Last time, I wrote about a book I had stumbled upon, Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness by Nan Merrill. In that post, I explained how the Psalms bother me at times, specifically when they’re violent. As an example, I quoted this section of Psalm 139:
O G‑d, how I wish you would kill the wicked!
How I wish violent people would leave me alone!
They say wicked things about you;
they speak evil things against your name.
O Yahweh, how I hate those who hate you!
How I despise those who rebel against you!
I hate them with a total hatred;
I regard them as my enemies.
Examine me, O G‑d, and know my mind;
test me, and discover my thoughts.
Find out if there is any evil in me
and guide me in the everlasting way.
I then went through and gave various examples of how Psalms for Praying removes the violent passages and focuses inwardly. That is, instead of seeing the “wicked” as someone “out there,” Merrill recognizes the falseness within our own hearts.
Well, some people responded to say they read the whole post waiting for the comparison passage from Psalm 139 but I never quoted it! The simple answer for that is I didn’t get that far when I was initially reading Psalms for Praying! So, I had a friend send me pictures of the text. Without further ado, here’s how Psalm for Praying renders Psalm 139.19-22:
O that You would vanquish my fears,
O that ignorance and suffering
would depart from me—
All that separates me from true
to surrendering myself into
Yet are these not the very thorns that
focus my thoughts upon You?
Will I always need reminders to
turn my face to You?
I yearn to come to You in love,
to learn of your mercy and wisdom!
As can be seen, Merrill focuses, not on the other, those outside us but within us. She shines G‑d’s light within our own hearts realizing that the difference between good and evil, righteousness and wickedness doesn’t lie outside ourselves but fights within ourselves.
Again, this is something I can relate to. I can testify that this is true in my own heart. My own fears and falseness cloud my views of others. I need G‑d’s light to shine within the darkness of my own heart and change me. And that’s exactly how Merrill finishes out Psalm 139:
Search me, O my Beloved, and know
Try me and discern my thoughts!
Help me to face the darkness within me;
enlighten me, that I might
radiate your love and light!
So, there you go! The Psalm 139 comparison. I already ordered my copy of Psalms for Praying, I hope you did, too.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
* Good News Translation (GNT); Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society.