In John Howard Reid’s, Bible Wisdom: Psalms of Praise & Power,
In reading the Psalm of Solomon 50 (51) Repentance tells us “You shall wash me and I shall be made white as snow, You shall cause my ears to hear gladness and joy. And even my age-afflicted old bones shall rejoice.” Evil-doers are conscious of their sins but do not readily accept positive tweaking; yet even those conceived in evil can turn to their God for forgiveness. Unfortunately, instead they delight in attacking do-gooders and those in authority. They are angry, alone and disconnected from their God and their true purpose in life.
I have to admit I am not a Bible scholar myself like this author; so I’m just going to say a little about what I found lurking behind the scriptured poems. Many of our thoughts have turned lately to the killings and maiming of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford in Tucson. This and other crimes against humanity have left us a nation in mourning and wondering who to blame? Should we blame the establishment for failing to provide and constrain adequately the mentally unstable? Should we blame the media and/or all the political rhetoric of those who target opponents with vicious “bulleyes” and phrases like “lock and load.” Do we blame those who makes guns available to just anyone?
For each selected Psalm in this book I found there is rendered both a literal translation and a more poetic paraphrase that conforted me. The first thing I noticed was its simplicity in language and form. There are 286 pages of goodness and fine photography. The poem, Love as High as the Heavens, we are introduced to ‘an evil man.’
An evil man is never tempted to do good
His constant hideous wish is to promote evil.
Deep in his heart, he thinks so highly of
himself…Who wants to do good?
Transgression and deceit are always on my lips.
I devise all sorts of wickedness while I lie…
I love iniquity, I’m free to surrender to every desire...’’
The poem, Help!, introduces us to the pain and loneliness of not being like everybody else, maybe, because of physical or mental disease, depression and/or simple-mindedness or low self-esteem.
“Pity me, Lord God, for I’m in trouble:
My eyes are afflicted,
My belly trembles with fear,
And my soul is suffused with sorrow.
My life is spent with grief
And my years carry a burden of groans,
My strength has been sapped away by anxiety
And my bones are wasted with worry.
All my enemies have a grand time
Poking fun at me, and even my neighbors
treat me with scorn
My acquaintances take to their heels as
soon as they see me in the street,
they don’t wish to be caught anywhere near
A man marked with death.
Three of my favorite lines are:
I am already dead to those who know me - -
I couldn’t be more completely forgotten
A man marked with death (All of us are marked
with death, some of us push-it!)
I think most evil-doers desire to be admired and not forgotten.
It is our media and demanding interest that quickly turns killers into the not forgotten—and the victims into the forgotten.
The poem, Evil Withers in the Sun, is kind of promise to
reward victims for their patience and forgiveness of others.
Don’t be concerned about evil-doers,
Nor be jealous of those who seem to prosper
Although they do wrong;
For they will soon disappear like grass
That withers in the sun, and perish like
plants that mold and decay without rain…
Cease your anger! Forsake wrath!
Don’t get yourself into such a bad temper,
You do something bad yourself!
For all evil-doers will be destroyed;
But they who wait for the Lord to act on
Their behalf - - they shall inherit the land!
…The godless man never pays back what
The poem, Think Yourself a Mighty Man? asked of an
of the evil-doer,
You think yourself a mighty man,
As you go around making mischief
And boasting of your evil deeds.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor,
Always inventing lies against your neighbor,
You love doing evil more than god,
Wickedness more than righteousness,
And falsehood more than truth,
With your deceitful tongue,
You love to speak words of destruction…
The poem, Arrogance Brought Low ,is a prayer
asking for forgiveness,
Lord, I have given up my hostility and arrogance,
And turned away from my haughtiness and vanity.
I don’t pry into matters that are not my business,
Nor subjects too wonderful for me to understand,
I have humbled myself, but exalted my soul.
I feel like a weaned child who has formed
A more close relationship with his mother.
I place my hope and trust in you, my God,
For now I know you will reward my soul.
Prayer and meditation can heal and strengthen our resolve to be a better human as well as forgive. This book helped me get through this last week. My thanks to the author for making this simple edition of the Bible Wisdom of the Psalms available for all of us who have deep concerns about humanity and forgtiveness.
Five Stars for Amazon.
By Joyce White
Sculpting the Heart Book Reviews