Monday, November 2, 2009

Remember: It's About Hope

I’ve been reading about David lately, and writing a few poems. He’s a complex character – hero, victim, villain, shepherd, king, almost deposed king, warrior, murderer, fugitive, lover, poet . It’s that complexity and occasional contradictions that draw me to study him. He was human! And with all of the things he did and didn’t do, he was still the “man after God’s own heart.”

David is most closely associated with the Psalms. It’s no surprise that the Hebrew word for remember is mentioned 41 times in that collection of songs. (The word is used a total of 149 times in the Old Testament, and if you add in all the variations, it’s almost 200 references.)(And just so you know, there are 66 references in the New Testament.)

If anyone had a lot to remember, it was David. And in Psalm 25, he used the word three times:

“Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
For they are from old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
And my rebellious ways;
According to your love remember me,
For you are good, O Lord.” (Psalm 25:6,7)

My study Bible describes this psalm as a prayer for defense, guidance and pardon. At what point in his life David wrote it is not known, although the “remember not the sins of my youth” make it sound like he was older. Was it when he was being pursued by Saul? When his son Absalom almost seized the throne and publicly humiliated his father? When he had Uriah killed to cover up the affair with Bathsheba, or when their baby was dying? Or was it during a time of war and battle?

Any of those situations might fit, as would others, but the point is that David, in his despair, called upon the Lord both to remember and not remember, the “not remember” being a kind of confession and a seeking of forgiveness. And David, who was a man after God’s own heart, knew of God’s great mercy and love – and claimed it.

What’s fascinating for me is that, for David, remembering was ultimately about the future, and thus about hope. For me, David is the great example of remembrance and hope.

(To see other posts on “remember,” visit the blog carnival over at Peter Pollock’s place, Rediscovering the Church.)


Anne Lang Bundy said...

The interesting thing is that God forgets nothing, so we are the ones remembering in the reminder.

And like God, we must choose to not remember too much a forgiven youth.

Maureen said...

I always learn so much and gain new insights in reading your posts, Glynn.

"To remember" and "not remember": I like how you set these together so that they serve as one.

And, as Anne says, "to remember not to remember": to forgive ourselves as God forgives us.

S. Etole said...

How wonderful that God purposefully chooses "not to remember"our sin and "not to forget" us.

Peter P said...

I've always found it interesting that David beseeches God to 'remember'.

Somehow I think God likes it when we hold him to his promises!

Helen said...

Many of the Psalms have the word Remember in them.
I too like the way you point out that remembering ultimately was about hope and the future.

Bridget Chumbley said...

"What’s fascinating for me is that, for David, remembering was ultimately about the future, and thus about hope."

I appreciate these words, Glynn. It gave me a new way to look at 'remembering'.

Bernadette Pabon said...

What a great insght nto Davds psalm. This remnds me that many times we try to forget what we do wrong. And you brought out so beautifully that rememberance bring about hope, and hope is the future.

Marni said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for helping me to remember to remember :)...

Monica Sharman said...

"Remembering [is] ultimately about the future."

I'll remember that one...really. Looking back helps in the looking ahead.