Friday, April 8, 2011

Religion and reality

A whole book occurred to me in a flash of time when I read these words in Psalm 119:75. (I am in a period of continuous study on this psalm - if you read it, what could it be but continuous!  I am about half way through 'glossing' it - i.e. preparing my concordance so I can see where I have strayed.)

Yet I know יְהוָה that your judgments are righteous
and in faithfulness you afflicted me

But who speaks these words? I can. But as I look around in this one section of the psalm, I see that verse 73 is isolated (table below shows this clearly).

Your hands have made me and established me
give me understanding and I will teach your commandments

None of these roots recur in this section. (That may or may not be common) As I read through it, I noted verse 79 which reminded me of John's gospel. So for me, Jesus and the writer of that gospel have learned from these words. 79 matches 74 as 78 matches 75, leaving 76-77 as the core expression of faith. 80 balances 73 nicely, returning to the first person.  My translation is bolder than the jussive.

You will let those who fear you turn to me
and those knowing your testimonies

(I chose Y for this section - that's why the funny English.) And look at the word recurrence - so simple.

ירא יראיך
Yes - those fearing you
ידע ידעתי
yet I know
היה יהי
you will let
בושׁ יבשׁו
will be shamed
ירא יראיך
those who fear you
ידע וידעי
and those knowing
היה יהי
yea let
בושׁ אבושׁ
will I be ashamed

Who does not need affliction and correction from the Most High? Who would succeed in any way without the mercy and comfort of the middle verses? It was a serious problem that such correction was not present at some periods of history or in some societies. Was?

In reading posts about women in the religious life - here on the criticism of the magisterium of Elizabeth Johnson's Quest for a Living God, and here where among many posts, Suzanne is so aware of others who think they are right and are in no need of correction.

'He will Lord it over you.'
Did anyone think that was going to be a good thing? I don't recall God saying so.

I don't think that affliction is a good thing by itself. But that 'you' should afflict 'me' where the you is God's action in my life, this has to be good.  Perhaps there are many in the real religious centres of this continent who know this in faith... Perhaps self-interest rules in some places and unbelief hides itself in the justification of its power and convenience.  Often, this is less deliberate and just a product of ignorance.  That's why the prayer for shame works. It brings people to a knowledge that they need correction.