In spite of having some crazy virus and madness with all four of my fountain pens, I finished the first draft of Psalm 119. More than some of the others, it’s really a first draft. Oddly enough, the first three stanzas are the worst ones because I didn’t really have my groove at that point. If you aren’t familiar, here is what the challenge was:
1. Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem in which each 8 line stanza begins with the same letter of the alphabet.
2. All 22 letters of the Hebrew letter were used. One for each stanza
3. Each stanza includes one of the following 8 words (translated of course) for law: law, precept, testimony, commandments, judgement, decree, ways, promise
I took on that challenge with the following adaptations:
1. I used the English language, of course, meaning I used 26 letters instead of 22, making it even longer.
2. With a few exceptions, I chose to challenge myself to use alliteration (using the same sound for two or more words). That made it for fun for me, so instead of finding eight words that fit the psalm for each letter, I had to find sixteen or more. That didn’t work so well for z, and a few others are short of that goal.
3. Believe it or not, J was the hardest. I took a completely different approach. There are some VERY powerful biblical men whose names begin with J. I began each stanza with their names instead. I also had to forgo the alliteration.
3. No, I didn’t find even eight words that begin with x (I did find two though), so I did what any poet would do in that situation. Ex words sound like X, so I spelled them eX (eXample).
4. For W-Z I didn’t have a theme from the actual scripture, so I free-styled. I enjoyed writing those the most.
5. In terms of the synonyms for law, I chose not to use decree, precept and statute, and rarely used judgement and testimony. Decree, precept and statute are not words that are used commonly today. Judgement and testimony often have different meanings. I chose, instead, to use direction, plan, teaching, learn, obey (which was often used in psalm 119 translations-esp. Living Bible) and rules. Some stanzas contain none of those words. I was going with the flow. I may or may not add them later.
6. Because many of my readers have told me that they appreciate the fact that my writing is accessible (as in easily understood), I only permitted myself to use words I didn’t have to verify the meaning of. That meant less words to choose from. That being said, my vocabulary is still rather high as I have a master’s degree. I also opted for short words to keep the verses on one line. That won’t work for the electronic versions, but at least there will be no line overruns in the physical book.
Here’s my stanza for V. I share this one because I expected to be extremely difficult, but it was fun. You will notice that I didn’t use a synonym for law on each line. That may change. It might not.
Visit me. Be vigilant. Make my vision clear.
Verify that you hear me. Validate your plan.
Vocalizing praises with various verses as promised.
Violins, vibes, voices make vibrant music. Virtuosos in praise.
Vigilant, I am ready to volunteer. Venturing to vast vista and valley.
Valiant one, save us from vile men who don’t value your law.
Vitality comes from praising you and vowing to be obedient.
Very lost and on the verge of giving up, starving for your direction.
And here is J:
Jehovah, you who molded me, help me learn your laws.
Jews wrote down your words. Gentiles can study them too.
Jacob told us your judgements were fair.
Joseph flourished in your kindness and mercy.
Jonah learned of your mercy when he disobeyed your commands.
John was persecuted by the unjust who did not know your ways.
Jesus was The Word and proof of your promises.
Judas knew the shame of turning against your Word.