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Commentaries on the Psalms

Psalm 14 | Psalm 23 | Psalm 42 | Psalm 102 | Psalm 143 | Psalm 146

 

"Psalm 14": "The fool says in his heart / 'There is no God'...."

Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) an influential German Jewish existentialist thinker, author of The Star of Redemption was as a young man about to convert to Christianity. This was just what Das Man, They, the Crowd, wanted of assimilated German Jews - before Hitler came to power...

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"Psalm 23": Being ethical in the world

Psalm 23 must be the best known praise of God in the Jewish and the Christian Bibles. It even got to the far-flung reaches of the British Empire, Johannesburg, where I was educated at King Edward VII Preparatory and High Schools from 1943 to 1953. When we were 7 or 8 years old we knew it by heart....

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"Psalm 42": "As the hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee O God. [...] My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, 'Where is your God?" [...] Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God."

The unaffected beauty of these lines lies not only in their content - the return of faith and hope after despair - but in the intimate style which is typical of the "Elohist" author, speaking to Elohim as to an absent sense of quite a practical Being who soothes and comforts and strengthens.....

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"Psalm 102": "For the sake of your name, O LORD, preserve me; as You are beneficent, free me from distress."

Many Jewish theologians such as Martin Buber write of God as veiling His, or Her face when confronted with atrocities such as Auschwitz. What are we to say when we acknowledge the historical truth of tragedies such as the nagbah which means the catastrophe, the disaster of the loss of their homes and livelihoods when about 700,000 Palestinians became refugees in the aftermath of the 1947-1948 war between the new incipient state of Israel, the Haganah and the Irgun, fighting Palestinian militias and volunteers and regular armies invading from seven Middle East states.....

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"Psalm 143": THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL.

Our distress was caused 20 years ago by a negligent junior doctor at a London teaching hospital and his/her consultant who made a terrible mistake so as to possibly hasten our beloved daughter's Ruth Picardie's preventable death from breast cancer which metastasised and which could have been treated in good time if the consultant and the registrar had only read their own cytology department's report on the malignant cells in a biopsy......

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"Psalm 146": "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help...[...]

Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God...[...]

My Oxford Companion to the Bible (p. 629) reviewing the research suggests that the Book of Psalms was collected over 6 centuries perhaps parts of it canonised in Babylon in the 6th century BCE when according to some scholars the Torah was redacted by "R", the editor of scrolls originally written by "E" (the Elohist), "J" the Jahvist, "P" the priestly writer,and "D" the author of Deuteronomy.....

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