Thursday, December 7, 2017

More on Psalm 107

While doing a bit of study for yesterday’s post from Psalm 107, I stumbled upon some interesting commentary. Apparently, the Eastern Orthodox church holds that 105-107 (104–106 in their numbering) are considered a unit because they each begin with the heading Alleluia or Praise the Lord.* I looked at these psalms but was confused by the comment: 105 and 107 do not begin with this heading. I checked multiple translations and still found nothing.

The solution to this puzzle can be found in the layout of the Septuagint. The Hebrew text used by the original translators had moved Praise the Lord from 104:35 to 105:1 and from 106:48 to 107:1, along with removing it from 105:45. The arrangement, therefore, gives a cohesive unit of theology as explained in The Orthodox Study Bible:
Psalm 104, 105, and 106 form a trilogy, each with the heading, Alleluia, which means “praise the Lord.” This heading emphasizes praising the Lord and giving Him thanks for His works of mercy (104:1–3; 105:1, 2; 106:1, 2). These works are traced in great detail from Abraham on, and are fulfilled in the coming of Christ to save mankind: He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their corruptions (106:20). The Father sent His Word, who crushed the gates of bronze and shattered the bars of iron (106:16). He trampled death by His death and Resurrection, bestowing life on those in the tombs (those sitting in the darkness and shadow of death, bound in poverty and fetters, 106:10; He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains to pieces, 106:14). The response of those who are wise and shall keep these things, and shall understand the mercies of the Lord (106:43) is “Alleluia.”
If one follows the theme of each psalm, there is a recognizable progression: God’s faithfulness to His people (105) demonstrated in His continual forgiveness of sin (106) resulting in the overflow of thanksgiving for His works (107).

Someone may retort that there is a problem with this unit because the book of Psalms is divided into five sub-books with a division between 106 and 107. I contend that this issue actually adds to the beauty of the progression because of the arc created within the triplet. Book Four ends with a description of His character and willingness to display it over and again, while Book Five begins a cascading chorus of praise to God carried through to the end.

Read and meditate on these three psalms. Follow the progression of His mighty promises, to our sin and desperate need for mercy, and His glorious work for which we respond with abundant thanks.

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