Friday, June 17, 2011

Psalm 89 - comparing the poet's thought by section

What is my ear telling me about the poet's construction of this poem?

The test can be made by restricting my keywords to those that occur more than twice. I wondered if I could eliminate those that occur only three times but they too include significant stems.  I don't want to reduce the keywords to subjective experience. So I have left them in.

Then I wonder if there is a way to help see things better: a little manipulation might involve removing columns and rows that begin their recurrence after verse 19. But when you look, you see that there are only a few new keywords introduced after verse 19.  When you consider words used three or more times, the whole poem is like a garment clothed from the words in the first 19 verses.  The recurrence in verses beyond verse 19 is not only sequential but sequence seems to dominate over reverse sequence. My ear was telling me there were sequences. My eye can see them in the table below. Words using the stem חסד - (chesed) mercy, loving kindness, always begin the thought.

  1. In verses 20-21 recalling verses 2, 4, 6 we get חסד (mercied), David, servant, holiness. 
  2. In verses 25, recalling verse 2, 13, 14 there is a brief sequence: loving-kindness, name, exalted.
  3. In verses 29-31 following verses 2, 4, 5, 6 we get חסד loving-kindness, covenant, for ever, seed, throne. 
  4. In verses 34-37 following the sequence of the first 19 verses, we have a long sequence loving-kindness, faithfulness, covenant, sworn, David, seed, throne. It is possible to go farther along this sequence, but the further elements overlap the section boundary of verse 38.  
  5. In the third section the poet returns to loving kindness only in verse 50 and the sequence is loving-kindness, swore, David, servants. A new word enters at the end, reproach, recalling the earlier poems that use reproach as a frame: 44, 69, 74, 79.

There is therefore, both observable and audible, a continuous return to חסד and each time, a repeating of previously used words that are first introduced in the first 19 verses with a differing selection of these words in sequence. Only in the delivery of the lament is there a section of the poem that does not begin with חסד.

