Monday, January 4, 2021

Psalms 75-76

Psalms 75-76 share about 33% of their words. Both psalms of Asaph, they have several shared roots, notably: thanks, name, judgment, earth, all, pillars / stand, announce / aristocrats. The last two are puns. The use of hand is contrasted, the hand of Yahweh in 75, hands failing in 76.

The role of the psalmist is magnified as a herald for ever. Who is the speaker in each phrase? Verse 7 has two of the four cardinal points (east, the going forth, west, the setting).

I ask this question in Seeing the Psalter

Who is the mysterious subject I who judges the upright and stabilizes the pillars of the earth and gives instruction to the boastful? On resumption in verse 10, does the psalmist become the subject I since the psalmist clearly can sing a psalm? But we would hardly expect the psalmist to chop off the horns of the wicked. If we did, then the poet would be acting in the place of God. But perhaps that is part of the mystery or perhaps there are two voices in these verses. Who are we that our words might have such an effect?

Tate summarizes psalm 75 around the three metaphors: the pillars, the foaming cup, and the horns. He notes that others have wrestled with the abrupt changes of speaker in the poem. He separates the speakers of verses 10 (human praise) and 11 (a closing oracle, i.e. God speaking). I would not use the term oracle (nvm) here since technically it is explicit in two psalms only, 37 and 110. Tate then cites Gunkel that "the speaker is cooperating with God in the divine judgment". 

spr thlim

Book of Psalms

yh

75

almnxk al-twkt.
mzmor lasf wir.
1For the leader. Do not destroy.
A psalm of Asaph. A song.
bhodinu lç alohim hodinu vqrob wmç,
sipru nplaotiç.
2We give thanks to you O God we give thanks. And your name is near,
your wonders recount.
gci aqk moyd,
ani miwrim awpo't.
3For I will receive at the appointed time,
I myself the upright will judge.
dnmogim arx vcl-iowbih.
anoci ticnti ymudih slh.
4Softened is earth and all those sitting in her.
I even I stabilize her pillars. Selah.
hamrti lhollim al-tholu,
vlrwyim al-trimu qrn.
5I said to the boastful, Do not boast,
and to the wicked, Do not exalt the horn.
val-trimu lmrom qrncm,
tdbru bxvvar ytq.
6Do not exalt on high your horn,
or speak with a stiff neck.
zci la mmoxa ummyrb,
vla mmdbr hrim.
7For not from the going forth or from the setting,
nor from the wilderness, is exaltation.
kci-alohim wop't.
zh iwpil vzh irim.
8For God is judge.
This one he humbles and this one he exalts.
'tci cos bid-ihvh viin kmr mla msç vigr mzh.
aç-wmrih imxu iwtu,
col rwyi-arx.
9For there is a cup in the hand of Yahweh and the wine is red, full of mixture, and he wrings out from it.
Surely the dregs they will suck, will imbibe,
all the wicked of the earth.
ivani agid lyolm.
azmrh lalohi iyqob.
10But I myself, I will announce forever.
I will sing a psalm to the God of Jacob.
iavcl-qrni rwyim agdy.
trommnh qrnot xdiq.
11And all the horns of the wicked I will chop off.
I will exalt the horns of one who is righteous.

yv

76

almnxk bnginot.
mzmor lasf wir.
1For the leader. On strings.
A psalm of Asaph. A song.
bnody bihudh alohim.
biwral gdol wmo.
2Renowned in Judah is God.
In Israel great is his name.
gvihi bwlm suco,
umyonto bxion.
3And there is in Salem his booth,
and his habitation in Zion.
dwmh wibr rwpi-qwt,
mgn vkrb umlkmh slh.
4There he shatters the fire-brands of bow,
shield, and sword, and battle. Selah.
hnaor ath adir mhrri-'trf. 5Light-giving you are more excellent than mountains of prey.
vawtollu abiri lb nmu wntm,
vla-mxau cl-anwi-kil idihm.
6Taken as spoil are the mighty of heart. They have slumbered their sleep,
and all forceful persons fail to find their hands.
zmgyrtç alohi iyqob,
nrdm vrcb vsus.
7From your rebuke O God of Jacob,
stupefied are both chariot and horse.
kath nora ath umi-iymod lpniç maz apç? 8You are to be feared, you yourself, and who can stand in your presence at the onset of your anger?
'tmwmiim hwmyt din.
arx irah vwq'th,
9From heaven you made sentence heard.
Earth feared and was quiet,
ibqum-lmwp't alohim,
lhowiy cl-ynvvi-arx slh.
10When God arose to judgment,
to save all the afflicted of the earth. Selah.
iaci-kmt adm todç.
warit kmot tkgor.
11For human heat will thank you.
The residue of heat you will wear.
ibndru vwlmu lihvh alohicm.
cl-sbibiv,
iobilu wi lmora.
12Vow and pay to Yahweh your God.
All round about him,
convey tribute fearfully.
igibxor ruk ngidim.
nora lmlci-arx.
13He will enclose the spirit of aristocrats.
He will be feared by the kings of the earth.

Psalm 76 is not one of the Do Not Destroy psalms as is Psalm 75. According to Tate, it is classed with other Psalms of Zion (46, 48, 84, 87). It seems to divide nicely into 4 three verse stanzas. I think this should be verified from the music. At first glance, such a simple form does not seem to stand. 

Verse 5 is connected through its opening note (g) as a comment on the prior verse. (Perhaps it is the content of the Selah!) Verses 6 and 7 are similarly connected. Verses 8 and 9 also. The second verse of each pair makes the connection by starting the verse on a g rather than the usual tonic e. So I would divide, based on the music 1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-10, 11-13. Fear dominates the last 6 verses. (Earth quiet has been observed in the past year.)

This is not how I divided the psalm in Seeing the Psalter, which I wrote when I had only 3 years experience with the music.

  • Only verse 12 is a tricolon. 
  • Verses 5 has no rest. It is a single thought complementing verse 4. Pace the Selah. 
  • Verse 8, also without a rest, is a fearfully wrought line with a stark sudden rise to the sixth, and then a recitation alternating between the super-tonic and the tonic.



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