i have been playing my guitars a lot lately. since our claretian retreat, i have been renewed spiritually and the re-connection with music is refreshing.
i have been pondering these words from psalm 49: 4-5:
“My mouth shall speak words of wisdom,
my heart shall offer insights.
I will turn my ear to a riddle,
expound my question on a lyre.“
the words that come out of my mouth can be problematic at times. in brief, i can be blunt and too much straight to the point. my words can hurt others at times. i judge my personal level of frustration from the amount and type of cussing that i can do. so i have always have to reactions at times. i say– not jokingly– “i actually trust people who can drop a good f-bomb in appropriate situations.” i am not uncomfortable when others cuss since it’s part of my history.
this is in contrast with the psalm’s aspirational “my mouth shall speak words of wisdom.” this phrase reminds me what the real goal of words are. in my best moments, wise words come from my mouth too. and the psalms shows that the source of wise insight is the heart.
listening to a riddle and as expounding my question on the lyre are part of this dynamic as well. i like the footnote in my bible on this “riddle” and “question”
“Riddle: the psalmist’s personal solution to the perennial biblical problem of the prosperity of the wicked. Question: parallel in meaning to problem; in wisdom literature it means the mysterious way of how the world works.”
these riddles and questions are timeless observations– we see our 21st century’s versions widely shared with the exponential growth of technology/communications. we see more wicked people prospering and a greater awareness of how the world is working. the psalmist only experienced what was going on in ancient ancient near eastern life. now, google can tell us what is happening on the other side of the world with the click of a mouse.
the new jerusalem bible– which is the most poetic english version– translates verse five as, “i set my my riddle to the music of the harp.” i like that!
mysterious riddles and questions indeed
my attraction to these verses is that the psalmist uses a lyre, a mini harp, to ponder these riddles and questions. did king david really write this psalm? perhaps. if king david had to ponder today’s questions, i like to think he would use a guitar!
i am no king, but i want to expound my personal musings on the nature of good and evil as well as how the world works with my guitar. i hope that music sheds light on how and why the wicked prosper in the world as well as offer the ways that the heart can praise and live in God’s love. i pray that light and wisdom then come from my mouth.
come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and minds. me Holy Spirit, guide my fingers on the guitar