“…there is no sacrifice to Bathsheba…”
Jon Ericson asked this question on the Biblical Hermeneutics site:
To what extent is Psalm 51:4 poetic exaggeration?
The context of Psalm 51 is clear:
To the choirmaster. A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
These events are described in 2nd Samuel 11–12. In summary, David essentially murdered Uriah the Hittite in order to cover up an affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. So this verse causes me trouble:
Structure of Psalm 91, with comments on Matthew 4:6
For the tools to make sense of the parsing below, get the Bible Matrix books. Book 1 describes the sevenfold Creation pattern. Book 2 describes the fivefold Covenant pattern from which the sevenfold pattern is derived (and how both of them are derived from the threefold Trinity).
T R A N S C E N D E N C E
He who dwells (Sabbath/Creation – Day 1)
in the covering/shelter/disguise (Passover/Division – Day 2)
of the Most High, (Firstfruits/Ascension – Day 3)
who under the shade of the Almighty/Day abides (Pentecost/Testing – Day 4)
will say of the Lord, (Trumpets/Maturity – Day 5)
“He is my refuge and my fortress; (Atonement/Conquest – Day 6)
My God, in Him I will trust.” (Booths/Glorification – Day 7)
Strangely, the RSV does a better job of the flow on this one than the NKJV or ESV. Here is where literary structure helps translation of Hebrew! Line 5 does not begin a new sentence.
We are working our way through the “Songs of Ascent” at church, and I’ve been asked to do Psalm 124 tomorrow. Reading through it, I could just state the obvious, as all the commentators seem to do (though they do make very helpful observations), but wisdom and songs came with Israel’s “Pentecostal” age of rule (Day 4, the Kings, Testing) so the literature of the time is as harmless as a dove but as subtle as a serpent. There is no way this song is as simple as it seems. Again, it took me a while to crack the structure, and what comes out is not what I expected. It is not a song of Israel escaping from her enemies. It is a song of Israel not getting what Israel deserves.
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.
Here’s my go at the structure of Psalm 61 (using the Bible Matrix).
Psalm 119 is all about the Law being a (Pentecostal) Light, a fire in the wilderness. It is fitting that it follows a Covenantal pattern. As usual each stanza is a miniature of the whole.
If you feel spiritually barren, that is a good thing. It is because you are, and because God has shown it to you. However, a barren heart cannot praise God. So often we rock up to church with empty hearts and attempt to feel “worshipful.” Well, we are commanded to worship, but must we draw water from dry wells?
Kelby Carlson has asked me to have a go at the structure of Psalm 23.
Psalm 8:2 gets cited in support of paedobaptism. But what is it actually about? It’s a retelling of the Covenant story, from Egypt to Canaan, from the Nile (bloody waters below) to the Jordan, the river of resurrection (purifying waters above). It moves from circumcision of the firstborn to baptism of the bride, from Covenant Head to Covenant Body. Like the royal screen above, it’s not ungarnished truth, but it’s not fictitious either. It’s facts presented as symbolic art.
Psalm 11 seems a simple one to break down. As usual, once the structure is parsed, the author’s allusions are allowed to shine. The odd progression of the subject matter of the song suddenly makes sense. Now, remember we are dealing with poetry. All those silly rules you learnt at Bible college don’t apply. But all those good rules you learnt in English class do apply. The context is the Covenant, and Covenant breakers, and all the allusions are drawn from the history of the Covenant so far. It all takes place inside the tent of God and the Land of God, because that is where judgment begins.
Genesis – Creation – Day 1 – Sabbath
In the LORD (Transcendence)
…..I put my trust; (Hierarchy)
……….How can you say to my soul, (Ethics)
…..“Flee as a bird (Sanctions)
to your mountain”? (Continuity)