Sunday, November 02, 2008

Psalm 58

I had forgotten this psalm - it is most stark! Note the play on the title of Psalm 56 in the first verse. How will one learn to hear a mute righteousness? This psalm is not printed in some prayer books because of its blunt violence.

I have a thesis related to further structure in the psalter: that significant clusters of psalms act like pillars in the nave of the architecture. Psalms 3-6, 56-60, 104-106, 141-143. Some of these are already noted - perhaps there are more, like the cathedral in Köln.

For the leader
Do not destroy
of David a miktam
Is it truly a mute righteousness that you speak?
with equity you judge the children of dust?
Indeed you plan injustice in the heart
in the earth you consider the violence of your hands

Estranged are the wicked from the womb
they err from the belly speaking a lie
their venom in the spirit of the venom of a snake
like the deaf cobra that stops his ear
which will not listen to the voice of the conjurer
charming charms with wisdom
O God overthrow their teeth in their mouths
destroy the fangs of young lions יְהוָה

Let them melt away as meandering waters
as when an archer shoots a tailless arrow
as a melting slug slithering off
as a miscarriage of a woman that will not see the sun
Before your garden-pots feel their thorns
as life as burning he will sweep him away with dread

The righteous will rejoice when he sees vengeance
He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked
and a child of the dust will say
surely there is fruit for the righteous
surely there is a God judging in the earth

Note - he will sweep him away with dread - this one word (יִשְׂעָרֶֽנּוּ) finishes a very difficult verse to get around.

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