Thoughts for Thursday 30th July, 2020

Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Isaiah 14:1-2; Philippians 4:10-15


Thursday 30 July


Reading Psalm 17 today in the Good News Translation, I notice that verse 7 doesn’t mention God’s ‘right hand’. Other translations do:


Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand (NIV)


Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand (KJV)


Looking into this, it seems that, while there are less than 50 occurrences of ‘right hand’ in the GNT, the NIV has 137 and the KJV 190. It’s at times like these when I do wish I had a bit of Hebrew (and New Testament Greek). There are a number of stories (e.g. Jacob blessing Joseph’s two sons at Genesis 48 and Jesus mocked at Matthew 27:29), the meaning of which relies on a belief that the right (dextrous) hand is ‘superior’ to the left (sinister) one. I do think, though, that it’s probably to the GNT’s credit that, where they have been able to, they have sought to challenge this ‘myth’; or at least not to promote it.


Where our Old Testament reading was extremely long yesterday, today, at just 2 verses, it is extremely short. It’s quite a dangerous text in the current climate, in that any commentary at all on it might well be construed as antisemitic. It’s all too easy to draw parallels between this early part of the Second Temple period in Jewish history and Zionism today. The best thing I think I can say, therefore, is simply for us to remind ourselves of the early hope and promise of the 20th century kibbutz movement; which, whenever I hear about it, I always think of that snapshot we have life in the very early church at the end of Acts 2.


Our passage from Philippians sits between two blessings: ‘And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus,’ at verse 7 and ‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all,’ right at the end of the letter at verse 23. It’s a thank you note. Although we do not know where (Rome, Caesarea . . .), Paul is in prison, and Epaphroditus (4:18) has brought him gifts from the Philippian Church. Paul, therefore, takes this opportunity, not only to thank them for those, but for the support the Macedonians (i.e. Philippians) gave Paul when he was in Corinth (see 2 Corinthians 11:9).


Let us pray:


Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present,



Amen (Bill Keane, cartoonist, 1922–2011).


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