In the traditional translations of Psalm 98 we read today that “the Lord comes to rule the world with justice.” That could make us shiver and evoke images of what may become a category 3 or 4 hurricane in Florida and other places to our south this weekend. It seems that we – some of us at least – usually tend toward the negative interpretation of God’s entry into the world. The word “wrath” comes to mind in this situation. Even for some who define God as Love, there’s almost a knee-jerk reaction at moments like that. It seems strange, does it not?
Today, not only did I read on at the usccb.org website to find: “Let the rivers clap their hands and the mountains shout with them for joy before the Lord, for he comes to rule the earth.” How can we suppress a smile at those images? I found (not surprisingly) an even more picturesque version in Lynn Bauman’s modern translation that is similar up to verse 9 where hills and valleys are clapping and and waves are dancing and people singing, but goes on to conclude what should assuage all our fears of reprisal for our failings. Listen:
Let hills and valleys join in song to offer hospitality to the Holy One, who comes to right our every wrong. This God will weigh the worth of everything that was, and is, and ever shall be so mercy can be known in full, and justice here be balanced with compassion. (Ancient Songs Sung Anew, (p. 247)
That all sounds good to me, an invitation maybe to go out and join in what Thomas Merton calls “the general dance!”