ET phone home (Psalm 119:19)

I live as an alien in the land;
do not hide your commandments from me (Psalm 119:19 NRSV).

The first half of this verse could be translated as “Alien am I on earth”.  (NIV and NAS have “on earth” instead of “in the land.”)

Sounds like ET.  And in the 2nd half of the verse the psalmist is “phoning home”, telling God to not hide his commandments from the psalmist.

I continue my blogging pilgrimage through Psalm 119, one verse each Sunday.  This is the third verse in the Gimel section, where each verse begins with the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Gimel.  This verse begins with ger, translated as “alien” in NRSV (NIV has “stranger”, ESV “sojourner”).

The psalmist’s obsession with God’s word has resulted in foreign-ness from the world around.  A stranger in a strange land.  The psalmist’s total delight in God and his law seems bizarre to us, and it must have seemed strange to the psalmist that others did not share the obsession.

Elsewhere the psalmist is worried about God hiding his face from the psalmist (Psalm 10:1; 13:1; 27:9), but here the concern isn’t for God’s face, but God’s commandment.  That’s what makes the psalmist weird.

“God, make me more of an alien.”

What parts of God’s word seem most alien to you? 

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One comment

  1. The question at the end of this article puzzled me for a while. I think it is because when I am reading God’s Word and come across something that feels that way – it is not that God’s Word seems alien to me, but rather that I become aware of some area within myself that feels alien to whatever I am reading in God’s Word. And then I become more deeply aware of how much I need Jesus to change my self and make me more alive (and in alignment) with what I am reading/comprehending. And sometimes that change does not happen right away, and so I continue to have to wrestle with that part of myself that is alien to God and His Word. And I keep my eye on that part, and keep entrusting that part of my mind or heart to Jesus, Who is faithful to complete the good work He began. (Phil. 1:6) This is probably not a very important distinction, but thanks for giving me a space to share it anyway! Blessings to you and thank you for your wonderfully helpful articles.

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