Bread – gods

March 29, 2017


Psalm 58

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?  Do you judge the children of man uprightly?  No, in your hearts you devise wrongs…” Ps. 58:1-2a

To some extent, we are victims of our particular Bible translations.  Today is an example.  In the ESV translation, the Hebrew word is translated “gods.”  In the NIV, it is translated “rulers.”  In the NKJV, it is translated “silent ones.”  The problem is that the literal translation of the Hebrew word actually used is “muteness.”

Rather than consider this a barrier to understanding, I think that such multiple interpretations or translations actually help us to see deeper into God’s revelation, and to realize that words and meaning are not flat and poor, but are multi-dimensional and rich.

If we were to think for a minute about some of our major barriers to effective Christian engagement with the world, what would they be?  Top of the list probably would be our seeking after other gods, other idols – money, honor, power, respect from the world, our selfish selves.  Perhaps second on this list would be how we actually rank the importance of people in how we actually conduct our lives – us first, family second, others third, God fourth.    And then third on this list would be our chronic view that God is not really present to the point we have to pay attention to Him; our perspective that God is mostly silent in our lives.

And all these concepts are wrapped up in our interesting Hebrew word today.  There is the concept that there are many gods, many idols.  There is the concept of these gods as rulers of our lives.  There is this concept that these “gods” of our lives are our bosses, our political leaders, our captains of industry, our significant others, our “leaders.”  There is the concept that these gods keep silent when maybe they shouldn’t, in our view.

At one level, David is addressing mere people who think they are gods and lord it over the rest of us, misjudging, and devising and implementing a litany of wrongs which we must suffer under.  At another level, David is addressing the idols of power and money (the values of the world).  At another level, David is addressing the forces which we think of as gods, as having power over our lives.

But, unlike us sometimes, David is not thinking of these gods as “God.”

Do we organize our lives in such a way that God is one of many gods for us?  Do we give Him even as much attention as we give our boss at work?  Do we organize our day around Him or around them?  Are our emotions wrapped up in God’s truth or the whispers of the other gods in our life?

If the gods are silent, do we think of God that way?  If the gods are noisy, do we think of God that way?  If we listen to the lies of gods, are we made clean?  Do our gods offer us eternal life, or merely existence in time?

The gods may instruct us to be silent in the face of evil, but God says otherwise.  The gods may tell us to fear the evil day, but God says otherwise.  The gods may be silent, but God is not.  The gods may be confused about their names and character, but God is not confused about His.

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?  The answer to that is “no.”  Do You indeed decree what is right, God?  The answer to that is “yes.”

If what I said is true, then why do we pay any attention to “gods” at all?

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

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