Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Two great pivots

Greater souls than I have named Psalms 73 (Bruggemann) and 89 (Wilson) as pivotal. To date I have looked for arches and pillars, but where is the altar in this cathedral? And are there chapels? Is there a crossing? (These are the beginning and end of book 3.)

Psalm 73 like 75 is an 'I' psalm using the Hebrew pronoun (אֲנִי) explicitly - here rendered as I myself. Psalm 74 in contrast is a 'you' psalm again using the pronoun explicitly in the middle section 7 times. I have inconsistently applied the emphasis, translating you (אַתָּה) as you alone.

Psalm 73

A Psalm of Asaph
Surely God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart
but I myself, I bent my foot a little
but my steps did not need to be so molded
For I was jealous of the polluters
I was seeing wholeness in the wicked

For there are no pangs in their death and their gut is fat
The human condition in trouble is nothing to them
and they are not touched as earthlings
so they are necklaced with pride
wrapped with their cloak of violence

Their eyes bulge
They go beyond imagination in their heart
They mock and speak with wickedness
of oppression on high they speak
They set their mouth in the heavens and their tongue struts in the earth

"Hey! his people will return here where they can be fully milked."
And they say - how will God know?
Is there knowledge in the most high?
These are wicked, at ease for ever, increased in wealth
Surely I have purified my heart for nothing

I keep washing my hands in innocence
and I am touched every day
with my own special rebuke every morning
If I had said, This is how I will recount it
then I would have betrayed a generation of your children

And I consider that I know this
but it is trouble to my eyes
When I come to God's holy place, I see their end
Surely you will assign them portions
You will make them fall into destruction

How suddenly they are wasted
Stopped, filled full with terrors
like awakening from a dream
My Lord, when you wake
you will despise their image

For my heart was embittered
and I was struck in my vitals
I myself was a brute without knowledge
I was before you as behemoth
And I myself am continually before you

You have grasped my right hand
In your counsel you will guide my eyes and after you will take me into glory
Who is for me in the heavens - and with you I have no desire on earth
My flesh and my heart are full
God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever

For these who are distant from you will perish
You will put an end to all who prostitute themselves from you
But I myself approach God - to me, good
I have made my Lord יְהוָה my refuge
so I will be able to recount all your affairs

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