Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Tale that is Told

These drama masks on display outside the ruins of the amphitheater at Ostia Antica outside Rome were carved over 2500 years ago.  They remind me of the drama we call Life -- our Tale that is Told.

A verse in Psalm 90:9 says, "...we spend our years as a tale that is told."  I'm fascinated by that verse for two reasons -- it's obvious truth for one, but also for it's resemblance to the phrase from Shakespeare's Macbeth, which says, "...it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" [act 5, scene 5].

What I don't understand is why later translations changed this verse to such an extent.  Even the NKJV writes it, "...we finish our years like a sigh," while the NIV puts it this way, "...we finish our years with a moan."  Neither of these later versions even say the same thing.  For me, I much prefer the original version published in 1611, "...for we spend our yeeres as a tale that is told" (spelling from translation).

It is believed that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth around 1606.  It's interesting to note that the first known performance of Macbeth was April 1611 -- the same year the King James Bible was published, and that James was a patron of the young playwright.  Hmmm....

 The entirety of Macbeth's soliloquy is so sad -- full of hopelessness and purposelessness, as he says:
"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

 This is the world's version of life -- a life without God.  How unutterably sad and empty!

Considering that, yes, we do indeed "spend our years as a tale that is told," shouldn't we be very careful indeed to tell a tale that is worth hearing?  When we let God write our story, it's filled with hope and joy and purpose -- the complete opposite of poor Macbeth's empty life.  I love the song by Steve Green that says:
 
"Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful."

 When our tale has been fully told, oh, to hear our Lord and Savior say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your lord," from His parable in Matthew 25.

1 comment:

Lou Ann said...

Love the comparison between classical literature and what the Bible says. What a blessing to have hope.