On the Psalms up to September 21

“A woman playing a psalterion,” an instrument used to accompany psalms



This feature focuses on both the psalm for the Sunday coming up, and on highlights from the psalms in the Daily Office (DORs) leading up to that upcoming Sunday.  The plan is to post the review of next Sunday’s readings on the prior Wednesday, and review the psalms from the Daily Office Readings for the week ending on the Tuesday just before that “prior Wednesday.”

For example, The Lectionary Page  psalm for Sunday, September 21 is Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45.   In turn, the DOR psalms highlighted in this post will be from the readings for Wednesday, September 10 (“MOL”), up to the readings for Tuesday, September 16.

Psalm 105 will be discussed further below, but first the highlights from last week’s DOR psalms.

Going back to the readings for Tuesday, September 9, in John 10:31-42, Jesus Himself quoted the Book of Psalms.  This was after He’d used the “Good Shepherd” metaphor (and compared Himself to God), after which the Powers That Be got angry and set to stone Him to death:

Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” 33  The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” 34  Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law,[d] ‘I said, you are gods’? 35  If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6, which adds in verse 7 (of the RSV), “I say, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;  nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.’”  The point being that Jesus knew and quoted the psalms frequently (and so should we).

Wednesday, September 10, included Psalm 49:6-7,15, “We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life; for the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it…    But God will ransom my life; he will snatch me from the grasp of death.”   A nice reminder when things aren’t going well.

Thursday, September 11 included Psalm 50:5,15, which figures prominently in the Scribe’s new novel, God’s Favorite Team.  (See On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part I.)

“Gather before me my loyal followers, those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice… Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor me.”

On a possibly-related note, Friday, September 12, included Psalm 51:14, ” I shall teach your ways to the wicked, and sinners shall return to you.”  (Not that I’m comparing sports-fans to sinners, you understand.)   Then Saturday, September 13, included Psalm 138:9, “The Lord will make good his purpose for me,” which in the case of Yours Truly arguably led up to the creation and implementation of the blog which even now “you” are reading.

And finally, skipping ahead to Tuesday, September 16, that day’s readings included Psalm 62:12, “though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it,” which is something I definitely don’t have to worry about “at this point in time.”  (But I am doing what I love…)

Getting back to Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45, it starts off in verse 1 with an arguable foreshadowing of The Great Commission:  “Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name; make known his deeds among the peoples.”  (See Great Commission – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Then in verses 37-45 it offered a brief review of Israel’s history, from the beginning of the Exodus to the Children of Israel being brought into the Promised Land:  God “led out his people with silver and gold,” in that “Egypt was glad of their going.”  (See also Exodus 12:36, in the ASV, “And Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And they despoiled the Egyptians.“)

The psalm-review continued with an account including “the pillar of cloud,” of manna appearing from heaven, and of Moses “striking the rock at Meribah, ” as shown below.



The upper image is courtesy of Psaltery – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the full caption:   “A woman playing a psalterion.  Ancient Greek red-figured pelike from Anzi, Apulia, circa 320–310 BCE.”

The lower image – Moses Striking Water from the Rock – is courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tintoretto,_Jacopo_-_Moses_Str….  The artist was Jacopo Tintoretto, and the painting was finished in 1577.  See also Moses Drawing Water from the Rock by TINTORETTO, which added:

In this painting … Moses, by his clothes and pose, recalls the figure of Christ and the water gushing from the rock symbolizes the blood that flows from the side of the Son of God.  At the centre of the canvas, Moses strikes a rock and powerful streams of water erupt from it, filling plates, bowls, and jars held out eagerly by the parched Israelites…   God the Father, borne aloft on a supernatural crystal globe, comes in haste to save his thirsty people.

*   *   *   *

As to  Book of Psalms generally, it is “commonly referred to simply as Psalms or ‘the Psalms’ … the first book of the Ketuvim (‘Writings’), the third section of the Hebrew Bible. The English title is from the Greek [word] meaning ‘instrumental music’ and, by extension, ‘the words accompanying the music.’   There are 150 psalms in the Jewish and Western Christian tradition.” Psalms – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia…   The book is “divided into five sections, each closing with a doxology (i.e., a benediction) … probably introduced by the final editors to imitate the five-fold division of the Torah.”

Wikipedia added that the  “version of the Psalter in the American Book of Common Prayer prior to the 1979 edition is a sixteenth-century Coverdale Psalter.  The Psalter in the American Book of Common Prayer of 1979 is a new translation, with some attempt to keep the rhythms of the Coverdale Psalter.”

For another take on the psalms in general, type “Thomas Merton” in the Search Box above right.


And finally, see also Meribah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which indicated that despite his position as “God’s Favorite,” Moses often had to tread lightly:

The narrative in the Book of Exodus states that, on account of their thirst, the Israelites grumbled against Moses so Moses, in fear for his life, appeals to Yahweh; the narrative continues with Yahweh telling Moses to walk ahead of the others, and strike the rock at Horeb with his rod, and when Moses does this, it causes the rock to expel water.

Which is another reason that in writing up his history of the world, Moses had to “tell the story using language and concepts that his relatively-pea-brained contemporary audience could understand,” on pain of being tarred and feathered or stoned to death.  (See On the readings for June 15 – Part I.)


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