Monday, March 4, 2013

Psalms 146-150 - mnemonics

The final five psalms 146-150 are a concatenation of praise.

How does one work out a mnemonic so these psalms can be recited as one slips off into sleep?

Counting psalms is as good a way to get to sleep as counting sheep. I scarcely get beyond Psalm 10 - so I am working out ways to memorize the lot. E.g. the progressions of Psalm 1: walk-stand-sit to 15, walking complete, 19, Torah as complete, 26 walking in completeness, 32, in this way you will walk, 112, where every verse uses a word from Psalm 1, 119, the ultimate adoration of the one who walks in Torah, the complete of the way.

146 - begins as a first person individual celebration
Praise יהוה O my being
I will praise יהוה in my life 
I will sing psalms to my God while I still exist 

then after a verse on who can be trusted, it moves to a series of 10 ongoing action verbs of the activity of the One 
who makes heaven and earth
and the sea and all that is in them
Note that none of these actions is violent or supports violence; all show the care for the poor; this is the God that is revealed in Zion (v10)
keeping truth forever
doing judgment for the oppressed
giving bread to the hungry
יהוה releasing the prisoners
יהוה giving sight to the blind
יהוה consoling the disturbed
יהוה loving the righteous
יהוה sheltering the guest
orphan and widow he restores
and the way of the wicked he subverts

147 - continues the activity of יהוה specifically with reference to the building of Jerusalem, the healing of the broken of heart as a boundary for their hardship. It has a frigid metaphor in its final verses
He sends his message earthward
swiftly races his word 
this one who gives snow like wool
frost like ashes he scatters 
flinging his ice like fragments
to the face of his cold who will stand 
He sends his word and thaws them
he dispatches his wind
waters flow 
This psalm confirms יהוה`s focus on Jacob and Israel.
making evident his word to Jacob
his statutes and his judgments to Israel
Not has he done so to all nations
and his judgments they have not known

148 - (picking up words from the prior psalm), commands praise from the heavens (6 verses noting the permanence of the created order) and from the earth (6 verses) with a special mention of dragons
Praise יהוה from the earth
dragons and all abysses 
Fire and hail snow and vapour
tempestuous wind doing its thing
 רוּחַ סְעָרָה עֹשָׂה דְבָרוֹ

The closing two verses speak of Israel and all those under his mercy.

149 - closes the brackets opened in Psalms 1-2 (Cole, Robert. JSOT 98 (2002). 75-88 An Integrated Reading of Psalms 1 and 2.)

And 150 - that one's easy to remember - lots of unconditional praise - from everything that is breath-bearing.


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