Saturday, November 29, 2008

Psalm 55

The enemy shouteth, The godless come fast!
Iniquity, hatred, up on me they cast!
The wicked oppress me, Ah where shall I fly?
Perplexed and bewildered, O God, hear my cry!
O for the wings, for the wings of a dove!
Far away, far away would I rove!
In the wilderness build me a nest,
and remain there forever at rest.

It is difficult for me to divorce this psalm from Mendelssohn's text and rhythms.

Note the uneven use of singular and plural third person. And the emphasis on first person singular and final shift to second person singular - advice.

For the leader
on strings
an insight
Of David

Give ear O God to my prayer
and do not hide yourself from my supplication
Listen to me and answer me
I am restless in my musing and I mutter

from the voice of an enemy in my face
the oppression of a wicked one
for they slip iniquity in front of me
and in anger they oppose me
my heart is in turmoil within me
and the terrors of death fall upon me
fear and trembling come upon me
and shudderings cover me

and I said you will give me wings like a dove
and I will fly away and settle down
behold I will be far off to retreat
and stay in the wilderness
I will hasten my escape
from a storming wind and tempest

Swallow up O Lord
divide their tongue
for I have seen violence and dispute in the city
Day and night they encircle the walls with it
and trouble and mischief are within it
calamities are within it
oppression and deceit are not removed from her plazas

for it is not hostility reproaching me and so bearable
nor someone hating me extolling himself against me and so avoidable
but you
my equal
my known friend
together we had pleasant intimacy
in the house of God we walked in company

let death lure them
let them descend alive to the grave
for the evils among them in their dwellings

As for me, I will call on God and יְהוָה will deliver me
Evening and morning and middays
I will muse and call out and he will hear my voice
he has ransomed my life in peace
from the battle against me
for many are with me

God will hear and will answer them
and the one sitting of old
that there is no relief for them
for they do not fear God

he set his hands against his peace
he has broken his pledge
smoother than clotted cream his mouth
but war in his heart
his words softer than oil
but they were swords unsheathed
Throw your gift to יְהוָה and he will measure you
he will never let the righteous be moved
But you O God will bring them to the well of destruction
humans of blood and deceit will not reach half their days
but as for me, I will trust in you

Psalm 54

This very short psalm almost seems like a sketch for the longer one to follow -made famous from the setting of Felix Mendelssohn.

For the leader
on strings
an insight Of David
Here come the Zipites and they said to Saul, Doesn't that David hide himself with us?

O God by your name save me
and by your strength contend for me
O God hear my prayer
and give ear to the words of my mouth
for strangers are risen up against me
and oppressors demand my life
they have not set God before them
behold God is my help
The Lord is with the supporters of my life
He will return the evil to my watchers
In your truth cut them off
a freewill offering I will give to you
I will praise your name יְהוָה for good
for from all trouble he has delivered me
and my eye has seen concerning my enemies

Psalm 49

A riddle? I read the NEB on this one this morning in Church - very good translation I suspect (not online). No proverb in it though - proverbially is just 'short-lived' - so I tried mashal as story or aphorism - trying to give the English the same sound whether it modifies nothing or the beasts. It didn't work for me - so I felt the tug of street language and succumbed to 'suchlike', an archaic version of 'like buddy - this is where its at'.

Think - fellow-dust-beings - Where do you / do I fit in this 'story'?

It's Advent - so I repeated a line at the beginning to reflect the Advent responsory we will sing tonight.

How shall I shape Sheol? Unseen seemed good (here) but had no lexical support that I could fathom. I could leave it untranslated, but I have not done that to date. Grave, death - both dynamic equivalents lacking aphoristic value. What is this (literally) 'place of inquiry' where there is no apparent inquiry? In the end I used grave. This poem could be read as an early statement of the second law of thermodynamics. Things fall apart. Perhaps that's why the riddle is a suitable frame. This poem has a bit of the feel of Ecclesiastes - but who is the I who is taken by God? And who is the non-coveting you who are not afraid?

For the leader
of the children of Korah
A Psalm
Hear this all peoples
listen up all you living transients
children of dust and children of humanity
high and low, rich and poor, one with another
my mouth will speak wisdom
and the musing of my heart understanding
I will bend my ear suchlike
and open my riddle on a harp

why should I fear these evil days
while the iniquity of my heels surrounds me?
those who trust in their wealth
and congratulate themselves in their great riches
none of them can ransom the ransom of a brother
nor give to God their cover-price
so precious is their self-ransom
and it ends in this age
will such live on and on and not see the pit?

for each sees the wise die
equally as a dullard and a brute perish
and their wealth is abandoned to others
as far as they are concerned
their houses are for ever
their dwellings from generation to generation
they call their dust-bowls by their names

but the precious dust doesn't think
like beasts, they cease
this their way is their folly
yet those who follow them are pleased with their mouthing
like sheep they drive to the grave
death will pasture them
and the upright will rule them in the morning
and their idol will decay grave from its dwelling
but God will ransom me from the hand of the grave
for he will take me
you will not fear when someone becomes rich
for the increase of the glory of his house
for in his death he will not take it all
his glory will not descend after him

for he surely blessed himself in his life
and they will praise you when you do well for yourself
he will go to the generation of the fathers
they will not see light again

but the precious dust doesn't think
like beasts, they cease

Psalm 46

For the leader
of the sons of Korah
at the deeps A song
God is our refuge and strength
help in distress
he has made himself easily found
Therefore we have no fear though the earth be changed
and hills moved into the heart of the seas
Let his waters murmur and be troubled
let mountains shake in his pride
A river's streams make glad the city of God
the holy dwellings of the Most High
God is in her centre
she will not be moved
God will help her at the turn of morning

nations murmur kingdoms are moved
He sets his voice
softens the earth
יְהוָה of hosts is with us
our high tower the God of Jacob
Come see the works of יְהוָה who put fertility in the earth
He gives rest from wars to the end of the earth
the bow he breaks and cuts the spear
the wagons he burns in the fire

Be still and know that I am God
I will be lifted up in the nations
I will be lifted up in the earth
יְהוָה of hosts is with us
our high tower the God of Jacob

Note: fertility from Dahood Psalms 1-50 Anchor Bible Commentary. Desolation seems out of context.

Psalm 44

This the second Maskil is a new thing in the sequence of the psalter - a corporate lament. See also Psalm 89. I did not consider anything in Book I to be a lament. The personal pattern in Book I is - I am in trouble / then a sudden change of thinking - God is with me / I can depend on him. This lament is different - We have a great example and promise / why does God not live up to it? So in the personal, the psalm ends with confidence. In this lament the psalm ends without resolution of the plea. The personal pattern may include a prayer for forgiveness, but these are not confessions of sin as in the 7 penitential psalms.

