Archive for the ‘Psalms’ Category

The Mix Tape and How We Sing the Psalms

Dear Reader,

I read recently that the humble cassette tape is making a resurgence (see “Why Cassette Tapes are Making a Comeback” by Nathan Olivarez-Giles from The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2017). It’s very inflexibility is one of the draws of this antiquated medium. With a cassette, one has to be patient. Because you can’t easily skip tracks, you have to wait for your music, and you have to listen to it in the order it comes.

To its aficionados, the ability to make a mix-tape is also a draw of the cassette. Of course, one can make a playlist with almost any digital device these days. But the mix tape, because of its limitations, forces one to think about the placement of songs. As Olivarez-Giles puts it:

Mixmaster’s quote: ‘When you buy a tape or an album and the songs are, like, the band’s put ’em in some [expletive] order like they want you to listen to it in that order? . . . ‘”

And again:

“‘But you put [the songs] next to each other, and they start to elevate each other.'”

It struck me as I read this, that these same words could apply to the Book of Psalms. For those of us who sing the Psalms in worship, we often tackle them one at a time, taking a single Psalm or even a portion of a Psalm. But the One who gave us the Psalms did not give them in isolation. They are in a sense, His mix-tape for us. There are some groupings we can easily discern – the Psalms of Ascent, for example. But other connections are more subtle. Like two songs on a mix-tape, the Psalms at times interact with one another; they speak to each other and also to us if we have the ears to hear. I have written on how Psalms 80 and 81 seem to do this; they present two dies of a story, man’s and God’s and the juxtaposition adds to the meaning of both.

What does this mean for us? Simply this: that we should make an effort to occasionally read and sing the Psalms in their larger context. This is often not possible in weekly worship but the congregational Psalm-sing would seem the perfect opportunity to not just sing through whole Psalms but even through sections of the Psalter itself.



Psalm Study: Psalm 11

Dear Reader,

For some background on why and how we do psalm study see this post on Psalm 8.

For this week’s psalm study, I did something a little bit different and gave some specific questions. You can find my translation of Psalm 11 with the study questions here (opens a Google doc).

To begin I gave each of my kids a copy of the psalm and the questions, a pencil and about 10 minutes to see what they could do with it. After that time, we came back together and went through the questions one by one.

Here again are the question with our answers:

-Read through the psalm. What kind of psalm is it? (Some choices include: praise, lament, thanksgiving, royal, wisdom) After some discussion we agreed that the psalmist is not mainly giving praise but is asking for help. Therefore we called this a lament psalm. We noted that help has not come in the psalm; he is only expressing confidence that it will, which is usual for laments.

-How would you divide up this psalm? Look for sets of parallel lines and mark them. There were some obvious sets in this psalm which we all agreed on: lines 4,5, and 6; 9 and 10; 11 and 12. One child thought lines 2 and 3 should be combined making a pair with line 1. They weren’t all convinced but I put 7 and 8 together. There was some dispute over whether 14 went with 13 or 15 and 16. Personally, I like starting the psalm with 2 triads (1,2 and 3; and 4,5, and 6) and then putting all the rest of the lines in pairs. Not all psalms work out so nicely, but this one can.

-Below are lines 4-6. Put boxes around the parts that go together (i.e. “the wicked” in the first line corresponds to “they” in the second line so they would go together in one box).

For behold the wicked bend    a bow;

                                They    fix         their arrow upon the string

                                         To shoot                                 in secret    the upright of heart.

There was a little confusion over what I was asking for here. I am going to add a picture of how I did it below so you can see what I had in mind and hopefully guide your children. You can slide in a little grammar lesson here too. The verbs line up very nicely and go in one box. Lines 4 and 5 have subjects– “the wicked” and “they” — and complements — “a bow” and “their arrow” — which go together. Line 4 has an added bit at the beginning, but lines 5 and 6 both have prepositional phrases after the verb. Finally, line 6, which doesn’t have a subject, has something added at the end which actually has two parts itself — “the upright” and “of heart.”

What do you notice about the length of the lines? Once you have made the boxes, hopefully you will see that each line really has 4 parts. Line 4 has: behold, subject, verb, complement. Line 5 has subject, verb, complement, prepositional phrase. And Line 6 had verb, prepositional phrase and a 2-part added but which is actually a complement and a prepositional phrase describing it.

Do we have an exact parallelism here? Or is there a progression? (Hint: think about the verbs.)

