Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Rest of Psalm 16

There seems to be less disagreement in the commentaries for the rest of the psalm - except of course that Dahood has a third person singular pronoun instead of a first person pronoun for verse 7 (my heart, his heart), and verse 8 (his right hand instead of the usual my right hand). I guess one could ask who is on whose right hand? Well the obvious answer is that while in this life, the LORD is on the right hand, and in the eternal moment, we are on the right hand of majesty. I don't have access to the Ugaritic texts to see why Dahood chooses these pronouns - but מִימִינִי (verse 8) and בִּימִינְךָ (verse 11) have differing pronouns in the MT. So I won't divert myself from the more traditional parsing of all the other translations.

The next issue is - what is the import of the middle verses 5 and 6? Four images reinforce the Psalmist's confidence: portion and cup - belonging to the poet; the lot held by the LORD; the memory of pleasant places; and the beauty of the poet's heritage. Talk about a good thing.

The first image has an ambivalent word חֲבָלִים which I at first rendered as bindings - a word that could be both negative or positive. Yet I do not think the Poet necessarily holds up a 'fortunate' or 'providential' life - as if chance were the governing factor. The factor that governs is perhaps the agreement and consequent determination expressed in verse 8. Such an act of will, a miktam perhaps, confidence, commitment, trust, and counsel, learning, instruction in the night could be the heritage of the rich or the poor (if we must speak in worldly terms).

Here is the whole Psalm: - one day I will be able to do better with the etymological stuff - but translation and poetry - that is really difficult - too many conflicts both on the input side and the output side and a terrifying demand on one's memory.

1 Inscribed of David

Keep me, O God, for I trust you
2 I said to the LORD, you are my Lord
My good pales beside you.

3 Of the holy ones that are in the earth
Of them, and of my securities,
all my delight in them?
4 They will increase their hurts
hastening behind
I will not offer their drink offerings of blood
And I will not put their names on my lips.

5 The LORD is my inheritance and my cup
You maintain my stay.

6 Bindings have fallen to me in pleasures
Surely a beautiful inheritance to me
7 I will bless the LORD who advises me
Surely in the night, my centre instructs me.

8 I have agreed with the LORD
in front of me continually, even at my right hand.
I will not be moved.

9 So my heart joys
And my glory sings
Surely my flesh will live in security
10 For you will not abandon my life to the place of the dead
You will not allow one who trusts you to see a pit.

11 You will make known to me a path of Life, satisfaction of joys
In your presence pleasures at your right hand unending.

The Psalm begins where it started with words based on XSD (1,10). I replaced the translation of BTX (9) with security - playing on the modern idols of financial security (3) that I referred to in a prior post.

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