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Sunday, December 04, 2011

The meek shall inherit the land

- one of the meek :) a shy little rat living in my yard

I thought I'd give Robert's psalm challenge another try. Psalm 37 has a line in it (as Dina also noted) that's in the Beatitudes as well ... Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). The psalm challenge really is a challenge for me because many of the psalms express intentions I'm not sure I'm comfortable with ... the bad guys getting their due ... but of course this is true for much in the gospels as well - Luke's version of the Beatitudes has four 'blessed are those' but also four 'woe unto you' verses too. I'm not sure what to make of this: do these verses mean that God rewards and punishes people in real time - then why do some good people suffer and some not so good people prosper - or do they mean that people will be rewarded/punished after death - on that score, I keep hoping God rehabilitates even the bad guys.

But anyway, here is the psalm, with the line I chose for my photo in bold ....

Psalm 37 (NRSV trans)

1 - Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2 - for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.
3 - Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4 - Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 - Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
6 - He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.
7 - Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.
8 - Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 - For the wicked shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
10 - Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11 - But the meek shall inherit the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
12 - The wicked plot against the righteous, and gnash their teeth at them;
13 - but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that their day is coming.
14 - The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to kill those who walk uprightly;
15 - their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
16 - Better is a little that the righteous person has than the abundance of many wicked.
17 - For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 - The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will abide forever;
19 - they are not put to shame in evil times, in the days of famine they have abundance.
20 - But the wicked perish, and the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
21 - The wicked borrow, and do not pay back, but the righteous are generous and keep giving;
22 - for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
23 - Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way;
24 - though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.
25 - I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
26 - They are ever giving liberally and lending, and their children become a blessing.
27 - Depart from evil, and do good; so you shall abide forever.
28 - For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his faithful ones. The righteous shall be kept safe forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 - The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever.
30 - The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak justice.
31 - The law of their God is in their hearts; their steps do not slip.
32 - The wicked watch for the righteous, and seek to kill them.
33 - The Lord will not abandon them to their power, or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.
34 - Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked.
35 - I have seen the wicked oppressing, and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
36 - Again I passed by, and they were no more; though I sought them, they could not be found.
37 - Mark the blameless, and behold the upright, for there is posterity for the peaceable.
38 - But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 - The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40 - The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.


Blogger Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» linked you to his continuation of Robert's Daily Athens Psalm post.

He hopes that you don't mind!

7:38 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Louis - thanks for the link :)

5:12 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

But I think the Psalms and the Bible in general were not meant to make us comfortable.
At least the psalmist is honest in venting his anger at being the victim of persecution. People say a lot of mean things when they are really mad even if they would never carry through and do such retribution. There always seems to be a balance of both moods in any given psalm, no?
I am never quite comfortable with how some monasteries "clean up" the psalms in their prayer books and sing only the "not awful" verses.

12:08 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Yes, the whole subject is just a big can of worms :)

I get really angry sometimes and would like to wish the worst on those I think are bad. But I worry about the line from Jesus' prayer, "forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us". Does it mean God won't forgive me if I don't forgive others? I'm not good at forgiving, and some things just don't seem like they *should* be forgiven. But then there are all the bad things I myself have done - will I be forgiven?

I heard somewhere that Thomas Aquinas believed that part of the happiness of being in heaven was being able to enjoy the suffering of the bad people in hell. I don't want that kind of heaven. I'd rather believe God takes the really awful people and fixes them so they're good.

But as you say, the bible does present punishment for badness, even the NT does, and pretending it's not in there, cleaning it up, doesn't resolve any paradoxes, it just ignores them. So I really don't know what to think about it all.

1:30 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

To be honest I should add that some of the time I'm not even sure God exists, or if he does that he resembles the God of my religion. Hard to believe in a God who may not want to save my sister, for instance, because she's not a Christian. I just try to hope for the best, that God does exist and that he's better than I can imagine :)

1:50 AM  
Blogger Dina said...

Oi, did Thomas Aquinas really say that?!

Well, Judaism doesn't believe in the Christian Hell or in the concept of being saved. We don't even know what to think about Heaven. The ideal is just to do good in this world for good's sake and God's sake. In that way I guess we have it easier than Christians, who have to struggle with difficult dogma.

12:30 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yeah, Thomas Aquinas - don't gety me started on him :)

Doing good for good's and God's sake - that sounds very right.

The church has a policy about after death but really the NT is pretty ambiguous about it.

2:55 AM  

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