Monday, September 26, 2005

Driving Instructions

ghojmoH jIH lIj way, joH'a'. Dev jIH Daq a straight path, because vo' wIj jaghpu'.
Teach me your way, LORD. Lead me in a straight path, because of my enemies.


At some point in their career, every starship pilot, every driver, every bicycle rider needs the same thing: driving instructions. At some point you have to learn how to do it. How to steer, how to set your course, and how to correct for errors when you make a mistake.

And David knows he needs the same thing in life - driving instructions:

ghojmoH jIH lIj way, joH'a' / Teach me your way, LORD

What kind of a way or path is David looking for? In Hebrew the word is miyshowr , and means "straight" or "plain" - it's used to mean a flat place, (the King James uses this meaning, saying a"plain path") - but the meaning encompasess more. It can stand for concord; also straightness, i.e. (figuratively) justice. Modern translations take the meaning to be "straight." The Douay following the Latin version picks up the idea of the "direct," the best, or RIGHT way: guide me in the right path.

Now, David has a reason for looking for this kind of path. It has nothing to do with saving time, or avoiding fuel bills. It is because

vo' wIj jaghpu'
of my enemies.

Avoiding your enemies may imply being subtle, or roundabout. With an enemy laying down fire, I picture the hero dodging back and forth in a serpentine pattern. But David doesn't say "show me how to hide" - he asks for the right path, the direct route. Because of his enemies, he wants to take the direct route.

What path do we choose to take.? I know that at times it feels far easier to turn away from confronting troubles, from being direct with enemies or trials. But I think David knows that only postpones the problem - it doesn't solve it. A popular book by David Allen is called "Getting Things Done." I've got it (because I need it) and it reminds me of what I think David the psalmist is asking God to help him accomplish: to be direct, go straight to the next task.

Maybe you're looking for driving instructions - maybe you want to find that right path. I think David would happily point us to these words from Proverbs:

Daq Hoch lIj Hemey acknowledge ghaH, je ghaH DichDaq chenmoH lIj Hemey straight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6

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