No. If you act out the verbs, you will see that the lines take us through the steps in drawing and shooting a bow. As the wicked bends his bow, fixes the arrow and shoots, the suspense builds . . .

What does the last line add to the meaning? And then in the last line we find that he is not just out hunting, he is hunting in secret! It’s an ambush! And the target is not an animal, but people!!

-Look through the psalm again and mark any repeated words. What do you notice? You may note different things here. Some we found are: wicked, LORD and righteous/righteousness/upright. If you have a child like one of mine, you may need to instruct them that words like “the” and “in” are not worth marking even though they occur frequently.

-Who sees whom in this psalm? God sees man and the upright will see God.

-Look at lines 13-14 again:

“The LORD the righteous examines and the wicked and the lover of violence his soul hates.”

Remember that there is no punctuation in the Hebrew. Are there different way you could divide up these lines?  Which do you think it best? This might be  a little bit trickier. If they have trouble getting started, remind them that lines 4-6 were nicely balanced, each has the same number of elements so they appear the same length. If you look at my translation of the Psalm, what do you notice? Line 13 is much shorter than line 14. How could I have done it differently so that the lines would be more even? Your answer should be that “and the wicked” could go with what comes before. How does this change the meaning? If the wicked goes in line 14, then the LORD is examining the righteous but hating the wicked. If we put it with line 13, then He examines both righteous and wicked and hated the wicked (aka the lover of violence). Go on to the next question, to see why this might be important . . .

What do you think this psalm is about? There seem to be two parts: the problem in lines 1-8 and the solution in lines 9-18. Describe the scene in the latter half. How do you see it?

If your kids can’t picture it, ask them what God is doing in this psalm. Is He fighting? Standing? Sitting? He is sitting on His throne. His throne is the place of judgment. If we take the wicked with line 13, as discussed above, then He is judging the righteous and the wicked. He looks at both of them and then passes judgment on the wicked. What about the righteous? What happens to them? They see the face of God. This might be a good time to point out that faces seem prominent in this psalm. Earlier we had eyes and eyelids, now we have faces. A good question to ask whenever you read the Bible is: What other passages does this remind me of? For me this one is the parable of the sheep and the goats when God judges and puts the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. One goes off to eternal punishment and the other lives with God forever.


Here you can see how I did the boxes around parallel the sections of lines 4-6.

Next time: Psalm 12


Psalm Study: Psalms 9 and 10

Dear Reader,

This week we studied Psalms 9 and 10 in our homeschool (see my post on Psalm 8 for more background info on how and why we do Psalm study). In the Hebrew Bible, Psalms 9 and 10 form an acrostic poem — every other line begins with a new letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 10 also have no heading as Psalms 8, 9 and 11 do. For these two reasons, I chose to study the two together as one unit. You can find my own translation of the psalms which we used as the text for out study here (opens a Google document). The line divisions are my own to try and highlight the parallelism of the psalms; they are not verse numbers nor do they show the acrostic pattern (though that might not have been a bad idea in this case).

I introduced these Psalms by explaining why we were studying them together (see above) and by saying that since what we have before us is a very long passage, they should not hope to deal with it all but should focus in on a few things to look for. One suggestion is to try to divide the psalms into logical sections. Another would be to look for common themes, even within these sections, or throughout the poem.

I then set my kids to work with pencils (having a selection of colored ones is best) and their own copy of the text. After ten minutes or so, when I could see most of them were slowing down, I called them back together to discuss.

I opened the discussion by asking them if there was anything that they noticed about the psalms. We came up with the following list:

  •  Judgment is mentioned a lot; the Lord will judge.
  • It tells what people say a lot.
  • There are a lot of “I will”s. I asked who the “I” is for these and the answer was the psalmist.
  • The Lord will help the poor, afflicted, etc. is a theme.
  • They are mostly pairs of parallel lines.
  • It uses the proper name of God (“LORD”) a lot.

After letting them share their observations, we moved on to some more specific questions:

