93 I will never forget your precepts,
for with them you have made me alive.
94 I am yours; save me
because I seek your precepts.
95 The wicked hope to destroy me,
but I focus on your instruction.
96 I see the limits of all perfection,
but your mitzvah has no bounds. [Complete Jewish Bible]
I chose this translation today simply because I realized that I had not yet selected one aimed specifically at those who profess the Jewish faith. Here the psalms are deeply embedded in Jewish tradition and I have only been looking at them from a New Testament (more specifically, Lutheran) perspective. Yesterday during worship, we used a Jewish translation for the daily psalm. That triggered me to think that it was well overdue for me to do the same in my daily discipline. And I’m glad I did.
When I sat down to write this, my intent was to look at the entire 8 verses of the 12th stanza as I claimed a mulligan yesterday. But as I read over today’s 4 verses, I felt pulled to the last verse. Yesterday I focused on the infinite… and here the psalmist points out that we are limited in our vision. I think this may be why we are intrigued by the concepts of infinity and the infinitesimal. We can glimpse but fading images of the idea of infinity. We can describe the ideas in (mathematical) terms that even a non-mathematically inclined person can understand. But in the true essence of infinity is beyond our ability to truly process
This, however, is not why I am glad I chose the Jewish translation or that I gravitated to the last verse. In all the other translations, it is God’s commands or commandments that are unbounded. In this translation it is mitzvah. Now I’ve heard this word before. I had some inkling of the notion that it had to do with being a good person. But I never really new the full connotation of the word. So, I did some quick research and discovered that I had mitzvah all backward. It is not a ambiguous notion about doing something nice or good. It is the full set of 613 very highly defined commandments whose proper interpretation is the 3000 year old subject of rabbinical scholarly debate. I am not about to go into this in any detail, but will point you to the my Jewish Learning website I came across this morning.
Yet another case where this Lenten journey has taken me in a direction I never could have foreseen.