October 9, 2008

God proves...but man does not improve

Leland Ryken in his book How to Read the Bible as Literature...and get more out of it shows a great illustration of the beauty of the Bible as literature.

Take the issue of God's providence. Here is how God defined it in Psalm 23:
The LORD, the Psalmist's Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1The LORD is my shepherd,

I shall not want.

2He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.

3He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness

For His name's sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Here is how man has defined it in the Westminister Confession of Faith of 1646:

CHAPTER V. Of Providence.

I. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct

dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the
greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence,
according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable
counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom,
power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

II. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the
first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by
the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the
nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

III. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is
free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.

IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness
of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth
itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men,
and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a
most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing
of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as
the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from
God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the
author or approver of sin.

V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth oftentimes leave
for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the
corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins,
or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and
deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise
them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon
himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of
sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous
judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only
withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in
their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also
withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects
as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over
to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of
Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under
those means which God useth for the softening of others.

VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all
creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his
Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.

Poetry vs. prose. Which is richer, more visual; which are you more likely to steep yourself in?

Did you even read through man's version?

I'm sticking with God on this one. He is the divine Poet.

1 comment:

Laurie M. said...

Actually, I loved them both, though the second is not the inspired word of God, it helps me understand it, which is valuable. (I think the Westminster Confession is beautifully written - call me crazy.) Different styles serve slightly different purposes. God is fond of poetry and prose, as well as letter writing. You make a good point though, because it is the 23rd Psalm that I have committed to memory more perfectly than the Nicene & Apostles' Creed, though I've memorized all at some point in my life.