Saturday, January 19, 2008

'IJ - Listen

'Ij, joH'a' vo' Jacob. Listen, God of Jacob. Ps 84:8

(click for podcast version)


In Klingon the word is 'Ij, Mando'a, sushir In what is called Federation standard in Star Trek - or Basic in Star Wars, (that is to say, English) LISTEN is a verb and can be a command. The same speaker, simply can by context and emphasis change the word from a description of an activity to an outright demand. To what do you listen? If you're like me (and if you're listening to this, I suspect you might be) you listen to podcasts. I listen to a lot of radio as well, from local AM and FM stations, to shortwave, to streaming internet. I'm a radio amateur as well, so I listen to voices from all over the word - and they can listen to me too. I also love audio books - so I've got quite a collection, from audio tapes to quite a few mp3 files. Last night as we were working on a messy project in my house (making some candy), we were watching a program on television - because of the project I had to keep leaving the room, so I grabbed my TV-radio receiver and tuned in to the audio portion of the show so as not to miss a thing. The common factor in all of that (radios, podcasts, audio books and such) is that I was actively involved in listening. I've made an effort, even applied technology, to LISTEN to the things I wanted to hear. Now - if WE do all that, to listen to all manner of mundane things - don't you think God is attending just as carefully to what WE are saying? After all, regarding prayer, Jesus says:
.. your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! (MT 6:8, NLT)
'Ij, joH'a' vo' Jacob. Listen, God of Jacob. Ps 84:8
nuqneH, the well known greeting used by Klingons is short and to the point, literally meaning "what (nuq) do you want (neH)?" Klingons do not linger over polite niceties. Likewise, this part of Psalm 84:8 has a Klingon feel to it - "Listen to ME, God!" Our word here is 'Ij, listen, and I'm using it to represent the letter I in tlhIngan Hol. I'd note that, in the standard representation of Klingon it is always capitalized. And if you're reading this, you'll notice that the 'I' is NOT the first letter - Klingon words never begin with a vowel. If they do, you'll find a consonant - usually ' (it looks like an apostrophe) as the first letter. That adds a catch, a glottal stop it is called, to the word. "Listen" is not ihj, but ah-ihj. For a real translation, not the word-replacement that the KLV is, we'd add an imperative prefix, perhaps saying jIH yI'Ij joH'a' - to-me Listen(!) God. (if you wanted to make it more formal you might add neS, yI'IjneS - "listen, Sir!") The Hebrew here is 'azan, a word that only occurs about 40 times in the Bible. The King James sets it as "give ear" (as it is here) and "hearken."

The Hebrew word 'azan can mean "to expand," to broaden out the ear - that is, just as WE use tools to improve our ability to LISTEN to things from radio to podcasts, the Psalmist is calling on God to do the same. LISTEN! Pay ATTENTION to me!
'Ij, joH'a' vo' Jacob. Listen, God of Jacob. Ps 84:8

Now - do you think God needs to be reminded? As Psalm 38 notes, Lord, all my desire is before you. My groaning is not hidden from you.
He does know - as Jesus said - what we need. He doesn't HAVE to be reminded - but here's the deal - he WANTS us to call to him. Again and again the Bible commands us to call out to Him in prayer.

  • I Chronicles 16:11: Seek the LORD and his strength. Seek his face forever more.
  • Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.
  • Luke 18:1: He also spoke a parable to them that they must always pray, and not give up,
  • Philippians 4:6: In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
  • Colossians 4:2: Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving;
  • I Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing.
  • James 5:13: Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises.

He wants us to call - and he will listen. When we pray with the psalmist for God to listen - be assured, this prayer will be answered.

'Ij, joH'a' vo' Jacob. Listen, God of Jacob. Ps 84:8

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