Yesterday morning at church, our call to worship was a number of verses from Psalm 149. Our church uses the NRSV, and Psalm 149:5 reads like this:
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches.
I thought to myself, “What? What’s that all about? Are we couch potatoes or something?”
I don’t know if anybody else wondered about that verse or not; I think they should! At any rate, when I got home I decided to find out what I could about this…ah, strange…rendering.
It didn’t take me too long. First I checked my new NIV, which didn’t translate it as “couches”, but “beds”. I quickly discovered that nearly all translations have it as “beds”. God’s people will sing for joy on their beds. OK, it’s still rather strange, isn’t it?
So I went to one of my favorite places for Bible study — the NET Bible. It renders the verse like this:
149:5 Let the godly rejoice because of their vindication!6
Let them shout for joy upon their beds!7
OK, their interpretation is “shout” instead of “sing”. That’s interesting, but it’s not that different from singing for joy, and I don’t think it has much bearing on this interpretation. But let’s look at the text note there, #7:
7tn The significance of the reference to “beds” is unclear. Perhaps the point is that they should rejoice at all times, even when falling asleep or awaking.
Ah-ha! Now we’re getting right down to it. Yes, the meaning is unclear, but could it be that we, God’s people, should rejoice when we lie down to go to sleep, and rejoice when we arise in the morning? Could it be that if we lie awake on our beds that we sing in our hearts to the Lord for joy?
Perhaps the meaning is unclear, but it seems pretty clear to me!