The Beauty of Reflexive Pronouns.
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“Speak to yourselves with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord…”
Ephesians 5:19, New International Version
The word ‘yourselves’ in Ephesians 5:19 is a reflexive pronoun. I set it apart from the italicized words in the verse, because that is my translation of the verse. The New International Version, like most English translations, incorrectly translates the word as something like “to one another.” But the reflexive nature of the pronoun makes it clear that Paul is encouraging an inner spiritual dialogue, indeed a singing and making music in one’s heart to the Lord. When the word is understood this way, the two halves of the verse make much more sense together.
As one who does in fact talk to himself on occasion, it thrills me to know that the Bible actually gives me permission! Not that I needed it, truth be told! I even answer myself from time to time.
But of course, as you are likely mumbling to yourself, this verse is not about talking, or singing for that matter, to oneself. St. Paul encourages us to sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord. Here is another version of his advice: to pray continuously. Part of the spiritual life of the disciple of Jesus is to free the heart’s tongue, to give voice to the inner song of the soul and to offer it up to the Lord – within and from the depths of a grateful faith.
Only you can sing the way your heart strums. Only you can make music to the Lord the way you are wired. Only your life, and its continual journey with Jesus, can create the unique lyric of your faith walk. How sweet it is to the Lord! How wonderful, too, is your song to his ears. How he delights in the sound of it.
Sing, people of God. Sing today. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
Text and picture, copyright Don Schatz