Psalm 100

A song for thanksgiving

Shout[i] to the Lord all the earth

Serve the Lord with gladness

Come before him with shouts of joy![ii]

Know that the Lord he is God

it is who He made us, we did not do it[iii].

We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Come into his gates with thanksgiving

And his courts with praise.

Praise him

Bless his name

For the Lord is good

His Love endures forever

From generation to generation he is faithful.

 


[i] רוע conveys the idea of shouting when using the voice or the sounding of a trumpet.

[ii] רנן conveys the idea of shouting or loud singing (almost always joyful shouting).

[iii] When scribes identified errors in the text of the OT, they would place corrections in marginal notes because they did not want to change any of the text itself. Most of these marginal notes reflect minor changes to the written text i.e. spelling changes, grammar corrections, etc… When these corrections exist, the text of the bible is referred to as written text and the correction in the margin is referred to as the read text. In this verse, the written text is corrected from לא to לו. These are phonetically identical but the written text means “no” or “not” and the read text means “to him” or “for him.” The difficulty is that there appears to be a missing occurrence of the word “we” in the Hebrew text. It reads something like “He made us and not we are his people” and is difficult to determine if “we” belongs with the first part or the latter. The Massorites changed the “not” to “for him so that it would become part of the latter half of the phrase. The LXX reading suggests that an additional “we” likely existed in the text at an earlier point in history. Skipping duplicate words in a text is a very common copyist error and may be the cause of the difficult reading in this verse. The different readings for this verse stem from the choice of either following the marginal correction or trusting that the LXX reflects an earlier text that contained the redundant “we.”

How Psychiatry Went Crazy

CrazyIn an article today in the Wall Street Journal Carol Tavris discusses some of the many problems with the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Her article is very insightful well worth reading; however, the biggest problem with the DSM and the psychology that has developed from following this “bible” is seldom addressed.The problem with the DSM us that it fails to acknowledge the God who created us and the role that sinful rebellion against him plays in our mental health.

The bible describes a number of people afflicted with “mental illness”  like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4) who believed he was an animal and grazed in the fields like the cattle, the naked man (Lk. 8) who could not be restrained and lived in a cemetery, etc… Each time we see mental illness in the bible, its cause is shown to be a sinful and rebellious heart that has allowed the Devil and his demons a foothold into the life of those afflicted. The bible describes an unseen spiritual battle that is warring for our hearts and minds and too often (even Christian) counselors and psychologists ignore the role sin and rebellion plays in our mental health. Does that mean that their are never physiological causes for mental health problems? Absolutely not! Does it mean we should abandon any use of medication in the treatment of mental illness? Absolutely not! It does mean, however, that we really need to place a much, much greater emphasis on repentance and recognize that there is a spiritual war being waged for our souls and much less emphasis on medication. We should also recognize that even when a physiological link can be determined (and as Carol Tavris’s article demonstrates that is often elusive), it does not tell us which came first i.e. did the physiological problem cause the mental illness or did sinful behavior cause a physiological problem that resulted in “mental illness.” While much of what we have learned through the study of psychology can be very helpful, we need to remember that it is only God who can truly heal the heart and mind.

 

Can we trust our bibles?

Here are two excellent resources for those wishing to better understand the source of our bible and why we can trust it.

Greek ManuscriptMichael J. Kruger does an excellent job explaining some of the issues involved in textual criticism and why we can trust that we have faithful copies of God’s word. Be sure to read “The Difference Between Original Autographs and Original Texts – The Gospel Coalition Blog.”

Georges Housney speaks about the reliability our Bible in a lecture given at the University of Texas, Austin. In this lecture he also touches on the difference between the original autographs and the original texts. Georges is well-known for his work supervising the translation and publication of the Bible into clear modern Arabic. A recording of this lecture can be found here on Biblical Missiology’s website.

Francis Chan on Rob Bell and Hell

When you say that your study caused you to realize that you had some sins to repent of, what type of things are you talking about?

As I reread the Gospel passages, Jesus’ words are much harsher than I remember. There’s a tone in some of the things that he said that are really difficult to stomach, and he says things in a way that I would not have.

Because we in America read certain passages over and over to the neglect of others, we start to believe that Jesus had a friendly tone all the time. And that there isn’t any wrath or anger or judgment. When you read it all like you are reading it for the first time, you walk away going, “Wow, he was pretty hardcore.”

