Thursday, June 20, 2013

Memorizing the Psalms - 7 (56-65 David, Miktamim, Do Not Destroy)

In this series, I am considering strategies for memorizing all the psalms of the Hebrew Psalter. We have come to a series of 10 psalms each of which is marked as 'of David'.

חָנֵּנִי אֱלֹהִים56:2Be gracious to me O God
חָנֵּנִי אֱלֹהִים חָנֵּנִי57:2Be gracious to me O God be gracious to me
הַאֻמְנָם אֵלֶם צֶדֶק תְּדַבֵּרוּן58:2Is it truly a dumb righteousness that you speak?
הַצִּילֵנִי מֵאֹיְבַי אֱלֹהָי59:2Deliver me from my enemies O my God
אֱלֹהִים זְנַחְתָּנוּ60:3God you have rejected us
שִׁמְעָה אֱלֹהִים רִנָּתִי61:2Hear O God my shout
אַךְ אֶל אֱלֹהִים דּוּמִיָּה62:2Surely toward God my being is mute
אֱלֹהִים אֵלִי אַתָּה63:2God my God are you
שְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים קוֹלִי בְשִׂיחִי64:2Hear O God my voice in my pondering
לְךָ דֻמִיָּה תְהִלָּה אֱלֹהִים בְּצִיּוֹן65:2To you mute praise O God in Zion

We have reached the remaining miktamim and the psalms with the inscription 'do not destroy'.
  • Psalm 56 is the first of a group of 5 miktamim, reminding us of this form first encountered in Psalm 16.
  • Psalm 57 is the first of three consecutive psalms inscribed Do Not Destroy. The fourth is Psalm 75. The second part of Psalm 57 reappears in Psalm 108. 
  • These psalms are considered so violent that Psalm 58 was omitted (deliberately along with several verses in Psalms 109 and 37) from the Canadian Anglican prayer book of 1958. Psalm 58 closes with the earthling recognizing the judgment of God in the earth.
  • Psalm 59, the third inscribed with Do Not Destroy, closes with the knowledge of those who are consumed that God governs in Jacob.
  • Psalm 60, the last miktam, is a prayer for the rescue of the beloved. Its second half reappears in Psalm 108 also.
  • Psalm 61 contains the appeal to the rock that is higher. Vows surround the promise to the king.
  • Psalm 62 reminds us of the language of Psalm 39. Both psalms are inscribed 'for Jeduthun'.
  • Psalm 63 is a psalm of joy after so many psalms concerning enemies and futility. 
  • Psalm 64 is about planning and 'shooting' (the same word as Torah). The plans backfire. The evildoers become their defeat. 
  • Psalm 65 is the first of three psalms on the subject of harvest.
So far in Book 2 we have seen three names in the inscriptions: Korah, Asaph, David. Next, we come to two psalms with no name in the inscription, followed by psalms of David, Asaph, and Korah.  That looks like a circular structure.  When one finds a circular structure, one should look for for what the circles surround. In this case it is Psalms 66 and 67, whose subject is anticipated by Psalm 65.