Friday, December 19, 2008

Psalm 74

There is an obvious repeated pattern in the middle of this psalm - a repetition of אַתָּה duplicating the second person singular in each verb. The word itself is not rare, occurring 117 times in the psalms - 22, 40, 71, 74, 86, 89, 102, and 119 each scoring more than 4. But this seems a rarer construction since the word appears with a verb rather than with an adjective as its predicate. I have rendered this emphasis as 'you alone'.

This is the third of Asaph's psalms and the beginning of the final group of 10. It is the ninth of thirteen Maskilim (insights). The insight seems to occur following the word 'finish'. As in the earliest psalms, the writer's confidence changes at that point. (P.S. be sure to read Psalm 75 after this one.)

An insight of Asaph
Why O God? will you reject us in perpetuity?
will your anger fume against the sheep of your pasture?
remember your assembly that you captured of old
the scepter of your inheritance that you redeemed
the hill of Zion there where you lived

Lift up your feet in this perpetual waste
all the evil of an enemy in the sanctuary
your adversaries roar in the midst of your assembly
they set up their banners as signs

Famous are those who wield wedges in the highest thicket of a tree
but now her carving they smite together with axes and hammers
they set your sanctuary on fire in the earth
they profane the dwelling place of your name
they said in their heart
we will rule them
together they have burned all the assemblies of God in the land

Our signs we do not see
there is a prophet no more
and there is none with us who knows how long
How long O God will an adversary reproach?
will the enemy despise your name in perpetuity?
why do you turn back your hand, even your right hand?
from near your bosom

But God is my king from of old
working salvation in the midst of the earth
you alone frustrated the sea by your arm
you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters
you alone crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave him as food to a people of wild places

you alone split fountain and torrent
you alone dried up the perennial torrents
to you is day indeed
to you night
you alone established light and sun
you alone set all the borders of earth
summer and autumn you alone framed

Remember this
the hostile reproached יְהוָה
and a foolish people spurned your name
do not give to animals the life of your turtledove
the living of your poor do not forget in perpetuity

Consider the covenant
for full are the dark places of the earth
the haunts of violence
let not the oppressed return disgraced
let the poor and the needy praise your name

Arise O God
make the case for your case
remember your reproach from the foolish all day long
do not forget the voice of your adversaries
the noise of those who arise exalted against you continually

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