Monday, September 19, 2005

God's Commandments

yImev So' lIj qab vo' jIH. yImev lan lIj toy'wI' DoH Daq QeH. SoH ghaj taH wIj QaH. yImev abandon jIH, ghobe' lon jIH, joH'a' vo' wIj toDtaHghach.

Don't hide your face from me. Don't put your servant away in anger. You have been my help. Don't abandon me, neither forsake me, God of my salvation. Psalm 27:9

Podcast Version

Commandments and religion seem to be natural partners. Virtually every faith expresses, in some way, commands that followers are expected to keep. Usually these commands flow from the divine to the human.

Yet this verse reverses that direction. calling out to God in words that echo the "thou shalt not"s of the ten commandments. These commands however, are directed to God:

  • Don't hide from me
  • Don't put your servant away
  • Don't abandon me.

Does this make sense? Who tells God what to do?

Now Klingons, who supposedly "killed" their Gods, might be thought of as being happy to tell God where to get off - though I think that claim was bravado, not fact. Wanting God to "leave us alone" is natural - usually because in our pride we think we don't need him. Or because we'd rather he didn't get in our way when we want to do something particularly shabby.

But look at these "commands" from David, and you see a different story. Scripture shows humans call out commands - not to dispense with God, but because they know how desperately they need him!.

Just doing the most cursory of searches in Psalms, I found nine passages saying to God

Don't hide, Don't put your Servant away, Don't forsake,
Don't be far, Don't delay, Don't let those who wait be shamed, Don't remain silent.
[For readers, here are those examples:
  • 27.9 Don't hide your face from me. Don't put your servant away in anger. You have been my help. Don't abandon me, neither forsake me, God of my salvation.
  • 38.21 Don't forsake me, Yahweh. My God, don't be far from me.
  • 40.17 But I am poor and needy. May the Lord think about me. You are my help and my deliverer. Don't delay, my God.
  • 55.1 Listen to my prayer, God. Don't hide yourself from my supplication.
  • 69.6 Don't let those who wait for you be shamed through me, Lord Yahweh of Armies. Don't let those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, God of Israel.
  • 70.5 But I am poor and needy. Come to me quickly, God. You are my help and my deliverer. Yahweh, don't delay.
  • 71.12 God, don't be far from me. My God, hurry to help me.
  • 102.18 Yes, even when I am old and gray-haired, God, don't forsake me, until I have declared your strength to the next generation, your might to everyone who is to come.
  • 109.1 God of my praise, don't remain silent,
]

And this is right, this is what we'd expect of people in a living relationship with the Almighty. Just as in a family or a friendship, there is give and take - a bond that tells EACH member they can call out when they are in need. Certainly it can sound like commands - for all that, we may indeed feel we ARE commanding God when we call out to him. But why not? After all, this is what scripture tells us to do. As Paul wrote to the Philippians:

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7

1 comment:

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