Psalm 83: Waiting for the Kingdom   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LVII

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Psalm 83

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Psalm 83 contains elements already familiar to me as I blog my way through the Psalter:

  1. A prayer for national deliverance,
  2. The identification of the enemies of Israel and Judah as the foes of God,
  3. Petitions for revenge against those adversaries, and
  4. The assertion of divine sovereignty.

I understand that all governments–even the most benevolent ones–are merely human.  Therefore, I do not assume that the adversaries of Israel and Judah (including the modern State of Israel) were/are necessarily enemies of God.  No government is beyond legitimate criticism, after all.

The real point of Psalm 83 seems to be to pray for what, in Christian terms, we call the fully-realized Kingdom of God.  The venom in the prayers of the attacked is both predictable and understandable.  Yet that venom is also spiritually toxic.  Giving voice to that venom for the purpose of purging the system has benefits.  Marinating in revenge fantasies has no benefits, though.

So, as we–regardless of our circumstances–await the fully-realized Kingdom of God, may injustice fill us with righteous indignation.  May we–both collectively and individually–act to leave the world and some corners of it better than we found them.  May we act as agents of God.  And may we never marinate in revenge fantasies.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF NYASALAND, AND MARTYR, 1862

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY BÉNÉZET, FRENCH-AMERICAN QUAKER ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

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Posted January 31, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 83

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Psalm 82: Demoted Elohim and Social Injustice   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LVI

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Psalm 82

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Psalm 82 is a timeless text containing a linguistic fossil of abandoned Jewish polytheism.  So, “the gods” or “the divine beings” (depending upon translation), formerly members of the divine council, are the elohim, literally.  They are demoted deities in the text.  “God” is also elohim, literally.  One elohim condemns the other elohim in Hebrew wordplay.

The demoted elohim have failed to administer the earth justly.  They have judged dishonestly/perversely (depending upon translation) and favored the wicked.  The demoted elohim have failed to grant justice to the poor, the orphaned, the lowly, and the wretched.  Therefore, God has condemned the demoted elohim to mortality.  And God, who is sovereign, is alone the true and just judge.  God is universal; the gods of the other peoples are not the masters of their allegedly patron nations.

Arise, O God, judge the earth,

for You hold in estate all the nations.

–Psalm 82:8, Robert Alter

The echo of Jewish polytheism, which took centuries to purge from the faith, does not surprise me.  The Bible speaks of this topic elsewhere–in prophetic writings, especially.  Archaeology also confirms it.  Yet I am not content to read Psalm 82 only on this level.  The ancient text contains a message for today, regardless of variations in circumstances.

Who are our elohim?  Who are those who are supposed to administer injustice yet do not?  Who are those who judge dishonestly and favor the wicked?  Who are those who deny justice of the poor, the orphans, the lowly, and the wretched?  Who are those who exploit others?  Those are our elohim.

Psalm 82 tells them:

Yet indeed like humans you shall die,

and like one of the princes, fall.

–Verse 7, Robert Alter

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 30, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF LESSLIE NEWBIGIN, ENGLISH REFORMED MISSIONARY AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT BATHILDAS, QUEEN OF FRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID GALVÁN BERMÚDEZ, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR IN MEXICO, 1915

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK OAKELEY, ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GENESIUS I OF CLERMONT AND PRAEJECTUS OF CLERMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINT AMARIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT JACQUES BUNOL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

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Posted January 30, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 82

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Psalm 81: Distractions and Faithlessness   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LV

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Psalm 81

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Walter Brueggemann classifies Psalm 81 as a psalm of disorientation–a text of hurt, alienation, and suffering.  This psalm–a liturgical text–recalls the faithfulness of God in freeing the Hebrew slaves from Egypt.  Then the text mentions the testing at Meribah (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:1-13).  (More on that will follow in the next paragraph.) Psalm 81 laments that the people whom God had liberated refused to listen to and to obey Him.  The text states, however, that they can still listen to and obey God, if only they will.  (Judaism lacks Original Sin, a doctrine which postdates Psalm 81).

