Today’s whisper came along in the first psalm reading from today’s lectionary ( Psalm 131, 132, ;Num. 23:11-26; Rom. 8:1-11; Matt. 22:1-14), suggesting something about authorship and knowing who is behind the words – these, or THE WORD, or anything else. Here’s the psalm that ushered in the thought:
1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.*
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and for evermore. – Psalm 131
Lovely, isn’t it ? I think so. And though I know that this is one of only a few psalms attributed to a female writer, I am delightfully surprised to recall this once again after praying it. When it appears in the lectionary cycle, I think to myself, “oh yes…this one”! And as I read, I realize how different if ‘feels’ to me than many others; the female sensibility softly percolating out of so few lines.
Though my first thought was just as described, it was the second thought on which I lingered this morning. The pause button was pushed at verse two:
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul
And I thought, “hmm…as a Christian, I might write that differently. I might say that my soul has quieted me, as in, my being is settled and calm not because of anything I have done, but because He has, God has. My soul has quieted me.” But I hear what the Spirit is saying in the psalm and I am momentarily grateful for the truth revealed here.
And the next nearly simultaneous thought was of the beloved author and theologian, C.S. Lewis. And I thought about a like-minded quote attributed to him:
This I get. This is what I believe, and when I first came across the quote I was delighted to hear that it was one of my favorite writers and theologians, C.S. Lewis who penned the phrase. Just as I was delighted to learn a few years back that Psalm 131 was attributed to a woman. Somehow the person behind the words made the words more ‘truthful?’…is that even possible?
Now apparently the quote is not from C.S. Lewis. Google the quote yourself and you’ll discover a variety of opinions on whether he is the original source and how he couldn’t be, so contrary to his theology the quote suggests.
I don’t think so. I don’t think the truth relayed in that quote has anything to do with how it aligns with Lewis’ theology.
This has me wondering about authorship and theology and the distractions to identifying and proclaiming truth that accompanies the pursuit of original source and authorship identity. I wonder if that quote was attributed to no one specially, if its truth is not yet told. As with the psalm’s truthful, soft expression of peace beyond understanding. Does it read differently if we believe it associated with David, or another male, instead of a female?
The C.S. Lewis quote speaks a truth. The psalm speaks a truth. Both and. And in neither case does it matter who verbalized the comforting truth that souls are who we ARE and how we are known. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through many mouths and pens.
Does it matter that you know who authored the truth found in the psalm or the quote? Perhaps. But perhaps, only if you don’t attribute either to their original source and author of all.