More observations on Ps. 144:2

Ps 144:2 My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my defense, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me. (NKJV)

I woke up real early this morning and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I started reviewing memory verses while lying in bed, not sleeping. I suddenly realized that though I had previously noticed what looks to me like the use of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, which Danny talked about here, I hadn’t taken that observation far enough. It’s easy to see the parallelism (I hope I’m correct here! Danny?) in the 2nd and 3rd parts of this verse, but it hadn’t yet sunk in that the first part also follows this formula: my X and my Y, where Y redefines, or is another way to look at X. (And then there’s the fact that each of the 4 parts reinforces the others – they all define and contrast different aspects of God as protector or refuge. Calvin helps in understanding how to fit “who subdues my people under me” in with the rest of the verse.)

It’s more evident that God, as my “high tower”, is my defense, and that I can take refuge in (behind) God who is my shield – but God my lovingkindness = my fortress? Somehow, I kept separate the fact that God being my lovingkindness (or goodness, or mercy) is a fortress! How could I not have seen that redefinition? I’ve even written about these verses a couple of times before – here and here – but I didn’t notice this connection: I can dwell securely in God’s lovingkindness in the midst of life’s trials because He is my fortress. God being my lovingkindness defines Him as a fortress.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

(It’s very possible that thoughts percolating in my head from the Perfect Storm men’s conference I attended this past weekend helped me connect the dots here. I’ll probably write about the conference soon.)

The fool has said in his heart…

I’m working my way through a collection of Spurgeon’s sermons (at least 150-200 of them) on my PDA. In “The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God”, sermon #20 (which you can find here), I ran across this, which I hadn’t heard before:

That passage in the Psalms, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,” is wrongly translated. It should be, “The fool hath said in his heart, no God.“ The fool does not say in his heart there is no God, for he knows there is a God; but he says, “No God—I don’t want any; I wish there were none.”

He goes on to say that this proves that the carnal mind is enmity against God – for wishing someone to not be is equivalent to wishing them to be dead.

But what really got my attention was the part about the Psalm 14:1 being mistranslated. I checked all my favorite translations, and they all translate it the same way. So I looked up Spurgeon’s full treatment of the Psalm in The Treasury of David (here), where he indeed gives some more information:

It is not merely the wish of the sinner’s corrupt nature, and the hope of his rebellious heart, but he manages after a fashion to bring himself to assert it, and at certain seasons he thinks that he believes it. It is a solemn reflection that some who worship God with their lips may in their hearts be saying, “no God.” It is worthy of observation that he does not say there is no Jehovah, but there is no Elohim; Deity in the abstract is not so much the object of attack, as the covenant, personal, ruling and governing presence of God in the world. God as ruler, lawgiver, worker, Saviour, is the butt at which the arrows of human wrath are shot. How impotent the malice! How mad the rage which raves and foams against Him in whom we live and move and have our being! How horrible the insanity which leads a man who owes his all to God to cry out, “No God”! How terrible the depravity which makes the whole race adopt this as their hearts desire, “no God!”

All this puts an entirely different complexion on the verse.

Previously, I thought this verse didn’t apply to me. Certainly some verses in Proverbs, describing the fool, have applied to me in the past, but I thought I was in the clear on this one. But if I ask myself if I’ve ever wanted God, in His role as righteous and just judge, to overlook my sin – particularly when I was mired in it at any given time, I’d have to say that I have. How is that different from the fool as described above?

It isn’t.

That’s heavy.

(If there are any Hebrew scholars out there, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this mistranslation issue.)

My follow-up post: The fool has said in his heart, redux.