Saturday, August 24, 2013

Psalm 25

Lines Scansion


1    To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2    O my God, in You I trust,
      Do not let me be ashamed;
      Do not let my enemies exult over me.
3    Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
     Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.
4    Make me know Your ways, O LORD;
      Teach me Your paths.
5    Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
      For You are the God of my salvation;
      For You I wait all the day.
6    Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
      For they have been from of old.
7    Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
      According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
      For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.
8    Good and upright is the LORD;
      Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
9    He leads the humble in justice,
      And He teaches the humble His way.

10  All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth
      To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11  For Your name’s sake, O LORD,
      Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
12  Who is the man who fears the LORD?
      He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
13  His soul will abide in prosperity,
      And his descendants will inherit the land.
14  The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
      And He will make them know His covenant.
15  My eyes are continually toward the LORD,
      For He will pluck my feet out of the net.
16  Turn to me and be gracious to me,
      For I am lonely and afflicted.
17  The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
      Bring me out of my distresses.
18  Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
      And forgive all my sins.
19  Look upon my enemies, for they are many,
      And they hate me with violent hatred.
20  Guard my soul and deliver me;
      Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You.
21  Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
      For I wait for You.
22  Redeem Israel, O God,
      Out of all his troubles.
Effect of the Metric Center on the Psalm’s Development
This is an alphabetical psalm with these characteristics: (1) the letters vav (ו) and qoph (ק) are missing and (2) the final verse lies outside of the alphabetical scheme. On this second point Craigie (Psalms, 221-22) writes: 
The last verse is interpreted as a postscript principally because it falls outside the basic alphabetic acrostic pattern which ends in v 21. It is also different in tone, introducing “Israel” into the psalm for the first time. . . . The effect of the postscript is to transform the more individual prayer of the psalm into a prayer suitable for Israel as a nation; the “troubles” (v 17) of the psalmist are analogous to the troubles of Israel.  
Also, the alphabetical model “. . . imposes certain limitations on the poet, and as a consequence there is not a clearly developed internal sequence of thought within the psalm” (Craigie, Psalms, 217), but this conclusion may not be sustainable once the “center” of the Psalm is defined.
 The metric center of this psalm is verse 10 where the Mosaic Covenant is mentioned which is central to Israel’s worship. Craigie (Psalms, 220) notes regarding verse 10: 
Again, it is the covenant character of God which dominates this expression of confidence; as is emphasized in the terminology of v 10; the confidence in God’s “lovingkindness” is linked intimately to the prayer for “lovingkindness” in vv 6-7. But all covenants have two parties, and the lovingkindness of God, the senior partner in the covenant (v 10a), was related to the psalmist’s obedience to the covenant stipulations (v 10b).

Davidson also highlights verse 10 (The Vitality of Worship: A Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 91), “This God is bound to his people and they to him by “his covenant” (vv. 10, 14). This is the first occurrence in the Psalms of one of the key theological words in the Old Testament.”


The influence of verse 10 as the metric and logical center of the Psalm may be illustrated by the confluence of key words (bold font; following the order of verse 10):


The first line of verse 10 captures the essence of verses 1-9 reflecting the Psalmist’s spiritual needs of understanding God’s character and paths and turning away from sin in light of his present circumstances. The second line sums up verses 11-21 where the solution to the difficult circumstances of life reside. By determining to keep the Covenant and obey its requirements for integrity and uprightness, the Psalmist finds the courage to trust in the Covenantal promises of divine forgiveness and deliverance. Tesh and Zorn (Psalms, 224) focus these concepts effectively: 
The Lord’s paths (ways) are loving and faithful for such as keep his covenant. Expressed negatively, his paths or ways are ineffectual only if I refuse to walk in them; however, sin will block my way and separate me from God. A sudden awareness of this reality is sufficient to prompt the psalmist to pray again: Forgive my iniquity, though it is great—so great that he can only hope for pardon from a God rich in mercy. Consequently, for the sake of your name I ask, for you have a name for mercy. I trust in your loving-kindness! Immediately there follows another affirmation that the Lord will instruct the God-fearing man in the way chosen for him, and it will be a way of blessing. Of this the writer is confident. Once again he has come to the bedrock of his faith.
Thus, Psalm 25 has a definite “center” that unites the whole and radiates practical and relevant spiritual applications.