Friday, February 26, 2010

O my God! (in you I trust)

This morning I was pondering Psalm 25:2 which says, "O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me."

On the one hand, this is a humble prayer of petition from a heart that loved God and trusted in his protection. I seek to have a similarly humble heart, to exercise similar faith, and for God not to let me be put to shame. In fact, the entire Psalm is both a wonderful song of praise and a sneak peak at a godly man's conversation with his Lord.

On the other hand, I can never get past any verse that says "O my God" without getting distracted and suddenly wondering if I've just broken the 3rd commandment. It's even worse when I have to read this verse out loud to others, whether in a small group bible study, or as a call to worship. As much as I try to enunciate as piously as possible, I still feel dirty. David, of course, is not taking the Lord's name (or title) in vain. He's not using the phrase as an interjection, or declaration of surprise. He's actually addressing a heartfelt statement to his God.

So today I did a little research. In the ESV, the phrase "O my God" appears 22 times. Mostly in the Psalms, but also in the prayers of Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel (Notice that it appears in the prayers of the most Godly men in scripture, apparently the problem is just with me!).

So I did a little more research. The Hebrew for this phrase is only one word, meaning "my God." There is no corresponding particle "O" in the Hebrew. The English versions have added the "O" to help convey the directness with which the prayer is addressed to God. This is good news for me. I now feel that as long as I am aware that the verse in question is a prayer to the Lord, I am free to drop the "O." It's funny how such a small change can make such a big difference. "My God" sounds humble and dependent, I like it.

My wife says it's just me. It is just me?


Ken said...

Ultimately, the big difference between "O My God" and "Ohmagawd" is that the first is out of humility and the second out of pride. God hears the one and hates the other. Whoa.

It's also interesting that we are sometimes very prideful that our money says "In God We Trust" whereas in this psalm (and in the title of your post) it's a humble cry.

Thanks for stirring thoughts! (Although yes, it is just you.)

Joel Pearce said...

I, too, always try to enunciate that phrase as piously as possible, and wind up feeling dirty, or at least feeling like my Dad will yell at me. You're not alone! There are dozens of us!

Jeff said...

Thanks Joel - I'm glad I'm not the only one!