  • What sections would you divide these psalms into? Three children had marked parallel lines, but only one looked at the larger sections though his were roughly the same as mine.
  • What themes do you see? One child mentioned praise but upon further inspection we decided praise comes mainly at the beginning of the text.
  • How is God described? It is always a good idea to look at what names for God or what descriptions of him a psalm uses. At this point I drew particular attention to line  23 and asked them who the “Seeker of Blood” is. The first response was Satan, but then another child noticed that this line is parallel to line 24 so that the Seeker of Blood who remembers is the same as the “He” that does not forget the cry of the afflicted. This latter seems to refer to God since He is often described thus so we can work backwards and say that God is also the Seeker of Blood. We then discussed how this is not a common designation for God or way that we think of Him. I asked them if they could think of other passages which seem to speak the same way. It took some prompting to make a connection with Genesis 4 in which Abel’s blood calls out to God from the ground. In this sense God is a Seeker in that He seeks out the innocent blood and executes justice.
  • Who is the wicked in this text and how is he described? A closer reading shows that the nations are wicked in the first half of the poem, through line 40, but after that point it seems to be speaking of individuals, at least until the end when nations are mentioned in line 75. We then listed ways the wicked are described and things he does, especially in the second half of the poem. I observed that a main contrast between God and the wicked seems to be in how they treat the poor and afflicted.
  • How do you picture God in these psalms? We talked about how He is a judge seated on a throne (see footnote 6). He is not inactive but He is the sort of powerful ruler who can sit on His throne and have His will be done.

Remember that there can be many right answers or right ways to look at a text, as long as you can support what you see with the text itself. Your conclusions don’t have to be the same as ours.



Psalm Study Returns: Psalm 8

Dear Reader,

I have been neglecting the finer things in (our homeschool) life but am determined to return to them. Among these is Psalm study. Charlotte Mason recommends hymn study but since we do not sing hymns, this never made much sense for our family. We do, however, sing the Psalms and so I have in the past attempted Psalm studies with my kids. My goal is to get back into doing them every or perhaps every other week and to post both how we went about it and the results here. Looking back over my previous posts, I found we had been through a number of psalms already, including numbers 1-7, so I thought Psalm 8 would be a good place for us to resume.

For an introduction to how we do Psalm study see this post and this one. You can also find all our earlier studies here (link coming soon). Having studied biblical Hebrew in grad school, I use my own translations of the Psalms so that I can have them laid out as I like and also stay as close to the structure and meaning of the Hebrew original. You can find my translation of Psalm 8 and my notes on it here (opens a google doc). My recommendation is to print out a copy for yourself and each child, then grab a stack of colored pencils and get ready to begin.

Since we hadn’t done a Psalm study in a while, I began by asking my kids if they remembered what sorts of things they should be looking for. The first suggestion was synonyms (okay, they said “words that mean the same thing”). I explained that this is partially true — Hebrew poetry is based on a parallelism, that is sets (usually couplets) of parallel lines which seem to us to pretty much say the same thing over again. If we think that Hebrew poetry is just repetitive, however, we will miss the whole point. You should always look at the parallel lines to see what it repeated, what is left out, what is changed. There is actually a fairly thin line between biblical Hebrew poetry and prose. Even those psalms that aren’t obviously so can have a narrative aspect and those little changes help to move the action forward. Other things to look for are repeated words, what people do or have done to them, how they are named or described (especially true of God), and any images or ideas which ring a bell for you or call to mind other biblical passages (this last is a great way to think about any biblical text you are reading; God loves repetition — I think it is because we are so dense).

So as you sit down for psalm-study with your kids, this is how I would begin:

  • Teacher preparation — read this post and read my notes on Psalm 8. Prepare copies of the psalm for all students and get some nice, sharp colored pencils.
  • When you get to “class,” hand everyone their copy of the psalm. Explain what we are going to do using the points in the above paragraph about what to look for; for younger kids you might want to give them one or two tasks only. Even the earliest readers can look for repeated words.
  • Read the psalm aloud to everyone. I wouldn’t bother reading them the notes but if they ask relevant questions, you can point them to the notes.
  • Give everyone their colored pencils and get to work. You should do this part too. You are using the pencils to mark up your copy. For example, if the word “God” occurs five times, you can color it green each time. Or you can color each pair of parallel lines a different color. Everyone will see different things and that is the point. The fun comes when we put it all together.

I find that with a short psalm like Psalm 8, my kids only need 5 or 10 minutes to mark what they see. When everyone seems to be slowing down, call them all back together and discuss what you have found. Your discussion will likely begin by looking at technical details, like how many times a word occurs, but the point of psalm study is to see how the form contributes to the meaning and to appreciate the beauty of the language so you should always insert questions like “Why do you think the psalmist did it that way?” and “What do you think that adds to the meaning of this Psalm?” You should fee free to ask your own questions and to follow whatever course your discussion takes, but I’ll share with you the questions I asked and what conclusions we came to. When you are newer to this, you may want/need to be more leading and to prod your kids in certain directions, but hopefully over time you will find that you all are starting to respond to and find cool things in the psalms on your own.

