Monday, December 22, 2008

Psalm 78

If anyone asks - which is the longest psalm? It is this one. Psalm 119 is really 22 short psalms in a single package. I am not sure as I begin this one, exactly what I am going to rediscover. When I examine the recurrence structure, I see the alienation of the Most High from us, the protagonists. The most repeated word in this psalm is the negative particle לֹא. Here follows a litany of negatives. I have used capitals sparingly - there you can stop to breathe.

An insight of Asaph
Listen my people under my instruction
incline your ears to the words of my mouth
I will open my mouth in a parable
to ferment riddles from of old which we heard and know
the word from fathers to fathers
as our fathers declared to us
we will not hide from their children
declaring to the generation to come the praises of יְהוָה
and his ferocity and his wonders which he did

He has established a testimony in Jacob
and he set instruction in Israel
which he commanded our fathers
to make known to their children

so that the generation to come will know
the children to be born will stand and declare to their children
so they might set their hope in God and not forget the doings of God
and observe his commandments

and not become like their fathers
a stubborn and provocative generation
a generation not preparing its heart
and its spirit was not faithful to God
failure of Ephraim
The children of Ephraim equipped and carrying a bow
turned back in the day of battle
they did not keep the covenant of God and in his instruction they refused to walk
and they forgot his works and his wonders that he had showed them
rehearsal of wonders - 1
in front of their fathers he did marvels in the land of Egypt
in the field of Zoan
he split water and made them cross over
and he made waters stand as a heap

and he guided them in a cloud by day
and all the night in the light of fire
he split boulders in the wilderness and gave drink from great depths
he made streams to come out of a rock and made waters flow as rushing streams
rebellion and provocation
but they continued still to sin against him
to provoke the Most High in the desert
and they tempted God in their heart
by asking meat for themselves
they spoke against God and they said
is God able to set a table in the wilderness?
Look he struck the boulder and out gushed water and the torrents overflowed
Can he also give bread or will he prepare meat for his people?

Therefore יְהוָה heard and he was alienated and fire was ignited in Jacob
and also anger came about against Israel
for they did not believe in God
and they did not trust in his salvation
rehearsal of wonders - 2
for he had commanded the clouds from above
and the doors of heaven opened
and manna had rained on them
and the corn of heaven he gave to them
the human ate the bread of the valiant
he sent provision among them to satiation

he moved an east wind in the heavens
and drove a south wind in his strength
and he rained flesh on them as dust
and feathered birds as the sand of the sea
and he made it fall in the midst of their camp
surrounding their dwellings and they ate and were filled much

and their desires he brought to them
and they were not a stranger to their desires while their meat was in their mouths
and the anger of God came on them and slew among their fattest
and the chosen of Israel were bowed down
failure again
in all this still they sinned
and did not believe in his wonders
and he ended their days in emptiness
and their years in destruction

when he slew them then they sought him
and they turned and sought early for God
and they remembered for God is their rock
and God the Most High their redeemer

but they deceived him with their mouth
and with their tongue they lied to him
and their heart was not prepared for him
and they did not trust in his covenant
a wisp of walking wind
But he compassionate covered their iniquity and did not destroy
but many times his anger turned and did not awaken all his heat
for he remembered that they are flesh
a walking wind which does not return

How often they provoked him in the wilderness
and caused him pain in the wasteland
and they turned back and tempted God
and grieved the Holy of Israel
rehearsal of wonders - 3
they did not remember even his hand
the day he delivered them from trouble
that he had done in Egypt
his signs and his miracles in the field of Zoan

that he turned their rivers to blood and their streams they could not drink
he sent flies to them and they ate them
and frogs and destroyed them
and he gave to the locust their produce and their labour to a swarm

he killed their vines with hail
and their sycamore with frost
and he delivered their cattle to the hail
and their herds to the flames

he sent anger following them
wrath and indignation and trouble
by sending messengers of evil he made a path for his anger
and did not withhold their being from death
and he delivered up their lives to the plague

he struck all the firstborn of Egypt
head of the vigour of the tents of Ham
and he moved his people like sheep
and drove them like a flock in the wilderness

and he guided them in security and they did not fear
and their enemies covered the sea
and he brought them to the border of his holiness
his right hand purchased this hill

and he cast out the nations before their faces
and let fall by line an inheritance
and made the scepters of Israel dwell in their tents
but they tempted and they tested God Most High
and they did not keep his testimonies
failure again
and they turned back and acted deceitfully like their fathers
they were turned like a slack bow
for they vexed him with their high places
and with their idols moved him to jealousy

God heard and was alienated
and he refused greatly in Israel
so he forsook the tabernacle in Shiloh
the tent where he lived among humanity
and he gave his strength into captivity
and his beauty into the hand of trouble
and he delivered up to the sword his people
and with his inheritance he was alienated

and his young men the fire consumed
and his young women were not praiseworthy
his priests fell by the sword
and his widows did not lament
Restoration of Judah
And the Lord awoke as from sleep
as a strong man shouting from wine
he struck his adversaries back
he gave them a reproach forever

and he refused the tent of Joseph
and the scepter of Ephraim he did not choose
but he chose the scepter of Judah
the hill of Zion which he loved

and he built as the lifting up of his holiness
as the earth he founded forever
he chose in David his servant
and carried him from the sheepfolds of Zion
Israel / Jacob restored in Judah לֹא-יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה (Genesis 49:10)
from behind the ewes he brought him
to tend in Jacob his people
and in Israel his inheritance
and he tended them for the completeness of his heart
and in his discernment of his openness he guided them

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