For the leader
of the children of Korah
from insight
God with our ears we have heard
our fathers have recounted to us
a work you worked in their days
in the days of old

Your very hand dispossessed nations and established them
you afflicted peoples and spread them abroad
For not by their sword did they possess the land
and their strength did not save them
for it was your right hand and your strength and the light of your face
for you favoured them

You are he my king O God
command the victories of Jacob
In you we will push back our enemies
in your name we will trample over those rising against us

for not in my bow will I trust
and my sword not will save me
for you have saved us from our enemies
and those hating us you have put to shame
in God we will boast all the day
and your name we praise for ever
But you have rejected us and humiliated us
and you do not go with our hosts
You make us turn back from an enemy
and those hating us plunder for themselves

You have given us like sheep for food
and among the nations you have scattered us
You sell your people for no gain
and you do not even drive up their price

You make us a reproach to our neighbours
a scorn and a derision to those around us
You make us a proverb among the nations
a wagging of a head among the peoples

All the day my ignominy is in front of me
and the shame of my face covers me
from a voice of reproaching and reviling
from the faces of an enemy and avenger

All this came upon us
but we have not forgotten you
we were not false with your covenant
our heart is not turned back
nor our steps turned from your path
for you crushed us in a place of dragons
and you covered us in the shadow of death

If we have forgotten the name of our God
and spread out our hands to a strange god
will not God examine this?
For he knows secrets of a heart
For you we are killed all day long
we are considered as sheep for slaughter

Awake! why will you sleep O Lord?
Arise! do not reject for ever
Why is your face hidden
and you forget our affliction and our oppression?
For our life is bowed down to dust
our belly clings to the earth
Arise to help us and ransom us
for the sake of your loving-kindness

Psalm 43

Psalm 43 continues 42

Judge me O God and strive my strife with a nation without tenderness
from a treacherous and unjust person deliver me
for you are the God of my strength

Why have you spurned me?
why mourning do I walk under an oppressive enemy?
Send your light and your truth
they will guide me and bring me near to your holy hill and to your holy place

And I will go to the altar of God
to the One who is gladness and my joy
and on the harp I will praise God my God

Why be depressed, O my being, and why murmur in me?
wait in God for yet I will thank him
for deliverance in my presence and my God.

Psalm 41

We reach the end of Book 1 - what have we learned structurally? Psalm 41 completes the first Messianic statement which could be read by first century writers and was. So for example of Psalms I have recently rendered, 35, 38 and 41, all support the NT reading that the unique beloved of God (יְחִידָתִֽי) my darling as the KJV has it in Psalm 35:17 would give his life to the lions for the sin of the world, taking it on as his very own regardless of whether it belonged to him or not.

For the leader
A Psalm
Of David
Happy the one giving insight to the needy
in the day of evil יְהוָה will deliver him
יְהוָה will guard him and keep him alive
and he will be considered happy in the earth
and you will not give him into the will of his enemies
יְהוָה will confirm him on a bed of sorrow
all his couch you change in his illness

I - I said
יְהוָה have mercy on me
heal my being for I have sinned against you
my enemies speak evil of me
when will he die and his name perish

and if he comes to see
he speaks emptiness
in his heart he gathers iniquity to himself
he goes out to the street
and he speaks
together against me
all those hating me whisper
against me
they plan evil for me

An evil thing is poured out in him
and which he lies in
he will not rise up again

Even one in my peace in whom I trusted
eating my bread has magnified a heel
against me

but you יְהוָה have mercy on me and raise me up
and I will make peace in them
in this I know that you delight in me
for my enemy does not raise a shout over me
but I in my completeness you make me complete
and you set me in your presence for ever

Bless יְהוָה the God of Israel for ever and ever
Amen and Amen

Friday, November 28, 2008

Psalm 39

For the leader
for Jeduthun (see also Psalm 62 and Psalm 77)
A Psalm
Of David
I said I will keep my ways from sin with my tongue
I will keep my mouth muzzled
while a wicked thought is before me
I was bound mute
I was still from good
and my sorrow was stirred
Hot was my heart within me
in musing fire burned
I spoke with my tongue

Make me know יְהוָה my end and the measure
such as it is
of my days
how I will know her measure?
how transient I am!
Here are the hand-breadths you have made of my days
my time is as nothing before you
surely it is all futility
every earthling standing strong
surely in a semblance a human walks
surely as futility they roar
they accumulate stuff
nd haven't a clue who will get it
and now why do I wait Lord?
my hope?
she is in you!
from all my transgressions deliver me
do not make me a reproach of the fool
I was bound
I was not opening my mouth
because you had done it
remove from me your touch
from the contention of your hand
I am finished
with corrections of iniquity you chasten a human
and attractiveness dissolves like a moth
surely every earthling is a futility
Hear my prayer יְהוָה
and respond to my cry
you will not be silent to my tears
for I am a stranger to you
dwelling as were all my ancestors
look at me
and I will smile before I go
and there is no me
See also here

Psalm 38

If ever there was an argument for total depravity, it is here. The reminder of Psalm 6 is direct. The awareness of God's rebuke is in fact, a comfort. One can almost laugh at the concatenation of calamitous insights into the psalmist's character. (... and there is no health in us ...) But folks - this is not traditional piety - and God saves - otherwise the poet would not have bothered. In fact, this psalm carries more weight for the one who will suffer than all the others to date.

A Psalm
of David
to remember
יְהוָה - rebuke me not in your anger
or in heat correct me
for your arrows penetrate into me
and your hand pins me
there is no depth in my flesh
in the face of your indignation
there is no peace in my bones
in the face of my sin

for my iniquities pass over my head
as a load that is heavy
they are heavy for me
they stink and they rot my wounds
in the face of my folly I am troubled
I am bowed down greatly
wan I walk all the day long
for my stupidity is a thorough disgrace
and there is no depth in my flesh
I am numbed
I am crushed greatly
I have roared from the groaning of my heart

Lord before you are all my desires
and my sighing from you is not hid

my heart palpitates
my strength forsakes me
and the light of my eyes
even it is not with me
my lovers and my friends stand aloof from my contagion
and my family from afar they stand
and those demanding my life lay snares
and those seeking my hurt speak ruin and deceits
all day long they imagine
but I myself as deaf will not hear
and as mute I will not open my mouth
and I became as one who does not hear
and there are not any arguments in his mouth

for in you יְהוָה do I hope
you will respond O Lord my God
for I said ...
lest they rejoice over me
in my misstep they magnify themselves against me

for I myself prepared for stumbling
and my sorrow is continually before me
for I will make known my iniquity
I will be anxious for my sin
but my enemies are alive
and they are numerous
and those hating me falsely are many
and those completing evil for good are my accusers
because I follow good

do not forsake me יְהוָה my God
do not be far from me
haste to help me O Lord my salvation

Psalm 36

I have translated this oracle as if David knew himself 'in his own heart' - so I have taken the heading to be larger than others take it. Does this make the psalm too personal? What could be the meaning of 'within my heart' otherwise? Very early in this process of my learning, the poet, Charles Douglas, a very old friend, said to me: "It is all too easy to objectify the enemy in the psalms."

