Saturday, November 16, 2013

Psalm 36

Lines Scansion

NASB (The Hebrew text adds the superscription as verse 1. The present numbering has been restructured to agree with the Hebrew text for reference. Verses 6 and 7 are restructured to reflect the important Hebrew word order. Verse 13 is interpreted as extra-metrical.)

     Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
        There is no fear of God before his eyes.
3      For it flatters him in his own eyes
        Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.
     The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
        He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
     He plans wickedness upon his bed;
        He sets himself on a path that is not good;
        He does not despise evil.
     O LORD, Your lovingkindness extends to the heavens,
        Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
     Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
        Your judgments are like a great deep.
         You preserve man and beast, O LORD.
     How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
        And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of
        Your wings.
     They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
        And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
10    For with You is the fountain of life;
        In Your light we see light.
11    O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
        And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
12    Let not the foot of pride come upon me,
        And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
13    There the doers of iniquity have fallen;
        They have been thrust down and cannot rise.

Effect of the Metric Center on the Psalm’s Development
The justification for identifying the metric center of Psalm 36 include: (1) The inclusio recognized by the placement, first and last, of the covenant name Yahweh, which is also the only times that name occurs in the Psalm. (2) The 29 beats both before and after this section once verse 13 is recognized as extra-metrical. (3) Verse 13, being extra-metrical, connects with verses 2-5 through the uses of the nounsאָוֶן  (“wickedness”/“iniquity”) at verses 4, 5 and 13 and רשע (“ungodly”/“wicked”) at verses 2 and 12. The verse closes the question of judgment left open in verses 2-5.
Craigie (Psalms, 291) finds a chiastic structure in the Psalm: A = 2-5, B = 6-10, B׳ = 11, A׳ = 12-13. The A and A׳ verses center on רשע (“wicked”); the B and B׳ verses, on חסד (“covenant faithfulness”), which he labels “a kind of double inclusio.”  He also happily places Yahweh in their Hebrew word order in verses 6 and 7 in his translation. The NET Bible1st edition does not even include the second use of Yahweh, a significant literary omission.
The literary classification of Psalm 36 is difficult to isolate.  Ellsworth (Opening Up Psalms, 141) gives it a descriptive praise classification that seems to fit only the latter part of the Psalm.
Bratcher and Reyburn (A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms, 342, using English verse numbers) write, 
This psalm does not conform to any one type; it includes a meditation on the nature of evil people (verses 1–4), but without a prayer for their destruction, as is common in laments such as Psalm 35; then there is a hymn in praise of God’s goodness (verses 5–9), and the final section is a prayer for God to bless the righteous and punish the wicked (verses 10–12), which is similar to such prayers elsewhere.
Though various classifications have been proposed for this Psalm, there are two clear themes: the descriptions and judgment of the wicked in verses 2-5, 13 and the faithfulness of Yahweh towards His people in verses 6-12 with verses 6 and 7 serving as both the center and the transition.