Friday in the First Week of Lent

by John Meekin

Psalm 130
Ezekiel 18:21-28
Matthew 5:20-26

LET ISRAEL HOPE IN THE LORD: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. (King James Version)

O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plenteous redemption. (Revised Standard Version)

In most parts of the Bible, the King James Version speaks to me more movingly than the Revised Standard Version, and Psalm 130 is no exception. However, I sometimes gain interesting and valuable insights by comparing the older and more poetic translation with the new and presumably more accurate one.

Here the psalmist declares that with the Lord there is mercy (or steadfast love), and we are reminded that it is not only in the New Testament that God is represented as loving and merciful. In fact, the juxtaposition of this psalm with this lesson from St. Matthew gives us a jolt if we are inclined to think of the God of the Old Testament as a stern and vengeful deity and the New Testament God as more easygoing. Jesus tells us in the Gospel lesson that unless we are kind and patient with others, we are in danger of hell fire.

Certainly the New Testament contains much emphasis on God’s mercy, but it also exhorts us — frequently and urgently — to get along with our fellow men. A little later on in St. Matthew, we hear Jesus say, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”