For the leader
the servant of יְהוָה
Of David
An oracle
on the transgression of the wicked within my heart
there is no fear of God before its eyes
for it deceives itself in its own eyes
to secure hate for its iniquity

The words of its mouth are trouble and deceit
it ceases to be skillful to do good
trouble it devises on his bed
it presents himself on a way that is not good
evil it does not reject

יְהוָה to the heavens is your loving kindness
your faithfulness to the clouds
your righteousness as the hills of God
your judgments a great deep
the human and the beast you deliver
יְהוָה how precious your loving kindness O God

And the children of dust take refuge in the shadow of your wings
they will be sated from the fatness of your house
and the torrents of your delight they will drink
for with you is the source of life
and in your light we see light

Draw out your loving kindness to those knowing you
and your righteousness to the upright of heart
do not let me develop a proud step
and do not let the movement of my hand be wicked
there the workers of trouble are fallen
they are cast down and will not be able to rise

Psalm 35

Of David
Contend יְהוָה with my contenders
fight those fighting me
Strengthen shield and grappling hook and come to my help
and stretch out spear and shut up the call of my persecutors
Say to my life
I am your salvation

let them be ashamed and disgraced for seeking my life
let them be turned back and embarrassed
planning my hurt
let them be as chaff before the wind
and the angel of יְהוָה chasing
Let be their way dark and deceitful
and the angel of יְהוָה their persecutor

because for nothing they hid a pit for me
their net for nothing
they dig for my life
Let destruction come upon him unknown to him
and let his net which he hid catch him
in destruction he will fall

And my life joys in יְהוָה
it rejoices in his salvation
all my bones will say
יְהוָה who is like you
delivering the poor from the strong
even from him
the poor and needy from his ravager

Testimonies of violence rise up
unknown to me they inquire of me
they reward me evil for good
to bereave me of my life
but I in their illness make sackcloth my clothing
and I afflict my life with fasting
and my prayer to my embrace returned

I walked as friend, as my family
mourning as one lamenting a mother
I bowed down
but in my halting they were glad together
strangers unknown to me together against me
they did tear and were not silent
with polluted mocking from the feast
they grind their teeth on me

Lord how long will it take you to get it?
Turn my life from their ruins
from the lions my uniqueness
I will give you thanks in the great congregation
among a numerous people I will praise you

let not my enemies be falsely glad over me
those hating me for nothing
let them not eye me with a wink
for they do not speak peace
but against the quiet of the land
they plan words of deceit
and they gape their mouth against me
and they say
ha ha!
our eye gets it

you get it יְהוָה
do not keep silent O Lord
do not be far from me
rouse yourself and awaken
to my judgment my God
and my Lord to my dispute

Judge me according to your right יְהוָה my God
let them not be glad in me
let them not say in their heart
ha! our life
let them not say
we have swallowed him up

let them be ashamed and embarrassed together
rejoicing in my hurt
let them wear shame and dishonour
magnifying themselves against me

let those delighting in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad
and let them say continually יְהוָה be magnified
who delights in the peace of his servant
and my tongue will grandstand your righteousness
every day your praise

Note - 'get it' literally see / look on. There are a number of words around the protagonists and whose eye sees what. Abount the net and the hiding, as in Psalm 7, there is ambiguity in the pronouns - whose net? who gets caught in it? What would you do though with the incomprehensible snippet of Psalm 35:16?

with hypocrisy? mocking? from cake? to gnash on me their teeth
בְּחַנְפֵי לַעֲגֵי מָעֹוג חָרֹק עָלַישִׁנֵּֽימֹו

Psalm 33

This poem is untitled. It is corporate rather than personal.
Exult righteous ones in יְהוָה
to the upright praise is beautiful
give thanks to יְהוָה on the harp
on a tithed skin-bottle make music to him

sing to him a new song
well practiced play with a shout of joy
for the word of יְהוָה is upright
and all his works are faithfulness

loving righteousness and judgment
the loving kindness of יְהוָה fills the earth
in the word of יְהוָה the heavens were made
and in the breath of his mouth are all their hosts

gathering as a heap the waters of the sea
giving in a treasury the deeps
from יְהוָה all the earth will fear
from him let all those living in the world continue

for he speaks and it is
he commands and it stands
יְהוָה breaks the counsel of the nations
he frustrates the plans of peoples

the counsel of יְהוָה for ever will stand
the plans of his heart from age to age
happy the nation where יְהוָה is its God
the people chosen as his inheritance

from the heavens יְהוָה looks
he sees all the human children
from the place he lives
he peers at all those living on the earth
the one who evolved their heart
the ponderer of all their works

there is no king saved by much force
a mighty one is not delivered by much power
the horse is a false hope for salvation
and his great force will not deliver

Note this: the eye of יְהוָה is on those who fear him
on those hoping in his loving kindness
to deliver their being from death
and to keep them alive in scarcity

Our being waits for יְהוָה
he is our help and our shield
for in him our heart will rejoice
for in his holy name we have trusted
let your loving kindness יְהוָה be on us
for it is in you that we hope

Psalm 32

What is David's insight? The opening sounds a bit like Snoopy dancing! Then there is a shadow of the fear of self-deception. Then - the recognition that silence is not an option. It seems to me that the phrase: בַּל קְרֹב אֵלֶֽיךָ (that they will not come near to you) gives away the secret. The one to whom David prays wants David near to him. David - and anyone in that frame (Romans 4:6) - has gone from the sorrow of the wicked one (singular) to one circled by mercy.

Of David
an insight
happy lifted up transgression
covered sin
happy the human to whom יְהוָה will not consider iniquity
and there is no deceit in his spirit

for I kept silent
wore out my bones in my groaning all the day long
for your hand was heavy on me day and night
my moisture was changed into the drought of summer
I made known my sin to you
and my iniquity I did not cover
I said I will confess in me my transgressions to יְהוָה
and you lifted the iniquity of my sin
for this all those under mercy will pray to you in a found moment
surely the floods of the great waters will not touch them
you are my hiding place
from trouble you guard me
with a shout of escape you encircle me
I will give you insight and direct you
in this way you will go
I will guide you with my eye
do not be like a horse
like a mule without understanding
their trappings are held with bit and bridle
or they will not come near to you

great sorrows for the wicked one
but mercy encircles the one trusting in יְהוָה
be glad in יְהוָה and sing righteous ones
and shout for joy all upright of heart

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Psalm 31

The 'word-field' is a term in a book I found at the library early in my study of the psalms (Creach, Jerome F. D. Yahweh as Refuge and the Editing of the Hebrew Psalter JSOT SS 127 1996). Creech concentrates on the word-field encompassing refuge חסה and mercy חסד. We traditionally translate חֲסִידִים (chasidim) as saints or its singular חסיד as one who is godly (Psalm 4:3, Psalm 12:1) or even the Holy One (Psalm 16:10) and in this tradition of translation, while the result of holiness in the relationship with God is emphasized, the reality of mercy is downplayed and in my opinion, is lost. Do not get me wrong here - I am not emphasizing the attitude that 'deserves' mercy - (as if this psalm were penitential - it isn't), but the astonishing Attitude that delivers it.

I continue to stretch in translating these terms - loving kindness and mercy or covenant mercy as does tradition, but for 'saints' I search for a term: those under his protection, or even the mercied, a coinage, or the circumlocution I have used here - those who are the targets of his loving kindness. That means us.

The reality is better than words or imagination - even our religious imagination.

