Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper! (republished, remembering Leonard Nimoy 1930-2015)

'Iv Sornav je ta'taH ghobe' wither. Whatever ghaH ta'taH DIchDaq chep.
whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper Psalm 1:3b

podcast version

Vulcans are not Klingons. The Klingon language's words for hello (nuqneH) and goodbye (Qapla') translate to "what do you want" and "success." Compare that to Vulcans in whose language the peaceful salute is:

tich tor ang tesmur / Live long and prosper
That sentiment, not often expressed in Klingon, is a good summation of Psalm 1, verse 3: The person who is blessed, who relies on God completely, will live long: ('Iv Sornav je ta'taH ghobe' wither: whose leaf also does not wither). Not having a word for "leaf," we use a compound here Sor (tree) nav (paper). The imagery calls to mind a tree, ever growing, yet never shedding its leaves - the Hebrew, lo yibool, says this tree's leaves  don't wilt or fall away.

And this blessed one "prospers": whatever ghaH ta'taH DichDaq chep in all they do, they prosper (NLT).

I think this is an interesting shift in the psalm. We've started speaking of a blessed person, then compared him to a tree and now we hear about "in all they do." Trees don't DO much of anything - they grow, and bear fruit. But they have no plans or tasks to carry out - it is clear we are talking about a person, and what it means for the person who seeks to follow God's word every day.

These verses echo the words of the book of Joshua that promised prosperity to the person who kept God's word always in mind and heart: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

Now, we must tread carefully with promises like this. It is easy to measure prosperity by wealth or possessions. This is not intent of Scripture. As Jesus said: "what does it profit a man if he gains the whole  world, and loses or forfeits his own self?" (Luke 9:25).

And we cannot measure a "long" life by a simple tally of years. Just because I've lived longer than someone doesn't mean my life surpasses theirs. A life can loom large with an impact that far outlasts the days numbered on a calendar. Believers look forward to something more - an existence in eternity, surely the promise that lies behind the psalmist's words.

So, as a Vulcan would say: tich tor ang tesumur - live long and prosper.

This is the path this psalm, indeed all the Bible draws us towards. And, to live long and prosper, we need to seek out the blessed life, a full life that leads to real prosperity: the riches of God's kingdom - forever.

Though a Klingon might not be inclined to say it - if they did read this Psalm, and find these promises here, they might indeed say:

tIqjaj yInlIj 'ej bIchepjaj

Live long and prosper