I think this week will be short, because I’ve read nothing but Psalms, and there really isn’t much to say about them. There’s 150 of the bastards, and if the week had been five days I might have got through the whole lot of them, but it wasn’t to be. It’s all Jesus’ fault for dying on a Friday.
So, Psalms. Psalmen in Dutch, which is of course the same except we use a different way of pluralising the word. The etymology is from ancient Greek ψαλμός, which is ‘the sound emanating from twitching or twanging musical strings’. Over time this has come to mean any kind of tune accompanied by instruments. So we have 150 songs to praise the Lord. Hallelujah.
At this point I have a confession to make: I hate poetry. I loathe it with a passion, so 150 poems all about how great God is were always going to severely test my patience. Poetry without any apparent rhyme or metre is even worse, because it hasn’t even got the decency of a nice cadence or symmetry.
Most of the first lot of psalms are attributed to David, and they all go along the lines of ‘Oh God, woe is me, I am beset by enemies all around me, save me from their hands and smite them, for you are a great and wonderful God and all should fear you, please save your servant!’ I really didn’t think there were more than about two ways of saying something like that, but David’s managed 76. Or thereabouts. Even so, I picked out a few gems:
Psalm 11: The Lord tests the righteous and the godless, and He hates those who love violence. Onto the godless he rains fiery coals and sulphur. (You know, because raining fiery coals and sulphur doesn’t count as violence.)
Psalm 16: I praise the Lord, who has advised me. Even by night my kidneys educate me. (I don’t know about you, but the only thing my kidneys tend to educate me in at night is that I can’t make it all the way to the morning without needing a piss at some point. Usually around 4am.)
Psalm 19: This really is a beauty: He is like a bridegroom coming out of his bridal suite, cheering like a hero to walk the path. (This gives me visions of a guy swaggering out of his bedroom going ‘I did it! I did it! Who da man? Who da man? Boo-yah! Me da man! Oh yeah, oh yeah! Possibly still naked and swinging his dick.)
Psalm 44: It has the header ‘Prayer of the oppressed people’ and is attributed to the Korachites. Even though they are oppressed and enslaved they still worship God, despite one of the lines saying ‘because of you we are killed all day long’. But hey, no hard feelings, right?
Psalm 51: This is a psalm of penance, composed by David after he was berated for shagging Bathsheba and having her husband killed. To God he says, ‘Against You, You alone, I have sinned’. (I beg to differ, because surely Bathsheba’s husband Uria has something to say about this as well.)
Psalm 78: This is a repeat of Israel’s entire history in verse, which includes this line: Then the Lord awoke like a sleeping man, like a hero, overcome by wine; He struck his opponents from behind. (So God is a drunkard and a coward who attacks people from behind?)
Psalm 104: There go the ships, the Leviathan, which You have made to play with them. (So God’s been making giant monsters to play with ships, because life at sea isn’t perilous enough otherwise?)
And that’s it for this week. I got to Psalm 137, so I’ve only got 13 more to go, thankfully. Then it’s on to Proverbs, which will hopefully contain a few interesting words.