I’ve said something about my usual habits in reading the Psalms here: Praying the Psalms. Briefly stated, my usual procedure in reading, meditating and praying with the Psalms is to read consecutively and slowly. For this purpose I use an Interlinear (Hebrew with English below) edition of the Psalms. And, usually this approach works very well.
But, with Psalm 106 this didn’t work. With Psalm 106 it was necessary for me to see the opening verses of praise (vv. 1-5) in the light of their larger context.
When I began to read and meditate on the Psalm, I was struck by the language of praise and worship in the opening verses (though they were similar to verses found elsewhere in the Psalms), but then I got “stuck” (from verse 6 onward) in a long section that recounts the sins of the nation of Israel (verses 6-46) and God’s unfailing commitment to them in spite of all that.
This forced me to go back to the beginning and read it over again. The opening verses of praise to God (הַלְלוּיָהּ “Hallelujah”!) are delivered in the conscious memory of the people’s repeated unfaithfulness.
This is praise in the context of guilt. (more…)
First, a little recap. If Psalm 1 is the introduction to the whole book of Psalms, then I am here invited into a life of blessedness: the very first word of the whole book is the word “blessed” (אַשְׁרֵי).
The word signifies: “a heightened state of happiness and joy, implying very favorable circumstances, often resulting from the kind acts of God.” (Hebrew/Aramaic to English Dictionary and Index to the NIV Old Testament from Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance ed. by Edward W. Goodrick, John R. Kohlenberger III, and James A. Swanson. Copyright ©1999, 1990 by the Zondervan Corporation Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 All rights reserved. Electronic text prepared by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 1.0)
And the Psalm says (verse 1):
אַשְׁרֵי־הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָלַךְ בַּעֲצַת רְשָׁעִים וּבְדֶרֶךְ חַטָּאִים לֹא עָמָד וּבְמוֹשַׁב לֵצִים לֹא יָשָׁב
“How blessed is the [person] who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (more…)