Saturday, March 25, 2006

QaH! I need somebody!

law' pa' 'oH 'Iv jatlh vo' wIj qa', " pa' ghaH ghobe' QaH vaD ghaH Daq

Many there are who say of my soul, "There is no help for him in God."
Psalm 3:2

(click for podcast version)

David's words here come from a desperate time - a time when he was in need of help. And his observation is that those watching him would conclude "QaH vaD ghaH Daq joH'a'" "There is no help for him in God.".

Help, or QaH in Klingon, is our word to consider here.

Maybe you are surprised that Klingons, though rugged and independant, DO have a word for help. You can hear it in the expression:

nom QaH yIqem - "Get help quickly!"

Though "Conversational Klingon" advises " what Terrans consider dangerous and unpleasant a Klingon usually finds exhilarating and enjoyable. So, if no ­one comes to your aid at first, shout out the phrase:

tlhIngan jIHbe' - "I am not a Klingon."

"QaH vaD ghaH Daq joH'a'" "There is no help for him in God.".

The Hebrew word here is a familiar one (in different forms it occurs over 250 timse in the Bible), yeshuw`ah (yesh-oo'-aw) - it means something saved, or deliverance; hence, aid, victory, prosperity, health, help, salvation, and save, among other things. We can recognize it in the name Joshua or Jesus - "The LORD saves"

David's situation is dire - and when he echoes the verdict about his plight, he means more than "assistance is not coming" - everyone says he is utterly lost. And it seems clear that this is the majority opinion.

In these first two verses of Psalm 3, David says twice how "MANY" "rise up against" and "many say of" his soul that there is no hope. The Klingon word for this, law' calls to mind a construction Klingons use to express comparisons with two statements "x is law' / y is puS" to show how x is greater or superiour to y. For example,

'IwwIj jeD law' 'IwlIj jeD puS.

Means literally "My blood is thicker than yours," but expresses 'I am much stronger than you.' In this passage, one might feel that David would think

jaghpu' law' QaHwIj puS

(my enemies are greater than my help). Certainly this is an experience that many can understand - the trials and difficulties of life can seem overwhelming. But, as one writer observes, "note that trouble drives David to God in prayer, not from Him in disbelief. ("New Bible Commentary")

I think David would rather say

joH'a' QaH law' Hoch jaghpu'wI' puS - God's help is greater than my enemies!

In the scriptures we gain a context, a vision of the fabric of God's care and his plans - a vision that lifts us above the immediate situation. David, and we, may have uncountable enemies or troubles, but God is so much greater than them all! It's David's gift to us in the this psalm to remind us, where do you find help? nuqDaq QaH? It is with the LORD - let us never forget that!

Friday, March 17, 2006

No Enemy is Boring

joH'a', chay' wIj jaghpu' ghaj increased! law' 'oH chaH 'Iv Hu' Dung Daq jIH.

O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are those who rise up against me. Psalm3.1

(click for podcast)

The Klingons have an enigmatic saying: Dal pagh jagh - No enemy is boring.
It isn't clear (I think deliberately) whether they mean the lack of an enemy is dull, or that all enemies are of interest. I'd bet that most Klingons would heartily agree with both sentiments.

David might also agree - certainly this Psalm reflects a time when David was far from bored - when he was pursued by many enemies - led by his own son!

The Bible *is* an incredible book. I know that for some that means "not credible" - they doubt the truth of what scriptures present. Yet in this psalm we find evidence of how breathtakingly honest a book it is.

Consider what we learn from the Bible. Unlike most of us, it doesn't flinch from telling the whole story. We know that David murdered a man to steal his wife (after committing adultery WITH her), that Abraham practically gave his own wife away due to his cowardice, that Peter denied he even knew Jesus, and that the disciples cut and ran when Jesus was taken off to be crucified! This is not a book that covers up the truth.

The enemies David fears in this psalm don't come from afar - these words reflect the time that David's son Absalom was in rebellion and that David was on the run - he was surrounded by enemies - thousands if we take the words here literally. David was in desparate straits!

At the end of his rope, David turns from the many enemies (those who trouble him - the word here is related to the word for eneimes in Psalm 23's "in the presence of my enemies") to the ONE who can turn things around for him - the LORD.

How often do you find yourself immersed in trouble? Whether or not it is so dramatic, you may know what it is to be feeling, like David, as if you are surrounded at all sides by people and things that - once close who have now turned against you. It certainly isn't foolish to be worried.

But David knew - and if we listen to him, we do too - that he can call for help from the LORD. Not because we deserve it - but because God has made promise after promise to those who will turn to him.