Word and gloss * first usage12345678910123456789201234567893012345678VsStem
חסדי of the loving kindness of
2חסד
עולם forever
2עלם
לדר from generation
2דור
ודור to generation
2דור
אמונתך your faithfulness
2אמן
עולם ever
3עלם
חסד loving kindness
3חסד
שׁמים in the heavens
3שׁמים
תכן you will establish
3כון
אמונתך your faithfulness
3אמן
ברית a covenant
4ברה
* נשׁבעתי I have sworn
4שׁבע
לדוד to David
4דוד
עבדי my servant
4עבד
עד --
5עד
עולם forever
5עלם
אכין I will establish
5כון
זרעך your seed
5זרע
לדר from generation
5דור
ודר to generation
5דור
כסאך your throne
5כסא
שׁמים the heavens
6שׁמים
אף also
6אף
אמונתך your faithfulness
6אמן
קדשׁים of the holy ones
6קדשׁ
מי who
7מי
בבני among the children of
7בן
קדשׁים the holy ones
8קדשׁ
כל all
8כל
מי who
9מי
ואמונתך and your faithfulness
9אמן
אתה you yourself
10אתה
אתה you yourself
10אתה
אתה you yourself
11אתה
* כחלל as profaned
11חלל
בזרוע with the arm of
11זרע
עזך your strength
11עזז
אויביך your enemies
11איב
לך yours
12לך
שׁמים are the heavens
12שׁמים
אף also
12אף
לך yours
12לך
ארץ the earth
12ארץ
אתה you yourself
12אתה
וימין and south
13ימן
אתה you yourself
13אתה
בשׁמך to your name
13שׁם
לך yours
14לך
זרוע is arm
14זרע
עם --
14עם
גבורה a valiant
14גבר
תעז strong is
14עזז
ידך your hand
14יד
תרום and exalted
14רום
ימינך your right hand
14ימן
מכון are the foundation of
15כון
כסאך your throne
15כסא
חסד loving kindness
15חסד
פניך your face
15פנה
אשׁרי happy
16אשׁר
העם are the people
16עם
פניך your face
16פנה
בשׁמך in your name
17שׁם
כל every
17כל
היום day
17יום
ירומו they will be exalted
17רום
עזמו their strength
18עזז
אתה you yourself
18אתה
תרום will be exalted
18רום
ולקדושׁ and the Holy One of
19קדשׁ
לחסידיך to your mercied
20חסד
גבור one who prevails
20גבר
הרימותי I have exalted
20רום
מעם from the people
20עם
דוד David
21דוד
עבדי my servant
21עבד
קדשׁי my holiness
21קדשׁ
אשׁר that
22אשׁר
ידי my hand
22יד
תכון will be established
22כון
עמו with him
22עם
אף also
22אף
זרועי my arm
22זרע
לא not
23לא
אויב an enemy
23איב
ובן the child of
23בן
לא not
23לא
מפניו before his face
24פנה
ואמונתי and my faithfulness
25אמן
וחסדי and my loving kindness
25חסד
עמו are with him
25עם
ובשׁמי and in my name
25שׁם
תרום will be exalted
25רום
ושׂמתי and I have set
26שׂום
ידו his hand
26יד
ימינו his right hand
26ימן
אתה you are
27אתה
אף also
28אף
ארץ the earth
28ארץ
לעולם forever
29עלם
חסדי my loving kindness
29חסד
ובריתי and my covenant will be
29ברה
נאמנת amen
29אמן
ושׂמתי and I have set
30שׂום
לעד for ever
30עד
זרעו his seed
30זרע
וכסאו and his throne
30כסא
כימי as the days of
30יום
שׁמים heaven
30שׁמים
אם if
31אם
בניו his children
31בן
לא fail
31לא
אם if
32אם
* יחללו they profane
32חלל
לא fail
32לא
וחסדי but my loving kindness
34חסד
לא not
34לא
מעמו in him
34עם
ולא and not
34לא
באמונתי in my faithfulness
34אמן
לא not
35לא
* אחלל I will profane
35חלל
בריתי my covenant
35ברה
לא not
35לא
* נשׁבעתי I have sworn
36שׁבע
בקדשׁי in my holiness
36קדשׁ
אם --
36אם
לדוד to David
36דוד
זרעו his seed
37זרע
לעולם forever
37עלם
וכסאו and his throne
37כסא
יכון it will be established
38כון
עולם everlasting
38עלם
ועד in perpetuity
38עד
נאמן faithful
38אמן
ואתה but you yourself
39אתה
עם against
39עם
ברית the covenant of
40ברה
עבדך your servant
40עבד
* חללת you have profaned
40חלל
לארץ to the earth
40ארץ
כל all
41כל
שׂמת you have set
41שׂום
כל all
42כל
חרפה a reproach
42חרף
הרימות you have exalted
43רום
ימין the right hand of
43ימן
כל all
43כל
אויביו his enemies
43איב
אף also
44אף
ולא and fail
44לא
וכסאו and his throne
45כסא
לארץ to the earth
45ארץ
ימי the days of
46יום
עלומיו his youthful vigour
46עלם
עד long
47עד
מה how
47מה
מה how
48מה
מה what
48מה
כל all
48כל
בני the children of
48בן
מי how
49מי
גבר valour
49גבר
ולא and not
49לא
מיד from the hand of
49יד
חסדיך are your loving kindnesses
50חסד
* נשׁבעת the ones that you swore
50שׁבע
לדוד to David
50דוד
באמונתך in your faithfulness
50אמן
חרפת the reproach of
51חרף
עבדיך your servants
51עבד
כל all
51כל
עמים peoples
51עם
אשׁר that
52אשׁר
חרפו have reproached
52חרף
אויביך your enemies
52איב
אשׁר that
52אשׁר
חרפו they have reproached
52חרף
לעולם forever
53עלם
אמן amen
53אמן
ואמן and amen
53אמן