Guide Play It Again, Psalm

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Take me seriously this time! Blessed God! His love is the wonder of the world. Trapped by a siege, I panicked. Be strong. Expect God to get here soon.

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A comprehensive reading of Psalm The purpose of this article is to carry out a thorough exegetical study of Ps in order to grasp its content, context and theological implications. The basic hypothesis of this study is that Ps can be best understood when the text is thoroughly analysed. Therefore, in this article, Ps will be read in its total context i. The article concludes by discussing the imprecatory implications and message of Ps to the followers of YHWH.

Psalm is one of the best known imprecatory psalms that focus on the traumatic experience of exile in Babylon. The psalm reveals the sufferings and sentiments of the people who probably experienced at first hand the grievous days of the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem in BCE and who shared the burden of the Babylonian captivity after their return to their homeland. At the sight of the ruined city and the temple, the psalmist vents with passionate intensity his deep love for Zion as he recalls the distress of alienation from their sanctuary.

Therefore, this psalm touches the raw nerve of Israel's faith. The poem commences with the melancholy recollection of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem which caused the Israelite captives to mourn and stop playing their musical instruments. Finally, the psalmist prays for the wrath of God to be unleashed against the enemies of Judah, the Edomites and Babylonians, who were responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem and their misery in Babylon.

For analysing OT poetry, a three-dimensional reading strategy, suggested by some South African scholars, 1 namely the intra-textual, extra-textual and inter-textual reading of a poetic text 2 will be applied to the study of Ps Intra-textual relations refer to the relations that exist at different levels in a given text. In the intra-textual analysis, poetic, stylistic, semantic and rhetorical features will be discussed. Extra-textual relations refer to the biographical particulars of the author and his world.

This helps the reader to understand how the content functions in its context. In the extra-textual analysis, the literary genre, historical setting, life-setting and canonical context of Ps will be discussed. Inter-textual relations refer to the relations between a specific text and other texts. Therefore, the three-dimensional reading strategy is an effective method for gaining a more valid understanding of the content, context and theological implications of Ps In this article, the Hebrew text and the author's own translation of Ps will be given. The basic literary structure of the psalm will be given.

For practical purposes, Ps will be sub-divided into cola, strophes and stanzas. The reference to the Edomites introduces a new element to the content of the psalm. Although the overt subject is this unknown agent, on a covert level YHWH is still the agent, since he is the one to whom the last petition was explicitly directed 7a and he is probably regarded as the eventual avenger of evil. Ernst Wendland 11 and Mary Des Camp 12 observe that vv. This three-fold subdivision of the psalm is underwritten by the majority of scholars.

The three stanzas of Ps may be sub-divided into the following strophes: Stanza I : Setting and complaint. Strophe A Description of trouble. Strophe B 3 Taunt of enemies. Strophe C 4 Plaintive answer. Stanza II : Total commitment and devotion to Jerusalem. Strophe D Total commitment and devotion to Jerusalem. Strophe E 7 Implicit curse against Edom.

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Strophe F Implicit curse against Babylon. The above structure of Ps is discussed in detail in the subsequent analysis. Stanza I gives the setting of the Israelite captives and their distress. This stanza consists of three strophes: A vv. Strophe A describes the setting of the Israelite captives and their lament over the destruction of Zion.

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Strophe A consists of a bicolon v. As far as coherence or semantic relations are concerned, v. The poplars correspond to the rivers where they grew and the hanging up of the lyres corresponds to the passiveness sit and sadness of the psalmist and his companions. The figure of hanging the lyre on the trees is metaphorical and means that the owners set aside their instruments and did not play them again.

There is also an extended parallelism with the pattern a b c a'b' in vv. The purpose of the extended parallelism is to emphasize the point that the psalmist and his companions' memory of the destruction of the temple or Zion is the crescendo of vv. There is pivotal parallelism in vv. The musicians' memory of Zion affects their behaviour or actions; their sad memory makes them sit and mourn over the temple and to put away their instruments. To sum up Strophe A , the psalmist, his fellow musicians and other Judeans were in exile in Babylon, besides the irrigation canals.

There they recalled the destruction of the temple in Zion and they were deeply saddened and as a result, they sat down and mourned. The joy of the presence of YHWH in the temple now existed only as a memory in their hearts because Zion was in ruins. They hung their musical instruments on the trees and they did not play them again. The tone of this strophe is passiveness and sadness. Strophe B consists of a single tricolon.


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In the tricolic verse v. Their request was a mockery of Israel's worship at the temple, which was also an indirect attack on the character of YHWH, because the songs of Zion celebrated the majesty and protection of YHWH over his people. The temple symbolised the presence of YHWH. Zion was central to the identity and survival of God's people. When they made their request, by implication the captors were asking the Israelite captives the mocking question "where is your God? They also implied that YHWH was weak, powerless and could not deliver his people in their time of trouble.

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As far as coherence or semantic relations are concerned in v. The song is further specified in 4a as a song of YHWH. Strophe C consists of a single colon v. It was impossible for the Israelite captives to sing a song intended to praise YHWH for the amusement of their masters.

The captives' words in v. This stanza consists of a single strophe: D vv. Strophe D consists of a bicolon v. As far as coherence or semantic relations are concerned, there is a causal correlation, reason-result in 5ab - more specifically condition-outcome. If the protasis expresses what would happen, it is a real or hypothetical result, to be translated as "then will my right hand forget". If the protasis expresses what should happen, it is the desired result, as in the translation: "May my right hand forget. Verse 6 contains two negative conditional clauses: 6b and 6c, following the main clause 6a which expresses the result or outcome of the double condition.


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It indicates the consequence of what would or should happen to the psalmist should he not remember 6a or exalt 6b Jerusalem. As far as coherence or semantic relations are concerned, there is a synonymous parallelism, base-amplification in 5a, 6b and 6c. Verse 6c further expands in detail what it means to forget Jerusalem in 5a and 6b.

As far as coherence or semantic relations are concerned, there is also a synonymous parallelism, base-restatement in vv. In both cola, the psalmist calls a curse on himself, by asking God to paralyse him so that he would not be able to play his instrument or sing if he should forget Jerusalem. There is also a synonymous parallelism, base-restatement in 5a, 6b and 6c.