I think that Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm in the whole book, or at least tied for that honor. It’s a praise psalm – as many are – and our lectionary translation has it in its totality as follows: Praise the Lord all you nations; glorify him, all you peoples. For steadfast is God’s kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever. A lovely, hopeful sentiment.
There was something in Lynn Bauman’s translation, however, that drew me more powerfully. Read both aloud and see what you think. Bauman writes: Hallelujah! O peoples of the earth and all the nations, it is God alone that we should name in praise. For it is God who shows such deep compassion, who loves us now and everlastingly! (Ancient Songs Sung Anew) Maybe it was the Hallelujah! at the beginning that made me sit up a bit straighter or maybe the specificity of “God alone.” Certainly kindness and fidelity are comforting characteristics that we admire in our God, but those two unbeatable words, love and compassion, seal the deal for me in the comparison.
Sometimes, just to bolster the direction in which I’m leaning, I check another source. This morning it was Alan Cohen who spoke of human judgments and then wrote a line that seemed to resonate with what I had already begun to feel. See what you think.
We cannot judge or condemn another person’s act because we do not know how it fits into the bigger picture of their life or the lives of those they touch. At any given moment, we see only a tiny sliver of a huge jigsaw puzzle that only makes sense on a level that is broader than any human being can understand. Ultimately, every experience contributes to spiritual awakening. The Holy Spirit sees only love and when we lift our vision, we behold a miraculous universe. (A Deep Breath of Life)
Cohen ends his reflection with an affirmation that jumps up a level and brings my thought circle to conclusion. He writes: My eyes are God’s eyes. I exchange judgment for compassion and look upon a forgiven world.
(Let the people say, “AMEN!”)