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The Sitz im Leben of the Enthronement Psalms?

April 27, 2008

The Enthronement Psalms are Pss. 47, 93, 95-99 and are characterised by the exclamation YHWH Malak which means “The LORD is King”. There is a great deal of scholarly debate concerning the precise Sitz im Leben of these psalms with Sigmund Mowinckel arguing their steming from an annual ‘enthronement of YHWH’ festival held at the Feast of Tabernacles. I wish to briefly offer up my opinion as to a possible sitz im leben of the enthronement psalms.

In 1 Chronicles 16:23-33 we find Psalm 96 being sung when the Ark of the Covenant was brought from the house of Obededom to the city of David. It is clear that Psalm 96 has its origins in this cultic activity. It seems reasonable then, to infer that the source of the rest of the enthronement psalms ought to be derived from this same event. Now it could be argued that (1) all the enthronement psalms were composed at the event described in 1 Chronicles 16 with the Chronicler summarising what went on; or indeed, (2) Psalm 96 was composed at 1 Chronicles 16 and Pss. 47, 93, 95, 97-99 were composed at a later date to commemorate (annually?) what took place at 1 Chronicles 16.

I offer this as a hypothesis albeit tentatively.

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