Here then is how our discussion went:

  • My first question is always “What did you mark in this psalm?” This alone may be enough to start a discussion going.
  • My oldest answered the above question by telling us what lines he thought were parallel in this psalm which brings me to a second possible question if you all need some help: “What sets of parallel lines do you see in this psalm?” I could see both my daughters shaking their heads as he talked so this generated quite a discussion for us this time. The three of them had three different ways of dividing up the psalm. Of course, everyone could see that lines 1 and 16 are identical. There was disagreement over whether line 2 went with 1 or whether 1 just went with 16. Some other pairs were also easy to see in this psalm — 8 and 9, for instance, and 14 and 15. There was the most disagreement on what to do with 3, 4, and 5. We debated but didn’t come to any consensus. This is a good place to note that the line divisions are mine; it is my one big bit of editorial license in these translations, though I firmly believe that every translation is an interpretation. I do it so that we can all see the parallelism more clearly. The line numbers, as I say in my notes, are to aid in discussion and are not verse numbers.
  • My next question was “What do you think the main idea in this psalm is?” My younger son suggested that it was “God will subdue our foes and we should praise Him.” While the psalm does mention foes, I suggested that this seem to be a minor part of it and asked for other suggestions. My older son proposed ” We praise Him because God has been good to man.”
  • This led naturally to another good question: “What does God do for man in this psalm?” We listed glorify him, remember him, make him just less than God, crown him, and make him rule over the animals.
  • “Ah!” I said. “What does ruling over the animals remind you of?” The answer I got was “Adam” whom I then pointed out is actually mentioned in line 9. My oldest read my notes and told me that Adam is only mentioned because I, as the translator, made the choice to translate the word thus. He clearly thought I went too far with this (don’t you hate it when they get too smart?). I agreed that it was an editorial decision and that, having two basic words for “man,” that the author might have found himself with no other choice than to use “adam” for one of them (since he needed two for the parallel). But I still maintain that in Hebrew it would have been hard to ignore the Genesis connection here since it really is the same word as the name. Whether you were thinking “man” or “first person,” you would have heard “adam.”
  • Next leading questions: “Is there anything else in this psalm that reminds you of the first chapters of Genesis?” Our answers were: heavens and earth (lines 1 and 2), moon and stars (line 7), Adam (line 9, disputed), all the kinds of animals listed (lines 14 and 15), and the idea of ruling over and having dominion (lines 12 and 13).
  • Here’s where we began to wonder how it all fits together. We had noticed that lines 3, 4, and 5 don’t fit the parallelism well. There are also no words which seem inherently to relate to Creation in these lines. So the next question to ask was “How do lines 3, 4 and 5 fit in? How do they relate to the rest of the psalm?“My oldest (again!) noted that one could arrange things differently here. As I said the line divisions are my own (as those in your Bible are the decision of its editors, by the way). Lines 4 and 5  could be combined. The does make some sense since 4 is very short. It would also allow 3 and 4/5 to be a pair, making all the lines in the psalm have  a parallel partner except 16 which takes us back to 1 and provides closure anyway. But we are still left with the problem of meaning — how do 3 and 4/5 fit it with the rest of the psalm? And 4/5 begins “because of . . .” which seems to connect it to 3, but what is their connection with each other? All we really managed to say at this point is that God will destroy the enemy and that 4 and 5 are a concession to the fact that the world is fallen (my words, not theirs). Most of this psalm is positive, it is a picture of a Genesis 2 Creation, not a Genesis 3 world. But then there are lines 4 and 5.
  • We then turned more specifically to line 3. I asked them to say line 3 in their own words. We weren’t quite sure what “ordaining” strength meant but said that either babies are giving strength or else God is putting strength in their mouths. I asked, “What are babies like?” A particularly harsh child said that they are whiny, little, annoying and fat. What they are not is strong or well-spoken. I was particularly pleased with the observation that babies can’t talk yet here they are presumably speaking (because of the reference to moiuths). I had noticed that strength didn’t seem to go with babes but hadn’t thought about their abilty (or lack thereof) to speak. I connected this to God using the weak to shame the strong — He always does the opposite of what we expect. Here He uses those most unfit for the task to speak and to be strong.
  • We then returned to the connection between line 3 and 4/5. I asked, “Are the foes connected to the babies?” and “Who are the foes?” They concluded pretty quickly that if we have the early chapters of Genesis in mind, the foes are Satan and his minions. They also then made the connections that it will be the son of man (or perhaps I should say “Son of Man”) that will crush the head of the serpent; that is, the babies, particularly one, Jesus, will ultimately defeat the enemy. Kind of a big idea for what you thought was a simple praise psalm, huh? My own observation, though we didn’t get into it specifically, would be that the Fall and the time of Satan’s dominion interrupt God’s good Creation just as lines 3 and 4/5 seem to interrupt this psalm. The form reflects the meaning.
  • I ended by asking, as I always do, “Does anyone have anything else they noticed about this psalm that they want to share?” My oldest (he was quite the know-it-all this day) did. He had noticed that all the lines but 4, 14 and 15 have either “you” or “your” referring to God. If we combine 4 and 5, we further limit this to just 14 and 15. What is the significance of this? Our answer was that it emphasizes that Creation is God’s.

