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Set Me Down

April 15, 2021

I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Yesterday, Robert Alter’s new (2018) translation of the Hebrew Bible came up in the midst of a delightful conversation. Several decades in the making, this one-man translation project is an artistic wonder. If I had a bunch of free time (any free time?) I would sit down and read it cover to cover, all three volumes. For now, I mostly read it to view the lectionary texts in a different light. Alter seeks to maintain the Hebrew Bible’s literary beauty and capture its rhythms and metaphors in English. Alter succeeds.

So, in Alter’s hands the final verse of this Sunday’s psalm becomes, “In peace, all whole, let me lie down and sleep. For You, Lord, alone, do set me down safely.”

Two things stand out. First, we lie down “whole.” The day claws away at us with its demands and trials, but God keeps us whole, and whole do we lie down. Second, and to me even more powerful, the Lord promises to “set me down safely.” The nuance here is powerful and comforting. We don’t simply lie down. We, who have lived the day in the Lord’s hands, are by the Lord set down.

Images rush in, memories of holding a child gently before bed. Just as, beyond the reach of memory, we were once held before being placed, lovingly, into our beds. Today’s been going well so far, and I have no reason to imagine that will change. But whatever the next few hours bring, God will keep me whole; God will set me down to my rest.

Tomorrow, God will pick me up again. God will do the same for you.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God, keep us holy and keep us whole. Hold us close until you set us down tonight; even then, keep watch over us and all your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Anders, age four, asleep.

From → COVID-19

One Comment
  1. Paul Haberstock permalink

    Thank you for bringing the imagery to mind. Paul

    On Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 12:26 PM Grace Upon Grace wrote:

    > Dave Lyle posted: “”I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you > alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.” Psalm 4:8 Yesterday, Robert > Alter’s new (2018) translation of the Hebrew Bible came up in the midst of > a delightful conversation. Several decades in the making,” >

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