This Psalm has 2 parts. The first part is a chiasmus. The second part is not.
The chiasmus has a famous beginning (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”), a good center, and a nice end.
Here’s a basic outline of the chiasmus:
A: A cry for help: no answer
C: Personal (an “I/me” section)
D: Bulls, lion, bones
E: Dogs, ‘pierce’, bones
F: A prayer for God’s help
E’: – , sword, dog
D’: – , lion, oxen
C’: Personal (an “I/me” section)
A’: Cried for help: heard
I particularly like the connections through D2, E2′, E’2”, and D’2” : … think ‘sharp’, as in e.g., ‘teeth’, as in ‘open lion’s mouth’.
Interestingly, D3 and E3′ (“bones”) have been left unmatched in E’ and D’. I wonder why? Is it because of the section’s closer association with death? If so, then ‘death’ is absent in the latter sections. … Death is off the table. Life is in play … ?
Note how D begins with the idea of being surrounded and encircled. The paralleling and chiastic sections D, E, E’ and D’ then proceed to do just that. They surround the individual at the center of the chiasmus. … The structure illustrates what’s being said. Nice.
Section C is complex. a and b are negative, while b’ and a’ are positive. … In particular I like the i/i’ match in b where i refers to sneering, while i’ delivers the actual content of the sneer. The content is chiastic as well. Once again, well done.
The second part nicely builds through space and time. Overall, it seems to build and cover everything.
I like this chiasmus.
It’s an important Psalm, in part, because of it’s connection to Jesus’ crucifixion.
1 (For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David.)
A My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? / Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. 2 O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.
B 3 Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 4 In Thee our fathers trusted; They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. 5 To Thee they cried out, and were delivered; In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
a i 6 But I am a worm, ii and not a man, ii’ A reproach of men, i’ and despised by the people.
i 7 All who see me sneer at me;
ii They separate with the lip,
ii’ they wag the head,
i’ saying, / i 8 “Commit yourself ii to the LORD; iii let Him deliver him; iii’ Let Him rescue him, ii’ because He i’ delights in him.”
i 9 Yet Thou art He / who didst bring me forth from the womb; ii Thou / didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. ii’ 10 Upon Thee / I was cast from birth; i’ Thou hast been my God / from my mother’s womb.
a’ 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near; / For there is none to help.
1 12 Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.
2 13 They open wide their / mouth at me, As a ravening and / a roaring lion.
3 14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death.
1′ 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
2′ They pierced my hands and my feet.
3′ 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
F 19 But Thou, O LORD, be not far off; O Thou my help, hasten to my assistance.
2” 20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
1” My only life from the power of the dog.
2” 21 Save me from the lion’s / mouth;
1” And from the horns of the wild oxen Thou dost answer me.
C’ 22 I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I / will praise Thee.
B’ 23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
A’ (B”) 24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; (C”) Neither has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
[Me: Praising God, through expanding 'space'] 25 From Thee comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.
→ 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!
→ 27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. 28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S, And He rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,
→ [Me: Praising God, through expanding 'time' / generations] All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.
→ 30 Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the LORD to the coming generation.
→ 31 They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.
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