For the leader
A Psalm
Of David
In you יְהוָה I take refuge
let me not be ashamed for ever
in your righteousness deliver me
Incline your ear to me
with haste rescue me

Become to me as a strong rock
as a house, a fortress to save me
for my crag and my fortress you are
so for the sake of your name
lead me and guide me

you will spring me from the net that they have hidden for me
for you are my strength
into your hands I entrust my spirit
you have redeemed me יְהוָה God of truth
I hate those keeping vanities of emptiness
but I, I in יְהוָה will trust

I will be glad and rejoice in your loving kindness
since you have seen my trouble and know the distress of my life
and you did not shut me up in the hand of the enemy
but have set my feet in a large place

Have mercy on me יְהוָה for there is distress in me
my eye, my being and my belly are consumed with grief
for filled with sorrow is my life and my years with groaning
my power fails with iniquity and my bones are consumed

From all the distress I became a great reproach to my neighbours
and a dread to those knowing me
those seeing me outside fled from me
I am forgotten as death from the heart

I have become as a broken vessel
for I have heard the whispering of many
they arranged terror surrounding
they planned together against me to take my life

but I, I have trusted in you יְהוָה
I said you are my God
in your hands are my times
rescue me from the hand of my enemy and those persecuting me

Make your face shine on your servant
save me in your loving kindness יְהוָה
let me not be ashamed for I have called you
let the wicked be ashamed

let them be still in the grave
let lips of deceit be bound
speaking of the righteous
arrogance of pride and contempt

How great your goodness
which you have treasured for those fearing you
you have made for those seeking refuge in you
before the children of humanity

You will hide them in the secret of your presence from the bonds of a human
you will treasure them in a booth from the strife of tongues
Blessed is יְהוָה
for he has made wonderful his loving kindness to me in a safe city

But I - I said in my hurry
I am destroyed from before your eyes
nevertheless you heard the voice of my supplications
when I cried out to you

Love יְהוָה all who are the targets of his loving kindness
יְהוָה preserves the faithful
and rewards the one working growth with plenty
be courageous and he will confirm your heart
all you hoping in יְהוָה

Psalm 30

A Psalm
a song of the dedication of the house
Of David

I will exalt you יְהוָה for you have drawn me
and you did not let my enemies rejoice over me
יְהוָה my God I cried to you and you have healed me
יְהוָה you brought up my life from the grave
you kept me alive not to descend to the pit

Sing to יְהוָה those who know his mercy
and give thanks at the memory of his holiness
for momentary in his anger
in his acceptance is life
weeping stops over in the evening
but in the morning - joy

And I, I said
in my rest I will not be moved for ever
יְהוָה in your acceptance you made my hill stand strong
you hid your face - I become foolish

To you יְהוָה I will call
and to my Lord I continue supplication
what gain is in my blood when I go down to destruction?
will the dust praise you?
will it announce your truth?

Hear יְהוָה and have mercy
יְהוָה be a help to me
you have turned my lament into my dance
you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me in gladness
therefore I will sing to you
glory and not be still
יְהוָה my God for ever I will give you thanks

Thinking more about macro structure

I have been working gradually through the psalms in sequence - up to Psalm 29. see (here for the evolving structural map). A structure in a document happens when verbal relationships are found both in sequence and recurring deliberately in a form that allows for conceptual summation or recapitulation or emphasis.

When the recurrence is of the form a-b-a-b, it is a parallel sequence. If of the form a-b-b-a, the sequence is called chiastic. If of the form a-b-c...c-b-a, it is called circular or concentric or ring. Psalm 51 contains a ring of depth 4.

Chiasm is named after the Greek letter Chi. The Chi can be seen if the second half of the structure is written below the first and the related letters joined to each other a-a and b-b.


Clearly, a concentric structure is a chiasm of depth more than 2, but the letter chi is no longer seen so clearly - the name is abandoned in favour of the drawing of circles to connect recurring words or concepts in the text. The structure is a ring if the circles don't intersect. Structures can be mapped at the micro level and the macro level. So ABBA is a word with a chiasm - and it is easily seen that it is also a palidrome. It reads the same forwards as backwards. The opening of Psalm 1 contains a grammatical chiasm based on word order verb-noun phrase/noun phrase-verb. Such parallels are primarily for disambiguation or confirming the meaning of the passage, and repetition for effect, usually to bring about 'hearing' in the conversation.

It is possible but becomes increasingly subjective, to find conceptual parallels and circles within poems and groups of poems. In modern hymn books, seasonal and subject oriented hymns are grouped so you are not likely to find hymns on the subject of Christmas at both the beginning and at the end of the book. Moderns just don't do completeness this way. It is not our signature. It is often, however, the signature of a story teller, or a poet with a purpose. The books of the Bible do appear to show these larger structures - and that is the question of my current research in the Psalter - does it show such structures and thus convince us of the coherence and completeness of its 'storyline'?

In the psalms up to Psalm 29, I have identified 9 categories and I have a tenth labeled ?

These are in the image: Torah, Royal, Personal, Penitential, Acrostics, Miktamim, Maskilim, Prayer, and double.

Clearly there are more on the surface - from the labels, Song, Do not Destroy, Author attribution, etc. There is also a super-macro structure on the use of the names for the divine actor. This is shown in the structural map as the central Elohistic Psalter. In the table of contents, the graph at the bottom shows why the structure is evident.

Thus it is obvious by extension that key terminology could also contribute to structure mapping. So at the bottom of some of my detailed translations, you may find a list of where a word in that Psalm is used in the rest of the Psalter.

But my 9 or 10 columns betray an analytical problem - they are of different categories themselves and many psalms must belong to more than one. So which will rule as the structural element when more than one is evident? E.g. Psalms 9-10 are a Royal Acrostic. And Psalm 24 exhibits both Torah and Royal aspects. I would see these as deliberate overlaps - allowing our analysis and refusing its over-simplification at one and the same time. So Psalm 6 reflects a personal rebuke at the voice or silence of יְהוָה but it is also the first of the seven penitential psalms. (The first occurence of mercy is in psalm 5.) So the categories are not exclusive and they are an attempt at reductionism! Who wants to reduce the relationship to God to a soundbite?

Here is a summary by psalm to psalm 29:

Just for the moment considering only Psalms 1-29 - how many differing themes emerge in these psalms?

Psalm --1 Torah Wicked Psalm 1 introduces at least 2 themes: the way of Torah and the way of the wicked. Psalm 1,2, and 149 recognize groups of people without circumscribing their overlap or their separation: the wicked, sinners, the scornful, the righteous, the 'saints' (those who have received covenant mercy = chasidim, חֲסִידִים ), the poor, the congregation, the children of Zion, the kings.

Psalm --2 Royal Psalm 2 introduces the anointed king. There are two ways to look at the designation Royal: the psalms related to royal functions in Israel, and the psalms related to יְהוָה as King. I have one connection on the diagram but two columns here to see if these should be divided.

Psalm --3, 4, 5 Personal Psalms 3, 4, and 5 all represent individual psalms expressing parts of the dialogue with יְהוָה. One could think of it as the introduction to the changes of mind that come with reflection on the covenant promises and the confidence that comes as a result.

Psalm --6 Penitential Psalm 6 is the response to a rebuke from יְהוָה. There is a hint of rebuke in Psalm 4, but it is too brief to sink in. Psalm 38 is a reminder of Psalm 6. Psalm 6 is traditionally seen as the first of the 7 penitential psalms.

Psalm --7 Wicked Having seen the first rebuke, Psalm 7 returns to the issue of the wicked. Include in this group Psalms 11, 37, and 149 though the histogram of wickedness is more pervasive.

Psalm --8 Royal Psalm 8 doesn't look very directly 'royal' but it does let יְהוָה give the human, the child of the dust rule תַּמְשִׁילֵהוּ over creation.

Psalm --9-10 Royal Acrostic There is a considerable seriousness to the beginning of the Psalter. Now we get to play as well with our first acrostic.

Psalm -11 Wicked Like Psalm 7, Psalm 11 foreshadows hell and the judgment of the wicked. Let this not be trivialized, God's interest in the wicked extends to their redemption and the ambivalence of the psalmist over who is the subject of the suffering is clear. (How can ambivalence be clear?)

Psalm -12 Torah It includes the recognition that mercy (חסד) is not a property of the children of dust.

Psalm -13 Personal There is a common change of heart in the Psalmist as the dialogue progresses. In this case just before the last three sentences, the prayer is answered and the prayer's confidence returns. Does the bounty of יְהוָה suggest Psalm 139?

