and will he shut up his loving-kindness in displeasure? And I said, It is mine own infirmity; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most Highest.

I will remember the works of the Lord, and call to mind thy wonders of old time. I will think also of all thy works, and my talking shall be of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is holy; who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders, and hast declared thy power among the people.  Thou hast mightily delivered thy people, even the sons of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee, and were afraid; the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water, the air thundered, and thine arrows went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was heard round about; the lightnings shone upon the ground. The earth was moved, and shook withal.

Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like sheep, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Here it is again in my beloved NASB (1977):

My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness;
My soul refused to be comforted.
When I remember God, then I am disturbed;
When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah.
Thou hast held my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of long ago.
I will remember my song in the night;
I will meditate with my heart,
And my spirit ponders:

Will the Lord reject forever?
And will He never be favorable again?
Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?
Has His promise come to an end forever?
Has God forgotten to be gracious,
Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah.
Then I said, "It is my grief,
That the right hand of the Most High has changed."

I shall remember the deeds of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Thy work
And muse on Thy deeds.
Thy way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
Thou art the God who works wonders;
Thou hast made known Thy strength among the peoples.
Thou hast by Thy power redeemed Thy people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.

The waters saw Thee, O God;
The waters saw Thee, they were in anguish;
The deeps also trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
The skies gave forth a sound;
Thy arrows flashed here and there.
The sound of Thy thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
Thy way was in the sea
And Thy paths in the mighty waters,
And Your footprints may not be known.
Thou didst lead Thy people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

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