04 November 2010

150 (109-111)

109.  "God, since I've gone to this effort to praise you, you can't be silent."  This is like a lot of relationships, isn't it?  The give and take?  The recognition that if someone is going to be saying nice things about you, you should really be making the effort to say nice things about them, right?  I mean, without it, we're stuck feeling ignored and trod upon, abused and neglected.  Feeling abused and neglected is one major reason why relationships fail and in religious communities, that set of feelings stands at the core of many people's ambivalent relationship with God (whether they "believe" or not) and their fellow Jews.  It doesn't feel good to say but it's true:  you can't deal with leadership in Jewish life unless you're prepared to deal with abuse and neglect and the role they play in the formation (or lack thereof) of faith.

We humans experience--as the psalmist delineates quite clearly--evil, deceit, lies, hatred, fighting with no cause.  "But I am all prayer!"  So he writes:  Prayer is all I got!  It's a confession of weakness in the face of an overwhelming assault but poetically and literarily it is an ordering of a thought process that allows one to construct meaning, faith communities' greatest asset.

There occurs a turn in this psalm that I understand and find morally repugnant at the same time.  Damnit.  He emerges from his realization of weakness by praying fervently for the utter and total destruction of all those enemies around him, which satisfies but leaves one feeling ruined as well.  One can hear the deafening critique:  See?  Religion is all about abuse and neglect.  It's painful.  And fortunately not true.  Tradition's evolutionary reality, made clear to me by reading Rabbi Leo Baeck, is discernible in the ways that the Sages inherited the Biblical texts, like precious jewels. and polished them into words of value for their own time, garnering new insights to the word-forms as they arose from the page.

The response to abuse and neglect is repentance, our rabbis taught, an option not often enough considered when it's perhaps easier to simply lash out in revenge for, well, abuse and neglect.

110.  "Sit here at my right hand while I take care of business."  God as superhero.  Able to transform himself into an ever-regenerating Deity of life and redemption.  "The womb of dawn.  The dew of youth."  It's a compelling argument--the notion that spiritual insight can renew the flesh. 

And what of we?  His willing soldiers.  "He will drink of the brook in the way and therefore he will lift up the head."  When one rests from the battle, it's very important to know where to rest, and what to drink while you're resting.  A successful campaign depends upon it.

111.  A Glorification Acrostic.  You did not hear it here first.  But it's always good to be reminded that sometimes the psalmist likes to enjoy himself with his acumen for alphabetical beauty constructs, delighting eternally for God's heavenly insights.  That sort of thing. 

Onehundredeleven ends with this one, a concise doxology:  "The fear of the Eternal is the beginning of wisdom; a good insight to all who do so; God's praise endures forever."

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