Psalm 18: Impassioned of God   Leave a comment




Psalm 18


The hymn in 2 Samuel 22 may be the basis for Psalm 18.  Alternatively, the hymn in 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 derive from a common source.  The hymn in 2 Samuel 22 is older than Psalm 18, for various linguistic reasons exegetes write about at length.  Those explanations are interesting, but they are also irrelevant for my purpose here today.

Psalm 18:2 does not exist in 2 Samuel 22.  TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures renders this verse:

I adore you, O LORD, my strength….

Yet Robert Alter’s translation reads:

I am impassioned of you, LORD, my strength.

The verb Alter translates as “impassioned” is an Aramaic usage that makes its only Hebrew Biblical appearance in this verse.  An alternative translation of that verb is “love.”

Psalm 18 goes on to recount God’s faithfulness to David, chiefly in delivering him from perils.

I choose to focus on being impassioned of God.  Being impassioned of God is positive.  Yet, like anything else that is good and wholesome, some people take it to ridiculous extremes.  So, in some Evangelical circles, for example, people speak of Jesus as if he were a boyfriend.  He is the savior, not a main squeeze.  I realize that, in some Christian mystical traditions, female saints have spoken of God as a lover.  Yet that reflects Biblical language, at least.

Some exegetes–including two whose work I consulted–advise reading verse 2 as

I exalt you.

They may be correct, of course.  Yet what if verse 2 does refer to love, an impassioned state?  Is that scandalous?

Artur Weiser writes:

…these words irradiate the whole psalm, illuminating it with the gentle light of the worshipper’s surrender of his heart to God, an act which springs from the uttermost depths of his personal inner life and, as can be gathered from the psalm’s conclusion (cf. vv. 50 and 19) draws its motivating power from the love which God bestows upon the worshipper.

The Psalms:  A Commentary (1962), 188

I have experienced passion and lust.  Therefore, I understand how they are similar and different.  They share some characteristics and overlap.  Yet passion lasts longer and runs deeper.  It is also more rewarding and more prone to heartbreak.

When we apply passion to spiritual life, we enter territory sages have pioneered.  We explore spiritual intimacy with God.  And we travel a path along which we may find that words prove woefully inadequate.  So be it.

Our journey down this path is never a solo trip.  No, we travel with God and with all who have followed this path before us.  And we may become surprised when we realize who with a pulse in our spiritual caravan.  We have spiritual community on this great journey.

May we–you, O reader, and I–impassioned of God, manifest that passion only in ways which glorify God and draw others to God.  May we not be like the anecdotal recent converts who embarrass longtime adherents.  May we not make fools of ourselves and embarrass God either.





This is post #2800 of BLOGA THEOLOGICA.



Posted December 25, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 18

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