Meditations on the Psalms #206

Psalm 103 Part 1

I have many favourite psalms but this is my most favourite! David’s artistic and poetic skill has excelled in this psalm. It also forms part of a trilogy with 102 and 104. From the moping bird on a rooftop where everything is wrong, (Ps102) to the crescendo of praise for God’s grace (Ps103), to the wonder of creation (Ps104.) All are part of a relationship with God, where we can talk to him wherever we are and in whatever state we find ourselves. In these meditations, I have mostly refrained from commenting on the poetic structures because of space constraints, but Ps103 is jaw-dropping! It follows two patterns simultaneously. One circular/ linear the other chiastic.  The circular pattern can be compared to a stone dropped in a pond, with ever-widening circles. It begins in vs1-5 on a personal level. Then in vs6-14 on a national level. Vs15-18 all mankind are included and finally, in vs20-22 the entire universe is praising Yahweh. Let’s do a ‘selah’ on that!

As it begins we listen to the crescendo of praise beginning in the soul(1) extending to Israel(7) reaching out to mankind(17,18) and finally resounding throughout all the universe (20-22,) where all angelic intelligences, stellar glories and all the powers of nature, unit to sing the praise of the Lord; where every cord of the harp and every instrument are played at full volume. 
Overlaid on this linear/circular progression is a chiastic structure. That has the following pattern. 

a) Blessing. 

b) God’s kingdom 6,7 (Israel) 

c) Mercy and goodness 11-13 

d) Man’s frailty and destiny 14 -16 

c) Pardoning goodness 17,18

b) God’s kingdom 19 (Universal) 

a) Blessing.

Notice the centre point of the ‘chiastic’ apex of the ‘V’ formation, the key point of the song, is v14-16, which deals with the fragility of life as we know it. Added to all that are a plethora of parallelisms all through the psalm. Parallelisms are rhyming thoughts. Notice e.g. the central 3 verses (14-16) which contain 3. Try reading the psalm with all this in mind. More meditations on the actual teachings of Ps 103 tomorrow. 

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