When you read the Bible, do you look at more than one translation?
Sometimes, side by side, verses don’t read very differently. But other times, the difference can smack you between the eyes.
It’s a good little trick when you don’t know the original languages. All English translations have a bit of interpretation built into them, as the teams of scholars decided how to translate words and phrases. Especially in the case of idioms that might not carry the same meaning across cultures.
Psalm 25:1 in the NIV reads
In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
Psalm 25:1 in the ESV reads
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
I love the way each of these versions deepens the meaning of the other.
We often think of our “soul” as being synonymous with our spirit. But in biblical times, people thought of the soul as synonymous with our personhood. It is not one of our characteristics, but the union of our characteristics.
“Your soul is what integrates your will (your intentions), your mind (your thoughts and feelings, your values, your conscience), and your body (your face, body language, actions) into a single life.” – John Ortberg
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. That is an act of trust.
My soul easily drifts towards fragmentation. Being overwhelmed leads to trying to do too many things at once. Feeling self-doubt leads to seeking validation in too many places. Experiencing loneliness leads to spending too much time on too many social media sites.
As I sit with verse one, Psalm 25 becomes my prayer. I take my soul, and lift it up as a meager offering, an act of trust in God’s character.
My soul is disintegrated. Daddy, can you fix it for me? Please?
Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you. – Psalm 25:4-7, 16-18, 21 (NIV)
When life is disjointed and splintered. When I am spreading myself thin. When stress has broken me apart. When I am scouring every corner for validation. When sin has crumpled me.
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Heal me. Forgive me. Redeem me. Save me. Knit me back together. My hope is in You. In You, Lord my God, I put my trust.
Do you ever feel like your soul is splintered? What does it look like to trust God to knit it back together?
Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.