When I was in the MTC (the training center where Mormon missionaries are prepared to be representatives of the Church before they go out to their assignment ... also, where foreign missionaries attempt to learn the language they will be speaking) I felt bored and unappreciated most of the time. I wanted some intellectual stimulation. That kind of stuff makes me feel happy. That my life is worthwhile. So I started the Old Testament at the beginning. It felt like an indulgence to me at the time because much content of the Old Testament is far removed from my life, as well as the basic things I was preparing to teach in the mission field. Perhaps because it felt like an intellectual break instead of a chore, I enjoyed it immensely. I love the Old Testament. I still do. I love how ugly and realistic so many of the characters are: afflicted by lust, jealousy, carelessness, and general human stupidity. There were some parts that left me completely in the dark as to the point, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
So while I was reading, I came across lots of words I didn't know. The scriptures the LDS church uses has a dictionary in the back with common words contained therein, but it is by no means all-inclusive. I came across many words I wanted to know the definition of, but since I was a missionary, I had no access to the Oxford English Dictionary.
But now I do. Here are some of those words, and what I have learned now that
I know their definitions. I'll try to make it interesting.
BUCKLER. A small round shield, "used not so much for a shield as for a warder to catch the blow of an adversary." (Fairholt) It's figurative definition is also "a means of defense." or "a protector."
"The word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him." Psalms 18: 30
"His (God's) truth shall be thy shield and buckler." Psalms 91:4
Per my limited understanding of weaponry, a shield is meant to protect someone from receiving hits from an enemy. You hold it up in front of you so the other guy won't be able to get to you. God can be like that in our lives. When we trust in Him and lives our lives in harmony with His will, sometimes He protects us from danger or hardship. Sometimes. But not always.
In Sunday School today we re-visited the concept of why bad things happen to good people. We reached the conclusion so often reached before, that we have to have hardships in our lives to appreciate how good the good things are. To quote Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember, without suffering there would be no compassion.
So to say that God is not just our shield but our buckler: a buckler is meant not to protect yourself from contact with your enemy, but to lessen the negative effects of being hit. So you still get hit, but the buckler keeps it from chopping your arm off. You aren't shielded completely, but you survive. I fell like God has really been a buckler for me lately.
PYGARG. From the Latin meaning "white-rump," a word applied to both of kind of antelope and an eagle-like bird of prey. It's listed in Jewish dietary law as a beast OK to eat, along with the hart, roebuck, and fallow deer, leading me to believe it's probably being used as the first definition in the Old Testament.
CHAMOIS. A capriform antelope, the only wild antelope in Europe. And if you catch one, hey, go ahead and eat it. Deuteronomy says it's OK.
HOAR. Your mom. Or rather, what she was yelling all last night.
Just kidding! It's an adjective meaning "grey with age" or "white from frost." Usually refers to someone with grey hair, who is old and thus venerable.
DISCOMFIT. Either to throw down in battle, or to to throw into complete confusion or sadness. Like ten hundred times worse than discomfort.
CLEAVE. To cling or hold fast to, to remain attached, devoted or faithful to. In the scriptures, we are told to cleave unto God, to cleave to our spouse, and to cleave to every good thing. We are also warned that if we cleave to false Gods, we will be in a really bad spot.
To me, the word cleave is inseparably connected with loyalty, which is what God expects from us and what we should expect from our spouses, if we are smart. Obeying the commandments isn't enough if we aren't willing to defend the truth when its appropriate. Even loving God, although that is very, very important, doesn't mean anything if we turn on Him when things go wrong. Same thing in a marriage. What I want more than anything in the world is a husband who respects me, is completely loyal to me and honorable in everything else he does. But especially with me. I want to be cleaved to. Not just loved. Love can turn on you in a moment's notice. Loyalty, that's the real stuff.
FIREBRAND. Someone or something who kindles strife or mischief, inflames the passions, etc. Also, one who deserves to burn in hell.
I used to think this word was a compliment. Nope.
GUILE. Stratagem, deceit, or treachery. So when someone is said to be "without guile" as often used in the scriptures, that sounds to me like someone without ulterior motives. Who just says what they say and should be taken at face value.