Written in stone

This quote from Psalms was engraved in stone over the entrance to St. Bede hall at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.

written in stone KMassa

It says “I will bless the lord, who hath given to me understanding.” – Psalm 15.7

I like reading Bible quotes in context, so I went to look this up. However, there was a problem.
There is no Psalm 15:7. Psalm 15 stops at verse 5. So it isn’t even a numbering issue. Christians often number the Psalms differently, as well as change up the order of the books of the Bible from what is in the Hebrew Scriptures. Why this is done is a topic for another post, another day. But this wasn’t the issue in this case.

It reference has to be to Psalms 16:7, but only one translation says “understanding” – most say “counsel”.

It was the Douay-Rhiems translation that said “understanding”. No other one has that word, so I don’t think it is accurate. I did more research.

According to Wikipedia, “The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church.” It dates from 1582.

The translation is from a translation – so it is already suspect. You want to go to the original. You’ll always lose something in translation – especially from Hebrew which has so many layers.

So the only thing wrong on this is the citation, in terms of the stonecarver. I’m sure he was going by what he knew to be correct. It – however, is wrong. Should I tell them?  I have a strong suspicion that they wouldn’t care what a non-Catholic, and especially a  woman, has to say about this.

 

This discovery calls the phrase “written in stone” into question.  It implies that something is permanent and trustworthy.   And yet we see here that nothing should be left without examination.  We cheat ourselves when we accept everything at face value.  We need to use the minds that God gave us to dig deeply and learn truth.

 

I didn’t have a copy of the Psalms in Hebrew, so I looked up the word “counsel” in my Hebrew dictionary. The word is a verb and a noun, and has a slightly different form for each. I went with the verb, as that is how it is used in all of the other translations. I would look up “understanding” if I didn’t get anywhere with “counsel”.

Strong’s says the word is used in Psalm 16:7, so I could stop there.

The Lord gives us counsel, not understanding.  We are not ever able to truly understand anything, being limited as we are as mortal beings.  “Counsel” makes far more sense as a word, as Jesus tells his disciples that he will send the Counselor (also known as the Holy Spirit) to them, to instruct them in new ways. There were things he wanted to tell them that they were not ready to hear at that time. He wanted to make sure that they would be guided into truth after he was no longer with them.

John 16:5-13
5 “But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

Isaiah 11:1-3
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;…

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

 

Here are some various translations from Psalm 16:7, copied from Bible Hub – –
New International Version
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

New Living Translation
I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.

English Standard Version
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

New American Standard Bible
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

King James Bible
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I will praise the LORD who counsels me– even at night my conscience instructs me.

International Standard Version
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed, my conscience instructs me during the night.

NET Bible
I will praise the LORD who guides me; yes, during the night I reflect and learn.

New Heart English Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I shall bless Lord Jehovah who counsels me and my kidneys teach me in the nights.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
I will praise the LORD, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night.

JPS Tanakh 1917
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel; Yea, in the night seasons my reins instruct me.

New American Standard 1977
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

Jubilee Bible 2000
I will bless the LORD, who gives me counsel: my kidneys also instruct me in the night seasons.

King James 2000 Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

American King James Version
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

American Standard Version
I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel; Yea, my heart instructeth me in the night seasons.

Douay-Rheims Bible
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover my reins also have corrected me even till night.

Darby Bible Translation
I will bless Jehovah, who giveth me counsel; even in the nights my reins instruct me.

English Revised Version
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: yea, my reins instruct me in the night seasons.

Webster’s Bible Translation
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night season.

World English Bible
I will bless Yahweh, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Young’s Literal Translation
I bless Jehovah who hath counselled me; Also in the nights my reins instruct me.

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Question the questionnaire.

Have you ever noticed when you go to a doctor’s office how many things they ask you on the forms? How much of this is just they are able to ask?

A form I filled out recently asked for my husband’s name, his social security number, and where he worked. I can see how this would be appropriate if I got my insurance through him, but I don’t. There was nothing on the form saying “only fill out if…”

I think a lot of it is that they ask because they can. We have been trained to trust doctors. We have been trained to follow their instructions without question. The receptionist is swept right up in that. She is part of the authority structure.

So when the receptionist asks for personal information, we tend to give it. Me, I question everything, everywhere.

“Why?” is a powerful tool. If you don’t get a good reason why they need the information, don’t give it. “Because” is not an answer. Understand that the person behind the desk is just a cog in the machine. She doesn’t make the rules. So don’t get upset with her. Even talking to her manager won’t help sometimes.

I’m one of those cogs. I understand. There are plenty of things that we are told to do that don’t make any sense. Sometimes administration even gives us scripts to follow to explain a particularly weird rule change. It would be better if they asked us beforehand if this is a good policy change, but they don’t. Ever. We find out about it just as it is about to roll out, or just as it hits the news.

But, sometimes the rules or the policy does make sense. Sometimes I am all about enforcing it because I agree with it. But I’m still all for people asking questions and not following blindly. It is best not to give away something that you don’t have to.

Either/Or

When someone asks you a question and they give you the answers as part of the question, be wary. They either don’t really care what you think or they don’t even realize the trap themselves.

It is like when someone says the phrase “don’t you think” either at the beginning or end of a question. They don’t really care what you think. They just want validation for what they think.

If they say “do you want to wear the blue shirt or the grey shirt?” They have already done most of the thinking for you. In this instance all you can think about is blue or gray. You aren’t even in the same room with the red, orange, or yellow shirt. And maybe you don’t want to wear a shirt at all. Maybe you want to wear just a vest, or a dress.

I’m saying this to help you be mindful of these tricks that people play. They might not even be aware that they are manipulating you. Whether they are aware or not, the effect is the same. You are being distracted. You are being led along a path in a direction you may not want to go.

Question everything and everyone.

This is different from simple defiance. Saying no to everything all the time is childish. But following along mindlessly shouldn’t be the mark of an adult either.

Do whatever it is because you have researched it yourself and found it to be good. If the reason to do something is “because we have always done it that way” or, worse, it results in a threat, dig deeper.

Especially when the threat is to your soul.

I’ve never understood the logic of telling someone they have to believe the way you do because their soul depends on it. Just believe, like that, something that is huge.

I’m not going to buy a house or a car without reading the fine print. If I’m not going to jump into that major commitment without studying it, then what is the logic of going into an external commitment without question?

It is precisely because I take my soul seriously that I question. I expect the same of everyone. I think any faith tradition that expects blind obedience really just wants you to be blind.

This post was inspired by the title of a book. It is called “Was Jesus a Republican or a Democrat?” Uh, how about he was neither?

This way of questioning is black and white. There is no gray. There is no middle, and there is no other.

If you really want to know what someone thinks, ask them an open ended question. Ask them what they think, without any nouns. Just ask, and let them fill in the blanks.

While providing options is useful when you have a flighty child who cannot make decisions in a hurry and you need to get her out of the house and on to school, it is insulting to do to an adult.

But we do it all the time.

I’m writing this post to help you be mindful to not do it to others, and to not let them do it to you.

It is a hard habit to break.

Consider this. If you frame the question, you’ll miss the whole picture.