Saturday, October 3, 2009

Commands to Trust and Know

Every Wednesday afternoon, I come home to Hans and Emeth’s smiling faces, eager to tell me all the fun things they did in the three hours I was gone. My class on Proverbs fills me to the brim, my cup overflows!

On the syllabus this week is Proverb 3:1-12—you know, the “trust in the Lord with all your heart” passage. I’ve known that verse for a long time. It provided much comfort and strength during the tumult that was my adolescent years.

What a sumptuous feast it was to read it in the hebrew for the first time. Seeing it with new depths and colors, I was surprised by its nuances and their implications.

1. I had not noticed that these are the words of a father to his son. (yikes! Paying attention to context would have helped)

2. I had not noticed the emphasis on the heart, the happening of one’s innermost person. The heart that is to trust, is also the heart that is to keep the father’s commandments, is also the heart that has steadfast love and faithfulness written upon it.

3. I had not noticed what strong language the father uses. He gives these as a string of commands. In other words, all that comfort I drew from this verse as a teenager should now be nuanced with slight fear and reverence.

For the more linguistic inclined people out there, the verbs are in the jussive and imperative. The imperative is, well, very strong.

4. The passage ends with an exhortation to not reject and despise the Lord's discipline. How sobering.

The following is my rough, literal translation of Proverbs 3:3-7 (the imperatives are italicized, all the negations are in the jussive):

Let steadfast love and truth (emeth!) not forsake you
Bind them on your neck
Write them on the tablet of your heart

and Find grace and good regard in the eyes of God and humankind

Trust Yahweh in all of your heart
and do not depend on your understanding

in all of your ways Know him
and he, he will make straight your paths

Do not be wise in your own eyes
Fear Yahweh and Turn from evil

p/s As I am looking at my notes, the page is now embellished with crayon markings. What joy is found!

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