Psalm -14 Maskil A double of 53 - but not itself a Maskil - perhaps it too early to introduce insight. Such must wait till the great penitential Psalm 51 is read.

Psalm -15 Torah With 24 and 1 and 119, a Torah stream.

Psalm -16 Miktam

Psalm -17 Prayer

Psalm -18 Royal A psalm of completeness. A theophany.

Psalm -19 Torah Of instruction from nature and from God.

Psalm -20 Royal Prayer for the king - answer in 21.

Psalm -21 Royal Psalm 21 like 102 plays on presence. The answer to prayer is in the face of God.

Psalm -22 Personal Following 21 - this is a remarkable statement: so distant from my salvation

Psalm -23 Personal The first note about shepherd.

Psalm -24 Torah Royal This psalm has elements of both Torah acceptance and the kingship of יְהוָה. As such, it links themes from Psalm 1 and the hints of יְהוָה's kingship not yet developed in the Psalter until we come to the cluster in 96-99.

Psalm -25 Personal Acrostic - also dependent on God for direction, so Torah related.

Psalm -26 Personal - walk in hope, sure of completeness in יְהוָה

Psalm -27 Personal Treasure in the presence of trouble.

Psalm -28 Personal The personal often borders on the Royal because of the presence of David or his descendant as the anointed.

Psalm -29 Royal Voice - If there is structure in the Psalter, then this sudden emphasis on the voice of יְהוָה appearing here for the first time needs some explication. (The word also is significant in Psalm 77 where is occurs twice as 'my voice' and twice as 'the voice of יְהוָה'.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Myers-Briggs Beta rating

In contrast to my Sunday School blog, this blog (and its companion) are both rated INTP - The Thinkers. HT Glen

Psalm 28

Of David
To you יְהוָה will I call
my rock do not be inactive with me
if you are silent with me
then I will be like those going into a pit

Hear the voice of my supplication in my cry to you
in my lifting up my hands to the word of your holiness
you will not draw me away with the wicked or with workers of trouble
speaking peace with their neighbors but with evil in their heart

give them as their doings and the wickedness of their practice
give them by the works of their hands
so return their benefit to them
for they do not pay attention to the doings of יְהוָה
and to the works of his hands
he will overthrow them and he will not build them

Bless יְהוָה for he has heard the voice of my supplication
יְהוָה my strength and my shield
in him my heart trusts and I am helped
my heart will exult and with my song I will praise him

יְהוָה their strength
and he is the stronghold of the victories of his anointed
Save your people and bless your heritage
and shepherd them and lift them up for ever and ever

Psalm 27

of David
יְהוָה my light and my deliverance
whom will I fear?
יְהוָה from strength my life
whom will I dread?

in drawing near to me
 to break
to eat even my flesh
my troublers and my enemies

they - to me
they stumbled and fell

If an army against me is armed
my heart will not fear
if war arises against me
in this I - even I will trust

One thing I have desired from
יְהוָה that thing I will seek
that I may live in the house of
יְהוָה all the days of my life
to gaze on the beauty of
יְהוָה and to reflect in his temple

for he will treasure me in his booth in a day of evil
he will hide me hidden in his tent
on a rock he will raise me up
and now my head will be raised up above my enemies surrounding me
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices of joy

I will sing and I will give praise to יְהוָה
Hear יְהוָה
my voice
I will call
and have mercy on me and answer me

You said to my heart
seek my face
even your face יְהוָה
I will seek
do not hide your face from me
do not push your servant away in anger

You became my help
you will not leave me and you will not forsake me
O God of my deliverance
for my father and my mother forsake me
but יְהוָה
will gather me

Teach me יְהוָה
your way
and lead me in a plain path for the sake of my watchers
do not give me to the throat of my troublers
for false witnesses have risen against me breathing violence

...what if I had not believed I would see the goodness of יְהוָה
in the land of the living?

wait on יְהוָה
be resolute and he will assure your heart
so wait on יְהוָה

(1) 'break' to allude to psalm 2 - you will break them with a rod of iron. Also reflecting on the Eucharist, break and eat show the king absorbing the evil brought against him. (See also here.)

Psalm 26

Of David
Judge me יְהוָה
for I myself have walked in my completeness
and in יְהוָה I trust
I will not slip
Try me יְהוָה
and prove me
test my centre and my heart
for your loving kindness is before my eyes
and I myself have walked in your truth

I have not sat with vain persons
and with the secretive I will not go
I have hated an evil congregation
and with the wicked I will not sit
I will wash my hand in innocence
so I will go about your altar יְהוָה
to proclaim with a voice of praise
and to relate all your wonders

יְהוָה I have loved the habitation of your house
and the place of the dwelling of your glory
let not my being be gathered with sinners
or my life with men of blood
whose mischief is in their hands
and their right hand holds a bribe

But I myself will walk in my completeness
Ransom me and have mercy on me
My foot stands in a level place
and in the congregations I will bless יְהוָה

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Psalm 150

The final doxology - contrast Christopher Smart -
For this time is perceptible to man by a remarkable stillness and serenity of soul.
Hallelu Yah
Praise God in his holiness
Praise him in the expanse of his power
Praise him in his mighty acts
Praise him in the multitude of his greatness
Praise him in the sound of the shophar
Praise him with lyre and harp
Praise him with timbrel and dance
Praise him on strings and pipes
Praise him on cymbals to be heard
Praise him on cymbals of jubilation
All the breath-bearing praise יְהוָה
Hallelu Yah

Psalm 91

One dwelling in the secret of the Most High
in the shadow of the Sufficient will remain

I will say to יְהוָה
my refuge and my fortress
my God
I will trust in him

For he will deliver you from a trapper's snare
from desire's plague
With his feathers he will cover you
and beneath his wings you will trust
a grappling hook and shield his truth

You will not fear for dread by night
for an arrow that flies by day
for the plague that walks in gloom
for destruction that wastes at noon

A thousand will fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand
to you it will not come near
but with your eyes you will be attentive
and the reward of the wicked you will see

For you יְהוָה are my refuge

You have made the Most High your home
evil is not allowed to come to you
and illness will not come into your tent
for he will instruct his messengers about you
to keep you in all your ways
in their hands they will lift you up
in case you strike your foot with a stone
you will make your way over lion and adder
you will trample young lion and dragon

Because he loved me so I will deliver him
I will set him on high for he has known my name
he will call me and I will answer him
I am with him in trouble
I will rescue him and I will glorify him
With length of days I will satisfy him
and I will show him in my salvation

References (22) to עֶלְיוֹן in the Psalms
Psalm --7 יח on high עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm --9 ג on high עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -18 יד the LORD and the Highest יְהוָה וְעֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -21 ח of the highest עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -46 ה the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -47 ג Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -50 יד to the Most High לְעֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -57 ג Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -73 יא in the most high בְעֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -77 יא the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -78 לה the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -78 נו Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -78 יז the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -82 ו the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -83 יט high עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -87 ה the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -89 כח on high עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -91 א the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -91 ט the Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -92 ב O Most High עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm -97 ט are most high עֶלְיוֹן
Psalm 107 יא the Most High עֶלְיוֹן

To שַׁדַּי
Psalm -68 יד the Almighty שַׁדַּי
Psalm -91 א the sufficient שַׁדַּי

Psalm 92

A Psalm
a song to the day of the Sabbath
Good it is to give thanks to יְהוָה
and to sing to your name O Most High
to publish in the morning your loving kindness
and your faithfulness in the evenings
on a tenth and on guitar
on meditation with a harp

