Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Memorizing the Psalms - 13 (120-136 Ascent and Arrival))

In this series, I am considering strategies for memorizing all the psalms of the Hebrew Psalter. Ask yourself also - what is(are) the central verse(s) of each psalm?
אֶל יְהוָה בַּצָּרָתָה לִּי120:1To יהוה when I am trouble bound
אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל הֶהָרִים121:1I will lift up my eyes to the hills
שָׂמַחְתִּי בְּאֹמְרִים לִי122:1I was glad when they said to me
אֵלֶיךָ נָשָׂאתִי אֶת עֵינַי123:1To you I lift up my eyes
לוּלֵי יְהוָה שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ יֹאמַר124:1Unless יהוה had been for us
הַבֹּטְחִים בַּיהוָה כְּהַר צִיּוֹן125:1Those trusting in יהוה are like mount Zion
בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה אֶת שִׁיבַת צִיּוֹן126:1When יהוה turned the captivity of Zion
אִם יְהוָה לֹא יִבְנֶה בַיִת127:1If יהוה does not build a house
אַשְׁרֵי כָּל יְרֵא יְהוָה128:1Happy all who fear יהוה 
רַבַּת צְרָרוּנִי מִנְּעוּרַי יֹאמַר129:1Exceedingly they troubled me from my youth
מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְהוָה130:1From the valleys I call to you יהוה 
 יְהוָה לֹא גָבַהּ לִבִּי131:1Of David יהוה my heart is not haughty
זְכוֹר יְהוָה לְדָוִד אֵת כָּל עֻנּוֹתוֹ132:1יהוה Remember David and all his afflictions
 הִנֵּה מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים133:1Here! How fine and how pleasant
הִנֵּה בָּרְכוּ אֶת יְהוָה כָּל עַבְדֵי יְהוָה134:1Here! bless יהוה all servants of יהוה 
הַלְלוּ יָהּ הַלְלוּ אֶת שֵׁם יְהוָה135:1Hallelu Yah Praise the name of יהוה 
הוֹדוּ לַיהוָה כִּי טוֹב136:1Give thanks to יהוה because it is good

The fifth book of the Psalter contains an additional sequence of Psalms called the Psalms of Ascent, Psalms 120-134. The last two above, 135 and 136, share a large number of words and are of nearly identical length.
  • Psalm 120, the first of the 15 Songs of Ascents, begins with darkness and charade.
  • Psalm 121 promises a God who does not snooze and who keeps Israel.
  • Psalm 122 is the prayer for Jerusalem.
  • Psalm 123 is about contempt.
  • Psalm 124 is a recognition of dependence on .יהוה
  • Psalm 125 is an image of security symbolized by the mountains around Jerusalem.
  • Psalm 126 is a joyful hope expecting trouble and release.
  • Psalm 127 is the middle song, inscribed of Solomon, a second recognition of dependence and a celebration of children.
  • Psalm 128 continues the blessing of the family.
  • Psalm 129 is a second request to Israel to confess the memory of exceeding trouble. It ends with a non-blessing.
  • Psalm 130 includes watching for the morning and the need for ransom from iniquities.
  • Psalm 131 notes the value of being mute, as the nursing child on its mother’s back.
  • Psalm 132 is the bringing of the ark to the temple, with the priests clothed with righteousness.
  • Psalm 133 celebrates the unity of kin, with images of the oil and the dew descending.
  • With Psalm 134, the blessing in the courts, we complete the Songs of Ascent, and then we begin to close the brackets that were opened in earlier Psalms.
  • Psalm 135 is the culmination of the prior 15 psalms where the worshipers now stand in the courts of the house of God.
  • Psalm 136 the fourth psalm with this invitation, identifies the formative event of the Sea of Reeds and the decisive parting as the new frame. This closes the Creation-Redemption themes in the Psalter.