Psalm Saturday: Psalm 7

Psalm Saturday is here again! It follows hot on the heels of “Sleep Thursday” and “Sick Friday.” Unfortunately, I have a virus. Fortunately, said virus is not the flu. Since I’m a little more alive this morning, let’s compare Psalm 7, “A Plea for Help Against Enemies,” otherwise known as “a shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.” I’m not sure what a shiggaion is, but David’s not exactly having a great time while writing it.

Psalm 7: A Plea for Help Against Enemies

O Lord my God, in you I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,
2 or like a lion they will tear me apart;
they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my ally with harm
or plundered my foe without cause,
5 then let the enemy pursue and overtake me,
trample my life to the ground,
and lay my soul in the dust.Selah
6 Rise up, O Lord, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered around you,
and over it take your seat on high.
8 The Lord judges the peoples;
judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
but establish the righteous,
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God.
10 God is my shield,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who has indignation every day.
12 If one does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and strung his bow;
13 he has prepared his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 See how they conceive evil,
and are pregnant with mischief,
and bring forth lies.
15 They make a pit, digging it out,
and fall into the hole that they have made.
16 Their mischief returns upon their own heads,
and on their own heads their violence descends.
17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
O Lord my God, in thee do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they rend me,
dragging me away, with none to rescue.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have requited my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue me and overtake me,
and let him trample my life to the ground,
and lay my soul in the dust.Selah
6 Arise, O Lord, in thy anger,
lift thyself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake, O my God;thou hast appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about thee;
and over it take thy seat on high.
8 The Lord judges the peoples;
judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
but establish thou the righteous,
thou who triest the minds and hearts,
thou righteous God.
10 My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who has indignation every day.
12 If a man does not repent, God[d] will whet his sword;
he has bent and strung his bow;
13 he has prepared his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil,
and is pregnant with mischief,
and brings forth lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole which he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own pate his violence descends.
17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Sorry all; my table looks a bit funky today and doesn’t want to line up. The NRSV is on the left, and the RSV is on the right. I think our first major difference occurs in verse two, where the RSV reads “lest like a lion they rend me, dragging me away, with none to rescue,” the NRSV reads, “or like a lion they will tear me apart; they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.” While I love the RSV’s use of “rend” in place of “tear me apart,” I really like how the NRSV repeats “they” when the psalmist is being dragged away. It gives a better mental picture, I think.

Then we have verse four. Even though “requited” is a bit more difficult that “repaid,” I really like how the RSV repeats the word “enemy” and doesn’t use “foe” in this verse. Using enemy both times creates a good image—David knows his enemies will repay him if he unjustly attacks them.

Verse ten is also pretty interesting. The NRSV reads, “God is my shield.” The RSV reads, “My shield is with God.” I’m not sure why these words are switched around. I actually really like the RSV this go around; yes, the NRSV is, as always, easier to read, but juxtaposing “God” with “who saves the upright of heart” to my mind reaffirms God’s saving power and avoids issues with pronoun reference. Finally, in verse sixteen the RSV uses “pate” where the NRSV uses “head.” Is pate a more archaic version of the same word? (A quick Google search affirms—”a person’s head.”)

I don’t know. I think the RSV wins this one. Maybe it’s just my Ignatius Bible rubbing off on me, but I like it. I also think the singular pronouns starting in verse twelve emphasize the universal nature of the Psalms. These inspired songs are never just about David and his enemies, but about every person.

I love this psalm for that reason; it reminds me that when someone does something to wrong me—or when I do something to wrong someone—God is the righteous judge who sees all. We will eventually receive our punishment, and “fall into the hole that [we] have made.” Maybe this is one of the best examples of God correcting us like a father; when we won’t listen, God lets us go our own way, until finally we realize how we’ve fallen. And like a father, he also picks us up and bandages our hurts.

Have a blessed Saturday, everyone! I hope your Lent is going well; hopefully I will have a post up for Lent soon. Until then, God bless, and call your Mother!

In His Sacred Heart,

Erica

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s