C is for Chastise

He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who chastens the nations, does he not chastise?
He who teaches men knowledge,
the LORD, knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath. (Psalm 94:9-11)

“Do you have anything for me,” Ashford asked as he passed my desk. Distractedly, I handed him a file and returned to my book. “He still hasn’t given you the brief,” he mused.

“Nope,” I looked into his tired eyes. My own itched from eighteen hour days that wouldn’t end.

“What are you reading?” he leaned over my shoulder.

“A book of commentary on the Psalms,” I told him. “It’s for class.”

“I love the Psalms,” his eyes were shining now. “I wrote my M.Div. thesis on them”

is for chastise scared-child“I know,” I smiled at the seminarian turned attorney. “I used to hate some of the Psalms, particularly those that talked about chastisement. The minister I lived with when I was a girl often insisted he was chastising us for our own good. I thought chastise meant punish – harshly and horribly.” I took a breath as I sought one particular page I had flagged. “While I was reading the commentary on Psalm 94, it struck me, I had never checked the meaning or etymology of the word chastise. Finally, I did and discovered it means to purify.”

Ashford nodded, “Exactly.”

“God has never been punishing me. He’s giving me what I want, purification.” I pursed my lips for a moment and then smiled, “God is nothing like the minister. I knew that when I was a child but I’m only now learning just how little he actually loved. He never cared about purifying us, only making us pay for offending him. And it was horribly easy to offend him.”

Ashford’s smile answered mine, “I had a similar experience with my father. That’s why I went to seminary.”


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