Thoughts for Tuesday 22nd September, 2020

Psalm 119:97-104; Numbers 11:1-9; Romans 16:17-20

 

Tuesday 22 September

 

Our reading from Psalms today is another of the 22 8-verse stanzas that comprise the longest of the 150 psalms there are. Each verse of it begins with the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Mem, and this is something that reminds me of the way High School pupils studying English are often asked to put things in their own words. Traditionally understood to have been written by David as a primer for young Solomon, it’s almost as though David has come up with something (e.g. ‘your law! I think about it all day long’), and then asked Solomon to find a different way to say the same thing: ‘Your commandment is with me all day long.’ This happens repeatedly, and then we get the use of honey as a metaphor for the wisdom of God.

 

So that, the other thing this reading reminds me of, by mentioning honey, is Isaac Watts’ poem; which, I’m sure, Solomon would have enjoyed:

 

‘Against Idleness and Mischief’

 

(from ‘Divine Songs for Children’, 1715)

 

How doth the little busy Bee
     Improve each shining Hour,
And gather Honey all the day
     From every opening Flower!

How skilfully she builds her Cell!
     How neat she spreads the Wax!
And labours hard to store it well
     With the sweet Food she makes.

In Works of Labour or of Skill
     I would be busy too:
For Satan finds some Mischief still
     For idle Hands to do.

In Books, or Work, or healthful Play
     Let my first Years be past,
That I may give for every Day
     Some good Account at last.

 

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was a Congregational minister. Known as the ‘Godfather of English Hymnody’, he wrote about 750 hymns in, some of which (such as ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’, 'Joy to the world' and 'O God, our help in ages past') are still commonly sung today.

 

Let us pray:

 

(and our prayer today is just one word. The Fettes College mascot is a bee, and their motto is:)

 

Industria,

 

Amen.

 


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