Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Psalms 111 - 118

Eight More Psalms!

111 A short "Praise the Lord" Psalm -- it opens with that phrase -- touching on the greatness and majesty of God, his propensity for giving his followers sustainance and the ability to conquer other peoples, and his justice and uprightness.

112 A Psalm about how great and successful life is going to be for a righteous man who believes in God, with a short coda about how miserable things will go for wicked people.

113 The third Psalm in a row beginning with "Praise the Lord," this is a short passage that does just that. God is praised particularly as one who lifts up the poor and makes barren women fertile.

114 A short and somewhat cryptic celebration of God's miracles during the Exodus.

115 Ooh! Psalm 115 is suddenly RICH in theological content! For starters, it introduces the brand-new idea that there is a specific non-earthly dwelling place of God: Why do the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. (2-3) Then, it explicitly takes on polytheism. In verses 4-8 it says that the idols of the surrounding peoples have mouths, but cannot speak, and so on through eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet, which can not walk, and then it darkly hints that those who worship the idols will end up the same way.

Yet even while it makes these big gestures towards standard Christian theology as I learned it in Sunday school, it retains the general Old Testament line against life after death: The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man. It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. (16-18)

116 A fairly ecstactic prayer of fealty to God, in thanks for having "turned his ear" to the Psalmist and delivered him from all of his problems.

117 Is tiny. Here it is in its entirety:

1 Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.
(It says here in the footnote that the bit translated as "Praise the Lord" is, in Hebrew, Hallelu Yah. I'll be.)

118 A long prayer proclaiming the physical protection afforded by God, and encouraging everyone to celebrate and praise God.

Psalm 119: Is long and looks kind of... unusual. So we'll stop here for now.

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