And that’s where our discussion ended. If you attempt a psalm study, please comment and tell me what you found. Next time: Psalms 9 and 10.


Psalm 7

Dear Reader,

I haven’t done a post on a Psalm lately but I had this one in my drafts folder so I thought I would share it with you. I really need to get back to making my kids do this stuff too.

Here is how I would translate Psalm 7:

“Lord, my God, in you I take refuge; Save me from all my pursuers and deliver me.

Lest they tear like lions my soul, rending with no deliverer.

Lord, my God, if I did this, if there is iniquity in my hands,

If I repaid those who acted peacably with me [with] evil or despoiled my foes in vain,

May the enemy pursue my soul and overtake and trample my life to the earth;

And may he make my glory dwell in the dust.

Arise, Lord, in your anger; take away in chains my foes, and awake for me;  justice you commanded.

For the congregation of the peoples will surround you; and over it on high return.

The Lord judges peoples;

Judge me, Lord, according to my righteousness and according to my uprightness within me.

Let the evil of the wicked be repaid, but establish the righteous.

For he tests hearts and kidneys, the righteous God.

My shield [is] upon God who saves the right in heart.

God [is] a righteous judge, and god of indignation throughout all days.

If [anyone] does not turn, he will sharpen his sword; he will draw his bow and anchor it.

For him he establishes weapons of death; his arrows he makes burning [shafts].

Behold, he writhes [with] iniquity and conceives; he labors and bears falsehood.

He plumbed a pit and dug it, but he will fall in the pit he made.

His transgression will return upon his head, and upon his scalp his violence will come down.

I will thank the Lord according to his righteousness, and I will sing the name of the Lord most high.”

I am struck by the confidence of the psalmist in this psalm. Though he faces enemies, this is not the plaintive cry of the previous few psalms. Rather, the psalmist approaches God boldly. He is sure of his innocence and willing to take his chances before a Righteous Judge.

The picture given here of God is important. This is not a weak or even a merciful God. This is a powerful God, coming in judgment and full of indignation. He is a warrior with the weapons to prove it.

Names are important in the Bible, as you probably know. The power to name is given to Adam. God changes people’s names at important points in their lives. And the names of God are also important. God names Himself. And He has a long list of names.

This is something we have been seeing in our homeschool recently while studying ancent Egpyt. Eyptian gods have secret names which give the one who knows them power over them. And when asked to identify themselves they give long lists of names and accomplishments.

In this psalm, we see that the psalmist uses God’s proper name (vv.1,4) (translated here “the Lord”; we do not know how it would have been pronounced though it is commonly rendered “Yahweh” or much more inaccurately “Jehovah”). It is God’s covenant name by which He revealed Himself to His people. There is power in it, not because, as in Egypt, it is a secret name the god cannot fail to respond to, but because God Himself has used this name to make His covenant and promises to His people. He has bound Himself by it. The psalmist also adds “my God”, personalizing his relationship to the Lord.

But there are other designations of God in this psalm. The second half of verse 9 would be read most literally: “Tester of hearts and minds God righteous.” Of course we need to add something, like the verb “to be”, to make a good English sentence. But I think the listing of names and attributes without added verbs is much more powerful. Think of that famous passage in Isaiah:

“And His name will be called  Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6)

God names Himself in a similar fashion, though with different attributes, when appearing to Moses:

“And the LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,  keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.'”    (Exodus 34:6-7)

Turning back to our psalm, we find God again described in v. 12, which would read most literally: “God righteous judge and god showing indignation all the day.” (The first use of the word “god” in this verse is the usual word for God in Hebrew. It is a plural form, Elohim, though it is used singularly for the one God. The second word is the related but shorter and singular El. I do not think there is a huge meaning behind the use of the shortened form here. Rather I think it is for poetic purposes to fit the verse better.) Is this how we usually think of God? Even when we say He is just as well as merciful, I don’t think we go so far as “showing indignation all the day.” I think we really believe that God’s mercy trumps His justice, but this is not what we are told. God’s justice is never diminished. It is fully satisfied. But His wrath is not poured out on us, but on His Son, Jesus, who took our places in judgment. And so in the end with Psalm 7, we are able to praise Him.


