Psalm 92 (Re-Imagined)
1 It is good to give thanks to Adonai,
To make much of Your glorious reputation;
2 To publish word of Your grace by daylight,
And Your loyalty ’til the midnight hour;
3 On parchment and in hypertext,
In prose and spoken word.
4 For you, Adonai, have turned me into an avid reader;
Your Story has me turning life’s pages in joyful anticipation.
5 What an awesome storyline, Adonai!
How layered are your plots!
6 The un-nuanced don’t know,
The hack critics just don’t get it;
7 Pop-bestsellers waste entire forests
While widening the wardrobes of one-book-wonder-writers.
But their books (so-called) are destined for the bargain bins—the recycling bins,
8 While your Story, Adonai, is an enduring classic.
9 The characters who try to sabotage your loving subplots
Will meet untimely ends;
Their Injustice League will be disbanded.
10 You have imbued me with the strength of the animal kingdom,
And have deputized me a super-hero before you.
11 I don’t need super-sight to see my foes’ downfall,
Or super-hearing to hear my assailant’s doom.
12 The strength of the just flourishes like palm trees in nice weather,
They grow deeply-rooted like cedars in Lebanon.
13 Planted firm in the dwelling place of Adonai,
Organic life flourishes in the soil of God’s courtyard.
14 Ancient trees will still produce fresh fruit,
Green and brimming with their life-giving energies.
15 If trees could talk they’d say Adonai is good and fair,
The embodiment of unadulterated, Rock-solid justice.
I believe that God has given us at least two great gifts: Scripture and imagination. Imagination is like the portal to our spirits, the exercise of which enabling us to see God. (As Kierkegaard said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing…” With gusto! I’d add.) In addition to scholarship–which I think plays a crucial role in helping us always keep in view the narrative contexts in which Scripture was originally transmitted, and the meaning it may have held for the original hearers–Godward imagination plays an immense role in hearing the Spirit speak in the text. One way this occurs is via Lectio Divina; another way is by role-playing Scripture and “eavesdropping” on the conversation of the Trinity there. Perhaps I’ll post on both of these avenues in the days ahead. But for now I want to mention something far less exotic, and yet–if I’m honest–equally helpful in my appreciation of the Bible: rewriting Scripture.
Whoa now, put away your Heresy Tasers, and no need to open to Revelation 22. I don’t mean “rewriting” in the Bart Ehrman sense; I’m not talking about reworking so as to intentionally change meaning. I mean re-write as in to chew on a text, and re-render it in your own best language. Not as a timeless text, but as an expression of worship, looking through the text and loving the God who stands at the other side.
I’ve had such privileges many times in my house church community, and more recently with the Voice Project mentioned last post. You see, I am a *very* slight contributor to the project, rendering a single Psalm for this Bible’s published use. My Psalm, rendered in the spirit of love and poetic expression, will be subject to a review board of excellent biblical scholars versed in Hebrew–what we’re going for with The Voice is accuracy and beauty.
What I just shared with you today was a “Psalmic mis-fire.” Somehow I got it in my head that I was assigned Psalm 92, when in fact it had been…well, that would be telling. So I did 92, and had a blast with it. I’ll never live that Psalm the same way again. I hasten to add that this is far more paraphrase than The Voice project actually is, having not been chastened by the review process. Nonetheless here it is, for your edification.