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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Psalm for Thursday: Psalm 81, vs. 1-2

לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל-הַגִּתִּית לְאָסָף. הַרְנִינוּ, לֵאלֹהִים עוּזֵּנוּ;    הָרִיעוּ, לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב
For the Leader; upon the Gittith. [A Psalm] of Asaph. Sing aloud unto God our strength; shout unto the God of Jacob.
[Note: Gittith is an instrument of unknown origin. Asaph, though here the name of the author or group of authors,  comes from the verb for "to gather"]
Each day we must sing from our hearts.  We must make each word, each breath, each utterance a song to God. Everything that comes out of our mouths should be for the betterment of the world and not its detriment.

We are commanded in verse 2 to sing to the God of our strength.  This reminds us that we must temper our inner strength and power with joy and compassion.  Singing our strength keeps up in balance. But we must also shout to the God of Jacob.

When our ancestor was simply Jacob, he was a spoiled, conniving young man who stole the birthright and blessing from his brother Esau and then ran for his life.  Only when his name was changed to Israel after wrestling with a Divine being, was he ready to be a leader.  Yet, even once he was Israel, he remained Jacob. Both names and both identities remained.  Perhas we shout to the God of Jacob to awaken the more duplicitous parts of ourselves, the Jacob within us, for we must acknowledge that part in order to keep it in check. We must acknowledge the Jacob within  in order to be Israel, the one who struggles with the Divine (and prevails).

So these simple words seem filled with dichotomies and challenges.  Singing to our strength and power, shouting out and awakening the trickster, the deceitful one, within us.  But life is filled with dichotomies, contradictions and challenges.  We must always seek to find balance while acknowledging the complexities of who we are.  It is through finding this sense of balance that we are able to be present in the moment. Present in our lives.  Perhaps that is why this is a psalm of Asaph, the gatherer.  We must gather together all the pieces, all the emotions, all the feelings, all the contradictions in order to be truly whole and present.

One more thing....all of this takes place while being accompanied by an instrument called the Gittith.  What that instrument was really does not matters.  What matters is that we remember that, even though this is all challenging, if we relax into the moment and are present we can here the music that accompanies us.  The music that reminds us that, even in the difficult moments, even when we are struggling, joy, beauty and harmony can be found.

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