Thursday, September 20, 2012

Remembering and forgetting

I'm working my way slowly through Charles Spurgeon's excellent commentary on the Psalms, a book he wrote while he was ill, and needed something to occupy his mind.  (There are three large volumes of it in the original version.) Not only does he comment on every Psalm but he also includes comments from contemporary, and earlier, writers.  Some of these exceed Spurgeon's own comments in wisdom and insight.   But it's not a book you can skim through.  Its value is in taking time to discover the Psalms afresh through the eyes of men who were Godly and experience in the ways of God.  I've given myself approximately a week for each Psalm, because there's plenty to chew over.  Obviously some of the shorter Psalms may take a little less time, but they'll be compensated for by ones like Psalm 119 and its ilk.

I'm including a number of the comments over on my other blog, The Daily Writer, but this particularly paragraph struck me as being apt to mention in this blog, because of its application to life in general.

Verse 18. This shall be written. Nothing is more tenacious than man's memory when he suffers an injury; nothing more lax if a benefit is conferred. For this reason God desires lest his gifts should fall out of mind, to have them committed to writing. Le Blanc.

(Spurgeon doesn't tell us who Le Blanc was, but I suspect it was Thomas le BlancS. J., (sometimes written LeBlanc) Professor of Divinity at Rheims and Dijonauthor of a Commentary on the Latin Vulgate (the longstanding Roman Catholic translation of the Bible). I could be wrong.  This Le Blanc lived in the 1700s.)

The comment by Le Blanc is interesting because it reminds us that we have an extreme ability to remember wrongs done to us, but little ability to remember things that have been done rightly for us.  I barely need to reflect for a moment on this without a welter of wrongdoings coming to mind, wrongdoings that other people have done to me over the years, or even single sentence statements that hurt me at the time.  I try to forgive and forget these but it's a major task.  The brain doesn't like leaving rubbish behind, yet it's happy to forget about good things.  

Think about any incident you've had in a restaurant or a shop where you've felt hard done by, even to a small extent.  We chew these things over, tell our family and friends, build them up into a long-winded story that gets more and more detailed as time goes on.   It's a well-known fact in business that if someone has a complaint about your service you'd better get onto it quickly, because that complaint will have turned into a full-scale onslaught against your company before nightfall.  The only way you can nip such a problem in the bud is by outdoing yourself with something that says to the customer that you really do care about them.  And it has to be genuine.  Anything else will only leave a worse taste in their mouth.  

But Le Blanc, of course, isn't talking about retail, or dining out.   He has more important things in mind: he wants us not only to forget injuries, as God does (as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us, as it says in one of the Psalms, ) he wants us to remember the good things that God does (and even the good things that other people do).  It seems the only way we'll do this is by writing them down.  Injuries cause longstanding wounds; gifts and benefits somehow seem to slide over us like water over a rock.   But it's far more important to remember the gifts and benefits than the injuries.  And far healthier.  

PS. There's also a comment about this from Spurgeon himself in his notes on Psalm 103.

Post a Comment