Friday, August 6, 2010

Summary by frame to psalm 60

We have seen the envelopes - here is a short summary so far. First we can go beyond the initial structure I posed earlier. The psalter is formed in several concentric groupings.
  1. the outer frame of psalms 1, 2, 149
  2. the inner frame of the personal Davidic psalms
  3. the inner frame of the acrostics in books 1 and 5 only
  4. the use of divine names - the existence of the Elohist psalter
  5. the inner frame of Korah
  6. the inner frame of Asaph
  7. the central Davidic core of books 2 and 3 - Solomon's pair of psalms
  8. (Moses also figures in the text of book 4 - but has only one psalm attributed to him)
  9. the Davidic envelope in book 5 and scattered parts of the Songs of ascent with Solomon at its centre
  10. the similar structure of the five books - all ending with praise.
I am not the first to point these out but they are confirmed so far in my sequential reading. I can imagine the collections taking shape in multiple locations and then perhaps at the return from exile, a few cooperative priests together merge them. What strikes me is the switch from David to Korah/Asaph and back again with the odd outliers in what may well be strategic positions - e.g. 75 as the final of the Do Not Destroy series or 142 as the last Maskil etc.

Of the last psalms since Psalm 50, what can be said
51 - the clear concentric circle of new frames blot out - purify - wash places this poem in its usual context as the ultimate in penitential writing. David the anointed provides the example of exactly what a marriage should not be (in contrast to the hopeful and celebratory Psalm 45)
52 - we are back in David's world and his condemnation of the deceitful tongue is a sharp reminder of Psalm 12
53 - this Elohist repeat of Psalm 14 reminds us that all is not well on the earth. It is named as a Maskil though its double is not.
54-55 are on the inner battle. We have a strong tendency to objectify the enemy. I hope I do not read too much into the divine solution - the destruction of the enemy begins with the destruction of our sin
Psalm 56-60 - five troubling even bloodthirsty psalms follow this note on the inner battle! They end with the clear statement of who is in charge. Why are these miktamim together? Why is Psalm 16 also a miktam?

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