Saturday Afternoon Musings
Psalm 9 and 10 in the Massoretic text are acrostic psalms. Each two line verse begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
Translations tend to obscure the original artistry even when they are linguistically accurate and artistically pleasant. There is nothing wrong with losing the form as long as the content is conveyed faithfully.
But as a guide to force me to think harder about the psalm and as an homage to the form David used, I thought I would make an attempt to duplicate the style in English. Each line in each verse will begin with the next letter of the English alphabet.
A few comments and disclaimers.
Don’t mistake my attempt for art.
. (That won’t be hard.)
Don’t think of this as a commentary.
. (Although, at points it is.)
Don’t think of it as a word for word translation.
. (It’s not.)
Think of it as one man’s attempt to wrestle with meaning, and heart issues, and application in a way that honors God and encourages others. This is another offering in The Poetry Project. Always read the psalm first. With this offering, you might want to read the psalm and this version back and forth.
Make Your Grace My Clothing
Arresting my heart, you rescued my soul
. and became the architect of my future.
Because of your greatness O God
. blessings shall flow from my lips continuously.
Containing my enemies by your mercy
. causes my heart to sing of your name.
During all of my troubles, you have
. demonstrated righteous judgment.
Everlasting is your holiness,
. entire nations have felt your rebuke.
For their cities are found no more,
finished and erased from memory.
God sits enthroned forever;
. Generosity and justice are his footstools.
He judges the world with righteousness;
. He judges the people with equity.
Integrity is his constant companion–
. in it his people are made strong,
. in times of trouble, they run to him.
Joyous are those who put their trust in you;
. Joy is the dwelling place of those who seek you.
“King” is his name, and
. kindness flows from all his deeds.
Loving and mindful of all those who are afflicted,
. like a lion, he does not forget their cry.
Make your grace my clothing.
. May your mercy lift me.
. May your mighty ones protect your servant.
Never let your praises depart from my lips.
. Never let your people forget your salvation.
Oppose the nations who follow their own path.
. Oppose them with their own plans.
Providence has made himself known.
. Powerfully he has executed judgment,
. punishing the wicked by their own hand.
. Higgaion. Selah
Quickly the wicked are dispensed to Sheol.
. Quiet and forgotten are they who do not worship the King.
Remember the needy O God.
. Remember and give hope and home to the poor.
Stir yourself, O Lord! Let no man prevail.
. Strongly rebuke the nations before you.
Terrify the nations who despise your rule.
. Testify to their spirits that they are but men!
© 2014 Marty Schoenleber, Jr.
While my attempt is cumbersome and inartistic, I suspect it is in one way exactly like its Hebrew original—it is obvious. And the obviousness of the original would have made memorization that much easier. Lesson: Memorize the original.
Go to Psalm 10