Much of the Hebrew Bible, as it exists, is a cut-and-paste job.  So, doublets exist.  Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1-13, from different sources, illustrate this point.  In Exodus 17:1-7, mostly from E, God commands Moses to strike the rock.  Yet in Numbers 20:1-13, mostly from P, God commands Moses to speak to the rock.  Moses strikes the rock anyway.  In both versions of the story, though, people are faithless to God.  Psalm 81 regards the incident as a test the people failed.

The faithlessness in Psalm 81 is communal, with individual faithlessness contained within.  This may seem obvious, but the reminder may prove helpful in a society obsessed with individualism.

We–as congregations, cultures, societies, et cetera–may have short-term memories and lack properly cultivated long-term memories.  This motif occurs in the Torah, as in the aftermath of the Exodus.  My culture has rampant ADHD; we can barely remember what happened last month.  We, affected by overstimulation, do not focus well.  Therefore, we doom ourselves.  Those of us with temporal perspective and long-term memories suffer because of those with painfully short attention spans.

A people distracted by this, that, and the other cannot listen to and focus on God or anything else for long.  A people focused on talking cannot listen well.  A people focused on being active cannot be still for long.  A people focused on consumerism and materialism cannot focus on that which is intangible and everlasting.

I am a Gentile Christian.  Psalm 81 speaks to Jews, of course; it is a Jewish text.  The psalm also addresses Gentile Christians in community, influenced by distracted cultures.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, CO-WORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Posted January 29, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Genesis 17, Numbers 20, Psalm 81

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Psalm 78: Cautionary Tales   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LIV

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Psalm 78

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Psalm 78, 72 verses long, is the second-longest entry in the Psalter.  Psalm 78 is a liturgical text which recounts the faithfulness of God and the faithlessness of people over a span of centuries.  The text, which resembles Deuteronomy 32, dwells on the Exodus and the ensuing decades in the desert.  It concludes with a justification of the destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel and praise for the Davidic Dynasty.  The origin, therefore, is the Kingdom of Judah, after the Fall of Samaria (722 B.C.E.).

The purpose of this didactic text is to use the past to teach about the present:  learn the lessons previous generations failed to learn.  The portrayal of God is seemingly mixed.  Consider verses 38 and 39, in the context of rebelliousness in the wilderness, O reader:

Yet He is compassionate, He atones for crime and does not destroy,

and abundantly takes back His wrath

and does not arouse all His fury.

And He recalls that they are flesh,

a spirit that goes off and does not come back.”

–Robert Alter

Yet consider, O reader, verses toward the end of Psalm 78, in the context of the rebellion against the Davidic Dynasty and the rejection of the Temple in Jerusalem:

Yet He rejected the tent of Joseph,

and the tribe of Ephraim He did not choose.

And He chose the tribe of Judah,

Mount Zion that He loves.

–Verses 67-68, Robert Alter 

Those verses follow the recounting of violence against the people of the northern Kingdom of Israel.

Psalm 78 contains propaganda for the Davidic Dynasty.  Yet the text is far more than propaganda.  Motifs from throughout the Hebrew Bible occur here.  A partial list follows:

  1. The balance of divine judgment and mercy,
  2. The principle that God is like what God has done,
  3. The caution not to rebel against God, and
  4. The reminder that the ancestor’s story is the story of the present generation, too.

To paraphrase William Faulkner, the past is not even the past.

I, as a student and an erstwhile teacher of history, understand that the past is not even the past.  Politically charged debates about how to teach chattel slavery, for example, prove this point.  I favor brutally honest teaching of the past, so that we may learn from it.  But mine is an opinion which many people to my right scorn and label anti-American.

The author of Psalm 78, despite possessing a pronounced pro-Davidic Dynastic bias, favored a brutally honest recounting of the sins of the ancestors at the time of the Exodus and afterward.  The psalmist retold longer prose narratives in Hebrew poetry.  His cautionary poem did not have the intended effect, though.