Here’s what I had to repent of: I had felt the need to soften a lot of Jesus’ statements, because in my arrogance I think, “Okay Jesus, I’m not going to say that like that. Trust me, people will like you more and be more willing to accept you if I say it like this.” Obviously I’ve never said that to God. But that’s the attitude I’ve taken, and it made me sick. Who in the heck do I think I am? To think that I can make God more palatable or attractive if I try and change the tone in which he says some things. I know people say, “Well it’s just cultural this or that.” That’s garbage. People back then had a much deeper reverence for God than we do. Especially the religious community. Yet it’s to those people whom he speaks so harshly.

What in the world would he say to us today? I don’t think it’d be a softer message. I had to come before God and say, “Lord I feel sick.” And I confessed to Mark [Beuving, who edited the book] and Preston [Sprinkle, the coauthor] as we were working on the book, “I confess to you guys, I confess to the church, I know I have backed away from certain things because of my arrogance. I thought I could attract more people to Jesus by hiding certain things about him.” I had to confess my arrogance.

Read the rest of the interview here.

The Sex lives of unmarried Evangelicals

This is the subject of a short article recently posted on Christianity Today’s website. The article begins by stating that it was the statistic that was shouted around the church: 80 percent of unmarried evangelicals have had sex. “Christians are having premarital sex and abortions as much (or more) than non-Christians,” said Relevant (a magazine marketed to 20-somthing evangelicals). “Chastity is not the norm.” But a more recent survey said most unmarried evangelicals have never been sexually active. Who’s right?

 Which do you believe?

Time and time again, I have seen similar discrepancies in statistics presented from studies about the Christian faith. Almost always the very different results can be tied to just one factor, did they categorize the results only by self-identification or did they take into account whether the beliefs and actions of the survey participant were consistent with the faith they claimed?

Questions that often make very significant statistical differences are:

  • Do they attend church regularly?
  • Do they read their bible regularly?
  • Do they pray regularly?
  • Do they believe the bible to be God’s true words?
  • Are their personal beliefs about their faith consistent with the beliefs of the faith community to which they have identified?

Scripture is clear that faith in Christ is about much, much more than claiming a belief in Christ; it is about entering into a dynamic vibrant relationship with the living Lord. And that is something that goes far beyond self-identification, and it something that must affect every area of our lives. The book of James says “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? (Jam 2:17-20 NIV)” and “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.(Jam 1:23-25 NIV)

So why are the results of these two surveys so different? One of the surveys presented in the Christianity Today article accounted for regular bible reading and regular church attendance and the other did not. Together these surveys demonstrate the truth of James words; true faith really does change the heart. So next time you hear about a survey that proves: “Christians have premarital sex more than…,” “Christians divorce more than…,” “Christians have more abortions than…,” etc… remember that the authors of those studies probably have defined “Christian” a whole lot differently than you would. Mark Twain once said, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics” and there is a lot of wisdom in this statement. Statistics can sometimes be very helpful but only when we truly understand what those statistic represent; without the details, statistics are meaningless.

The original Christianity Today article can be found here.

 

 

 

Does ‘Abba’ Mean ‘Daddy’?

The Gospel Coalition recently published a “fact check” article that attempts to answer this question. The article contains a lot of good information on this topic but unfortunately reaches its conclusion before fully exploring all of the questions that need to be asked. The article includes the opinion of some scholars but fails to describe the evidence they relied on to support their conclusions. Here are some additional questions that, in my opinion, should have been asked before coming to a conclusion:

1) How much did Hebrew influences affect how these Aramaic / Hebrew speakers understood this word?

While it is true that “abba” in Aramaic is the most frequently used form for “father” in almost every context, this form is an informal form in Hebrew; it is the form used by Hebrew speaking children. First century Palestinian Aramaic spoken by the Jewish people had very strong Hebrew influences and it is not uncommon to read Jewish writings from that time period that contain a mix of both Hebrew and Aramaic.

2) How much did the use of this form by small children affect how this word was understood?

While it is clear that the form “abba” was not exclusively used by children, it is almost certain that this is the form that would have been also used by children. It is very unlikely that this term would have been understood as excluding the idea of “daddy”

3) What was the reason that “abba” was transliterated into Greek in Mk 14:36, Ro. 8:5, Gal 4:6?