For you have made me joy יְהוָה in your doing
in the works of your hands I will exult
how great your works יְהוָה
how deep your devices
a brute does not know
and a dullard will not understand this among other things

that the wicked flourish like grass
and all workers of trouble blossom
to be destroyed
thoroughly for ever
but you are on high
for ever יְהוָה
for behold your enemies יְהוָה
for behold your enemies will perish
all workers of trouble will be scattered

but you will raise up my horn like a unicorn
I have been anointed with luxuriant oil
And my eye has seen concerning those lurking for me
and of those rising up in evildoing against me
my ears have heard

A righteous one will flourish like a palm tree
will grow like a cedar of Lebanon
Those planted in the house of יְהוָה
in the courts of our God will flourish

They will be fruitful even in old age
fat and luxuriant they will be
to publish that upright is יְהוָה my rock
and there is no injustice in him

Psalm 94

God of vengeance יְהוָה
God of vengeance shine
Lift up yourself judge of the earth
return reward to the proud
how long for the wicked יְהוָה?
how long will the wicked triumph?

they bubble up
they speak arrogance
they boast all the deeds of iniquity
they break your people יְהוָה
they oppress your inheritance

widow and stranger they slay
and the orphan they murder
and they say
Yah will not see
and the God of Jacob will not consider it

Consider, consumers among the people and foolish
when will you be prudent?
the one who planted the ear will he not hear?
the one forming the eye will he not see?
the one that corrects nations will he not be right?
the one who teaches a human knowledge ...

יְהוָה knows the thoughts of a human
that they are emptiness
Happy the strong one whom you chasten Yah
and from your instruction you teach them
to give quiet to him in the days of evil until
a pit is dug for the wicked

for יְהוָה will not cast off his people
and his inheritance he will not forsake
for to righteousness judgment will turn
and after it all the upright of heart

who will arise for me with the evildoers
who will stand for me with the workers of iniquity
unless יְהוָה was help to me
my being lived silent and insignificant
If I said
my foot slips
your mercy יְהוָה supported me
In the many divisions within me
your consolations delight my being

has the throne of ruin fellowship with you
forming trouble by statute?
they assemble against the being of a righteous one
and the blood of an innocent condemn

but יְהוָה will be to me a defense
and my God a rock of refuge
and he will turn their iniquity on them
and in their wickedness he will cut them off
יְהוָה our God - he will cut them off

Psalm 95

Walk! - Let us exult aloud in יְהוָה
let us shout in triumph to the rock of our salvation
Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving
and with songs shout in triumph to him
for a great God is יְהוָה
and great king above all gods

who in his hand has the earth's secrets
and the hilltops are his
and his is the sea - he made them
and his hands prepared the dry places

Come let us worship and bow down
and bless in the presence of יְהוָה making us
for he is our God
and we the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand

if you hear his voice
do not harden your heart
in rebellion
as if it was the day of testing in the wilderness
when your fathers tested me
examined me and saw my work
forty years I put up with a generation
and I said
these people wander in their hearts
and they do not know my ways
so I swore in my anger
they will not come to my rest

Psalm 100

I wonder if it is possible to move these words into a more contemporary style - I am likely too staid to try it.

A Psalm of thanksgiving
Be joyful in יְהוָה all the earth
How easily misconstrued is a command to joy
Serve יְהוָה with gladness
Can gladness be ordered? And service?
Come into his presence with a shout
Children snicker in embarrassment when I sing
Know? what? whom?
for יְהוָה he is God
I do not want to imagine that such knowledge is self-generated
He - he made us and we are his
his people and the sheep of his pasture
I am not clear about being a sheep
It's your ancient metaphor
Come into his gates with thanksgiving
his courts with a psalm
Thank him
Gates and courts are foreign to me
but I love your psalms
Praise his name
for יְהוָה is good
Like the light
I agree actually - because of the command to know
for ever is his loving kindness
from age to age he will continue his faithfulness
This helps. Of course my 'for ever' is momentary
Stick with me, Love

Psalm 101

Of David A Psalm
Mercy and judgment
I will sing to you יְהוָה
I will make music

I will teach insight in a way of completeness
When will you come to me?
I will walk in the completeness of my heart within my house
I will not put before my eyes a thing of ruin
I hate to work distraction
it will not cling within me

A crooked heart will depart from me
evil I will not know
for slandering his friend in secret
I will destroy him
proud of eyes and wide of heart
I will not endure him

My eyes are on the faithful of earth
to live with me
walking in a way of completeness
Such a one will serve me

The one who works deceit will not live within my house
the telling of lies will not be established before my eyes
in the mornings I will destroy all the wicked of earth
to cut off all workers of iniquity from the city of יְהוָה

Psalm 102

I am tempted to soften face to presence - but this is a prayer 'in your face' - why not let the strength of the prayer take some strength even from the potential or actual defiance of the common English expression. (Face could be construed as plural but I doubt that the idiom should hold such a plural.) Notice how Hebrews interprets the final stanza - not as a continuation of the words of the prayer, but as a response to the prayer and as addressed to the Son.

A prayer of the poor when disabled
before the face of יְהוָה he pours out his talk

יְהוָה hear my prayer and let my cry for help come to you
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my trouble
incline to me your ear in the day I call
speedily answer me

for my days are full of smoke
and my bones as a burning mass are scorched
smitten like withered grass is my heart

for I forget to eat my bread
from the chatter of my groaning
my bones cling to my flesh

I am like an unclean bird of the wilderness
I have become like an owl of the desert
I watch
and I am as a bird isolated on a roof

All the day my enemies reproach me
seeing me as fool
having cursed me

for I eat ashes for bread
and I mingle my weeping with my drink
from the face of your indignation and your anger

for you have lifted me up and cast me down
my days extend like a shadow
and I am like withered grass

but you יְהוָה to the age will remain
and your remembrance from generation to generation
You will arise and will have mercy on Zion
for the time to favour her
the appointed time has come
for your servants take pleasure in her stones
and her dust they favour

The nations will fear the name of יְהוָה
and all the kings of the earth your glory
for יְהוָה will build up Zion
and will appear in his glory
he will face the prayer of the destitute
and he will not despise their prayer

This will be written for a generation to come
and a people to be created will praise Yah
for יְהוָה looked from his holiness above
from the heavens to earth he pays attention
to hear the groaning of of the prisoner
to free the children of death
to recount in Zion the name of יְהוָה and his praise in Jerusalem
to gather peoples together and kingdoms to serve יְהוָה

He has humbled my power in the way
he has shortened my days
I said
my God, do not remove me in the midst of my days
your years are in all generations
in the face of the earth you established
and the work of your hands, the heavens

These will perish but you - you will stand
and they all like clothing will decay
as a garment you will change them and they will be changed
but you are the same - and your years will not end
The children of your servants will live
and their seed before your face will be established

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Psalm 23

This is a favourite of many. My translation of years ago has undone some of its piety. I think it should be recognized that not everything is green pasture and still water when the table is set in the midst of enemies and when the rod and staff are instruments of reproving mercy. Nonetheless the result is satisfactory.

