Sunday, August 14, 2011

Psalms 105 and 106

Asking, what is your story, is a way of asking, who are you? How did you get here? And therefore, where are you going?

Humans, as it has been often pointed out, are obsessed with story and narrative. We watch baseball and over a season a story starts taking shape. It may be a team overcoming adversary or falling to that common vice of pride or reaching beyond themselves. The stat geeks fight against the story, talking about fip and ops and regression to the mean and the role of chance over any seven game series. We may nod in agreement, but despite our knowledge of chance we still find the story in the smallest things.

Now those smarter than us will state that we are evolutionary inclined to story and meaning. That we need to face facts and deal with the randomness of it all; to recognize that our lives do not have an arc or much of a purpose. Our stories are only self told, meant to delude us into action.

Perhaps this is true. Perhaps we tell lives so that we live as we ought too. If so, I wonder what we should make of Psalms 105 and 106. These psalms, probably written in the late Kingdom or during exile tell Israel's story. They remind the Israelites of their story--how they were slaves in Egypt and brought out by their God's might and power. The Psalms specify what happened to Israel, their ups and downs, their sins and glory. The Psalms remind the current Israelites who they are and that they have a purpose and that they are connected to a God greater than their suffering. This story, as told in Psalms 105 and 106, remind Israel that they are a people called by God, who need Yahweh to find their way.

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