Old Testament Saints? Ps. 51:11
Tonight I want to puzzle through a slightly different level of translation bias that I have found in Psalm 51:11. My question is about the role of notes included a Bible edition. What is the role of notes in a translation? Can this be defined or is it up to the editor's discretion?
Here are the translation and notes of Ps. 51:11 from the NET Bible. These notes pose several different difficulties for me. First, they imply that David is the writer of this Psalm, in spite of the suggestion by many commentaries that the title and last two verses have been added.
But more problematic by far is the explicit statement that NT believers and OT believers have a different experience of God and his spirit. This actually makes the psalm into an historic piece of writing about a king whose experience of God we should not be interested in sharing.
- 51:11 Do not reject me!
Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me!
sn [study notes] Do not take…away. The psalmist expresses his fear that, due to his sin, God will take away the Holy Spirit from him. NT believers enjoy the permanent gift of the Holy Spirit and need not make such a request nor fear such a consequence. However, in the OT God’s Spirit empowered certain individuals for special tasks and only temporarily resided in them. For example, when God rejected Saul as king and chose David to replace him, the divine Spirit left Saul and came upon David (1 Sam 16:13-14).
- The truth on which we are now insisting is an important one, as many learned men have been inconsiderately drawn into the opinion that the elect, by falling into mortal sin, may lose the Spirit altogether, and be alienated from God. The contrary is clearly declared by Peter, who tells us that the word by which we are born again is an incorruptible seed, (1 Peter 1:23;) and John is equally explicit in informing us that the elect are preserved from falling away altogether, (1 John 3:9.)
However much they may appear for a time to have been cast off by God, it is afterwards seen that grace must have been alive in their breast, even during that interval when it seemed to be extinct.
Nor is there any force in the objection that David speaks as if he feared that he might be deprived of the Spirit. It is natural that the saints, when they have fallen into sin, and have thus done what they could to expel the grace of God, should feel an anxiety upon this point; but it is their duty to hold fast the truth that grace is the incorruptible seed of God, which never can perish in any heart where it has been deposited. This is the spirit displayed by David.
Reflecting upon his offense, he is agitated with fears, and yet rests in the persuasion that, being a child of God, he would not be deprived of what indeed he had justly forfeited.
In Geneva, the psalms were the hymnbook of the church, as they were of the early church. Many Christians made their own translations of the Psalms as a personal meditation. One particular such meditation is considered to be the first English sonnet series. The Meditation of a Penitent Sinner is thought to be the work of Anne Locke, 1560. Locke was a close friend and confident of both Calvin and Knox. She visited Calvin in Geneva and translated some of his sermons into English. In the back was found this Meditation. Here are the lines referring to verse 11.
- Take not away the succour of thy sprite,
Thy holy sprite, which is myne onely stay,
The stay that when despeir assaileth me,
In faintest hope yet moveth me to pray,
To pray for mercy, and to pray to thee.
Lord, cast me not from presence of thy face,
Nor take from me the spirite of thy grace.
My questions are not about whether or not the NET Bible note is accurate. I consider it to be one possible interpretation among many. My question is rather, what audience is such a Bible for? And is it valid to present only one interpretation in the "study notes" right within the text of the Bible?
Labels: psalm 51