As we read in Isaiah -
Behold, all those who are incensed against you will be disappointed
and confounded. Those who strive with you will be like nothing, and
shall perish. You will seek them, and won't find them, even those who
contend with you. Those who war against you will be as nothing, as a
non-existent thing. For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right
hand, saying to you, 'Don't be afraid. I will help you.' Isaiah 41:11-13

I agree with the Klingons Dal pagh jagh - No enemy is boring, but better is knowing that nep pagh joH'a' laytaHghach - no promise of God is false.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Path of Life

SoH DichDaq cha' jIH the path vo' yIn. Daq lIj Daq ghaH fullness vo' Quch. Daq lIj nIH ghop pa' 'oH pleasures forevermore.

You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

(click for podcast version)

Because most humans don't have starships, we find other ways to explore distant solar systems. Astronomers have come up with many creative ways to study and evaluate impossibly remote locations - we've used their techniques, for example, to discover planets - before we can even see them! And today we use their methods to hunt for what Klingons would call yInroH - life signs. Signs the psalmist sees as well.

David delares that the Lord shows him the path of "yIn" - life. In Hebrew, the word is chayim, a familiar word from the toast "L'Chaiim" and the jewelry that uses the shorter form "chai" made up of the two letters het and yod. This word for "life" occurs over 450 times in the Bible.

The New Bible Dictionary says that, in scripture
"life ... is associated with light, gladness, fullness, order and active being... and contrasted with the darkness, sorrow, emptiness, chaos, and silence which are charecteristic of death..."

Indeed, David, by speaking of a path of life, suggests that there are some other path, perhaps like the book of Proverbs describes: "There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 14:12)

The astronomers who hunt for yInroH, life signs, in the universe talk of something I think of that is like the path of life: "the habitable zone." You see, depending on how powerful a star is, you can easily identify the orbital region that is "just right" for life as we know it. Too close or too far from the sun and life has no chance. If a planet's orbit is like Goldilock's porridge - neither too hot or too cold - then that world is in the "path of life" for that star.

We're not planets. The path we find for ourselves is not an orbit. It's the result of choices made - by us, by family, by friends.

And David tells us - the path we choose can be one that the LORD shows us - a path that leads to life - not just in the here and now, but a path into life, forever.

As it says in Proverbs:

But the path of the righteous is like the dawning light, that shines more and more until the perfect day. (4:18)

Looking for yInroH - signs of life? There's someone ready, right now - to show you where to find it! Ask him today!

Friday, March 03, 2006

"To Shine Like Stars Forever"

vaD SoH DichDaq ghobe' mej wIj qa' Daq Sheol, ghobe' DichDaq SoH allow lIj le' wa' Daq legh corruption.

For you will not leave my soul in Sheol, neither will you allow your holy one to see corruption. Psalm 16:10

(click for podcast version)

We don't know much about Klingon Eschatology - that is, what Klingon's think about "the last things," particularly death and things beyond.

What little we know is that there definitely IS an expectation of personal survivival. Some speak of QI'tu', Paradise - sometimes Sto-Vo-Kor, as "the afterlife for the honored dead, where all true warriors go after they die to fight an eternal battle. The closest Klingon equivalent to heaven."

There is also a place of eternal punishmen "Gre'thor," spoken of in the expression describing the impossible: ghe'torvo' narghDI' qa'pu' (when spirits escape from Gre'thor).

Whether these reflect the beliefs of Klingons - it does give us the clear impression that Klingons understand the expectation that the "qa'" the spirit is something that will indeed survive beyond this life.

This verse of Psalm 16 draws us into considering this as well - what can we expect beyond this life?

Well, David has an answer - even though death may be a mystery. The word "Sheol" sometimes translated as death, or the grave, or even "hell" is derived from a word for "to ask," or "enquire." That is - we ask, we wonder what will happen next? David doesn't tell us he knows, but he goes forward here, with the confidence he's expressed already, and says

vaD SoH DichDaq ghobe' mej wIj qa' Daq Sheol, ghobe' DichDaq SoH allow lIj le' wa' Daq legh corruption.

For you will not leave my soul in Sheol, neither will you allow your holy one to see corruption. Psalm 16:10

David trusts. He says he knows death will not be the "end of the line." He trusts that God won't let him simply rot. I should note that "your holy one" isn't a self-serving "I'm so holy" - the word used comes from Hesed - faithful. He's declaring his trust, his intent to be godly.

Now in the book of Acts, it was known that David did, in fact, die. Was buried. And stayed there. Peter sees "the ultimate 'holy' one" who didn't stay dead was... Jesus, who as "a son of David" fulfilled David's trust.

But that isn't the same as saying David's confidence was only a prediction about Jesus. While believers understand that Jesus does fulfill this promise, the scriptures also make clear we can, with David, be confident that

...God [will] not leave [them] in the grave. Many people fear death because they can neither control nor understand it. As believers, we can be assured that God will not forget us when we die. He will bring us to life again to live with him forever. This provides real security. (Life Application Bible)

Throughout the Bible, this promise is made clear - we can look forward to a hope, not just for now, but forever. As it says in the book of the prophet Daniel:

Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever. Daniel 12: 2,3

What a hope! What a tomorrow! When we put our hope, our faith in Him, our lives, our eternity will shine!