Sunday, April 23, 2006


jIH DichDaq ghobe' taH vIp vo' wa'maHmey vo' SaDmey vo' ghotpu 'Iv ghaj cher themselves Daq jIH Daq Hoch retlh.

I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me on every side. Psalm 3:6

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not 'ebwIj ja' - never tell me the odds!

So said a certain Corellian pilot long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. And that sentiment might well express a certain Klingon bravado, as well as David's confidence in this Psalm.

Granted, usually the Klingon attitude is one of cunning and SELF-reliance, as expressed in the familiar proverb:

qaStaHvIS wa' ram loS
SaD Hugh SIjlaH
qetbogh loD

Four thousand throats
may be cut in one night
by a running man.

SaD - thousand - is the Klingon word to consider in this verse. It's a huge number, at least when considering pitting one's efforts against a thousand - or wa'maHmey vo' SaDmey - TENS of thousands. While it isn't clear that it is a literal number - the Hebrew word rbabah (reb-aw-baw') may be translated as many, million, or, ten thousand - it IS clear that what faced David was an enemy that, practically speaking, was impossible to overcome.

Klingon too, did not originally have a word for "thousand." In fact early Klingons only had a three-based numbering system. Counting was 1, 2, 3, 3+1, 3+2 and so on. The decimal system we're familiar was only adopted to conform with more widespread galactic practices. So for a Klingon as well - "tens of thousands" of an enemy force may just be a way of describing insurmountable odds.

As I've noted before a Klingon proverb exists to describe their response to "insurmountable odds" : reH 'eb tu'lu' - there is always a chance. In other words, never give up.

But what is the source of that confidence? It's one thing to be self-assured, but another to be unrealistic. Spurgeon notes about this Psalm:

Observe that [David] does not attempt to under estimate the number or wisdom of his enemies. He reckons them at tens of thousands, and he views them as cunning huntsmen chasing him with cruel skill.

It's key for believers to rely on fellowship with one another. David could look back at his life, from facing Goliath and on, to see how God had delivered him. Through scripture, and the lives of other believers, we can connect to the history we all share, of a God who makes - AND KEEPS - promises.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a vital resource in understanding this. There we read of men and women of faith and how they triumphed.

who, through faith subdued kingdoms, worked out righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, grew mighty in war, and caused foreign armies to flee. (33-34)

Though the author doesn't sugar-coat things:

Others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others were tried by mocking and scourging .... (35-36)

The Bible shows us that David, and countless faithful have perservered through faith - in the face of impossible odds - as an example and model for us. Hebrews chapter 12 makes that clear for us:

Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us... [Heb 12:1]

As Han told C3PO:

not 'ebwIj ja' - never tell me the odds!

He's right - the odds DON'T matter. For no matter what happens, no matter how many thousands we face, God will be there when we trust in him.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

DaH yIQong!

jIH laid jIH'egh bIng je Qongta'. jIH awakened; vaD joH'a' sustains jIH.

I laid myself down and slept. I awakened; for the LORD sustains me. Psalm 3:5

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What does it take to be able to get to sleep? Exercise, a clean conscience, medications? Depending on the reason that sleep eludes you, any one of those might be useful. Whatever the problem may be, sleep IS a valuable part of our lives. It isn't a waste of time - far from it. As a recent news report notes:

Doctors are beginning to stress that we need our sleep. New studies point to a number of health problems that can be caused by a lack of Zs. They indicate lack of sleep can not only effect moods, memory and weight, it can also put stress on your heart, because the body doesn't get enough oxygen. []

It shouldn't be a surprise that God wants us to rest - commands it in fact as part of a code as universal as the Ten Commandments. As Psalm 127 says:

It is vain for you to rise up early, to stay up late, eating the bread of toil; for he gives sleep to his loved ones.

yashen yaw-shane' is the Hebrew word David uses here, and appears in this form fewer than 20 times in the Bible - though there are related terms, notably shehnah which appears a couple of dozen times. Translated here in Klingon as Qong - you might hear it when an exasparated Klingon parent might shout "DaH yIQong" (sleep now!) to encourage their child to get needed rest. You hear it in the Klingon word for "bed": QonqDaq, literally sleep-place.

The Life Application Bible notes:

Sleep does not come easily during a crisis. David could have had sleepless nights when his son Absalom rebelled and gathered an army to kill him. But he slept peacefully, even during the rebellion. What made the difference? David cried out to the Lord, and the Lord heard him. The assurance of answered prayer brings peace. It is easier to sleep well when we have full assurance that God is in control of circumstances. If you are lying awake at night worrying about circumstances you can’t change, pour out your heart to God, and thank him that he is in control. ...

This was the heart of David's rest, and it can be the key for us, too. Not that our prayer to God will magically all our problems, but if we turn them over to God, we can find peace from the only one who can see us hrough. This can be our key to rest - not just rest for a night, but the rest that comes from being at peace with God, a peace that will at last bring us to him in a rest and peace that is eternal.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Signals Intelligence

jIH SaQ Daq joH'a' tlhej wIj ghogh, je ghaH answers jIH pa' vo' Daj le' HuD.

