Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Taking a Deep Breath With God at our Side

Image result for psalm 23 contemporary art

The 23rd Psalm is a favourite of so many people, often requested at funerals and memorials by those who aren't sure what to include in a service but who appreciate these words of comfort. It was the lectionary psalm for this past Sunday, so was not heard in churches across this country because they were closed. It may have been part of broadcast services.

I searched out the translation in Robert Alter's magisterial The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary. For verse three he offers "although 'he restoreth my soul" is time-honored, the Hebrew nefesh does not mean 'soul' but 'life-breath' or 'life' The image is of someone who has almost stopped breathing and is revived, brought back to life."

This explanation touched me deeply because of the moment in which we live.We hear that those who are most affected by COVID-19 experience shortness of breath, sometimes with searing pain. They end up on ventilators and respirators, which are in short supply even in prosperous nations such as ours. They are physically robbed of breath, even as so many of us wait and wonder where all of this will go. Anxiety and fear also take our breath away, even to panic attacks. 

I pray that Yawheh, the God who for Christians is revealed in Jesus, the One who came into this world as a crying infant and took his last breath on the cross will sustain us, even as we make our way through the vale of death's shadow. Take a deep breath and savour these words of comfort and courage. 

Psalm 23 Robert Alter

A David psalm.

    The LORD is my shepherd,
                              I shall not want.
    In grass meadows He makes me lie down,
                              by quiet waters guides me.
    My life He brings back.
                              He leads me on pathways of justice
                                             for His name's sake.
    Though I walk in the vale of death's shadow,
                              I fear no harm,
                                             for You are with me.
    Your rod and Your staff—
                              it is they that console me.
    You set out a table before me
                              in the face of my foes.
    You moisten my head with oil,
                              my cup overflows.
    Let but goodness and kindness pursue me
                              all the days of my life.
    And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
                              for many long days.

Have you heard about the One-Vulture Distancing Rule? Didn't think so! 
Today's Groundling blog 


Judy said...

Thank you, David, for the faith - bolstering blogs !

shirport said...

Thank you David for this most appropriate message.

David Mundy said...

I appreciate your appreciation!

Frank said...

David: It's been too long since I've read your insightful words on your blog.
Thanks very much for these insights into the Hebrew scriptures that reveal additional meaning.
We can all pray to recover our collective breath, and resolve to sustain our humanity in the face of so much adversity and growing fearfulness that is being perpetrated by too many disrupters out there in the world.
God bless! And may you, Ruth and your family remain healthy and safe.

David Mundy said...

All prodigals welcomed home, Frank, no questions asked, The fatted calf the mail? Some of those fearmongers were dismissers only short weeks ago. Go figure. Great to hear from you and I hope your family is finding a way through all this in good health.

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