Thursday, July 4, 2013

Memorizing the Psalms - 8 (66-72 Harvest, David, Solomon)

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

In this post we reach the end of Book 2. Two psalms, 66 and 67, each without inscription to a named individual, reflect on harvest. These are in the centre of circles spanning Books 2 and 3 and defined by psalms inscribed to Korah, Asaph, and David. So we have three more psalms of David, then Psalm 71 without inscription, and the last of Book 2, Psalm 72, inscribed of Solomon (see also Psalm 127). Book 3 begins with 11 Psalms inscribed 'of Asaph', and thereafter continues with psalms of the children of Korah.
הָרִיעוּ לֵאלֹהִים כָּל הָאָרֶץ66:1Raise a shout to God all the earth
אֱלֹהִים יְחָנֵּנוּ וִיבָרְכֵנוּ67:2God will be gracious to us and will bless us
יָקוּם אֱלֹהִים יָפוּצוּ אוֹיְבָיו68:2God will arise his enemies will be dispersed
הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹהִים כִּי בָאוּ מַיִם עַד נָפֶשׁ69:2Save me O God for the waters have come up to the throat
אֱלֹהִים לְהַצִּילֵנִי יְהוָה לְעֶזְרָתִי חוּשָׁה70:1O God to deliver me יהוה to my help hurry
בְּךָ יְהוָה חָסִיתִי71:1In you יהוה I take refuge
לִשְׁלֹמֹה אֱלֹהִים מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ לְמֶלֶךְ תֵּן72:1O God give your judgments to the king
Psalms 66 and 67 continue the theme of harvest begun in Psalm 65. Psalm 66 contains the last mention of burnt offering. The root for burnt offering, עלה (`lh) appears in every book of the Psalter, but it is rendered from this point on as ascend or from above or climb or offer up, as well as the derived word for the Songs of Ascent. It is curious to me that the burnt offering should change into ascension after Psalm 67, a harvest centre of the Psalter defined by the circles of the inscriptions.
  • Psalm 66 speaks of the discipline of bringing the elect through fire and water after the manner of Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. The harvest is a harvest of humanity. There is a fearful prodigality in the works of God. 
  • In Psalm 67, the produce of the earth is structurally opposite in all nations your salvation. The central verse concerns judgment with equity.
  • Psalm 68 celebrates the presence of God and the gifts to humanity in the ascension of the chariot of God, even to the rebellious.
  • Psalm 69 considers the high cost of the harvest.
  • Psalm 70 repeats a portion of Psalm 40 tying the end of Book 1 to the end of Book 2.
  • Psalm 71 requests consideration in old age.
  • Psalm 72 celebrates the reign of the king's son. Here is the source of the English hymn verse 'he shall come down like flowers upon the fruitful earth'.