Monday, July 15, 2013

Memorizing the Psalms - 11 (107-112)

In this series, I am considering strategies for memorizing all the psalms of the Hebrew Psalter. The series concentrates, as was the practice in earlier times in Latin, on the 'first' verse of each psalm. Ask yourself also - what is(are) the central verse(s) of each psalm?
הֹדוּ לַיהוָה 107:1Give thanks to יהוה for it is good
נָכוֹן לִבִּי אֱלֹהִים108:1My heart is prepared O God
אֱלֹהֵי תְהִלָּתִי אַל תֶּחֱרַשׁ109:1God of my praise do not be silent
נְאֻם יְהוָה לַאדֹנִי110:1an oracle of יהוה to my Lord
הַלְלוּ יָהּ אוֹדֶה יְהוָה בְּכָל לֵבָב 111:1Hallelu Yah I will thank יהוה with a whole heart
הַלְלוּ יָהּ אַשְׁרֵי אִישׁ יָרֵא אֶת יְהוָה112:1Hallelu Yah A happy person fears יהוה 

In Book 5 as in Book 1, the Psalms may be seen in sequentially organized groups through the use of the Acrostic Psalms each of which follows a Psalm of significance. The image below summarizes the structure of the Psalter using this point of view.
A chiasm is formed between Book 1 and Book 5 using the psalms that precede the acrostics
Psalms 8 and 104 share a question - what is this mortal humanity?
Psalms 110 and 36 are the only two poems named as 'oracles'.
You might wonder whether the Psalms leading up to each acrostic outline a coherent theme - they do. But there are many themes in the Psalter. My index in the book, Seeing the Psalter, outlines about 50 of them. So choosing one is tricky.
  • Psalm 107, repeating the opening of Psalm 106, is generic and describes the work of יהוה throughout the world, all sorts and conditions of  people.
  • Psalm 108, is a repeat with variation of parts of Psalms 57 and 60. It reminds us of the miktamim and the inscription Do Not Destroy and the political context in which the elect live, the foxes circling about the beloved.
  • Psalm 109 is a severe curse of one who must come to judgment. It seems to prepare for the next psalm. It is here that we are prepared for the triumph anticipated in Psalm 2.
  • Psalm 110, the second oracle, is the triumph of the Anointed, with a willing people.
  • Psalm 111 celebrates the deeds of יהוה.
  • Psalm 112 celebrates the person who fears יהוה.
So how would you connect the dots?