Psalms 136-138   1 comment

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POST LVI 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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In full Jewish style, Psalm 136 praises God for what He does and has done; God is like what He does and has done, Hebrew theology tells us.

His steadfast love is eternal,

we keep reading in refrain in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985).  The Hebrew word translated as “steadfast love” is hesed; it also translates into English as kindness, mercy, and grace.  This hesed is everlasting.  The God of Psalm 136 is the same figure the author of Psalm 138 praises with all our heart, also while citing everlasting hesed.

The author of Psalm 137 does not seem to have God’s hesed on his mind.  The text is the lament of exiles in the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  Not surprisingly, the psalmist is resentful–so much that he fantasizes about dashing Chaldean babies against rocks.

Though I walk among enemies,

You preserve me in the face of my foes;

You extend Your hand;

with Your right hand You deliver me.

The LORD will settle accounts for me.

O LORD, Your steadfast love is eternal;

do not forsake the work of Your hands.

–Psalm 138:7-8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Psalm 138, even with its morally disturbing desire for divine retribution, does express confidence in God.  That confidence is absent from Psalm 137, although a vendetta is present.

The combination of the pious and the morally disturbing in Psalms 136-138, taken together, is human and honest.  Such honesty before God can be spiritually beneficial, if one is open to transformation by God.

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 136-138

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

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