Psalm Saturday: Psalm 3

Today we look at Psalm 3, other wise known as “a psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.” (I should note, for comparative purposes, that the RSV says “Absalom his son.”)  Let’s see how the NRSV and RSV compare.

Psalm 3: Trust in God Under Adversity

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying to me,
“There is no help for you in God.” Selah
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
4 I cry aloud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
6 I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Rise up, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
may your blessing be on your people! Selah
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of me,
there is no help for him in God. Selah
3 But thou, O Lord, art a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cry aloud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
6 I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me round about.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For thou dost smite all my enemies on the cheek,
thou dost break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
thy blessing be upon thy people! Selah

The first and most obvious difference is the RSV’s use of “thou” when speaking to God. I find this irksome and unnecessary, but I realize many are used to seeing “Bible language.” One of my reasons for choosing the Ignatius Bible over the RSV was its removal of this archaism. While I often find “thee,” “thou,” and “thy” comforting and familiar in prayer, it’s much easier to read Scripture without them. I’ve also  met many people who find this off-putting. The NRSV is once again the winner in terms of readability.

The NRSV, true to its gender inclusivity, replaces “him” with “you” in verse 2. I like the way verse 2 is rendered; placing the enemies taunts at David in quotations is more direct. “About” becomes “around,” and “lifter” becomes “the one who lifts.” “Smite” becomes “strike,” and “arise” becomes “rise up.” As much as I love smite, the NRSV is very clear and readable, and a much smoother read. I’m beginning to see why it’s so favored in academic circles. If someone would publish an NRSV without the gender inclusive language, I’d be happy as a clam!

All translation quibbles aside, I love this psalm because of the story from 2 Samuel behind it. Even as David flees from his own son, surely confused and heartbroken, he trusts God. Even though Absalom has publicly revolted against David and tried to usurp his throne, David still holds onto God’s promise of a kingdom because “deliverance belongs to the Lord.” This psalm reminds me that no matter who or what I face, God is my shield and he will save me. He will “answer me from his holy hill” when I pray for help, and will not leave me to fight alone.

This Saturday, let’s each remember that God is our help and shield. Let’s trust that he will deliver us, even when everything says otherwise. God bless you and keep you always.

In His Sacred Heart,

Erica

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s