Sunday, February 22, 2009

'IV laH / Who can?

'Iv laH discern Daj errors? Forgive jIH vo' hidden errors. pol DoH lIj toy'wI' je vo' presumptuous yemmey. chaw' chaH ghobe' ghaj dominion Dung jIH. vaj jIH DIchDaq taH upright. jIH DIchDaq taH blameless je innocent vo' Dun transgression.

Who can discern his errors? Forgive me from hidden errors. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me. Then I will be upright, I will be blameless and innocent of great transgression. Psalms 19:12-13

(click for podcast version)

tlhIngan maH! We are Klingons! That proud declaration among Klingons is a declaration of pride in Klingon identity. I'd like to turn it around, and say that it's also a declaration for Humanpu', humans, when we realize not how DIFFERENT we are, but how SIMILAR we are to the brave weakness-denying Klingons.

Among Klingons there are number of expressions that declare their invulnerablity, their strength. Not necessarily because they ARE always strong, but because they need to present a bold face. For example
QongDaqDaq Qotbe' tlhInganpu'. Klingons do not lie in bed.

vulchoHbe' tlhInganpu'. Klingons do not faint.

ropchoHbe' tlhInganpu'. Klingons do not get sick.

tlhIngan maH! We are Klingons! That is, if that's what Klingons are like... well, so are we humans. Such bravado, such denial of personal weakness is not an alien trait to humans. And in the face of that problem - of denying our failings - we read these words from Psalm 19 - words that make us face the fact that we are NOT perfect:

'Iv laH discern Daj errors? Forgive jIH vo' hidden errors.
Who can discern his errors? Forgive me from hidden errors.

Klingon or Human, we need to set aside our (false) bravado that claims to be better than we are. Spurgeon comments:

Many books have a few lines of errata at the end, but our errata might well be as large as the volume if we could but have sense enough to see them. Augustine wrote in his older days a series of Retractations; ours might make a library if we had enough grace to be convinced of our mistakes and to confess them.

As I write these words, on the planet Earth, we are approaching the season of Lent - a time when Christians reflect on their sins, and the need for God's mercy. As the Life Application Bible refelects on this psalm, we're reminded of how powerfully God reaches out to restore us, to forgive us:

Many Christians are plagued by guilt. They worry that they may have committed a sin unknowingly, done something good with selfish intentions, failed to put their whole heart into a task, or neglected what they should have done. Guilt can play an important role in bringing us to Christ and in keeping us behaving properly, but it should not cripple us or make us fearful. God fully and completely forgives us—even for those sins we do unknowingly.

"even for those sins we do unknowingly" - Scripture recognizes that God's forgiveness covers our whole life, even those things we struggle to acknowledge, even those things we cannot see.

The synonym for sin used here, "error," is unusual. This form of it - haygv shegiy'ah - only appears in the Bible here in this Psalm, and comes from a root meaning "to stray." Even in English translations - err, error, errors only appear a couple dozen times - it's why it hasn't yet been translated in the KLV. When I do, I'll use the corresponding Klingon word: Qagh, to err. (There is a specific Klingon word for "sin" - yem).

But, whatever word we use for our sins, God IS aware of them, as Psalm 90 notes:

You spread out our sins before you—
our secret sins—and you see them all.
Ps 90.8 NLT

Again, the Life Application Bible comments on those words

God knows all our sins as if they were spread out before him, even the secret ones. We don’t need to cover up our sins before him because we can talk openly and honestly with him. But while he knows all that terrible information about us, God still loves us and wants to forgive us. This should encourage us to come to him rather than frighten us into covering up our sin.

Maybe it isn't surprising that we want to hide, or ignore, or block out our failings. But God doesn't want us - Human, Klingon or whatever - to shrink from his presence. He longs for us to come to him, for forgiveness, for healing, to be set right and made clean. As he tells us through Isaiah the prophet:

“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool. Isaiah 1:18 NLT

Sunday, February 01, 2009

ghuHmoHta' - Warning!

Moreover Sum chaH ghaH lIj toy'wI' ghuHmoHta'. Daq keeping chaH pa' ghaH Dun pop. 

Moreover by them is your servant warned. In keeping them there is great reward.     Psalm 19:11

nuqneH?  That all purpose Klingon greeting is a good place to start as we enter the Bible - nuqneH, literally, "what do you want?" IS a fine place to begin, for our expectations CAN direct us as we read God's word.

This verse from Psalm 19 gives us a good answer, showing us two dimensions: 

   1) to be warned, and
   2) to find great reward.

Now, no Klingon would refuse "ghuHmoHta'" - warning.  The Klingon word used here is derived from the word ghuH, prepare for, be alerted to.  That's exactly what a good warning makes us do - PREPARE.  This is indeed the value of being well versed in God's words - for we will be ready for the challenge of life as we absorb the warnings that direct us toward living a righteous life, the life God intends.

Psalms 34:14  Depart from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it.

Proverbs 4:27  Don't turn to the right hand nor to the left. Remove your foot from evil.

Zechariah 7:10  Don't oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the foreigner, nor the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.'

But the Lord wants more for us than simply being warned; his promise is for "great reward".  For this, the Klingon word is "pop" - reward.  The Hebrew word used here is interesting - `eqeb,  a heel, i.e. (figuratively) the last of anything.  In other words our reward, the gift that God intends - is what comes to us AT THE END.  We follow his word, not to experience the lifestyle of the rich and famous, but to receive, in the end to hear, as Jesus puts in a parable:

Matthew 25:23  "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

"nuqneH?  What DO you want?"  is self-serving if it is our ONLY approach to the Bible.  We need to know that the Bible is not just a tool kit, or a warehouse that we come to for meeting our needs.  The words that we need to zero in on are "your servant", `ebed in Hebrew.  this is the same root for servant in the prophet Obadiah's name - God's servant. 

Our participation in the warnings and rewards of scripture begin as we enter as SERVANTS of God, not customers demanding service.  I pray that I remember that each day as I open the word.

Moreover Sum chaH ghaH lIj toy'wI' ghuHmoHta'. Daq keeping chaH pa' ghaH Dun pop. 

Moreover by them is your servant warned. In keeping them there is great reward.     Psalm 19:11