Training the Heart to Remember

Western Shore of Iceland

(Part of the “Poetry Project”)

The poet’s of Israel knew that the heart of Israel was forgetful. It has ever been so. The people of God have leaky souls. Pre and post resurrection, the Church, the Israel of God, since the ascension have suffered from the same malady. It is one of the reason that the Psalms are peppered with a number of what scholars call, “acrostic psalms”. In acrostic psalms each line, verse or stanza begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Even the books of Lamentations and Nahum has the form (see Lam. 1-4 and Nahum 1:2-8). All show an amazing complexity and rigor of form. For example, Psalms 9-10, 25, 34, 37, and 145 follow the alphabet in each verse . . .

  • Psalm 9-10 where the form is followed with some un-conforming exceptions;
  • Psalm 25 where qoph is skipped, and resh is doubled;
  • Psalm 34 where vav is skipped;
  • Psalm 37 where cheth is doubled; and
  • Psalm 145 where nun is skipped,

In Psalm 119, each successive 8 verse stanza, follows the form with 8 verses for each Hebrew letter! Amazing.

Psalm 111-112 (just one Psalm in the Greek LXX, and no superscription for the Hebrew Masoretic text of Psalm 112), each line in the Psalm begin with the next letter. Extraordinary! Each of the Psalms has 10 verses with exactly 22 lines to accommodate all the letters of the alphabet. Stunning.

Why all this attention to such a restrictive form?

One basic answer:   To aid the student of the word of God to memorize the Psalm.

The psalmists took “hiding the word of God in their hearts” seriously (see Psalm 119:9-11). Below, I have tried to do in English what was once done in Hebrew. So, here is an offering to the body of Christ and “the Poetry Project.” May it help to fill our leaky souls with the teaching of the word of God in the hope of galvanizing our souls with the truth so that we will never be moved and broken on the craggy shores of life.

Psalm 112 (always read the Psalm first)

The Righteous Will Never Be Moved

1      Adorn the LORD with glory!
       Blessed is the man who delights in You,

       Commanding his heart to obey!
2      Determining blessings for generation
       Every family of the righteous will rejoice

3      Favor resides in his house and
       Goodness endures within his heart forever.

4       Healing finds him in the worst of days;  
       It is grace and mercy that travel with his righteous heart.
5      Justice attends all his dealings with men; 
      Kindness abides with them all.
6      Light for the righteous will never be moved;
      May he be remembered forever.
7      Never is he afraid of bad news;
      Over all his turmoil, his heart firmly trusts in Yahweh.
8      Primed with truth, his heart is settled and fear is banished,
      Queens and kings look upon his triumph.
9     Righteous gifts he grants to the poor;
      So may his righteousness endure forever;
      The people give thanks that his power is exalted in honor.
10    Untouched by all of this, the wicked man sees it and is angry;
      Vanquished, he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
      Wicked men and their desires will perish!

Go to Psalm 113

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