God my Maker … gives songs in the night. (NIV)
God my Maker … gives strength in the night. (NRSV)
God their Creator … gives them hope in their darkest hours. (TEV)
Other translators offer the words vision and protection. She goes on to write that it’s wonderful a single Hebrew word can mean all these things. But it’s more likely that the translators saw the word through personal lenses.
How can we trust the Bible if it says different things? In this case, the lesson is simple: each translation offers a different nuance of the same subject. In other words, all these translations are true, although on the surface they seem to disagree. This is why the Bible is often called the Living Word: it’s not just a collection of letters, words and sentences, but ideas that shift and adapt to our current circumstances. Christ is also known as the Living Word, and can mean different things to different people at different points in their lives.
Most people have a favorite translation, but when we restrict ourselves to one translation, we rob ourselves of the ability to see fullness in a passage. Often the angle we see is not the complete picture. Taken together, they form a tapestry. In the passage above, we discover what God was doing while we were sleeping (or attempting to sleep). God was providing songs, strength, hope, vision and protection, raining down these blessings like manna, our daily bread, so they would be there when we awoke. His mercies are new each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). For God never slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). Unlike us, God never tosses and turns; while we rest, he prepares a breakfast of rejuvenation, and invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
Tonight, when you lie down to rest, try to give your worries to the Lord, knowing that He will keep working all night for our salvation. He will be there in your sleeping, and in your awaking. Amen.