A Psalm of David
יְהוָה is my shepherd
no deficiency will I have
In sprouting pastures he make me lie down
by waters at rest he refreshes me
my life he repairs
He guides me entrenched right
on account of his name
Furthermore even if I walk in the valley shadowing death
no fear have I of evil
for you are with me
your rod and your staff they re-create me
You array before me a table facing my distress
You sate with oil my head
my vessel is full
Surely goodness and reproof hunt me all my days life
and I shall settle in the house of יְהוָה for long days

Of sheep and shepherd

Psalm -23 א The LORD my shepherd יְהוָה רֹעִי
Psalm -28 ט and shepherd them וּרְעֵם
Psalm -44 יב like sheep כְּצֹאן
Psalm -44 כג as sheep for כְּצֹאן
Psalm -49 יד like sheep כַּצֹּאן
Psalm -74 א against the sheep of בְּצֹאן
Psalm -78 נב like sheep כַּצֹּאן
Psalm -78 ע from the sheepfolds of מִמִּכְלְאֹת
Psalm -80 ב shepherd of רֹעֵה
Psalm -95 ז and the sheep of his hand וְצֹאן יָדוֹ
Psalm 100 ג and sheep of וְצֹאן
Psalm 119-Ts-T קעו am like a sheep כְּשֶׂה
Psalm 144 יג our sheep צֹאונֵנוּ

Numeric architecture of the Psalms

This is a curious coincidence for me. I am not really interested in arbitrary mathematical analysis, but it is a plausible literary technique. I am not really interested but I did colour every verset and every psalm and every group of psalms - every part and even the whole - in my colorful portrait using colour values derived by gematria (calculated by an expression in the diagram at publishing time and mapped to the 16 million colours available for display.)

Casper Labuschagne, the writer of this introduction and the linked pdf's writes about things that are not difficult to verify by observation. He writes about
  • observable words, using the same working definition that I independently incorporated into my keyword algorithms.
  • the meaningful centre of the text - an idea that others confirm though they do not always arrive at the same centre.
  • the observed architecture as 'a reminiscence of a compositional technique'.
Poets typically do have a compositional technique - except in the 20th century. They set challenges for themselves to form their message into a frame that speaks in its own way - and in some senses is a poetic signature. Why not so much more those poets who have to form the Word of God to them on behalf of others - the generation yet to come?

- Why not discipline yourself, Bob! and stop blathering on with formless abandon. Did I not give you something to say?

- Yes Love, but I must find words, as you commanded.

Seriously, Beloved, I have no intention of counting words, as if that would help my limited expressiveness.

Here for example are some testable (but not without effort) claims:
In order to draw attention to the meaningful arithmetic centre of a poem, the authors used a number of clever scribal devices to highlight and emphasize that centre.
1) In a great number of psalms it appears that they did so by means of a sudden switch from one form of address to another, usually from the 2nd to the 3rd person or vice versa. In other words, they positioned the arithmetic centre at the boundary of two forms of address. For examples, see Ps. 6, 7, 12, 16, 21-23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 34, 40.
2) Another highlighting device used was the exceptional form of the arithmetic centre, e.g. its relatively shortness, as in the case of Psalm 92 (for which see my Numerical Secrets of the Bible, p. 134), or its unique syntactical structure, as in Psalm 58 – see Observation 2 in my Analysis of Psalm 58 - or the centre being a refrain, as in the case of Psalms 56 and 59 – see my Analyses of these psalms.
3) Another significant highlighting technique was to structure a series of occurrences of the name YHWH in such a way that the middle instance falls precisely within the centre of the text. See, e.g., Observation 3 in the Analysis of Psalms 11, Observation 4 in the Analyses of Psalm 12 and 13 respectively, Observation 1 in that of Psalm 30, Observation 2 in that of Psalm 40.
4) As in the case of the divine name, I have detected a considerable number of instances of an important key-word in the text being positioned exactly within the arithmetic centre, obviously in order to highlight and emphasize its significance. See e.g. Ps. 33, 35, 37, 51, 52, and 57.
5) A very popular technique was to let the arithmetic centre on word level coincide with the middle colon, bicolon or entire verseline. For a clear example - which can easily be multiplied - see my Analysis of Psalm 37, "Specific features of Psalm 37", and Observation 1, where several highlighting techniques are used simultaneously.
6) Some psalms, divide into two arithmetically equal halves: Psalms 6, 12, 20, 35, 79, 90, 91, 121, and 139. In these cases, the meaningful centre is situated either at the end of the first half, or at the beginning of the second half, as is clearly the case in the alphabetic acrostics. Psalm 92 is a special case: it has its meaningful centre in a separate verse between the two equal halves of 7 verselines and 52 words each.
It is intriguing to note that in four of these psalms the two halves have identical compositional formulae in terms of the atnach (Psalms 6, 20, 79 and 121 – compare also Psalms 12 and 90!).
I will hold my fire - but I think some experiments within the database are called for.

Regrettably, the very first test fails. There are by my count 28 occurrences of אַשְׁרֵי, not 26 as his article claims (but 3 are translated steps rather than happy - leaving us one short!).

They are:

Psalm --1 א Happy the man who אַשְׁרֵי הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר
Psalm --2 יב Happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -17 ה my steps אֲשֻׁרַי
Psalm -32 א happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -32 ב happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -33 יב happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -34 ט happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -40 ג my steps אֲשֻׁרָי
Psalm -40 ה happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -41 ב happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -65 ה Happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -73 ב my steps אֲשֻׁרָי
Psalm -84 ה Happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -84 יג happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -84 ו Happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -89 יד Happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm -94 יב Happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 106 ג happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 112 א a happy man אַשְׁרֵי אִישׁ
Psalm 119-A-H א All joy for אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 119-A-H ב All joy for אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 127 ה happy is אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 128 א Happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 137 ח happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 137 ט happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 144 יד happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 144 יד happy אַשְׁרֵי
Psalm 146 ה happy who has the God אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁאֵל

Another test: Psalm 144: the important key-word אַשְׁרֵי ‘happy’, occurs twice at the end of the psalm (vs. 15a and 15b). Its numerical value (52) determines the number of words in vs. 3-9.

And what is the word count between verses 3 to 9? - Yes it is 52. But why these verses?

Psalm 144 ג LORD what is this humus יְהוָה מָה אָדָם
that you know it וַתֵּדָעֵהוּ
the children of humanity בֶּן אֱנוֹשׁ
that you value them וַתְּחַשְּׁבֵהוּ
ד the human אָדָם
like a wind לַהֶבֶל
it is דָּמָה
its days יָמָיו
as a shadow כְּצֵל
passing away עוֹבֵר
ה LORD יְהוָה
spread out the heavens הַט שָׁמֶיךָ
and you will come down וְתֵרֵד
Touch גַּע
hills בֶּהָרִים
and they will smoke וְיֶעֱשָׁנוּ
ו Strike בְּרוֹק
lightning בָּרָק
and you will scatter them וּתְפִיצֵם
let loose שְׁלַח
your arrows חִצֶּיךָ
and you will trouble them וּתְהֻמֵּם
ז let loose שְׁלַח
your hands יָדֶיךָ
from above מִמָּרוֹם
Set me free פְּצֵנִי
and rescue me וְהַצִּילֵנִי
from the great seas מִמַּיִם רַבִּים
from the hand of מִיַּד
the children of בְּנֵי
the alien נֵכָר
ח whose אֲשֶׁר
mouths פִּיהֶם
speak emptiness דִּבֶּר שָׁוְא
and their right hand וִימִינָם
a right hand of יְמִין
falsehood שָׁקֶר
ט O God a song אֱלֹהִים שִׁיר
that is new חָדָשׁ
I will sing אָשִׁירָה
to you לָּךְ
on lute בְּנֵבֶל
a ten-stringed harp עָשׂוֹר
I will make music to you אֲזַמְּרָה לָּךְ

