my’- from psalms 44 and 63

15 May

How do the Psalms differ?

each psalm song is a prayer of beauty, a voice of caressing, spoken love by a singer who could not utter their heart in words or music before- and then, as sons of Korah, or David, – songs, psalms

“Psalm 44[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.[b]

1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;

our ancestors have told uswhat you did in their days,

in days long ago.

2 With your hand you drove out the nations

and planted our ancestors;

you crushed the peoples

    and made our ancestors flourish.

3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,

nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm,

and the light of your face, for you loved them.

4 You are my King and my God,

who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.”

Footnotes tell stories. Footnote ‘c’ speaks this story, [c] Psalm 44:4 Septuagint, Aquila and Syriac; Hebrew King, O God; / command

Here, God ‘commands’/decrees victories. The God/King is addressed with the pronoun ‘you’. The sons of Korah sing to, sing at, God in this text. Verse one has the words, ‘we/our/is/their’ in its opening.

These pronouns are personal, yet not intimate. They reflect a community singing, expressing, at a distance.

As verse 4 sings, “You are my King and my God, who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.”

God is a king who issues decrees, who produces victories fro the tribal kingdom of Jacob. A community sings about a community’s blessings.

In contrast, the Psalms of David are intensely personal. David sings close to God, his God. His ‘my’….

Psalm 63

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you,

my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live

5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods, with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 I cling to you;…

There are 17 ‘I’ and ‘mes’ in these first seven and a half verses. David is intensely ‘in’; earnestly next to his, ‘my’- his God. In the shadow of his Lord’s wings, protected as a baby sparrow from heat and danger, David composes an intimate love song.

He ‘clings’ to God. His my.

How do Psalms differ? Pronouns give an answer: the Psalms differ my the singer’s hearts, their distance of hearts.

David’s God is next to him and is a personal one; Korah’s sons have a God at an arm’s length- Korah sons, whose father rebelled against Moses and God and was swallowed up in an earthen sinkhole, understandably have, keep, a distance from their God. David grabs, holds, clings to Him with and for love.

Yet, the Lord is both singers’ object, their love. They just speak, express their love songs in different ways. And all prayers end as with does Psalm 44,

26 “Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.”

His love is unfailing no matter how we sing. We are all His sons, all His daughters. All His song.

He loves us.

Footnotes:

• Psalm 44:1 In Hebrew texts 44:1-26 is numbered 44:2-27.

• Psalm 44:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term

• Psalm 44:4 Septuagint, Aquila and Syriac; Hebrew King, O God; / command

• Psalm 44:8 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.

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