The interpretation of the past as a cautionary tale frequently fails to have its intended effect, unfortunately.  But we must try, at least.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 28, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT AND HIS PUPIL, SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREI RUBLEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ICON WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL J. SIMUNDSON, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HENRY AUGUSTINE COLLINS, ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARNBY, ANGLICAN CHURCH MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SOMERSET CORRY LOWRY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Psalms 75, 76, and 77: Strength, Mercy, and Compassion   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LIII

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Psalms 75, 76, and 77

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Psalms 75, 76, and 77 are psalms “of Asaph,” a Levite and, for a time, the choir director at the Temple in Jerusalem.  These texts tell us of characteristics of God, in time and theology:

  1. God renders justice.
  2. God is victorious, and resident in Jerusalem.
  3. God properly inspires awe.
  4. God is sovereign.
  5. God has a track record of acting faithfully toward the Chosen People, as in the Exodus from Egypt.
  6. God’s faithfulness never disappears.
  7. God is merciful.
  8. God is compassionate.

Many people consider mercy and compassion to be signs of weakness.  They mistake being strong for being a cruel bastard.  In contrast, divine strength, mercy, and compassion coexist.  Yes, divine rescue of the oppressed may prove most unpleasant for the oppressors.  However, even in other circumstances, mercy and compassion flow from strength, just as cruelty flows from weakness and fear.  This fear is the fear of what will happen if one ceases to act cruelly.  So, cruelty becomes a perverse self-defense mechanism.

Just as God is strong enough to show mercy and compassion, may we mortals also possess such strength, mercy, and compassion.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 27, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JEROME, PAULA OF ROME, EUSTOCHIUM, BLAESILLA, MARCELLA, AND LEA OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CAROLINA SANTOCANALE, FOUNDER OF THE CAPUCHIN SISTERS OF THE IMMACULATE OF LOURDES

THE FEAST OF CASPAR NEUMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARY EVELYN “MEV” PULEO, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PHOTOJOURNALIST AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF PIERRE BATIFFOL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, HISTORIAN, AND THEOLOGIAN

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Posted January 27, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 75, Psalm 76, Psalm 77

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Psalm 72: High Standards for Leaders   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LII

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Psalm 72

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The Book of Psalms consists of five books; Book Two ends with Psalm 72, either “Of Solomon” or “For Solomon,” according to the superscription.  The superscription may be dubious, as superscriptions in the Book of Psalms tend to be.  Solomon’s reputation for wisdom seems dubious to me, given the total, Biblical depiction of him.

Psalm 72, possibly a coronation text, sets a high standard for the monarch.  He, ideally, governs justly, brings peace to the people, protects the poor, and crushes the oppressors.  From there the hyperbolic text extols the territorial range of the kingdom.  Much of the language applied to the king in Psalm 72 resembles terms reserved for God elsewhere in the Book of Psalms.

As Biblical narratives attest, most Kings of Israel and Judah fell far short of the exalted standards Psalm 72 sets forth.  Even David and Solomon were much worse than their nostalgic reputations.

Nevertheless, ideals are essential; they establish goals and standards.  When we fall short of ideals, we can measure our performance relative to them.  Optimistically, we can consider failure following an attempt to succeed a learning opportunity.  Then we can strive to do better the next time and to avoid repeating errors.  The metrics are tangible, not theoretical and abstract.

May all in authority exercise their power for the common good and think about the long term.  Whether because or despite their characters, may they decide and act wisely and leave the planet and their corners thereof better than they found them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, CO-WORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Posted January 26, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 72

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Psalms 70 and 71: Aging, Mature Faith   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART LI

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Psalms 70 and 71

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Psalms 70 and 71 were originally one text.

The psalmist, advanced in years (by the standards of his time, at least), felt besieged by enemies.  God seemed distant, and the attackers did not.  The psalmist prayed for divine deliverance, for his own sake and that of the glory of God.  He vowed to praise God in public after God rescued him, so that others would trust in God.

The Book of Psalms is repetitive both thematically and literally.  Most of the themes in Psalm 70 and 71 have become repetitive already.  Also, depending on the Biblical scholar one believes, Psalm 70 replicates Psalm 40:14-18 (Jewish versification) or Psalm 40:14-18 replicates Psalm 70, with minor variations.  Furthermore, Psalm 71 resembles Psalms 22 and 31.

Rather than repeat what I wrote about Psalms 22, 31, and 40, I focus on another topic.  An aging, mature faith can help one navigate the difficulties of life.  I am old enough to have some grasp of this point.  I expect that, if I live long enough, I will understand this point much better.  Faith grows on a person and settles into one’s essence.  Then a person can use the gift of hindsight to recognize that God did this, that, and the other thing.  So, one can more easily trust God to act faithfully again.  This human faith need not necessarily be extroverted; faithful introversion is acceptable.  My faith is quiet and introverted; I like saints who were holy hermits.

