Sky-jewelry and God’s Detergent

7 08 2009

BK01I have heard criticism of Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” Bible translation before, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind could ever question the poetry he creates within the Psalms.  I’m floored that he could take a passage as well-known as Psalm 8, and repaint it in colors dazzling enough to give pause to even the most seasoned of Bible-readers …  And that he could piece together phrases to describe the sky like “your macro-skies, dark and enormous,” or  “your handmade sky-jewelry.”

The verse itself is like an onomatopoeia (you know, the words that sound like their meaning? Pop! Hiss!  Whirr! etc.)  Except in this case, the poetic description of the vast universe has given me a heightened awareness of the “poetry” within God’s creation throughout the universe.

Is there anything more beautiful than God's own poetry?
Is there anything more beautiful than God’s own poetry?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Before I even made it that far within the psalm, I got held up by the very first verse:

God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name.

At first I was thinking of household brand names and began imagining the limits of Christian consumerism: God’s detergent perhaps, or Jesus Air Freshener: Smells Like Purification? (no joke, this one actually exists.  I bought it for Jordan a few years ago)

But the psalmist is talking about a different kind of household name.  He’s talking about — who or what permeates your everyday conversations?  Who do you talk about at the dinner table?  Whose life do you try to emulate?  Whose life do you follow, for example, in the news media (and I’m not talking about those tabloids that predict the end of the world)?  In short, how well have you followed the prescription of the Shema of Moses:

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

– Deuteronomy 6:6-9

I love what David Crowder says at the end of his own meditation on this psalm: “One attribute of habitual praise is that it is inherent in creation.  We tell the glory of God by our very existence.  It is unavoidable.  We can choose whether to amplify this or not.  We can choose to be moved by this or not.  Maybe we just need a simple book beside our beds that reminds us of who the household name is.”

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