The Old Testament


psalm 35:4 may those who seek my life be degraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. what do you think? Is this for the yogi. I like having a defensive prayer,but wonder at the offensive nature of this prayer by king david. Jeff

—jeff Wells, alaska


Dear Jeff,

I looked in my version of the Bible and the translation goes thusly:

Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

The reference to soul makes more sense than “to my life.”

Such scriptural passages can be viewed historically, literally, or metaphysically. Paramhansa Yogananda emphasized the universal and metaphysical interpretation of the world’s scriptures.

So I would skip the interpretation from the point of view of David as King, faced with political enemies and instead see this an a prayer for divine support along the lines of the Lord’s prayer: “and lead us not into temptation.”

Put another way, consider this a prayer for inner strength to transcend delusion and karmic tendencies toward delusion.

This is, I believe, far more relevant and wholesome than to think in terms of other people who dislike you.

I suppose if someone were tempting you or cause for what old time Catholics used to call “occasions for sin!” then a prayer to defend one’s aura and soul against negative influences might also be useful!