Sunday, November 6, 2011

Psalm 86 - a model for prayer and poetry

This psalm is a meditation on Exodus 34:6, among many in the TNK. Here is a snippet of the work I am working on. I would be delighted in some thoughtful feedback. [later] I have now had an oral review of psalms 1-10 this week, this Tuesday, with Bill Morrow of Queen's University, on sabbatical here during my own community fellowship at UVic.

Psalm 86 divides nicely into 4 sections, 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-17. The overall table is 24 keywords wide and therefore difficult to see. The division by 2 gives tables of 13 keywords wide each as shown below. Verses 5 and 15 identify two other roots that recur twice only in the poem and are therefore missed in the tables when taken 8 verses at a time. It is a good exercise to find the words that make each of the 4 sections cohere in themselves.  Yet these sections are also tightly bound together to each other. Altogether this is a model poem.

Notice too (from the tables) how verses 1-3 lay out the words that the poet will reuse in verses 4 to 8. Also verses 9-11 layout the words that are used in the remaining verses.  Groups of these words are clearly reused in reverse order. Apart from any errors I have made, (and I have corrected a few in the last two days) the analysis of such recurrence patterns is a fully objective exercise. These give a frame in which the more subjective parallelism and prosody tools can be applied.


תְּפִלָּה לְדָוִד
הַטֵּה יְהוָה אָזְנְךָ
 עֲנֵנִי כִּי עָנִי
וְאֶבְיוֹן אָנִי
1A prayer Of David
Stretch יְהוָה your ear
answer me for I am afflicted
and in need am I
שָׁמְרָה נַפְשִׁי
כִּי חָסִיד אָנִי
הוֹשַׁע עַבְדְּךָ
אַתָּה אֱלֹהַי
הַבּוֹטֵחַ אֵלֶיךָ
2Guard my being
for under mercy am I
save your servant
you, my God
the one trusting in you

חָנֵּנִי אֲדֹנָי
כִּי אֵלֶיךָ
אֶקְרָא כָּל הַיּוֹם
3be gracious to me, O Lord
for to you
I call every day
שַׂמֵּחַ נֶפֶשׁ עַבְדֶּךָ
כִּי אֵלֶיךָ אֲדֹנָי
נַפְשִׁי אֶשָּׂא
4Make glad the being of your servant
for to you O Lord
my being I lift up
כִּי אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי טוֹב
וְסַלָּח וְרַב חֶסֶד
לְכָל קֹרְאֶיךָ
5for you, O Lord, are good
and forgiving and full of loving kindness
to all calling on you

הַאֲזִינָה יְהוָה תְּפִלָּתִי
וְהַקְשִׁיבָה בְּקוֹל תַּחֲנוּנוֹתָי
6Give ear יְהוָה to my prayer
and attend with the voice of my supplication
בְּיוֹם צָרָתִי אֶקְרָאֶךָּ
כִּי תַעֲנֵנִי
7In the day of my straits I will call on you
for you will answer me
אֵין כָּמוֹךָ בָאֱלֹהִים
אֲדֹנָי וְאֵין כְּמַעֲשֶׂיךָ
8there is none like you among the gods
O Lord, and there is nothing like your doings

כָּל גּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ יָבוֹאוּ
וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְפָנֶיךָ אֲדֹנָי
וִיכַבְּדוּ לִשְׁמֶךָ
9All nations whom you made will come
and worship in your presence, O Lord
and glorify your name
כִּי גָדוֹל אַתָּה
וְעֹשֵׂה נִפְלָאוֹת
אַתָּה אֱלֹהִים לְבַדֶּךָ
10for you are great
and do wonders
you O God, you alone

הוֹרֵנִי יְהוָה דַּרְכֶּךָ
אֲהַלֵּךְ בַּאֲמִתֶּךָ
יַחֵד לְבָבִי לְיִרְאָה שְׁמֶךָ
11Instruct me יְהוָה your way
I will walk in your truth
make one my heart to fear your name
אוֹדְךָ אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהַי
בְּכָל לְבָבִי
וַאֲכַבְּדָה שִׁמְךָ לְעוֹלָם
12I will thank you, O Lord my God
with all my heart
and I will glorify your name forever
כִּי חַסְדְּךָ גָּדוֹל עָלָי
וְהִצַּלְתָּ נַפְשִׁי
מִשְּׁאוֹל תַּחְתִּיָּה
13for your loving kindness is great to me
and you have delivered my being
from Sheol's nether parts

