Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Psalm 78:1-7

Pentecost + 21- Year A

Psalm 78:1-7

Beware - I’m about to parablize you.

The word mashal, here translated “parable” comes with this set of ways to use it:
   a. proverb, proverbial saying, aphorism
   b. byword
   c. similitude, parable
   d. poem
   e. sentences of ethical wisdom, ethical maxims

and apparently goes back to an earlier marshal - in some original sense of superiority in mental action which suggests:
to rule, have dominion, reign
   a. (Qal) to rule, have dominion
   b. (Hiphil)
      1. to cause to rule
      2. to exercise dominion

How is this dominion to happen? by way of a parallel, a “dark saying”. The Hebrew behind this is chiydah which translated could also mean:
riddle, difficult question, parable, enigmatic saying or question, perplexing saying or question
   a. riddle (dark obscure utterance)
   b. riddle, enigma (to be guessed)
   c. perplexing questions (difficult)
   d. double dealing (with 'havin')

So, incline your ear in this direction to hear the unraveling of the past that we might bequeath more light to future generations.

And when sufficiently riddled, what is to be heard? Hope and don’t forget that which builds community. This is not something gathered by easy pronouncement but worked out in the tangles and perplexion of real life.

Imagine dark places being made plain through riddling enigmas! Isn’t there another way? Perhaps, but nothing is more astute than Edward Albee’s line, “Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly” and that is the gift of a riddle, a dope slap, a demythologized reperspectivizing.

So where is this leading - to the middle of the Psalm (vss 37-39):
Their hearts were fickle;
   they weren’t faithful to covenant.
But G*D, being compassionate,
   kept forgiving their sins,
   kept avoiding destruction;
   took back anger so many times,
   wouldn’t stir up all wrath!
G*D kept remembering
that they were just flesh,
   just breath that passes
   and doesn’t come back.

What a puzzle G*D is. What an enigma we are. What mystery that there is no difference. What a long way to travel to arrive at a new beginning.

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