In all of these examples, the reason for this transliteration appears to be to emphasize the intimacy of the father/child relationship. A relationship that Jesus had with his father and a relationship that we enjoy because of our adoption into God’s family.

While I believe that the “fact check” article is correct in concluding that “abba” means more than just “daddy,” I believe they failed to consider that this is one aspect that the Aramaic speaking Jews of the 1st century would have understood.

*Notes:

  1. While “abba” was the primary way of communicating “father” in 1st century Palestinian Aramaic, the article is incorrect in asserting that it was the only way.
  2. Open syllables are more common than closed in the speech of young children, and in infant directed speech. (Child Phonology: Volume 1, Production, Volume 1, edited by Grace H. Yeni-Komshian, James F. Kavanagh, Charles A. Ferguson; Stressed and Word-Final Syllables in Infant-Directed Speech, Drema Dial Albin and Catharine H. Echols, University of Texas at Austin.)

 

 

 

 

Psalm 1

Happy[i] is the man who has not walked [ii]in the counsel of the wicked

And in the way of sinners he has not stood,

And in the seat of scoffers he did not sit.

Rather his delight is in the law of the Lord

And in his Law he meditates day and night.

And he will be like a tree planted near steams of water

Which gives its fruit in its season[iii]

And its leaf does not wither.

All that he does will prosper.

 

Not so the wicked; instead they are life chaff which the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not raise up in judgment,

Nor will sinners be in the assembly of the righteous.

Because the Lord knows the way of the righteous

But the way of the wicked will perish.



[i]  אשרי (ashrey) conveys a sense of feeling happy or feeling blessed.

[ii] Hebrew verb tenses can be ambiguous at times (especially in poetic passages). The written forms used in this passage for “walked,” “stood,” and “sat” are all perfect forms but the context permits the idea of an incomplete action. Different translations vary on the tense used in English to translate these verbs.

[iii] Lit. “in its time.”

 

Questions for our missionaries

Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis published the following set of questions to be answered by the missionaries they send. These questions are an excellent resource for every church missions board.

1. How will you help a new believer express his identity in Christ within his community?

Biblical guidelines to consider: The person who trusts in Christ is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17-18). He is one whom God has miraculously rescued out of the darkness of idolatry and rebellion and into his own family (1Peter 2.9) that they might be to the praise of his glory in Christ (Eph. 1:12). The new believer’s personal identification with Christ is a declaration of this change of allegiance (1 Thess 1:9, cf. 1 Kings 18:21). Ethnic, social, economic, gender, and class distinctions no longer primarily define a new believer (Gal. 3:28-29, 6:15). Rather, for those who are in Christ, their identity is organically tied to Jesus himself and those elect for whom he died (2 Cor. 6:14). Thus, the new believer’s identity is not to be understood in purely individualistic terms, nor simply hidden within former religious community terms, for he is part of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13-27).

Sub-questions to consider:

What aspects of the culture and former religion should be considered “darkness,” from which new believers in Christ should repent and walk in “newness of life”?

When does the missiological goal of “staying within one’s community,” as new believers in Christ, violate Christ’s warnings in Matthew 10:32-39 of loving family more than him?

2. In your ministry context, what aspects of the local culture may be retained, and which aspects must be rejected?

Biblical guidelines to consider: While “culture” is a morally neutral term, there are positive potentials and intrinsic vulnerabilities in every culture. In a culture intimately tied to a religious system, discerning what should be retained and what should be be rejected is crucial for the clear communication of the gospel—both in the lives of new believers and through their lives to the larger community. The new birth, allegiance to Christ alone, identification with the local and global expression of Christ’s church, and the implications of persecution and suffering will deeply affect answers to this question (Acts 19:17-20). Our emphasis must be the clear communication of the gospel and a clean conscience. We must encourage what cultivates faith and removes confusion (2 Cor. 4:2; Heb 12:1-2). We must also be careful not to advocate liberties or adherence to former religious practices that would violate the consciences of new believers and miscommunicate/confuse the gospel message within his/her community (Romans 14, 1 Cor 8:1-13).

Sub-question to consider:

What terminology (or terms of identity) of the surrounding culture is so closely tied to the predominant non-Christian religion that, if the new believer were to continue using them, would cause the non-Christian community to believe that the so-called new believer still adheres to the non-Christian religion?

