Saturday, March 25, 2006

Is God's Word Ambiguous?

These posts will have to be more sporadic because, although I used to enter posts before work in the morning, the company has now blocked access to this site.

Amazingly, I wrote the previous post (Feb. 10) not thinking that it applied to me at the time! We can be so blind sometimes. Between then and now, I experienced everything referred to in that post as never before, and--thank God--with the appopriate result of running back to His arms. I think I'll stay here a while!

But as for the title of this one...Is God's Word Ambiguous? One would expect that this is a rhetorical question, with the obvious answer of "No!"

Not so fast! I say. God can do or be whatever He chooses, and He always does it with a divine and righeous purpose. Check out the following Scripture passage:
Psalm 11
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1 In the LORD I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?
2 For look! The wicked bend their bow,
They make ready their arrow on the string,
That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?
4 The LORD is in His holy temple,
The LORD’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men.
5 The LORD tests the righteous,
But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
6 Upon the wicked He will rain coals;
Fire and brimstone and a burning wind
Shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the LORD is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright.[a]
---------------------
Footnotes:
1. Psalm 11:7 Or The upright beholds His countenance


Check out that footnote! The final thought in Psalm 11 has a double meaning.
The translators had to choose one for publication, but it can be read either way in the original Hebrew:
כִּֽי־צַדִּ֣יק יְ֭הוָה צְדָקֹ֣ות אָהֵ֑ב יָ֝שָׁ֗ר יֶחֱז֥וּ פָנֵֽימֹו׃
Or, even in Spanish, where the subject and object can likewise be ambiguous, since it lacks the grammatical niceties of English, Russian, and other languages where the ambiguity does not translate:
...el hombre recto verá su rostro.

So, does the passage mean that the upright beholds His countenance, or does it mean that His countenance beholds the upright?? Did the God who authored this Scripture get an "F" in Hebrew Grammar 101 class? Why does His choice of words leave us wondering what He really meant?

We know, of course, that God never makes a mistake, so the only conclusion is that this was 100% intentional. We can read the end of Psalm 11 as:
7 For the LORD is righteous,
He loves righteousness;
His countenance beholds the upright [who, in turn, may behold His countenance].

Hallelujah! A divine play on words! He is saying that (a) He is righteous, (b) He loves righteousness, and (c) when his children choose to be righteous like Him, they can look upon His glory while He, the proud Father, is beholding them.

God can use even ambiguity to make a powerful point, if we will stop and listen.