Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Psalm 107 and the structure of the Psalter

Henry asked for some input on the seam between books 4 and 5 here (but I did respond a bit too quickly - writing is dangerous. I shortchanged the complexity of the doxologies. Here is my penance.)

I had fun rereading these psalms - which of course I encourage all to do .

Apart from seeing the odd relationship between Job and Psalms, I have been idling as you can tell. I have some ideas but am percolating them offline between snatches of Job which itself will be slow going.


Christopher Page said...


Thank you for your comments on inaspaciousplace.blogspot.com.

I have responded in the comment section to your comment on my "Introduction."

I wonder if you have a translation of Psalm 46:10. We use it a lot in our Introduction to Centering Prayer workshops. I am NO HEBREW SCHOLAR! But I suggest that most English translations of this verse seem to imply that if you get still you will know something ABOUT God. But in the Hebrew, I suggest that the implication could be that, if you "sink down" (rapha) you will actually KNOW God - ie. enter into intimate communion with the divine.

I wonder if you think the "sink down" reading of "rapha" is appropriate and if "yada" carries the implication of intimate communion I am suggesting?



Bob MacDonald said...

Christopher - I think your suggestions around these words are appropriate. I tend to read in a slightly larger frame than the individual word. Particularly I look for repeated words and words that sound alike in the poetic structures. The recurrence of words forms a frame, the rhyming cola confirm the intent. Psalm 46 (see the links on the right hand side of Bob's log - every psalm is there twice, once in freer English without Hebrew and once in a diagram image with the Hebrew frames and cola sometimes outlined in great detail). What I look for in a psalm are things that are in the centre of circles - e.g. righteousness of God (forms of tsadik) is in the centre of the three cells of psalm 51. Psalm 46 was one of the first I mapped and translated - see the image here. For me the centre of the psalm is 'God is in the midst of her'. For us to use this as a centering prayer is important both individually and corporately. One question that occurs to me about such centering is 'how'. It is not a matter of my effort, but of my hearing with faith - and for us that means faith in the 'lifting up' of Christ - which I why I chose that phrase rather than the traditional exalted in the last section. For how does God triumph over the pride and murmuring of the nations and kingdoms - through the gift of his self-offering on the cross and us in him there. When then God encounters us at this place - we know the gift from him is not our doing - but our 'obedience of faith' to use Pauline terms, our our approach and entry to the Holy place to use Hebrews terminology (chapter 10).

Thank you for looking here - I am not a Hebrew 'scholar' but I have done the learning over the last 2 years - and the children at St Barnabas have loads of fun with the 5 minute Hebrew lessons they get on Sundays. (I have blogged these here so that others can see my approaches and their successes and failures.)

John Anderson said...

On the topic of Psalm 107--actually, Pss 107-110 as a group--W. Dennis Tucker, Jr. of Baylor's Truett Seminary recently presented a paper at the southwest regional SBL meeting on seeing anti-empirical tendencies in these psalms (in a way, extending Zenger's views on anti-imperialism in the Psalter). I have a brief comment about his paper in my SWCRS roundup on my blog . . . it is certainly an interesting perspective, and I hope he continues to develop and ultimately publish the piece.