Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Psalms 53

Psalms 53 is a different version of Psalms 14 (Tate). Both are listed below. Compare the verses numbered 6. Note that 53 uses God in a few places where 14 uses Yahweh. Buttenwieser, page 476, treats them together in the post-exilic section. Tate rejects Buttenweiser's idea that Psalm 53 is merely the product of editorial changes or textual corruption. The Jerusalem Bible claims textual corruption also. Perhaps that was the dominant theory when it was produced in the '50s.

You might notice I did not use fool. I do use words related to fool for another root, avil. Here the root is nbl, a fascinating word, worth scanning the concordance (click the link and look for fool in your browser) to note the different usages it has from corpse to lute to skin-bottle. I have reclassified a few of these into my domain of Foolish, one that I had rarely used, but there are more glosses that apply to it.

It is quite possible to be senseless, to consider God to be of no account. But note the beginning and the ending of this psalm. We often forget the endings. Like the whole Psalter, the beginning is insight based on instruction and the end is rejoicing. Does this indicate that even the misdirected energy of injustice and corruption will work toward praise? In the middle of the poem, (did they not know), perhaps we can begin to mature and come to our senses.

spr thlim

Book of Psalms

ng

53

almnxk yl-mklt mwcil ldvid. 1For the leader. In illness. An insight of David.
bamr nbl blibo ain alohim.
hwkitu vhtyibu yvvl ain yowh-'tob.
2Senseless said in its heart, God? Nothing.
They destroy, they do abomination, injustice. There is none doing good.
galohim mwmiim hwqif yl-bni-adm,
lraot hiw mwcil,
dorw at-alohim.
3God from the heavens leaned over to have a look at the human children,
to see if there was any insight,
searching out God.
dculo sg ikdiv nalku.
ain yowh-'tob,
ain gm-akd.
4Every one spineless, altogether corrupt.
There is none doing good,
not even a single one.
hhloa idyu poyli-avvn,
aocli ymi aclu lkm?
alohim la qrau.
5Did they not know, these workers of mischief,
eating my people as they eat bread?
God they do not call.
vwm pkdu pkd la-hih-pkd,
ci-alohim pizr yxmot konç.
hbiwot ci-alohim masm.
6There they dread dread where dread is not there,
because God scattered the bones of those armed against you.
You shamed them, because God refused them.
zmi iitn mxion iwuyot iwral?
bwub alohim wbut ymo,
igl iyqob iwmk iwral.
7When will the salvation of Israel be given from Zion?
When God turns the captivity of his people,
Jacob will rejoice. Israel will be glad.

spr thlim

Book of Psalms

id

14

almnxk ldvid.
amr nbl blibo ain alohim.
hwkitu htyibu ylilh ain yowh-'tob.
1For the leader. Of David.
Senseless said in its heart, God? Nothing.
They destroy, they do abomination, wantonness. There is none doing good.
bihvh mwmiim hwqif yl-bni-adm,
lraot hiw mwcil,
dorw at-alohim.
2Yahweh, from the heavens, leaned over to have a look at the human children,
to see if there was any insight,
searching out God.
ghcol sr ikdiv nalku.
ain yowh-'tob,
ain gm-akd.
3The lot of them are stubborn, altogether corrupt.
There is none doing good,
not even a single one.
dhloa idyu cl-poyli-avvn,
aocli ymi aclu lkm?
ihvh la qrau.
4Did they not know, all these workers of mischief,
eating my people as they eat bread?
Yahweh they do not call.
hwm pkdu pkd,
ci-alohim bdor xdiq.
5There they dread dread,
because God is in the generation of one who is righteous.
vyxt-yni tbiwu,
ci ihvh mkshu.
6You shame the advice of the poor,
because Yahweh is their refuge.
zmi iitn mxion iwuyt iwral?
bwub ihvh wbut ymo,
igl iyqob iwmk iwral.
7When will the salvation of Israel be given from Zion?
When Yahweh turns the captivity of his people,
Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.
In the context of this psalm, I have been thinking about sense, sensible, and senseless because of the senselessness happening in the southern parts of Turtle Island. (Christopher Page at In a spacious place has just commented on this and related subjects.)

Freedom and Faith are two of the big words making the rounds these days. There are many such words and many words have been written about them. If I believed in absolute freedom, and if I believed in the Messiahship of any old leader who happens to come along, I would be very upset if my idol lost an election. But I do not believe in either 'absolute freedom' or that any old leader who happens to come along is anointed. Nor did I ever believe such. I know at least one Canadian fellow, a zealous Christian boy about 30, 5 years ago, who told me that Trump would be the saviour of the US. Perhaps indeed, but only by his negative example.

Who knows, (I won't say), but zeal in a 30 year old is to be considered with care. I also have friends, much older I expect, who might believe that Trump never lied, but I won't say here either. How long does it take a human to mature? And how does one actually manage the decisions about truth and falsehood that we must make in our own minds every day? It is a very careful and very careless process. If you are a scholar, you are careful, but who can afford to footnote opinions in a conversation? Only the pedant.

Did he lose? Yes he did. 

Did he deserve to lose? Yes, and by a much wider margin than he actually did. 

I am free to hold the second statement as an opinion. I am responsible for whatever consequences it implies, like that I think a large proportion of citizens of the USA were deluded, and perhaps still are. I am free to say the first statement that he lost and free to seek information to determine the factuality of that statement. I am free to speak as long as my freedom does not harm others. Does it harm someone to think that I may consider them uninformed? I doubt it. I may do them good. It would harm them if I agreed with them or coddled them. Then they would not mature.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you will know that it is by the cross, not by holding the right opinions, not by believing the right things, that we mature. If you are faithful in this following, you will also know that such freedom to follow is a kind of bond-service, free at last, but bound to a real leader, so hardly free at all.

As I look at social behaviour, I see that people use words and particularly words from religious texts to take power over others. We should know when such an act is abuse of power. We should know when true statements are being used as lies. 

There are tensions of course between texts and tensions between policies. Should we wear a mask? I haven't heard anyone quote Paul on this yet, but they could (wrongly of course): from 2 Corinthians, "We all with open face, etc...")  But we wear a mask to protect others from our ghastly emanations from nose and mouth, visible and invisible. (So much for the glory of the open face.)

Jesus and Moses trump Paul in this case, for they say we should love our neighbours. And wearing a mask at this time, or keeping your distance and not shaking hands, are acts of love for your neighbour, not an infringement of your social or religious rights.

And as far as election is concerned, there is a public record of the problems with prejudice, politics and fairness to our south. Of course, people who need to will not see the record. Particularly on 'rigging the vote'. The vote was not 'rigged' but attempts at voter suppression were made because some people do not want to let other people vote. They would not admit this openly, but they would do and have done any and all of the following: declare mail-in voting as fraudulent, disrupt the mail, provide only one dropbox in a large county, make signature verification procedurally difficult, provide too few polling places, define the counties such that minority votes fail to be seen, and refuse to accept an outcome that they didn't want.

So again - Who is Yahweh that God should turn the captivity of his people. To what are we captive?



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