Friday, September 27, 2013

Psalm 32

Lines Scansion

NASB (Modified in brackets [])

1    How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
      Whose sin is covered!
2    How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
      And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
3    When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
      Through my groaning all day long.
4     For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
       My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5     I acknowledged my sin to You,
      And my iniquity I did not hide;
       I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
     And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
6   Therefore, everyone who is godly [will] pray to You in a time [of distress];
     Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
7    You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
      You surround me with songs of deliverance.  Selah.
8    I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
      I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
9    Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
      Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
      Otherwise they will not come near to you.
10  Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
      But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him.
11  Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones;
      And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
Effect of the Metric Center on the Psalm’s Development
Psalm 32 may be viewed as one of Thanksgiving (Bratcher and Reyburn,  A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms, 302) or of Wisdom (Craigie, Psalms, 265, elements of both exist) or as a Penitential Psalm (Gaebelein, The Book of Psalms, 145). On the historical background, Ross (BKC, I, 818) connects it to but following Psalm 51 and relating to David’s sins against both Bathsheba and Uriah. Craigie (Psalms, 265) proposes a chiasmos outline: A (wisdom, 1-2), B (thanksgiving, 3-5), B׳ (thanksgiving, 6-8), A׳ (wisdom, 9-10).
The metric center is bracketed on either side by the 2nd personal pronouns ”You” (אַתָּה) referring to Yahweh whereas verse 6 changes to the more “generalized” 3rd person phrase “everyone who is godly” (כָּל־חָסִיד) setting it apart and establishing spiritual principles of prayer at times of distress (see Craigie, Psalms, 265, who resolves the textual problem of “when You may be found” (NASB for מְצֹא רַק) by emending the text to read מָצוֹק, “distress”) and deliverance. Notice also the bracketing of verse 6 by the perplexing “Selah” (סֶלָה).  
Verses 1-5 focus on confession of personal “sin” (verses 1, 5 twice) and divine forgiveness. Verses 7-11 contain expressions of thanksgiving and wisdom with emphases on “surrounded” “with songs of deliverance” and “lovingkindness” (verses 7, 10). The metric center, verse 6, can justifiably be seen as reflecting backwards in line one and forward in line two. Ross (BKC, I, 818) likewise attaches importance to verse 6:
David encouraged others to seek the Lord because He deals graciously with sinners. The time to pray is when the Lord may be found [see Craigie above on the textual issue affecting the translation]. If this is done, calamities (spoken of as mighty waters) will not overwhelm. On the basis of this note of comfort, David turned to praise the Lord as his Hiding Place . . . . God protects from trouble those who trust Him, and He gives them occasion to praise.

An interpretive dispute in this Psalm relates to the speaker of verse 8. Ross (BKC, I, 818) sees David as giving the advice whereas Bratcher and Reyburn (A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms, 308) favor Yahweh as the speaker.