The Role of Psalms 135-137 in the Shape and Shaping of Book V of the Hebrew Psalter

  • Nancy L deClaissé-Walford McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Abstract

Book V of the Psalter (Pss 107-150) is an interesting collection of psalms. After the opening Ps 107, celebrating God’s rescue of humanity from various dangerous situations, psalms attributed to David appear again after a virtual absence since Book II. These Davidic psalms (Pss 108-110 and 138-145) “frame” a grouping of festival psalms that are introduced by two brief alphabetic acrostics (Pss 111 and 112). Seemingly tucked away just after the Songs of Ascents (Pss 120-134), and before the resumption of psalms of David, lie Psalms 135-137, two magnificent community hymns followed by a heartfelt community lament. This essay explores the role of these psalms in the “shape” and “shaping” of the story of the Psalter. It will conclude that the psalms offer a highly stylized recitation of Israel’s history that made a world for the postexilic community, recounting Yahweh’s work in creation, summarizing the Pentateuchal stories of the ancestors (Pss 135-136) and providing a snapshot of exilic life in Babylon (Ps 137). Their assurance of Yahweh’s presence and provisions allow David, in Psalms 138-145, to lead the postexilic people in blessing, praise, and thanks to the sovereign God.

https://doi.org/10.17159/2312-3621/2019/v32n2a20

Author Biography

Nancy L deClaissé-Walford, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford is the Carolyn Ward Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia.  She is also a Research Associate with the Department of Old Testament Studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.  Email walford_nd@mercer.edu.

Published
2019-09-26