Psalms 126-131   1 comment

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POST LIV OF LX

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The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes a plan for reading the Book of Psalms in morning and evening installments for 30 days.  I am therefore blogging through the Psalms in 60 posts.

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 226

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Psalms 120-134 are Songs of Ascents, which pilgrims to Jerusalem used en route to festivals at the Temple.

Psalm 126 contains some interesting wrinkles.  In some translations the possibly postexilic text begins in the past tense (“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion”); it starts in the present tense (“When the LORD restores the fortunes of Zion”) in others.  Verse 4 is likewise either in the present tense (“Restore our fortunes, O LORD”) or the past tense (“Yahweh restored our fortunes”).  Comparing English-language translations reveals a variety of combinations of the present and past tenses in verses 1 and 4, thereby leading to a range of possible interpretations.  If, for example, one reads verse 1 in the past tense and verse 4 in the present tense, one might wonder why God needs to restore the fortunes of Zion again.  Yet, if one accepts the translation (present tense in verses 1 and 4) in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985), that interpretation does not apply.

As a Presbyterian minister in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, told me,

Translating Hebrew is a bear.

Regardless of how one interprets Psalm 126, Psalms 126-131, taken together, emphasize the reality that we, both collectively and individually, depend entirely upon God, of whom hesed (faithfulness/mercy/kindness/steadfast love) is a characteristic of the Almighty.

O Israel, what for the LORD

now and forever.

–Psalm 131:3, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

That is sage advice for societies and individuals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

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One response to “Psalms 126-131

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  1. Pingback: Guide Post to the Septuagint Psalter Project | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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