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A Visit with Psalm 23

I am a linguist by education. My language specialty is Hebrew, the language I studied most thoroughly. In linguistics, I’m what you might call a word harvester, but I’m not sure such a classification truly exists.

There is a funny thing about words. They have no meaning. They are only utterances, noises. They are like letters in a writing system. Letters are nothing more than squiggles on a page, unless one knows what the squiggles represent, facilitating the individuals interpretation of the combination of squiggles in context.

So it is with words. Our knowledge of these utterances, when produced systematically, allow us to interpret the intent of the utterer. However, even knowledge of each individual word  may still lead to confusion, and misinterpretation. I once had a friend from Peru, who spoke impeccable English, which is my mother tong. I wanted to express my emphatic appreciation for something, the details of which I can’t remember at this time. I sprung the antiquated idiomatic expressioncool and groovy‘ on him. He had a difficult time reconciling ‘a chilled state‘ and ‘having small, carved ruts‘ into the subject matter. We had to have a little talk.

Idioms permeate most, if not all, language systems. It is good to at least know they exist when interpreting. It is better to know the meaning of the idiom in addition to its respective parts. Sometimes we have to jump through hoops in order to get at the core meaning of an expression, or, at least help us gain a better understanding.

A while back, I read through Norman Vincent Peales book You Can if You Think You Can. I found it very interesting, and enlightening. One of the more interesting things I found in this book is an interpretation of Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd …’ Taken from a Japanese version of the Bible, it was then translated into English. I hope you find it as intriguing as did I.


Psalm 23

The Lord is my Pace Setter, I shall not rush;

He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals,

He provides me with images of stillness,

Which restore my serenity.

He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind,

And His guidance Is Peace.

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day,

I will not fret,

For his prescience is here,

His Timelessness,

His all importance,

Will keep me in balance,

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity,

By anointing my mind with His Oils of Tranquility.

My cup of joyous energy overflows,

Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours,

For I shall walk,

In the Pace of my Lord,

And I shall dwell in His House forever.

Amen!

Source: You Can if You Think You Can by N. V. Peale, ©Norman Vincent Peal 1974,Prentice – Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, ISBN 0-13-972547-4

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