אֱלֹהִים זֵדִים קָמוּ עָלַי
וַעֲדַת עָרִיצִים בִּקְשׁוּ נַפְשִׁי
וְלֹא שָׂמוּךָ לְנֶגְדָּם
14O God the presumptuous rise up against me
and an assembly of the ruthless demand my being
and not do they set you before them
וְאַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֵל
רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן
אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם
וְרַב חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת
15but you O Lord God
are compassionate and gracious
slow to anger
and full of loving kindness and truth

פְּנֵה אֵלַי וְחָנֵּנִי
תְּנָה עֻזְּךָ לְעַבְדֶּךָ
וְהוֹשִׁיעָה לְבֶן אֲמָתֶךָ
16be present to me and be gracious to me
give your strength to your servant
and salvation to the child of your maidservant
עֲשֵׂה עִמִּי אוֹת לְטוֹבָה
וְיִרְאוּ שֹׂנְאַי וְיֵבֹשׁוּ
כִּי אַתָּה יְהוָה
עֲזַרְתַּנִי וְנִחַמְתָּנִי
17make for me a sign of good
and those hating me will see and be ashamed
for you יְהוָה
have helped me and comforted me
Notes by verse
2under mercy, חסיד, the singular one under the חסד, that covenant mercy and loving kindness of יְהוָה
5forgiving סלח (slx) forgive, pardon, used 4 times in the Psalter, different from 'lift up'
9[Revelation 15:4]
16maidservant, אמה ('mh) easily misread as truth, אמת ('mt)
Selected recurring words in relative order (1 to 8)
Word and gloss * first usage12345678910123VsRoot
תפלה a prayer
1פלל
אזנך your ear
1אזן
ענני and answer me
1ענה
עני afflicted
1ענה
אני am I
1אני
נפשׁי my being
2נפשׁ
אני am I
2אני
עבדך your servant
2עבד
אתה you
2אתה
חנני be gracious to me
3חנן
אדני O Lord
3אדני
אקרא I call
3קרא
כל every
3כל
היום day
3יום
נפשׁ the being of
4נפשׁ
עבדך your servant
4עבד
אדני O Lord
4אדני
נפשׁי my being
4נפשׁ
אתה you
5אתה
אדני O Lord
5אדני
לכל to all
5כל
קראיך calling on you
5קרא
האזינה give ear
6אזן
תפלתי to my prayer
6פלל
תחנונותי my supplication
6חנן
ביום in the day of
7יום
אקראך I will call on you
7קרא
תענני you will answer me
7ענה
אין there is none
8אין
אדני O Lord
8אדני
ואין and there is nothing
8אין
Selected recurring words in relative order (9 to end)

Word and gloss * first usage12345678910123VsRoot
כל all
9כל
עשׂית you made
9עשׂה
לפניך in your presence
9פנה
אדני O Lord
9אדני
ויכבדו and glorify
9כבד
לשׁמך your name
9שׁם
גדול great
10גדל
אתה you are
10אתה
ועשׂה and do
10עשׂה
אתה you
10אתה
באמתך in your truth
11אמת
לבבי my heart
11לבב
שׁמך your name
11שׁם
אדני O Lord
12אדני
בכל with all
12כל
לבבי my heart
12לבב
ואכבדה and I will glorify
12כבד
שׁמך your name
12שׁם
חסדך your loving kindness
13חסד
גדול is great
13גדל
נפשׁי my being
13נפשׁ
נפשׁי my being
14נפשׁ
ואתה but you
15אתה
אדני O Lord
15אדני
וחנון and gracious
15חנן
חסד loving kindness
15חסד
ואמת and truth
15אמת
פנה be present
16פנה
וחנני and be gracious to me
16חנן
עשׂה make
17עשׂה
אתה you
17אתה

Seven occurrences of Lord (אדני), six occurrences of you (אתה), and five occurrences of being (נפשׁ) are the backbone of this psalm. Save, and servant form two concentric circles between verses 2 and 16. The central verse 9 recalls the worship of all nations from Psalm 22.
All nations whom you made will come
and worship in your presence, O Lord
and glorify your name