3. As a minister of the gospel, how will you communicate your identity in Christ to those whom you seek to minister among?

Biblical guidelines to consider: While there is no biblical mandate to call oneself a “Christian,” our aim is to communicate in a way that honestly and clearly identifies us with the Christ of the Bible (2 Cor. 4:5-6). Language is important (Psalm 19:14; Matt. 16:15-18; 2 Cor. 2:17). We must reject any community-dominant religious terminology that would bring reproach upon Christ or leave our identity with the God/Christ of the Bible in question (Daniel 3; 2 Cor 4:2)

4. How will you communicate the identity of Jesus in the language and culture of the context in which you minister?

Biblical guidelines to consider: The identity of Jesus is at the center of the gospel (Mt. 16:13-18; Acts 4:12). The Gospel writers go to great lengths to show the significance of Jesus’ unique and historically significant titles. Jesus, in fulfillment of prophecy, is the Messiah, the one-of-a-kind Son of God (a title for the Savior, Jesus, used 37 times in the New Testament), and the divine Son of Man (a title for the Savior, Jesus, used 43 times in New Testament, 29 times in Matthew’s Gospel alone). Jesus is the one by whom, and for whom, all things were created (Col. 1:13-20). The resurrected Christ taught his disciples that only through an understanding of the Old Testament will the deep significance of his death, resurrection, and global proclamation be seen as the apex of all of redemptive history (Lk. 24:44-49). From the beginning of the church age, the apostles’ task was to communicate these deep realities in different cultures and contexts—even when the concepts themselves were highly offensive (or ridiculous) to their hearers (1 Cor. 1:18-31).

The confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God, first ventured by Peter at Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:16), is the heart of the Christian faith. This confession makes one a Christian, and all Christian theology is thinking in the light of this confession. The first major theological decision of the church resulting from such believing thought was the affirmation of the essential deity of Jesus as the Son of God. As such he was declared to be of one essence with the Father and the Spirit (the dogma of the Trinity promulgated at Nicaea, AD 325).

5. What will cross-bearing look like for new believers in your context? And in what ways are the new believers to be “salt and light” in their communities? Are new believers truly ready to suffer for Christ? How will you prepare them?

Biblical guidelines to consider: While there are many places in the world where visible persecution on account of Christ does not occur, the Bible anticipates suffering as part of every believer’s experience (Phil. 1:27-28, 1 Pet. 4:12-19). The apostle Paul experienced great persecution as a missionary and reminded fellow believers that anyone who desires to live for Christ will also be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus taught that his followers would experience suffering and persecution on account of him, sometimes coming from their own friends and family (Matt. 10:16-33). When persecution occurs, there must be prayerful discernment whether to stay and endure persecution or to flee from it (Matthew 10:23; Luke 21:21; Acts 9:24-25). The all-surpassing pleasure to be found in Christ enables and drives radical self-denial in the life of the believer (Lk. 9:23-26).

Sub-questions to consider:

When does “salt lose its saltiness” in your host community? How is the light of Christ shining, or hidden under a bushel in your host community (Mark 9:42-49)?

How are God’s “chosen ones” proclaiming the excellencies of him who called them out of darkness and into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9)?

6. How will you present the gospel in such a way that Jesus is the stumbling block (not cultural practices, leadership style, dress, customs, habits)?

Biblical guidelines to consider: Paul strove to communicate the gospel clearly and compellingly both in his speech and his lifestyle. When his financial support was an obstacle, he made tents to support himself (1 Thes. 2:5-9). His aim was to orient his life in such a way that the only stumbling block to faith was the message of Jesus crucified (1 Cor. 1:18-31). He rejected the notion of avoiding persecution by adhering to former religious practices (Gal. 6:12-14). Paul’s evangelism was grounded in the reality that, though Paul planted and Apollos watered, only God could give the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7). Because of this precious reality, there was no impetus for Paul to impress people with flawless oratory or esoteric knowledge (1 Cor. 1:17, 2:1-5).

7. How will you proclaim the gospel with gentleness, respect, and with all boldness in your host context (especially in highly restricted areas)?

