Thursday, July 25, 2013

Key verses - central verses in Psalms

Having truncated my earlier series on memorization, do I dare begin another?  If I did, I think it must be one that takes its time.  All too often from 2010 to 2013 I have been in a hurry.  So no hurry.  But must begin at the beginning again and continue through to the end.

Look at the recurring words for Psalm 1 leaving out the negative particle and the relative pronoun.
Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsRoot
* רשׁעים the wicked
* ובדרך and in the way of
* חטאים sinners
* ובמושׁב and in the seat of
* ישׁב sit
* אם contrast
* בתורת in the instruction of
* ובתורתו and in his instruction
* כן so
* הרשׁעים the-many wicked
* אם contrast
* כן so
* רשׁעים the wicked
* וחטאים nor sinners
* צדיקים the-many righteous
* דרך the way of
* צדיקים those righteous
* ודרך but the way of
* רשׁעים those wicked
Can you see which verse is missing? If you drop the repeated seat, instructionso and the righteous, can you see the arrow-head shape that identifies where there would be concentric circles in the text if you joined the recurring words to each other with a pencil?

I had always thought that this psalm is about the two ways and about wickedness and righteousness. In fact, it isn't. Verse three is missing from the table and is surrounded by four concentric circles. Verse three is the tree metaphor, a metaphor that reaches back to Genesis and forward to Revelation, not to mention Jeremiah 17:8.

וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ
שָׁתוּל עַל פַּלְגֵי מָיִם
אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ
וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל
וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה יַצְלִיחַ
3such a one will be like a tree
transplanted by streams of water
that gives its fruit in its time
and its leaf does not wither
and in all that it does, it thrives
What do you think? Is this the real centre? It is not the distinction between two ways, the wicked and the righteous, a moral issue, but rather the tree that transforms the wicked and translates these enemies into a new realm of the righteous. Notice too that the wicked occur twice as often in Psalm 1 as the righteous. Must be of importance ...  

Transformation is the good. The transformed see the knowledge of good and evil (This is, by the way, Psalm 34's subject matter. You don't believe me? - just count the good and the evil in Psalm 34. Like two interlocking hands, the good cannot be separated from the evil without destruction of both).