Saturday, July 13, 2013

Memorizing the Psalms - 9 (73-83 Asaph, 84-89 Korah, David, Korah, Ethan)

In this series, I am considering strategies for memorizing all the psalms of the Hebrew Psalter.  Having come halfway, it should be evident that the strategy of 'first' verses is a failure - on two counts:
  1. it assumes we can identify the significant opening words.
  2. it has trouble with opening words repeated in more than one psalm.
So - an alternative strategy has occurred to me - what is(are) the central verse(s) of each psalm? I have had one response to 'famous' verses.  But 'central' verse is a challenge also.  I will continue the current series (more rapidly) - but will allow 'central' to be a recurring question.

We have reached Book 3 which I will treat in a single post - a big chunk for memory. Book 3 begins with 11 psalms of Asaph. (Psalm 50 was the first.)

אַךְ טוֹב לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֱלֹהִים73:1Surely God is good to Israel
לָמָה אֱלֹהִים זָנַחְתָּ לָנֶצַח74:1Why O God? will you reject us in perpetuity?
הוֹדִינוּ לְּךָ אֱלֹהִים הוֹדִינוּ75:2We give thanks to you O God we give thanks
נוֹדָע בִּיהוּדָה אֱלֹהִים76:2Renowned in Judah is God
קוֹלִי אֶל אֱלֹהִים וְאֶצְעָקָה77:2my voice to God and I cried out
הַאֲזִינָה עַמִּי תּוֹרָתִי78:1Listen my people to my instruction
אֱלֹהִים בָּאוּ גוֹיִם בְּנַחֲלָתֶךָ79:1O God the nations have come into your inheritance
רֹעֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל הַאֲזִינָה80:2Shepherd of Israel give ear
הַרְנִינוּ לֵאלֹהִים עוּזֵּנוּ81:2Shout for joy to God our strength
אֱלֹהִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת אֵל82:1God takes a stand in the divine assembly
אֱלֹהִים אַל דֳּמִי לָךְ83:2O God not mute for you
  • Psalm 73 is a singular personal reflection on touch and the heart. The poet is assured of presence: Even so, I myself am continually with you.
  • Psalm 74 is a corporate lament on the destruction of the temple. Axes and crowbars smite the ornate carving of the wood.
  • Psalm 75 reflects on the horn - both self-exaltation and the chopping off thereof.
  • Psalm 76 contains the central verse: the shattering of fire-brand and bow in Salem.
  • Psalm 77 ponders days, years, and eras, and continues the praise of the works of God from the prior psalms. It gives rise to
  • Psalm 78, a full recital of the canonical history of Israel.
  • Psalm 79 continues lament on the pouring out of Jerusalem.
  • Psalm 80 pleads for presence and salvation.
  • Psalm 81 commands joy, music as a statute, a judgment, and as a response to the testimony and the secrecy of the thunder.
  • Psalm 82 commands right judgment.
  • Psalm 83 pleads with God for help against the enemies, reaching back to the children of Lot.
We then continue to the end of Book 3 with 6 Psalms, 4 of the children of Korah (84, 85, 87, 88), punctuated with one of David (86), and finishing with the great lament of Ethan, Psalm 89.
מַה יְּדִידוֹת מִשְׁכְּנוֹתֶיךָ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת84:2How beloved your dwellings יהוה of hosts
רָצִיתָ יְהוָה אַרְצֶךָ85:2You were favorable יהוה with your land
תְּפִלָּה לְדָוִד הַטֵּה יְהוָה אָזְנְךָ 86:1Bend יהוה your ear
יְסוּדָתוֹ בְּהַרְרֵי קֹדֶשׁ87:1His foundation is on the holy hills
יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יְשׁוּעָתִי88:2יְהוָה the God of my salvation
חַסְדֵי יְהוָה עוֹלָם אָשִׁירָה89:2Of the loving-kindness of יהוה forever I will sing
  • Psalm 84 celebrates the courts of יהוה. It contains three beatitudes. This is respite in the midst of lament.
  • Psalm 85 in spite of fierce anger, celebrates the truth that grows from the earth.
  • Psalm 86 is the lone psalm of David in Book 2. It celebrates the character of God as portrayed in Exodus 34:8.
  • Psalm 87 celebrates the holy city and the multitude of peoples who were born there.
  • Psalm 88 is a personal lament with a central verse that recalls the troubles of Job. It leads directly to
  • Psalm 89, a long rehearsal of the promises to David and a list of 12 accusations against God for the sorry state of affairs with respect to the promise of a line of succession from David.