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The hope of David in Books I-III

November 21, 2008

Gerald Wilson has noted that in Books 1-3 royal psalms are used at the seams. Ps. 2 opens up Book 1 and this “is dominated by royal considerations and especially the institution of the Davidic covenant” (Wilson, 1986: 88). Ps. 72 closes Book 2 wherein “the covenant which YHWH made with David (Ps. 2) and which serves as the source of David’s assurance (Ps. 41) is now passed on to his descendants in this series of petitions in behalf of ‘the king’s son’ (Ps. 72)” (Wilson, 1986: 89). Ps. 89 closes Book 3 and “is primarily concerned to recall the covenant between YHWH and David” and “YHWH is depicted as rejecting his anointed king and renouncing the Davidic covenant” (Wilson, 1986: 90). For Wilson, the framework of Pss. 2-89 “reflects exilic (or post-exilic) evaluation of the hopes of the Davidic monarchy based on the covenant of David. The conclusion still manifests hope in the faithfulness of YHWH to his covenant promises and a plea for restoration” (Wilson, 1986: 92). It is this that Books 4 & 5 of the Psalter deals with and to which I shall now turn.

Wilson, G. H. (1986) “The Use of Royal Psalms at the ‘Seams’ of the Hebrew Psalter”, JSOT, pp. 85-94

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2008 4:30 pm

    Very good – but one of the questions this raises for me is ‘why are there Davidic psalms in book 4 and 5’?

    I was looking at Psalm 73 last night – While it mentions Israel and thereby gives a corporate framework, the whole psalm is largely about individual skepticism and individual faith. I will look forward to your comments on Psalm 90 and following – it seems to me that this of the 4 prayers constitutes the most profound appreciation of human transience in the Psalter. The following answer to the prayer in 91 is the deepest expression of that same human confidence as psalm 73. (Continued in 139 of course…)

  2. November 21, 2008 6:35 pm

    Bob, you should check out David Mitchell’s “Lord, Remember David: G. H. Wilson and the Message of the Psalter” as he raises some good points against Wilson’s thesis and I would want to take a via media between the two. Have you read Futato’s Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical Handbook? Well worth a read, his commentary will be out soon which should be good.

    I believe that there are ‘Davidic’ Psalms in Books IV and V because they are a response to the questions raised in Books I-III. Key ones being Pss. 110, 118 & 132. I hopefully will have a short piece on Book IV done by the end of the weekend and a summary of Book V sometime thereafter.

    All the best.

  3. November 22, 2008 5:34 pm

    Richard – I don’t think I have access to the VT that has David’s article in it – but have you seen this PDF that I found by accident when looking for the Mitchell article? It is so much already there where I thought I might be heading (though my trip is a side journey to my original questions on how the first century authors – particularly Hebrews – read the Psalms).

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