Psalms 3-7 all begin with God. David faces tremendous difficulties, some of them due to his own sin. Such disastrous experiences and perilous times make it nearly impossible to bear up under the weight pressing down upon him and the stress draining him. So what does he do?–he kneels, and prays. He turns to the only one who can actually resolve his personal problems: Yahweh. Psalm 6:1-4 (Hebrew verse numbering) continues our analysis of the Psalter psalm by psalm, verse by verse, phrase by phrase. Psalm 6 highlights a horrific (that’s David’s word for it) situation in the psalmist’s life. The master poet displays his skillful use of the Hebrew language to express his peril and, ultimately, his praise to God, his grace-giving Savior.
The final two verses of Psalm 5 (vv. 12-13, Hebrew verse numbering) close out the psalm on a very high note. It expresses a climactic crescendo of rejoicing, a six-fold emphasis centering upon Yahweh Himself, and a series of parallels with the first stanza of the psalm (vv. 2-3, Hebrew verse numbering). A striking and memorable analogy completes this psalm that in itself blesses the righteous. Please be aware that the file is large (114 slides) and will take a little time to download. These slides include the discussion and presentation of the psalm’s structure, final summaries verse-by-verse, and a closing slide containing suggested preaching propositions.
Structural or logical line diagramming serves as one of the chief means by which the exegete can identify verse structure in the Hebrew Bible. Since this method unlocks so much of the biblical text, I have begun a series of study helps in order to enable others to learn the method and to gain a better understanding of how it aids the process of exegesis. With this methodology the student of the Hebrew Bible will be able to examine the text with a view to its
- psalm superscription and subscription,
- poetic lines (by means of Masoretic accentuation),
- grammatical relationships,
- literary/poetic devices,
- micro- and macrostructures,
- resulting interpretive implications, and
- preaching propositions.
Each new addition to an individual psalm will be announced by means of Hebrew Whiteboard Updates and each new psalm will be added to the list on Hebrew Whiteboard.
For my most highly recommended commentaries and studies on the Psalter, check out the following (listed in order of personal preference):
With this post we complete the analysis of Psalm 4. David penned this psalm from the depths of his own stressful experience facing people who opposed him. No one knows the exact circumstances. A mention of “grain and sweet wine” after his opponents had asked, “Who will show us good?” might indicate that it was a time of famine. David responded to pressure with prayer and to wicked people with a command to repent. Multiple chiasms highlight the structure of the psalm and emphasize key concepts. Repetitions help to tie the psalm together in one unified song. This very personal psalm focuses on God, without whom David would have no peace or security and without whom the ungodly have no hope.
Psalm 4:8-9 (Hebrew verse numbering for the English vv. 7-8) bring us to the end of the body of this Davidic psalm. These two verses display a good deal of emphasis by means of literary devices, grammatical structure, and vocabulary. Thus, the psalm ends with a burst of emotion and truths that seal its message on the hearts of David’s hearers and readers.
Watch for the final installment in our analysis of Psalm 4 in which we will examine the musical subscription, identify the psalm’s structure, provide a summary of exegetical and theological comments, and suggest homiletical propositions.
Now we come to Psalm 4:6-7 (Hebrew verse numbering) as we continue to analyze this psalm. After one imperative in verse 4 and four imperatives in verse 5, verse 6 adds two more, for a total of seven. In verse 7 we behold what Motyer calls “an arrow prayer,” similar to those that Nehemiah often prayed–instantaneous, extemporaneous prayers to God. Psalm 4 is one of David’s many prayers. We should learn to pray as he did.