Saturday, June 17, 2006


chay' tIq DIchDaq wIj batlh taH tlhe'ta' Daq quvHa'?
You sons of men, how long shall my glory be turned into dishonor? Psalm 4:2b

(click for podcast version)

Honor. Even a casual observor of Klingon-kind is going to notice that HONOR - or the lack of it is a critical focus for tlhinganpu' (Klingons). This is expressed in a saying like:

Qu' buSHa'chugh SuvwI', batlhHa' vangchugh, qoj matlhHa'chugh, pagh ghaH SuvwI''e'.
If a warrior ignores duty, acts dishonorably, or is disloyal, he is nothing. [The Klingon Way,« by Marc Okrand]

So it is often with humans. This is even expressed in the defiant call: Death before dishonor, or as a Klingon would say it: quvHa'pa' Hegh.

chay' tIq DIchDaq wIj batlh taH tlhe'ta' Daq quvHa'?
You sons of men, how long shall my glory be turned into dishonor? Psalm 4:2b

But David here is not so concerned with BEING honorable, but the injustice he faces at the hands of deadly enemies - enemies who included his own family. It is not surprising that he cries out at their unfair treatment of him. David's son, Absalom, had led a rebellion against the king - working for years to undermine David's authority, telling anyone who presented a problem to him:

“You’ve really got a strong case here! It’s too bad the king doesn’t have anyone to hear it. I wish I were the judge. Then people could bring their problems to me, and I would give them justice!”

2 Samuel 15:3-5 NLT

When the time had come, and people were all looking to Absalom as a better ruler than David - he sprung his rebellion. Our contemporary political fights are nothing new! Whether today, or in David's time, the political operatives would have done well to think about another Klingon saying:

batlhHa' vanglu'taHvIS quv chavbe'lu'.
One does not achieve honor while acting dishonorably. [The Klingon Way,« by Marc Okrand]

The word used in this verse for dishonor is quvHa' - a typical Klingon construction quv (to honor) plus the suffix Ha', which inverts the meaning quv, honor, quvHa' DIShonor. (This is similar to the word often used for "love" in Klingon: muSHa', mus, to-hate plus Ha') The Hebrew is kehlimmah, from a root meaning to wound, and is translated variouisly - as confusion, dishonor, reproach, and shame. It appears about 30 times in the Bible.

While David's complaint is understandable, Jesus has an interesting response to suffering dishonor at the hands of enemies:

"Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Mt 5:11-12 WEB

We cannot count on a world that treats us fairly - our lives, our times, may have ups and downs. Writing on the website, Steven Greydanus notes, speaking of Tolkien:

All of this is shaped by the author’s consciousness of the fallenness of the world and the inevitable sorrows of this life. "I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic," Tolkien once wrote to a friend, "so that I do not expect ’history’ to be anything but a ’long defeat’ — though it contains (and in a legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory." (

Yes, the world may bring us defeat, may bring us the closest of friends who turn on us, may bring us dishonor when we least expect it. That would only be discouraging if we had no other hope - but that is not the case, as Jesus reminds us:

I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

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