Here’s an interesting Psalm. The center is a chiasmus which lays out the pros and cons (blessings and punishments) of a covenant God made with David. Both the beginning and end (A/A’) and the center (F/F’) of the chiasmus present strong contrasts – the good and the bad. As well, the beginning (A: vss. 1-26) and end (A’: 40-51) of the overall Psalm additionally present similar contrasts – the good vs. the bad. There’s some strong contrasts here which are meant to be seen by the reader. Here’s a brief overview of the Psalm:
A: The Good: God’s promise of blessing on David and his descendants (vss. 1-26)
B: The Central Chiasmus (vss. 27-39):
A’: The Bad: ‘David’ in trouble (vss. 40-51).
Interestingly, the entire Psalm is surrounded (included) with praise!
1 A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite:
A I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; To all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth. 2 For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever; In the heavens Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness.”
3 “I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, 4 I will establish your seed forever, And build up your throne to all generations.” Selah. 5 And the heavens will praise Thy wonders, O LORD; Thy faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. 6 For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD, 7 A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him? 8 O LORD God of hosts, who is like Thee, O mighty LORD? Thy faithfulness also surrounds Thee. 9 Thou dost rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, Thou dost still them. 10 Thou Thyself didst crush Rahab like one who is slain; Thou didst scatter Thine enemies with Thy mighty arm. 11 The heavens are Thine, the earth also is Thine; The world and all it contains, Thou hast founded them. 12 The north and the south, Thou hast created them; Tabor and Hermon shout for joy at Thy name. 13 Thou hast a strong arm; Thy hand is mighty, Thy right hand is exalted. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before Thee. 15 How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Thy countenance. 16 In Thy name they rejoice all the day, And by Thy righteousness they are exalted. 17 For Thou art the glory of their strength, And by Thy favor our horn is exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to the LORD, And our king to the Holy One of Israel. 19 Once Thou didst speak in vision to Thy godly ones, And didst say, “I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. 20 “I have found David My servant; With My holy oil I have anointed him, 21 With whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him. 22 “The enemy will not deceive him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him. 23 “But I shall crush his adversaries before him, And strike those who hate him. 24 “And My faithfulness and My lovingkindness will be with him, And in My name his horn will be exalted. 25 “I shall also set his hand on the sea, And his right hand on the rivers. 26 “He will cry to Me, ‘Thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’
A 27 “I also shall make him [Me: David] My first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth.
B 28 “My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall be confirmed to him.
C 29 “So I will establish his descendants forever, And his throne / as the days of heaven.
D 30 “If his sons forsake My law, And do not walk in My judgments,
E 31 If they violate / My statutes, And do not keep My commandments,
F 32 Then I will visit their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes.
F’ 33 “But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, Nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.
E’ 34 “My covenant / I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
D’ 35 “Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David.
C 36 “His descendants / shall endure forever, And his throne / as the sun before Me.
B’ 37 “It shall be established forever like the moon, And the witness in the sky is faithful.” Selah.
A’ (1) 38 But Thou hast cast off and rejected, (2) Thou hast been full of wrath against Thine anointed. (1′) 39 Thou hast spurned the covenant of Thy servant; (2′) Thou hast profaned his crown in the dust.
A’ 40 Thou hast broken down all his walls; Thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. 41 All who pass along the way plunder him; He has become a reproach to his neighbors. 42 Thou hast exalted the right hand of his adversaries; Thou hast made all his enemies rejoice. 43 Thou dost also turn back the edge of his sword, And hast not made him stand in battle. 44 Thou hast made his splendor to cease, And cast his throne to the ground. 45 Thou hast shortened the days of his youth; Thou hast covered him with shame. Selah. 46 How long, O LORD? Wilt Thou hide Thyself forever? Will Thy wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember what my span of life is; For what vanity Thou hast created all the sons of men! 48 What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah. 49 Where are Thy former lovingkindnesses, O Lord, Which Thou didst swear to David in Thy faithfulness? 50 Remember, O Lord, the reproach of Thy servants; How I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the many peoples, 51 With which Thine enemies have reproached, O LORD, With which they have reproached the footsteps of Thine anointed.
52 Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.
This is one of those chiasmi which I would like to revisit in the future. It’s possible I’m missing something here. E.g., perhaps the central chiasmus should be extended. … Hmmm.