Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memorizing the Psalms - 14 (137-145, 146-150)

In this series, I am considering strategies for memorizing all the psalms of the Hebrew Psalter.

עַל נַהֲרוֹת בָּבֶל137:1By the rivers of Babel
אוֹדְךָ בְכָל לִבִּי138:1I will give you thanks with all my heart
מִזְמוֹר יְהוָה חֲקַרְתַּנִי 139:1יהוה you have examined me
חַלְּצֵנִי יְהוָה מֵאָדָם רָע140:2Rescue me יהוה from human evil
יְהוָה קְרָאתִיךָ141:1יהוה I call to you
קוֹלִי אֶל יְהוָה אֶזְעָק142:2My voice to יהוה I will appeal
יְהוָה שְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי143:1יהוה hear my prayer
בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה צוּרִי144:1Blessed is יהוה my rock
אֲרוֹמִמְךָ אֱלוֹהַי הַמֶּלֶךְ145:1I will exalt you my God the king
  • Psalm 137 closes the lament bracket with three voices of remembering. Lament has been with us since the early Korah Psalms 42-44.
  • Psalm 138 begins a series of Davidic Psalms expressing confidence, יהוה will complete his work for my sake.
  • Psalm 139 shows the intimate completion of this work, but trouble is still evident to the psalmist.
  • The violence of Psalm 140 is no surprise and reflects the language of early Psalms 7-11.
  • Psalm 141 closes the themes of traps and of the tongue that appear many times in Book 1.
  • Psalm 142 David’s final maskil closes a frame of appeal that was opened in Psalm 107 at the beginning of Book 5.
  • Psalm 143 looks for an end to enemies through God’s loving-kindness and recognizes that no one is justified in God’s sight.
  • Psalm 144 is the last of the Davidic personal cluster and closes with the plea, set me free and the prayer for bounty.
  • Psalm 145 is the final acrostic of praise with a heavy concentration of K sounds from the repetition of all and the second person singular pronoun. It closes with a doxology, allowing us to imagine the following five poems as a coda of praise for the whole Psalter.
The final Hallel sequence began the series here. Consider how we might move to the next strategy. This is suggested in the question: what is(are) the central verse(s) of each psalm?

הַלְלוּ יָהּ הַלְלִי נַפְשִׁי אֶת יְהוָה146:1Hallelu Yah Praise יהוה O my being
הַלְלוּ יָהּ כִּי טוֹב זַמְּרָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ147:1Hallelu Yah for it is good to sing a psalm to our God
הַלְלוּ יָהּ הַלְלוּ אֶת יְהוָה מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם  148:1Hallelu Yah Praise יהוה from the heavens
הַלְלוּ יָהּ שִׁירוּ לַיהוָה שִׁיר חָדָשׁ149:1Hallelu Yah Sing to יהוה a new song
הַלְלוּ יָהּ הַלְלוּ אֵל בְּקָדְשׁוֹ150:1Hallelu Yah Praise God in his holiness