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

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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

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