Welcome to David Mundy's nearly-daily blog. David is now retired after 37 years as a United Church minister and has kept a journal for more than 30 years. This blog is more public but contains his personal musings and reflections on the world, through the lens of his Christian faith. Follow his Creation Blog, Groundling (groundlingearthyheavenly.blogspot.ca) and Mini Me blog (aka Twitter) @lionlambstp
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Taking a Deep Breath With God at our Side
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.
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