Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Preventing the Dawn

I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Psalms 119:147

When I first read this psalm, I couldn't figure out how David thought he had enough power to keep the sun from rising. Since David was a poetic sort, I assumed that he was speaking metaphorically and possibly meant that in his depressed state, it was as though no sun rose in his mind and heart. A bit of research into the original Hebrew and other scripture translations helped me gain a more accurate perception.

Prevent is used 15 times in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament, but always in the now obsolete sense of go before, anticipate, or precede. The NIV expresses the meaning of the Hebrew clearly, "I rise before dawn." This is a part of the description of the devotional habits of a spiritual person who rises before the dawn to begin the day with meditation and prayer. In the following verse, 148, "Mine eyes prevent the night watches" is now translated "My eyes are awake before the watches of the night."

When Peter came to Jesus to report that they were asked to pay the half-shekel tax (Matthew 17:25), the KJV says that Jesus "prevented him." That does not mean that he kept Peter from speaking; it means simply that Jesus spoke to him first. When Paul tells the Thessalonians, anxious to know what will happen on the last great day, that "we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep" (1 Thessalonians 4:15), he is not thinking of a possible attempt to keep the dead in their tombs; he is saying simply that those who are alive will not precede the dead to the triumphant meeting with the Lord.

1 comment:

  1. Donna:

    This is so helpful. Keep up the good work. People are reading your blog!