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Lord, Have Mercy! – Psalm 57:0-1

This is one of many of the Psalms that begins with a scribal note.

לַמְנַצֵּחַ אַל־תַּשְׁחֵת לְדָוִד מִכְתָּם בְּבָרְחוֹ מִפְּנֵי־שָׁאוּל בַּמְּעָרָה
To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

Hebrew_bible_4It’s hard to know what to think about the scribal notes at the beginning of the Psalms. I often ignore them. Our modern translations, which set them apart from the rest of the Psalm — printing them in italics or in smaller type — encourage this attitude. And, then, it’s also true that in the English (as distinguished from the Hebrew) text they are not actually numbered with the rest of the Psalm. In English, the scribal note at the beginning is labeled (if anything) verse 0. Easily ignored.

Because I read along in Hebrew (well, let’s not overstate this — I’m using an interlinear text), I often start reading the scribal note before I realize it. In Hebrew, it is verse 1.

And, while I usually skip these — and I don’t really know what to make of them for sure — I can still see three distinct stages in my attitude toward them. (more…)

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