Psalm 68:13 Lying Among the Sheepfolds

 
Psalm 68:13
Lying Among the Sheepfolds

Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.


Psalm 68:13 contains a tremendous truth not seen in most English translations of the Bible.  Psalm 68:13a is translated in the English Bibles as “though ye have lien among the pots,” which says you have been lying among the pots and pans in an Oriental kitchen.  In the East (Orient), the cooks often sleep in the kitchen, and all they know are pots and pans, because they are not exposed to culture outside the kitchen.  They do not even take the food to the table in another room.  Their life is centered on the room with the pots and pans; the kitchen.

In contrast, the Telugu translation of the Bible, done by Oriental scholars gives a translated version that emanates with deeper spiritual meaning and implications.  The first half of the Telugu Bible reads as follows:

Psalm 68:13a

Though you have been lying in the midst of the sheepfolds,

The two versions paint entirely different pictures.  The Telugu Bible (the Eastern Bible) refers to destitute men who wander without a home, family or friends.  These men wander aimlessly with no destination.  Wearing tattered clothes, they suffer the winter chill.  With no money, they are unable to hire a room for the night.  So, seeking help from the physical world, permission is sought from a shepherd to sleep with the sheep where rest and warmth is found.  The origin of the figure of speech “lying among the sheepfolds” represents the destitution inherent in this situation.

The sheepfold is a place of dung, mud, and muck; however, it offers rest and warmth to the weary and downtrodden.  A person in this situation is in a state of constant conflict, knowing that he should be doing more to better his situation.  This shame becomes a constant mental burden while lack of proper nutrition and care wears down the physical body.  Sickness, weakness, and weariness are the result, with no way of getting out of this downward spiral.

The spiritual implications of this part of the verse are strikingly clear:  we are destitute and homeless without God, the Father of our living lord and savior, Jesus Christ. 

Now we will focus on the 2nd half of Psalm 68:13b where God tells us with vivid imagery His deliverance through Jesus Christ.  Both the King James Bible and the Telugu Bible say:

Psalm 68:13b

…yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver

and her feathers with yellow gold.
 
In Oriental thought, the “dove” represents peace, “silver” represents strength meaning “God will bless you, and lift you up”, and “yellow gold” represents prosperity.  The dove was the first bird to be tamed.  Faithful and easily procured, the dove takes and returns messages.  These birds are loved and accepted by everyone.  Often the dove is a pet that the owners decorate with silver coins on the wings and yellow gold (a cheap gold, used for decoration) on the feathers. As the doves are adorned, so are we adorned and accepted in the beloved.

Psalm 68:13 has the following meaning:

Though you have been lying among the sheepfolds;

yet will you be peaceful, strong, and prosperous.

Look at the Israelites in bondage in Egypt; they were figuratively in the dirt and dung of the sheepfold, looking to the material, physical world, lazily waiting to eat the old grass about to be discarded. However, when they sought deliverance from God, He gave them deliverance from Egypt into the land of milk and honey adding peace, strength, and prosperity to their lives.

In our lives, God through His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, delivers us from spiritual enslavement into the land of milk and honey (Christ within).  Then he adds peace, strength and prosperity to us who now have the glorious freedom as a son of God.  When we are saved, our broken hearts and feeble bodies are made whole (sōzō).  As a child of God no longer under the bondage of this world (lying among the sheepfolds), we are able to claim what is already ours: peace, strength and prosperity.

References:

Orientalisms of the Bible by Bishop K. C. Pillai, D.D., American Christian Press, 1986, 3rd printing 1998 (p.37-43).

Old and New Testament Orientalisms Teachings of Bishop K. C. Pillai transcript, pp. 155-156.




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