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Monday, 16 March 2009

What do you make of this version, then?

This is that same psalm, Psalm 90, as Eugene Petersen gives it in The Message.

I was very excited when I first came across Petersen's version of the Bible. This Psalm comes across here as a complaint that God, who could be very nice to us if he chose, gives us a rough time. Well, all right; I have had a few rough times. I even began to take an overdose once, there in the kitchen of Woodbridge vicarage, when the pain of a fragmenting marriage seemed overwhelming; but I remember telling myself at the time "You will feel differently soon, if you stop this stupid overdose," so I stopped, and I did feel differently.

On the whole I think I can echo what my Mother said to me shortly before she died "I've had a very happy life."

There has always been in the background the sense that I am loved; if not, at that crisis time, by the person nearest, then certainly by many others. And nothing can take away the love of parents and grandmothers that built up my psyche in my first months and years; that is the greatest gift a human being can give to another, giving a young child the assurance that he/she is loved, valued, precious. It lasts a lifetime.

God, it seems you've been our home forever; long before the mountains were born,
Long before you brought earth itself to birth,
from "once upon a time" to "kingdom come"—you are God.

3-11 So don't return us to mud, saying,
"Back to where you came from!"
Patience! You've got all the time in the world — whether
a thousand years or a day, it's all the same to you.
Are we no more to you than a wispy dream,
no more than a blade of grass
That springs up gloriously with the rising sun
and is cut down without a second thought?
Your anger is far and away too much for us;
we're at the end of our rope.
You keep track of all our sins; every misdeed
since we were children is entered in your books.
All we can remember is that frown on your face.
Is that all we're ever going to get?
We live for seventy years or so
(with luck we might make it to eighty),
And what do we have to show for it? Trouble.
Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.
Who can make sense of such rage,
such anger against the very ones who fear you?

12-17 Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well!
Come back, God — how long do we have to wait? —
and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
Surprise us with love at daybreak;
then we'll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
we've seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
Let your servants see what you're best at—
the ways you rule and bless your children.
And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
confirming the work that we do.
Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

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