Conversations: Paying Kids to Learn and Church Music

Dear Reader,

These are two separate topics that came up in conversations I had recently. One friend was telling me how she is now paying her son for correct math problems. He was making careless mistakes and his proficiency has increased a lot now that he gets cash (which he uses to buy legos) for correct answers. Now on one hand, people do get paid for their work. But on the other hand, isn’t it better to be motivated by other things? Maybe a real enjoyment of one’s work or a desire to help others? But the truth is that my kids have never really struggled with motivation so I don’t know what I would do if one of them was truly unmotivated.

And then I sat quietly through another conversation in which two friends discussed hymns that get sung at their churches. One of them knows I am a psalm-singer; I don’t think the other does. They talked about how they loved some of the old hymns. How they can be poorly done if they are slow and to organ music. How one of their churches manages to do them well musically. And then the topic came around to hymns they don’t like. How some just have no theology or bad theology. How at grandma so-and-so’s church they just don’t sing because the hymns are all so bad and they can’t agree with them. Is there ever an appropriate time to jump and say don’t you see this is why you should sing psalms? Yes, some hymns are good just like some Christian books are good but even C.S. Lewis and Calvin are not Scripture nor are the best hymns the Word of God. And what if I like this hymn and you despise it; who decides what is good, what is true? When we sing God’s Word we don’t have these issues.



Psalm 13

Dear Reader,

We studied Psalm 13 last week. Here is the translation we worked from:

1 How long LORD will you forget me forever?

2 How long will you hide your face from me?

3 How long will I bear troubles in my soul,

4 Distress in ym heart daily?

5 How long will my enemy exult over me?

6 Make my eyes see, LORD my God;

7 Make my eyes see light lest I sleep in death,

8 Lest my enemy say, “I have subdued him.”

9 My foes rejoice when I fall.

10. But as for me, in your loving-kindness I trust.

11 My heart will rejoice in your salvation.

12 I will sing to the LORD for he has redeemed me.

I don’t have many notes on this translation; just the usual ones that “LORD” means the proper covenant name of God is used and that the line numbers are for ease of discussing the psalm and are not verse numbers.

All the children noticed that line 10 begins a new section. Some also said lines 1-5 were their own section. My 10-year-old called the first 9 nines “the whining section” and the last three “the trusting section.” Three out of four children also noted the pairs of parallel lines. The general agreement was that we have the following parallel pairs: 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 6 and 7, 8 and 9, and 11 and 12. There was some dispute about what to do with lines 5 and 10. Some placed them with nearby pairs–5 going with 3 and 4 and 10 with 11 and 12. Others wanted then to stand on their own.

My 12-year-old counted the references to the psalmist (18), God (8) and the enemy (4). We noted that people spend a lot of time talking about what they are really thinking about. So when the psalmist says “I” and “me: this much he is very self-focused. But at least God had more references than the enemy.

We also noted that God’s covenant name is used plus his loving-kindness or covenant love (Hebrew hesed) is mentioned.

My 10-year-old also noticed that in line 6 there is direct address (“LORD my God”) that is balanced in line 7 by an extra bit (“lest I sleep in death”). She compared this to the similar structure in lines 1 and 2.

I noticed that “rejoice” is used twice, once in line 9 of the enemy and once in line 11 of the psalmist. There is a definite contrast here.

All in all it was a good psalm study. I was pleased with how the kids are learning to read psalms and notice their construction.


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The Common Room

....Blogging about cabbages and kings since 2005.

Sage Parnassus

Blogging about education, theology, and more

A peaceful day

Blogging about education, theology, and more

Living Charlotte Mason in California

Blogging about education, theology, and more


Weekly Walrus Whatevers

Creations by Maris

Handwoven Textiles

Fisher Academy International ~ Teaching Home

Blogging about education, theology, and more


Blogging about education, theology, and more

Leah's Bookshelf

Book Reviews You Can Trust

Duxbury Art Boosters

Supporting the visual arts in Duxbury Public Schools

Just Right Porridge

... you'll lick your bowl clean...