Literary analysis of Psalm 30 – “You have turned my lament into dancing for me”

   Click here to read “Psalm Thirty: Translation of the Song” Song 30 presents a puzzle in its opening verse: “a song for the dedication of the Temple” (v. 1). For the Temple was built not by David but by his son, Solomon. It would seem, then, that David composed the song for the Temple that …

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Literary analysis of Psalm 29

  Click here to read “Psalm Twenty-nine: Translation of the Song”   Song 29 is a symphony of words: verses 1 to 9 compose a crescendo of sound; verses 10 and 11, a diminuendo rather than a resolution. Verse 1 is an exhortation to the “children of the strong” to acknowledge the “glory and strength” of Adonai. Certainly the …

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Literary analysis of Psalm 28 – I will thank Him with my song.

The dominant imagery of Song 28 is, appropriately enough in a praisesong, that of sound:                                                       To You, Adonai, I call.                 …

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Literary analysis of Psalm 26 – But I walk with sincerity; redeem me and be gracious to me.

Although it is certainly a praisesong, Song 26 seems intended to be spoken, rather than sung. Probably because it is a self-defense, as if it were being argued in a divine court (“the abode of Your house”, v.8), before the judge, Adonai. No prosecutor; simply the closing arguments of the defendant. That argument is framed …

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Literary analysis of Psalm 25 – “To You, O Lord, I will lift up my soul”

Song 25 makes an intruder out of its reader or listener. The sense is of overhearing an intensely intimate prayer.* And yet, paradoxically, the frame of the song, that which determines its structure, is formal — each line begins, in Hebrew, with a letter of the alphabet, in their proper order. Perhaps the contradiction between …

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Literary analysis of Psalm 24 – Who shall go up on the mount of ADONAI

The sound and the sense of Song 24 suggest a pageant. In contrast to the personal tone of Song 23, Song 24’s is formal, dominated by rhetorical questions and answers, as though two voices, or, more probably, two choruses are meant to sing the roles of questioner and responder. The song begins with a declaration …

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Literary analysis of Psalm 23

  Click here to read “Psalm Twenty-three: Translation of the Song” The metaphor that opens Song 23, of the shepherd and His sheep, evokes a sense of safety: a shepherd does not merely herd his sheep, as his name implies; his duty is to ensure their safety –to keep them from straying and to protect them from …

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Literary Analysis of Psalm 22

 Click here to read “Psalm Twenty-two: Translation of the Song” Two visions create Song 22; one perceives the present and one, the future. Each describes an extreme state of being and each is the polar opposite of the other. The song opens with the voicing of an anguish so intense that, more than a cry, it …

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Literary Analysis of Psalm 21

Both the structure of the praisesong and its themes are complements. Each describes the singer’s feeling of certainty; his sureness of God’s protection and his gratitude for it. No wonder, then, that the most striking repetition in the song is the word “Indeed”, that begins verses 4, 7, 8, 12 and 13, for it denotes …

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Literary analysis of Psalm 27 – One thing I ask of Adonai

For the entire month of Elul, leading into Succot, this Psalm is traditionally read at both morning and evening services. Perhaps because its last stanza –“Hope in Adonai; be strong and of good courage!”`– may fortify those who recite it, as they face the Days of Repentance and Judgement. Perhaps because the first line of …

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