Psalm 121 Halo
God Has You Covered
Parsing Psalms means consulting the Hebrew for the word order. This one was quite difficult, once again because English translations mess with things, and also because the Hebrew author likes to play with the matrix structures to make a point. I find I have to redo sections and keep shaking it up until it all falls into place. Is this sentence part of the previous stanza or the beginning of a new one? Or does this stanza have one line that gets expanded into its own pattern to make a point?
The good thing is that once it shakes out, there are some beautiful surprises. One of the gems in this Psalm is the sentence concerning the sun and the moon. In English it is simply two lines (a parallelism), but in Hebrew it is chiastic. Wonderful.
SABBATH – Creation
Song of Ascents. (Creation/Initiation – Ark)
…..I lift up my eyes (Division/Hierarchy – Veil)
……….to the mountains— (Ascension – Altar)
……………From whence comes my help? (Testing)
……….My help comes (Maturity)
…..from the Lord, (Conquest/Oath)
Who made heaven and earth. (Glorification/Shekinah)
The structure of the first stanza seems to focus on the Creation as a Tabernacle. The author might be away from the tent but he is never away from God. He’s just in a bigger tent.
PASSOVER – Division
He will not allow
…..to be moved your foot;
……….He shall not slumber who keeps you
……………Behold, (Lampstand – eyes opened)
……….He shall neither slumber nor sleep
…..Who keeps Israel
The Lord is your keeper;
Once we perceive that this second stanza has a “Passover” theme, the subject matter makes more sense. The mention of the “foot” at the Exodus step is ironic. It is interesting that “slumber” appears at both Altar steps (Adamic protection at the Bronze Altar and Evian resurrection at the Incense Altar). Israel as Prince Adam is at Day 6 and God is the shelter of Booths on Day 7.
FIRSTFRUITS – Ascension
The Lord (Creation)
…..is your shade (Division)
……….and your right hand. (Ascension)
This stanza has only three lines. The song is an “ascent” and the Ascension stanza finishes at Ascension (step 3). The Lord begins the stanza as “Transcendent” source, the shade is the veil of delegation (the Passover night) and the “right hand man” is the Ascended Isaac/Joseph/Daniel/Christ who is worthy to open the Covenant scroll.
PENTECOST - Testing
By day, (Transcendence)
…..the sun (Hierarchy – Bridegroom)
……….Nor shall smite (Ethics)
…..the moon (Oath – Bride)
by night. (Succession)
Now, I did wonder if this was an expanded “Testing” line for the previous stanza, but that would mess up the rest of the Psalm. Notice the movement from day to night, from waking to rest; the chiastic matching of sun and moon as Covenant head and body (Law given as Light, Law received as reflected Light), and the smiting of the Law as the Covenant Ethics, fire from heaven, at the centre. The apostles are not consumed but enlightened.
TRUMPETS – Maturity
The Lord (Transcendence)
…..shall protect [you] (Hierarchy)
……….from all evil; (Ethics)
…..He shall keep (Sanctions/Oath)
your life. (Succession)
This is the “bridal” stanza, the resurrection body. “Protect and keep” harken back to Adam’s ministry. Notice that “life” appears at Succession. This is the same structure that undergirds the book of Revelation – with the dragon and the woman at the very centre. The seven churches are the new Hierarchy and the martyred saints have the oath, the testimony, of Jesus.
ATONEMENT – Conquest
……….your going [out]
BOOTHS/INGATHERING – Glorification
……….your coming [in]
…..for this [time],
This one I’m not sure what to do with. It looks like a single stanza with the centre missing (a common practice) but then the author might also be saying that God has the saint covered at Atonement (the Day of Coverings) and also at the Feast of Ingathering. The last six lines would then be the “Jewish” ministry and the “Gentile” guests, the “there and back again” of all Christian mission. The two feasts are linked in that Israel tastes death at Atonement, then serves the wine to the world at Booths. It is Communion (restricted table) and the Love Feast (unrestricted tables), the Head and the Body.
Finally, notice that every stanza concerns “covering.” This is the second of the “Psalms of Ascent” so it may be relevant to the order of this group of songs as a unit.