bible blog 1831

I am continuing my project of translating and re-reading the first book of Psalms (1-41).


Ascribe to the Lord

You heavenly beings,

Ascribe to the Lord

Splendour and power;

Ascribe to the Lord

The splendour of his name;

Bow down to the Lord

In his holy court.

The voice of the Lord

Upon the waters!

God in his glory thunders.

The Lord upon many waters!sea storm

The voice of the Lord in power!

The voice of the Lord in majesty!

The voice of the Lord

Shatters the cedars;

The Lord shatters

The cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon

skip like a calf

And Sirion

like a wild bull.

The voice of the Lord

Hews out flames of fire;

The voice of the Lord

Troubles the desert,

The Lord troubles

The desert of Kadesh;

The voice of the Lord

Makes the hinds calve

And strips the forests

And all in his palace cry,

Splendour to God!

The Lord is enthroned

On the flood waters,

The Lord is enthroned forever.

The Lord will give

Power to his people;

The Lord will bless

His people with peace.

The psalmist imagines God in his heavenly court, surrounded by lesser Gods or heavenly creatures like seraphs. There God has his palace and his holy place which are models for his temple on earth. This way of thinking is foreign to modern believers but it has the virtue of giving God a life which is not to do with humanity. A God who is only concerned with his human creatures may seem curiously limited, in view of what we now know about the extent of the universe. Indeed God may be concerned with living creatures throughout the universe, but also perhaps, with himself/herself. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity points in this direction.desert-lightning

This psalm uses the poetic method of repetition/ accumulation seen in the oldest Hebrew poetry and may therefore be amongst the older compositions in the books of psalms.

The God depicted here is magnificently robust: his voice, that is, his creative word, manifests itself in the phenomena of an eastern Mediterranean storm moving across sea and desert. The sea, which was a sign of chaos for Hebrew thought, is controlled by God who is enthroned over it, while the land is assailed by a mighty wind that both destroys and creates life. This performance of God’s vigour gains the applause of his palace courtiers in heaven.

The purpose of this lively video of God, is revealed at the end: this is Israel’s God, unlimited in power and not to be domesticated, but nevertheless the One who gives power to his people and the blessing of peace. The people  are sharply reminded that God is not in their pocket. The fear (and admiration) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

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