I cry to the LORD with my voice, and he answers me out of his holy hill. Psalm 3:4

(click for podcast version)

On the planet where I live, a recent news item concerns a scientific study of prayer - perhaps this news has reached your world as well. It's of interest to me because I would always a encourage study (AND USE) of prayer - I've even writen some programs to assist dedicated prayer warriors (,

Now some find the current report distressing as it suggests that prayer - at least in the precise definitions of the study - did not assist healing (or even seemed to slow it!). Yet, this shouldn't be too surprising - it was a very narrowly focussed study, and only proved something most believer should know: Prayer isn't magic - As Easton's Bible Dictionary describes it:

Prayer is [conversation] with God; the intercourse of the soul with God, not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to him. Prayer may be oral or mental, occasional or constant... or formal. It is a "beseeching the Lord" (Ex 32:11); "pouring out the soul before the Lord" (1Sa 1:15); "praying and crying to heaven" (2Ch 32:20); "seeking unto God and making supplication" (Job 8:5); "drawing near to God" (Ps 73:28); "bowing the knees" (Eph 3:14).

Those who pray are part of a personal conversation that assumes an ongoing relationship - and it ought not be surprising this is hard to measure.

In this verse we hear prayer expressed in the word "cry." This is SaQ in Klingon - an uncommon word, which we don't see often. (It may mean "to weep" - the dictionary isn't clear.) The Hebrew word qara' (kaw-raw') is very common - nearly 700 times in the bible. It is a primitive root meaning simply "to call out." This may be closer to the Klingon word jach which means "scream, cry out, shout, yell"

The idea is clear - a call, communication, is made for help. And equally clear, "he answers me out of his holy hill" - God will respond. In this case it is clear that the response is help - but despite the strong Biblical promise of answered prayer - we should know that this is no magic wand. As Paul reminds when he speaks of seeking - and not receiving healing:

[God] has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. (2Cor 12:9)

But why can't a scientist measure the effectiveness of prayer? A Klingon might put this in military terms (of course - what WOULDN'T they put in military terms?). It's a matter of "SIGINT" signals intelligence - intelligence information gathered from communications intelligence or electronics intelligence or telemetry intelligence.

Traditionally SIGINT is gathered, and if possible deciphered to gain information about one's enemies plans. BUT, when one is not able to understand the messages "Traffic Analysis" is used: In a military context, traffic analysis is usually performed by a signals intelligence agency, and can be a source of information about the intentions and actions of the enemy (Wikipedia) by observing the patterns of communication, even without being able to discern the meaning.

We can't see the prayers and the responses over the years of the faithful - but no one can deny that believers in every age have relied on prayer to, as Paul put it:

by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

And the reason to do this is NOT to get exactly what we ask for, but reading the full verse we see that prayer establishes a relationship of trust:

IN NOTHING BE ANXIOUS, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

In terms of traffic analysis we can see, over the eons that believers have indeed found prayer a means of pouring out their hearts to God - and that over the centuries prayer has been foundational to a life of faith.

jIH SaQ Daq joH'a' tlhej wIj ghogh, je ghaH answers jIH pa' vo' Daj le' HuD.

I cry to the LORD with my voice, and he answers me out of his holy hill. Psalm 3:4

Cry out to Him today. He will answer.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Shield's Up!

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'ach SoH, joH'a', 'oH a yoD around jIH, wIj batlh, je the wa' 'Iv lifts Dung wIj nach.

But you, O LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3

At last David names in this verse the source of his hope - God is his shield!

What do you think of when you hear the word "shield?" Do you see a knight or Viking holding up a shield to deflect sword and spear? Or maybe you think of Klingons on a starship with shimmering energy fields to protect them.

In either case you would be considering the job of such tools - defensive devices to keep the enemy at a distance.

Natural as that is - the Biblical idea goes far beyond a mere barrier.

The Klingon word here is yoD. Like our English "shield" it is both a noun and a verb so you can say QayoD - I shield you, or yoD vIghaj - I have a shield.

The Hebrew word is magen (maw-gane') and appears 60 times in the Bible. It is what is called a mem formation noun, formed from adding the letter "mem" to the verb ganan (gaw-nan') (to hedge or protect). You may have heard this term in "Magen David," the Hebrew name for what is called "the Star of David" For years this has been the symbol of Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service, a Red Star of David, or in Hebrew ha-Magen David Adom.

This is, in fact, this verse's subject: David's shield. Not a means of mere physical protection, but the source of a real, life-giving relationship - God himself, the one who saves him.

And that living shield is not a tool, but a person who cares for us! Other Psalms elaborate on this shield:

Our soul has waited for the LORD. He is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

For the LORD God is a sun and a shield. The LORD will give grace and glory. He withholds no good thing from those who walk blamelessly. (Psalm 84:11)

What constitutes "the shield" in your life? Is it money, your job or possessions? Do you count on strong locks or weapons to keep you safe? As king of Israel, David certainly had arms enough and wealth enough - yet, as this Psalm dramatizes, even he fled for his life in time of trouble. At that desperate time he remembered again - as we need to remember - that our real hope, our best shield is in the LORD.

The book of Proverbs reminds us:

"Every word of God is flawless. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him."

nuq yoDlIj? What is your shield? Better would be to say 'Iv yoDlI', who is your shield - for when it is the LORD, you will be shielded indeed!