“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.” (Psalm 85:8 from Psalm 85:1-13)
I have vague memories in grade school of learning grammar. Part of the lesson I dimly remember is taking a statement and turning it into a question by identifying the subject, object, predicate, and all those other grammar terms. It went something like this:
“Spot has the ball.” > “Who has the ball?”
“Tom and Harry went to the store” > “Who went to the store?” “Where did Tom and Harry go?”
So, as I am reading this verse, I am aware that to diagram this sentence there would be several phrases that seem to be repetitive. If we diagrammed it, I think it would look something like this:
“ . . . for he will speak peace . . .
to his people . . .
to his faithful . . .
to those who turn to him in their hearts.”
Grammatically, there must be three sets of people; but theologically, “his people”, “his faithful”, and “those who turn . .” are all the same people. And in fact, theologically, each description more closely defines this one group. And not, as it would seem grammatically, three differing groups.
It is interesting to think about the writer of Psalms pondering over this sentence structure. Will the reader understand who the writer of Psalms is taking about? How many different ways should this one group be defined? There is a general principle in writing persuasive prose or exhortation; to emphasis a point one needs to have three examples, models, and/or paradigms in order to suggest, convince, and persuade the reader, listener, and audience of one’s point. The best illustration of this is God-the-Creator, God-the-Redeemer, and God-the-Transcendent. Weaver may have also been aware of this principle when she chose justice, right relationships, and shalom as her themes.
We as followers of God are identified as God’s people; but this requires faithfulness and accountability, as well as a continuing reorientation to what God asks and commands of us.
May you gentle reader listen to God with all intensity and purpose so that you may more perfectly conform to the definition of God’s faithful and attentive people. Shalom for your day!