Wrestling with Truth December 4, 2011

Symbol, Part 1

[Part of Psalm 19 has been set to music in The Creation by Franz Joseph Haydn.   For the “flavor” of his oratorio go to:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwqqfbinUDY]

Using the carol “While shepherds watched their flocks”, Psalm 19:1-14, and Romans 1:18-20, we started to reflect on the concept of SYMBOL within the Christmas tradition.   The actual application to Christmas will come in the next two weeks.

To you, in David’s town, this day, Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord, And this shall be the sign,
The heavenly Babe you there shall find, To human view displayed
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands, And in a manger laid.
–Nahum Tate

The carol says: “And this shall be the sign”.  Is the “sign” (symbol), the baby in a manger, the swathing bands, or something else, such as the star?

The big question is, how do symbols work in the context of communication and meaning.

For example, the following are all related to the concept of symbol:  sign,  signpost, meaning, token, seal, indication, diagram, notion, picture, name, denotation, nickname, portent,  harbinger, emblem, gesture, idea, words, event, wonder, mystery, mark, icon, image, object, action, pattern, sacrament.

Psalm 19:1-6 addresses “natural revelation” in symbolic form.
Psalm 19:7-11 addresses “moral revelation” in word (or linguistic) form.
Psalm 19: 12 – 14 is a prayer for purification, prevention, and perfection.

[Note: Mark A Copeland has an excellent outline of this Psalm at http://executableoutlines.com/psa/psa_19.htm]

Closing prayer:  (Psa 19:14 NIV)  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

More on this topic next week . . .


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