Random translation ideas: Psalm 23

Posted: 18th July 2007 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized
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Every once in a while, I’ll jot down a restating of a verse in the Bible, usually using a phrase I found elsewhere that seems to express an idea particularly well. Earlier tonight I was looking at posts on Jay Davis’ blog and came across his thoughts on Psalm 23; as I was reading this (very) familiar passage, a different phrase struck me as appropriate for this blog:

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
He is sufficient for all my needs.
2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 (HCSB)

Now I know that the Hebrew in v.1b is a form of “to lack”; the HCSB’s actual translation is “there is nothing I lack” (see Jay’s post for other variants). It’s just that “lack” is just such an unpoetical word – very harsh and gutteral, quite a contrast to the language surrounding it: shepherd, lie down, green pastures, quiet waters, renew… the NLTse uses “I have all that I need” – much better, but changing the focus of the verse from “I” to “He” would also keep a sense of repetition flowing through these first phrases. There’s a subtle tie to v.3b, “for His name’s sake” (where “He is sufficient” is part of a probable translation of the “El Shaddai” name of God). It’s also a positive statement and uses nine syllables like the two phrases that follow it (at least in the HCSB’s translation); the NLT is actually better, matching the six syllables of the opening phrase.

Just a random translation idea…

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