Tuesday, May 4, 2021

You are my son, I myself this day gave birth to you

Come now, let us referee together ... Who is this son that the psalm #2 refers to? I have let Psalms 3 be thought of as anticipating death and resurrection, as if the son is Jesus. But clearly the anointed in the third psalm is the ancient king David and the psalm is set in a time before he was king.

What is the day called today when Yahweh promised to the king that he had given birth to him? Was he not already born that he could be spoken to? Time is a problem. When is a day a day? Sometimes.

Yahweh? Should not be spelled out. And it isn't Y really but /i/. The lord in small caps is ihvh. It suggests to us the idea of being - the active 'to be' in our lives, the one who is, who was, and who is to become. This is my name, he says to Moses, by which I am to be remembered, I will be who I will be, or I am who I am

Exodus 3:14 ahih awr ahih, I will be what I will be, And he said, Thus you say to the children of Israel, I will be /ahih/ sent me to you.

And God said further to Israel, ihvh alohi aboticm alohi abrhm alohi ixkq valohi iyqob wlkni alicm, zh-wmi lyolm vzh zcri ldor dor.

So the name is ihvh - the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Yitschaq, and the God of Jacob, sent me to you. This is my name forever and this is my memorial generation after generation. (Or something like that.)

Memorial? the name by which I am remembered? Why this act of memory? Translators rephrase it as the name by which I will be known, because translators do things like that and don't tell us. God is known, they say, in every age, so it's not memory. But it is memory, since knowledge is memory. The phrase, 'the God of' in this context reads into the past memory of the people.

Anyway - by whatever letters, i-h-v-h stands for something we don't quite get. And ihvh speaks in Psalms 2 about giving birth to a son. Yes - it reads 'son'. I could have glossed it as 'child'.

What does it mean (it's mean to ask that question) to have a son? And how do the psalms teach us what it means to be that child, nurtured, learning, independent, contributing, responsible, growing in capacity, becoming like the parental units, caring for them in their old age, having grandchildren.  Is that what it is? Even the simplest among us knows that figures of speech break down. Son is metaphor. But it raises the question - who is the child? And in what way does the child resemble the parent?

Multiple choice questions are easier to answer: a. David, b. Jesus, c. Israel, d. Ephraim, e. You, f. Me, g. All of the above.

And who is likest God? Shakespeare says - the one who does mercy, who shows kindness. Psalms 111 and 112 are character portrayals of ihvh and the one who fears ihvh. (Previous posts on these two psalms are here and here.)

And today, who is likest God? The capitalist economy, money as a measure of trust. Or the Chinese totalitarian autocracy, the party as God, who spend more on internal security than on external defense, or the buffoon? What could political science have to do with theology? What does the immense conflict in the world say about ihvh? or any other single word grunt we might care to utter? Is this disaster we inhabit our fault, our responsibility, or the work of mystery? 

Today - what will I put my trust in? I am astonished at the unity of the Psalter. It has extreme coherence. It is about the child of God that ihvh has placed in his cosmic temple as his image. It is about that child in the fear of ihvh, and that child as an image-maker who gets distracted by the work of its own hands. It is about that child, Israel, being formed into the likeness of its maker. It is about individuals like David, You, Me being taken into the confidences of ihvh. It is about us all together, not worshiping the party or our own rules and polity, or any other golden calf we might decide to build, but recognizing the wonder into which we are drawn. Yes it is about Jesus, (Jehoshua), who models the character of ihvh and who learned to hear with ihvh's voice through reading these same psalms.

I will not put my trust in my reading of a particular book or in anyone else's reading of books. I will learn something from this, but I will follow what must remain a mystery to me. If I explain it, it is not that.

But since we are reading the Psalms, I will ask as we go - whose child is this about and for?

Christopher Page has posted another verse in this long journey: Psalms 3:2.



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