Thursday, July 25, 2013

Key verses - central verses in Psalms

Having truncated my earlier series on memorization, do I dare begin another?  If I did, I think it must be one that takes its time.  All too often from 2010 to 2013 I have been in a hurry.  So no hurry.  But must begin at the beginning again and continue through to the end.

Look at the recurring words for Psalm 1 leaving out the negative particle and the relative pronoun.
Word and gloss * first usage12345678VsRoot
* רשׁעים the wicked
1רשׁע
* ובדרך and in the way of
1דרך
* חטאים sinners
1חטא
* ובמושׁב and in the seat of
1ישׁב
* ישׁב sit
1ישׁב
* אם contrast
2אם
* בתורת in the instruction of
2תורה
* ובתורתו and in his instruction
2תורה
* כן so
4כן
* הרשׁעים the-many wicked
4רשׁע
* אם contrast
4אם
* כן so
5כן
* רשׁעים the wicked
5רשׁע
* וחטאים nor sinners
5חטא
* צדיקים the-many righteous
5צדיק
* דרך the way of
6דרך
* צדיקים those righteous
6צדיק
* ודרך but the way of
6דרך
* רשׁעים those wicked
6רשׁע
Can you see which verse is missing? If you drop the repeated seat, instructionso and the righteous, can you see the arrow-head shape that identifies where there would be concentric circles in the text if you joined the recurring words to each other with a pencil?

I had always thought that this psalm is about the two ways and about wickedness and righteousness. In fact, it isn't. Verse three is missing from the table and is surrounded by four concentric circles. Verse three is the tree metaphor, a metaphor that reaches back to Genesis and forward to Revelation, not to mention Jeremiah 17:8.

וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ
שָׁתוּל עַל פַּלְגֵי מָיִם
אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ
וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא יִבּוֹל
וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה יַצְלִיחַ
3such a one will be like a tree
transplanted by streams of water
that gives its fruit in its time
and its leaf does not wither
and in all that it does, it thrives
What do you think? Is this the real centre? It is not the distinction between two ways, the wicked and the righteous, a moral issue, but rather the tree that transforms the wicked and translates these enemies into a new realm of the righteous. Notice too that the wicked occur twice as often in Psalm 1 as the righteous. Must be of importance ...  

Transformation is the good. The transformed see the knowledge of good and evil (This is, by the way, Psalm 34's subject matter. You don't believe me? - just count the good and the evil in Psalm 34. Like two interlocking hands, the good cannot be separated from the evil without destruction of both).