When a relationship is what it should be, it improves with the passage of time.  That relationship also changes those involved in it for the better.  When a relationship is not what it should be, these statements do not apply.

As my spirituality ages and matures, it remains as intellectual and academic as ever.  However, mysticism and asceticism are becoming more prominent.  Life changes a person.  And, as I reflect on my life having collapsed twice, I recognize that God has always been present.

I anticipate the rest of my walk with God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 25, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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Posted January 25, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 22, Psalm 31, Psalm 40, Psalm 70, Psalm 71

Psalm 69: Lamentation and Hope   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART L

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Psalm 69

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Psalm 69 uses the metaphor of drowning in the hatred of other people, including relatives.  The psalm may be either an individual lament from the context of reproach or a lament for the destruction of the First Temple in 587/586 B.C.E.  The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014) argues that the themes of exile and mourning pervade Psalm 69.  So, perhaps the singular voice in the psalm is the personification of the people of Judah.  Support for this interpretation comes from the confidence at the end that

God will deliver Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah.

I break my train of thought to make a note of something I would ignore otherwise.  If I do not get off-topic, someone may criticize me for the omission.  Yes, I recognize the traditional Christian interpretation related to Jesus, in the context of Holy Week and the Passion narrative–bearing reproach for others, having to drink vinegar, et cetera.  Yet I also insist that the psalmist had something quite different in mind.  So, now I return to my main topic.

Retaining hope in God in grim circumstances can be difficult for both individuals and groups.  The historical record of Jews alone contains many dark times and a plethora of oppression.  Judaism continues to grapple with the Holocaust, understandably.  Despite the difficulty of hanging onto hope in God in the midst of legitimate lament, retaining that hope is essential.

A story from the Holocaust indicates such hope during dark times:

A Nazi guard in a concentration camp mocked a Jew, assigned to clean the disgusting toilets.  The guard asked:

Where is your God now?

The Jew replied:

Here, beside me in the muck.

The lives of the faithful are not all prosperity, kittens, and success.  Trials and tribulations are par for the course, as many psalms understand.  God remains present constantly.  If we cannot “see” God, we need to look in the right place, where God is near.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 24, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI-TIM-OI, FIRST FEMALE PRIEST IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF BOB KEESHAN, CAPTAIN KANGAROO

THE FEAST OF LINDSAY BARTHOLOMEW LONGACRE, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND HYMN TUNE COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIE POUSSEPIN, FOUNDER OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF CHARITY OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE VIRGIN

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF PODLASIE, 1874

THE FEAST OF SAINT SURANUS OF SORA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR, 580

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Posted January 24, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 69

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Psalm 68: The Sovereignty of God   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART XLIX

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Psalm 68

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Psalm 68 is either the most difficult entry in the Psalter or one of the most difficult psalms, depending on the Biblical scholar with whom one agrees.  The disjointed text contains 15 words found nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible, plus many words rare in that canon.  Psalm 68, which reads like a series of first lines of psalms, describes the divine victory over God’s foes and affirms Jerusalem’s status as the place of divine dominion.

Psalm 68 does have a coherent message, though:

The reign of God is never fully manifested; it is always opposed.  The people of Israel and Jerusalem were regularly assaulted; Jesus was crucified.  Or, to put it in slightly different terms, the proclamation of God’s reign is always polemical.  For the psalmist, to say that Yahweh is sovereign means that Baal is not.  For first-century Christians, to say that Jesus is Lord meant that Caesar is not.  For contemporary Christians, to say that God rules the world, and that Jesus is Lord is to deny ultimacy and ultimate allegiance to a host of other claims–national security, political parties, economic systems, ethnic heritage, job, family, self.  Indeed, the underlying temptation represented by Baalism is perhaps more prevalent than ever–that is, to conclude that human beings can manipulate the deity and thus ensure security by our own efforts.