Biblical guidelines to consider: The apostle Peter teaches that in a hostile environment we should communicate the gospel with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16). Yet when Peter is dragged before local leadership, beaten, and told not to preach the name of Jesus, he declared “we cannot but tell all that we have seen and heard.” This was followed by fervent prayer with the body of Christ for greater boldness as the Word of God was fulfilled (Acts 4:29-30).

As ministers of the gospel, we are being sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves (Lk. 10:3). Jesus exhorts us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16) in our gospel-ministry. When we are dragged before religious authorities and secular governors we will have opportunity, in the midst of persecution and physical suffering, to communicate his supremacy. We find confidence in the Father’s promise to give words to speak by his Spirit (Matt. 10:19-20).

8. What role will the predominant holy books of the people (like the Qur’an) have in your ministry? How will you demonstrate the supreme and exclusive authority of the Bible among peoples whom revere other so-called sacred texts as the supreme authority?

Biblical guidelines to consider: While the New Testament indicates that there is a place for using brief quotes from local religious or cultural literature as a pointer to Christ (Acts 17:23, 28; Titus 1:12), the apostles were exceedingly careful to show that God’s Word alone is the ultimate and authoritative truth (2 Tim 3:16-17). The ongoing comparative study of the Bible with any other religious book is unheard of in the New Testament and runs the risk of subtly affirming the other religious book as equally authoritative to the Bible. We must be careful in our discipleship to distinguish the supreme authority of the Bible above every other “holy book,” striving to understand the uniqueness of the Word of Christ and its purpose in redemptive history (Jn. 17:17; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Romans 10:17).

Sub-questions to consider:

Will using extensive quotes or studying local “holy books” (like the Qur’an), in an attempt to point to the supremacy of Christ, serve to undermine or confirm one’s faith in its divine inspiration?

If the local “holy book” is regarded as “divinely inspired” (even in part) by the missionary, how does he explain the canonicity and ultimate authority of the Bible? (A 1995 survey of national C5 MBBs, representing 68 congregations from 66 villages, revealed that 96 percent still believed that the Qur’an was divinely inspired; 66 percent said that the Qur’an was the greater than the Bible; and 45 percent felt peace or close to Allah when listening to the reading of the Qur’an.)

9. How will you instruct the new believer in Christ regarding his/her involvement in former institutions of worship (like the mosque)?

Biblical guidelines to consider: The new believer’s understanding of his/her identity in Christ and the implications of being a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:7, 27), will affect his view of former institutions of worship (Eph. 19:18-20, 26-27). There are significant redemptive-historical differences between the interaction of early church believers with the Jewish temples and synagogues, and the believer’s interactions with other religious institutions (mosques, temples, shrines, etc.). Jesus himself declared, “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). Jesus and the apostles preached a gospel that has the power to save all who believe solely from the Hebrew Scriptures (Lk. 24:44-49; Rom. 1:16).

Therefore, we must be careful not to assume that any religion or religious writings that bear similarities to Judaism (like Islam) be essentially equated with Judaism. Salvation is not from any other people or religion, nor do any other religious writings have the power to save. New believers who are truly repentant and growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ will eventually and inevitably feel compelled to sever all connections with their former Christ-denying religion and way of life. (Acts 19:18-20; 2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore, we should be careful not to violate the teachings of our Lord Jesus, or the consciences of new believers, by instructing them to remain cultural/religious “insiders” (Mt. 10:21-25; Lk. 9:59-62).

Sub-questions to consider:

For Muslim fields, will saying the shahada (explicitly or implicitly by being in a mosque at prayer times) be understood by the local community as your adherence to Islam?

What are other Muslim phrases or practices that could give the false impression to the community that you are a Muslim?

Dynamic Equivalent Translation – Revisited

Today, too many bible translators have failed to recognize the distinctions between acceptable modern literary translation practices and acceptable bible translation practices. While there are similarities in how translation is approached, the differing nature of these texts does require us to approach these texts differently. I would like to explore some of those differences here.

