I often do a Sunday morning activity with the youth that attend our church service. A recent project has been to rewrite sections of scripture in the words and phrases used in our own culture and in particular to use the shorthand prose used in text messages and to endeavour to synthesize the passage into the length of a twitter (i.e. 140 characters).
We started off with the shortest Psalm (in fact the shortest chapter in the whole bible), that of Psalm 117. Here is the NIV we took as our basis:
“Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.”
And this is our reworked version:
“Prz GOD, all u Gs. Big em up, all u thgs. His luv is awsom 4 us omies cuz He’s got ur back 4 eva. Prz GOD.”
Although this is the shortest Psalm it has a gigantic scope urging “all nations” and “all peoples” to praise the LORD. The justification for this praise are the divine attributes of his steadfast love and faithful towards “us”. Now this presents an interesting puzzle for interpretation, should the “us” incorporate Israel and the “all nations/peoples” or is it that the “all nations/peoples” recognise the overwhelming love and enduring faithfulness that God has shown Israel and will therefore be compelled to praise God!? Is the psalmist encouraging the reader/worshiper (in my case a non-Israelite) to take a look at Israel’s salvation history and join with them (Israel) in praise at God’s saving works. Notice that it doesn’t give details … this is if you like the minimalist statement of thanksgiving possible … bare bones stuff. It could even be possible that this psalm was composed in the return from exile or after the rebuilding of the temple and that there is a hint at goading the enemies (other nations) … ‘you can try and destroy our nation and burn down the temple in Jerusalem, but God’s love for us endured and he had our backs as he promised and now we return and even you must pay tribute to that!’ It can be read as a beckoning cry calling us to acknowledge the incredible kindness God has shown us and take heed of his steadfast truth. Let us join and become full participants in God’s salvation plans for the world.