Wow - I hope this doesn't disappear till I have time to read it

I did not know that structure was of such interest in the Psalm world - I thought it was just my 40+ years of training in systems that made me look for structure. But look at this - is it for real?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Psalm 19

For the leader
A Psalm of David
The heavens proclaim the glory of God
the work of his hands is evident from their surface
Day to day pours out promise
night to night declares knowledge
There is no promise and there are no words
their voice is not heard
but in all the earth their lineage has gone out
and to the end of the world their speech

For the sun he made a home in them
and he as bridegroom going forth from his canopy
rejoices as a mighty one running a path
from one end of the heavens rising and a circuit to their ends
and there is no hiding from his heat

The teaching of יְהוָה is complete turning a life
The testimony of יְהוָה is nourishing making wise simplicity
The precepts of יְהוָה are upright rejoicing a heart
The commandment of יְהוָה is pure enlightening eyes
The fear of יְהוָה is clean standing for ever
the judgments of יְהוָה are a unity of truth justified
more desirable than gold and than abundant fine gold
and sweeter than honey even the flowing honey of treetops

Also your servant is enlightened in them
and in keeping them is great consequence
Who will understand errors?
From the hidden clear me
Also from presumptions hold your servant that they may not rule in me

Then I will be complete and I will be clear of great sin
May the words of my mouth be acceptable
and the whisper of my heart in your presence
יְהוָה my rock and my redeemer

Psalm 18

Is this a new category of psalm or another Royal? I am inclined to put it in the growing pile of Royal psalms and let it drag 144 with it. And it was so.

For the leader
of a servant of יְהוָה
of David who spoke to יְהוָה the words of this particular song in the day יְהוָה delivered him from the slap of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul and he said

I will love you יְהוָה my strength
יְהוָה my cliff and my fortress and my security
my God my rock
I will take refuge in him
my shield and the horn of my salvation
my retreat

Praising I will call יְהוָה
and from my enemies I will be saved
The sorrows of death surrounded me
and floods of destruction terrify me
The sorrows of a grave encompassed me
The snares of death confronted me
In my distress I call upon יְהוָה
and to my God I cry for help
He hears my voice from his temple
and my cry comes before his face to his very ears

And the earth shakes and trembles
and the foundations of the hills move and are shaken
for he was burning with anger

A smoke arises from his nostril
and fire from his mouth devours
coals were kindled from it
and he bends heavens and descends
with dark turbulence under his feet
and he rides on a cherub and he flies
he darts on the wings of the wind
he makes darkness his covering
round about him his booth
dark waters, clouds of the skies

At the light before him his clouds passed
hail and coals of fire
And יְהוָה thunders in the heavens
and the Highest gives his voice
hail and coals of fire
and he sends his arrows and scatters them
and he shoots out lightnings and confuses them
Then channels of waters are seen
and the foundations of the world are discovered at your rebuke יְהוָה
at the breath of the wind of your nostrils

He will send from above
He will take me
he will draw me out of many waters
He will deliver me from my strong enemy
and from those hating me
for they were too hard for me

They will confront me in a day of my burden
but יְהוָה becomes my support
He will bring me into extraordinary space
he will rescue me for he delighted in me

יְהוָה will be sufficient with me for my righteousness
for the cleanness of my hands he will turn to me
for I have kept the ways of יְהוָה
and I have not been evil with my God
for all his judgments before me
and his statutes I will not put from me
and I will be complete in him
and I will keep myself from my guilt

and יְהוָה returned to me for my righteousness
for the cleanness of my hands in front of his eyes
with the kind you show yourself kind
with one complete you show yourself complete
with the pure you show yourself pure
and with the devious you show yourself tortuous

for you will save the poor people
and the eyes of of pride you will humble
for you will light my lamp יְהוָה
my God make light my darkness
for with you I have raced an army
and by my God I have leaped a wall

This God, his way is complete
the word of יְהוָה refined
he is a shield to all taking refuge in him
for who is God apart from יְהוָה
and who a rock except our God

This God clothes me in strength
and he will make my way complete
establishing my feet as the deer
and on my mountains he stands me
in teaching my hands to war
and he has broken the bow of steel by my arms
and you gave me the shield of your salvation
and your right hand holds me
and your gentleness makes me great

You will enlarge my steps under me
lest my limbs stumble
I will pursue my enemies and will overtake them
and I will not turn back until they are finished
I will shatter them and they will not be able to rise
they will fall under my feet
and you will clothe me with strength for the battle
you will subdue beneath me those rising against me
and the necks of my enemies you have given to me
and I will destroy those hating me

they will cry out for help and there is no salvation
to יְהוָה and he did not respond
and I pulverized them like dust in the face of a wind
as dirt of the streets I cast them out

you will secure me in the disputes of the people
you will make me as the beginning of nations
a people I did not know will serve me
hearing by ear they will hear of me
the children of aliens feign obedience to me
the children of aliens will languish and will quake in their fortresses
יְהוָה lives and blessed is my rock
the God of my salvation will be lifted up

This God gives me my vengeance
and he commands the peoples under me
he secures me from my enemies
surely you will lift me up from those rising against me
from the violent you will deliver me
therefore I will give you thanks among the nations יְהוָה
and to your name I will sing praises
Great victories he makes for his king
and he makes loving kindness for his anointed David and his seed for ever

Psalm 17

This prayer is very difficult to translate and to understand. It is the word of one who is the daughter of God's eye (the literal translation of the apple of your eye). Is daughter to be contrasted with children (lit. sons) in the last lines as I have done by rendering them with the same English word? Is this only a prayer for those 'doomed to death' (מִמְתִים) of one who is like them but without direct descendants? Is it a prayer for their good - a kind of oblivious receipt of God's hidden treasure? Does the prayer that they 'bow down' include the idea of worship?

Note the verbal structures, particularly the repeated use of the verb to be satisfied. What is our satisfaction? Is it a sufficient desire? Perhaps the honesty of ambivalence is to be preferred over the insistence of resolving this to a single 'meaning'.

The 17th psalm in sequence is still introducing new conceptual content into the structure.

A prayer of David
Hear יְהוָה righteousness
Listen to my cry
Hearken to my prayer
not from lips of deceit

From your presence comes my judgment
Your eyes look on uprightness
You have tried my heart
You have visited me in the night
You have tested me till nothing is found
I intend that my mouth will not wander

About the works of humanity,
in the word of your lips I am kept
from the paths of destruction
Complete my steps in your tracks
my foot-fall does not slip
I have called you because you respond
God incline your ear to me
hear my speech

Make wonderful your loving kindness
you who save those taking refuge
from those rising up
by your right hand
keep me
as an eye's child, an eye's pupil
under the shadow of your wing
secret me
from the faces of the wicked
that deal violently with me
hostile in life striking me
their fat heart encloses them
their mouth speaks with pride

They surround our steps now
they have their eyes set
cast down to the earth
like a lion that desires to tear
and like a young lion living in secret places
Arise יְהוָה
confront them to their face
let them bow down

Deliver me from the wicked, your sword
from mortals, your hand, יְהוָה
from mortals, from time, their lot in their lives
and your hidden treasure filling their belly
Let them be satisfied with children
and leave their goods to their little ones

I in righteousness will see your face
I will be satisfied to awaken in your likeness