Modern literary translation

I am in near complete agreement with concepts presented in Edith Grossman’s book “Why Translation Matters;” in this book she captures many of the real challenges of modern (non-biblical) literary translation. However, I could not disagree more strongly with the bible translator who suggested that this book was a good guide for bible translation. To better understand the differences, it would be helpful to see a real life example of a dynamic equivalent translation. While not an example from her book, one of my very favorite examples of this method of translation is the translation of musical “My Fair Lady” in Hebrew; the translations are masterful! Here is an example:

“The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain” becomes “ברד ירד בדרום ספרד הערב” (barad yarad bederom spharad haerev)

The literal translation might leave one scratching their head i.e. it is “Hail fell in the south of Spain this evening.” However, this translation captures the rhyme and rhythm of the original very well in Hebrew. While the literal meaning of the text is almost lost, the emotion and feel of the original is captured very well. Here is a video that of this scene from My fair Lady (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IX7gBxAOMU) for those interested in understanding how this sounds in Hebrew.

In her book, Edith Grossman expresses the freedom translators have to make these kinds of literary choices when she says, “I believe that serious professional translators, often in private, think of themselves — forgive me, I mean ourselves — as writers, no matter what else may cross our minds when we ponder the work we do, and I also believe we are correct to do so.” And I believe she is right, a good literary translator will make many of these kinds of authorial decisions. In many aspects, they really do become as much an author as they are a translator.

Biblical Translation

That being said, I think a translation methodology for the bible that relies on the same kind of reader-response theories is a huge mistake in much the same way that a translation of a modern legal document that relied on reader-response theories would be a huge mistake. While it is reasonable for the translator of “My fair lady” to decide what meaning is important in the original and what meaning may be abandoned in order to elicit the correct emotional response, neither the translator of a legal document nor the translator of the bible are free to make these kinds of choices because accurately communicating the literal details of these types of texts is as important as communicating the emotional feel of the text. Additionally, in bible translation, we also need to remember that it is the author who was inspired by God to write Scripture and not the translator. A translator of Scripture should not feel free to abandon meaning in order to elicit a desired response like the translator of a modern literary work is free to do.  There are boundaries that must be applied to bible translation that are not appropriate for the translation of most other literary works.

While I think all bible translators would all agree that every translator is required engage in some amount of interpretation when translating the text, I believe that too many modern bible translators have become almost commentators of the text and are no longer just translating the text. The job of the bible translator is to get out of the way as much as possible and allow the text to speak for itself and, to the extent that it is possible, we should avoid interjecting our opinions and interpretations into the text. While the response of the reader to the text is important, it is a mistake to assume that a translation alone should always be able to elicit the right response; sometimes the right response comes only after a teacher explains the text. Unfortunately many modern translators have mistakenly assumed the role of pastor, teacher, and translator. A significant part of the MIT (Muslim Idiom translation) issue today is caused, in my opinion, by translators who have crossed boundaries that bible translators should have never crossed.

Psalm 23

A song for[i] David

 

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

In grassy fields, he makes me lie down.

            Along still waters, he makes me rest[ii].

He restores my soul,

            He leads me in the path of righteousness for his names sake.

Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death[iii],

I will not fear evil because you are with me,

Your rod and your staff comfort me.

You have set before me a table in the presence of my enemies,

            You have anointed my head with oil,

            My cup is overflowing.

Surly goodness and mercy[iv] will chase[v] after me all of the days of my life,

            And I will live[vi] in the house of the Lord until the end of time[vii].



[i] The Hebrew phrase מזמור לדוד is most literally translated as “a song for David” and such a phrase in most circumstances would be understood as “a song dedicated to David” or “a song written on behalf of David”; some suggest this an indication of David authorship but this designation is far from certain.

[ii] The verb נהל carries a sense of ‘leading’ or ‘carrying’ with an intent to bring rest.

[iii] There is considerable debate about the etymology of the word צלמות, traditional translations have taken this to be a contraction of צל מות (shadow of death) but some scholars prefer to treat it as a derivative of צלם and prefer a translations like “deep darkness” or “thick darkness”

[iv] Mercy is a translation of the Hebrew חסד (chesed) which is also frequently translated ‘love’, it conveys a sense of companionate interment mercy; it is more than mercy for mercy’s sake.

[v] The Hebrew word רדף most frequently is used in a context where someone is pursuing another i.e. an army that is pursuing those who are fleeing.

[vi] In Hebrew, “to sit” is frequently used idiomatically to denote the place where one lives i.e. “I sat in Bethlehem” would be typically translated as “I lived in Bethlehem”

[vii] The phrase לארך ימים literally means “to the length of days”