Skip to main content

Psalm 19

Another member of the Lindisfarne Community and I are embarking on a course of study of the Psalms. We are looking at them primarily as poetry, and investigating things like cultural context, poetic conventions, authorship, liturgical use, and textual interpretation. Fun, eh?

Psalm 19

The heavens tell God’s glory,

and His handiwork sky declares.

Day to day breathes utterance

and night to night pronounces knowledge.

There is no utterance and there are no words,

their voice is never heard.

Through all the earth their voice goes out,

to the world’s edge, their words.

(David Alter translation)

2 (1) The heavens declare the glory of God,
the dome of the sky speaks the work of his hands.
3 (2) Every day it utters speech,
every night it reveals knowledge.
4 (3) Without speech, without a word,
without their voices being heard,
5 (4) their line goes out through all the earth
and their words to the end of the world.

(Complete Jewish Bible)

Day to day uttereth speech, And night to night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech, and there are no words. Their voice hath not been heard.

Into all the earth hath their line gone forth, And to the end of the world their sayings,

(Young’s Literal Translation)

My intention will be to try to uncover the poetry in the Psalms, according to the notion that as poetry they had better move us in evocative and liminal ways. All good poetry does that. I’m also hoping for a renewal of understanding that will show very clearly that the ho-hum, routine recitation of the Psalms in their proper liturgical place doesn’t do them justice, and certainly doesn’t even attempt to demonstrate how moving and powerful they truly are. I’m going to use the order of Psalms as listed in the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer.

(For any who are interested we are in Year Two.)

Off we go.

Psalm 19

Those heavens report God’s glory

and his acts the air declares.

Day to day teach wise sayings,

and night to night make understandings known.

No saying exists,

and no words exist;

no voice of them is heard.


In all of Earth onward they are measured

and where no-one lives, proclaimed.

                                (My version, based on the Online Hebrew Interlinear Bible)

A quick note:

I couldn’t help but be reminded of these lines from the Heart Sutra—

“Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form. Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form……All dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed; not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain;” (Two Arrows Sangha version)

Popular posts from this blog

Which Way The Wind Blows

Lectionaries are funny things— weird, abstruse little lists of biblical passages by number, sort of like tide tables or bus schedules. Today’s Lectionary passages (for 3-9-2018, the week of the third Sunday in Lent) are: Psalm 88; Genesis 47:1-26; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; and Mark 6:47-56
About a month ago I posted a reflection in response to Abbess Jane’s Lectionary Musings blog on the same passage from Corinthians as the one listed for today in the Daily Office Readings Lectionary (BCP). That was supposed to be the reading for the 6th Sunday of Epiphany, according to +Jane, but I just can’t find it anywhere. I looked up Epiphany 6 in both the Daily Office Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary—not there. It’s not the reading from the Lindisfarne Community’s A Way of Living Lectionary for either Year 1 or 2 either. Oh well.
I was never the sort of autist who is fascinated by such things as bus schedules. I am much more inclined to be enthralled by maps. I wonder if I could make a L…

That'll Do

On Sunday the Psalm was the famous 23rd.  I’ve heard it so many times that I never expected anything new to come wandering across the border from that hinterland, but there ya go. So, the liminal phrase is this: “Your rod and your staff they comfort me,” or as the CJB says, “your rod and staff reassure me.”
I got to thinking, “Well, just exactly how does a shepherd use a staff and a rod?” The staff is used to guide the sheep and to catch them. Traditional staffs used in the UK have horn crooks with a sharp curled tip, which I suspect is designed to catch in the fleece. The rod was essentially a club used to defend against predators, but also as a goad to correct the sheep.
I’ve never really identified with the sheep; I mean they are really not very smart and don’t have much of a survival instinct. I also have misgivings about identifying myself as the shepherd of the sheep. So, I asked myself, “What other role might I fill in the whole sheep-shepherd metaphor?” and it came to me: Shee…

The Next Dance

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.
Love always bears up, always trusts,
always hopes, always endures.

I’ve read this over about five times now, and it keeps on growing in my mind. The above is only a part of the verse cited, but it’s the part that kept reaching out and poking me. It’s the part that I felt was reading me; the part that was peering into my heart to see what is going on in there. It’s the part that sat down in front of me with a questioning look on its face, put its chin in its hand, and looked at me without saying anything. And kept on looking.
Eventually I started noticing specific things; I started trying to see what the verse was looking at in me. I noticed that it started out by talking about what love is; then what it isn’t; then back …