–J. Clinton McCann, Jr., in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 4 (1996), 947

The illusion of control may be near the top of the list of most common idols.  This illusion feeds our egos and creates and exacerbates a plethora of unnecessary problems.  Indeed, to accept the sovereignty of God entails surrendering other sources of identity.  In some contexts, to accept to accept the sovereignty of God may make on a traitor, as in the case of Christians for centuries during the Roman imperial period.  In the context of the Roman imperial cult:

Christianity was, quite unambiguously, a cosmic sedition.

–David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions:  The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (2009), 124

And the Book of Revelation, which denounces the Roman Empire as being Satanic, constitutes treason against the Roman Empire.  The Apocalypse of John is not a go-along, get-along text.

Our identities as people of God are properly rooted in God.  God properly and fully defines us.  Our accomplishments do not properly and fully define us.  Neither do our socio-economic status, our careers, our partisan affiliations, our cultures, our skin colors, our genders, or anything else.  And we depend on God.  Can we handle these truths?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD GRUBB, ENGLISH QUAKER AUTHOR, SOCIAL REFORMER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE A. BUTTRICK, ANGLO-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS SON, DAVID G. BUTTRICK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEN UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF JAMES D. SMART, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS, AND HYMN WRITER

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Psalms 65, 66, and 67: Blessed Silence   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF PSALMS

PART XLVIII

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Psalms 65, 66, and 67

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Psalms 65, 66, and 67 are similar to each other; they speak of the universal acknowledgment of God.  Furthermore, Psalm 67 resembles Psalm 65 and continues the theme of blessing present at the conclusion of Psalm 66.  The clustering of these psalms is logical.

Sometimes I compare translations and wonder what is happening in the Hebrew text.  Consider Psalm 65:2 (Jewish versification), O reader.  Mitchell J. Dahood’s version reads:

Praise to you in the mighty castle,

O God in Zion.

And vows shall be paid to you….

The “mighty castle” is Heaven, according to Dahood’s germane note.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures offers:

Praise befits You in Zion, O God;

vows are paid to You….

“Zion” refers to the Temple, not Heaven.

Robert Alter’s version reads:

To You silence is praise, O God, in Zion,

and to You a vow will be paid.

Dahood’s “mighty castle” has become “silence.”  Alter’s germane note cites linguistic reasons for this translation choice and argues that the verse teaches that divine greatness exceeds that which human words can express.  Ironically, the psalmist does not remain silent, as Psalm 65 attests.

Psalms 65 and 66, which feature the Temple (First or Second?) prominently, speak of the blessings and universality of God.  The greatness of God is evident in nature, we read.  People across the world stand in awe of God and signs of God’s works.  Divine glory is also evident in victory.  And God, having tested the Hebrews, has never abandoned them, we read in Psalm 66.

Exegetes disagree whether the origin of Psalm 66 was before or after the Babylonian Exile.  Either one seems probable.  I suggest a plausible scenario:  the psalm is pre-exilic yet the version we have is the edited, final form after the Babylonian Exile.  We cannot be sure which explanation is correct.

Psalm 67, picking up where Psalm 66 terminates, predicts that people across the known world will praise God or says that they do–depending on translation.  God rules equitably, we read.  Also, the blessings of God are evident in the fertile earth.

Words have their place.  They can be useful and necessary.  Psalms 65, 66, and 67 use many words for noble and pious purposes.  However, I return to Robert Alter’s translation of Psalm 65:2:

To You silence is praise, O God, in Zion,

and to You a vow will be paid.

Has anything ever moved you, O reader, to reverent silence?  I have known that spiritual state.

My culture fears silence.  I seldom enter a store or a restaurant that does not have music playing in it.  When I visit some homes, the din of the television distracts me.  My lifestyle entails much silence–no radio, television, et cetera–blaring for hours at a time.  I do consume audio and visual media, but at a reduced rate.  Distracting sounds get in the way of my thinking and listening.

Silence can be more than praise; it can enable listening to God.  Contemplative prayer is a legitimate form of prayer.  My experience tells me that the silence I need to achieve primarily inside my mind.  That is more difficult to gain and maintain than external silence.  When we can turn off all the noise–both external and internal–and intentionally be in God’s presence–we have blessed silence.

I am halfway there most of the time.

May we all, by grace, have and embrace utter silence before God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2023 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN LAY, AMERICAN QUAKER ABOLTIONIST

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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