My little Sunday study of the Psalms surfaced something interesting again this week...well, it's interesting if you're a Bible geek, anyway.
This week, I was struck by just how clumsily most English translations render the opening verse of Psalm 65. The NIV, for instance, gives us "Praise awaits you, O God..." Technically, that's not an inaccurate way to render the Hebrew phrase "lükä dùmiyyâ tühillâ ´élöhîm,
" but in trying to get across the meaning of dùmiyyâ,
most English translations seem to my ears to stomp all over the poetry of the original. That word means to wait, sure, but it more fully means stillness, silence or silent waiting.
Luther's translation in the German reads "Gott, man lobet dich in der Stille
.." which gets at it so much better. "In stillness praise the Lord" just resonates so much more deeply. Many translations present dùmiyyâ
as meaning silent repose elsewhere. The NIV translates it as "finds rest" in Psalm 62:1. The NKJ approaches that same verse as "silently waits," and the NRSV presents it as "waits in silence."
Given my mystic proclivities and our societal love of the longwinded and the loud, I found myself wishing that the translators had spun it a little more subtly. We can do some of our best praising when we're absolutely still and silent.