Lectionary Year A
June 16, 2002
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) "The theological 'center of gravity' in the text" is the God whom the Psalmist loves, prays to and believes hears him. Other significant elements in these verses include God's loosening his bonds, the vows he makes, the lifting up of the cup of salvation and the thank offering the petitioner intends to live out and God's compassion for death. These observations leave to be termed of lesser significance here the prayer's claim to servanthood and his familial reference, the presence of the people, the courts and Jerusalem. However, we hasten to add that these concerns run a very close second to the more significant ones in this pericope, to be sure. Most all of these verses are supremely significant, especially in times of trouble. Now, what about the addressing God and/or referring to God this Psalm represents as originally composed? The poets we know mostly modern and western would be bold enough to address God directly more than talk/write about God. e. e. cummings and Maya Angelou come to mind as examples of such styles of articulation. So, would an ancient Psalmist be so bold? Probably so, given such faith as alluded to here could stimulate direct address to the Almighty.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 1 I love You, God for hearing me my voice and my supplications You listen to. 2 Because You turned Your ear to me whenever I was calling out/praying/asking for help. 12 What shall I return/render to You, Yahweh for all those benefits/acts of grace for me? 13 A cup of salvation I will lift up and in Your name I will call out/cry/pray, (maybe even aloud) 14 I will definitely pay my vows to You now before/in the presence of all Your people. 15 Precious/costly/valuable in Your eyes is the death of Your faithful ones. 16 Ah now Yahweh, I am Your servant, for sure, I am Your servant child of Your maid-servant/handmaid You loosened my bonds freeing me. 17 Unto You I will give a thanksgiving sacrifice and in Your name I will pray/call out forever. 18 My vows unto You I will pay/complete/make whole now before/in the presence of all Your people. 19 In the courts of the house of Yahweh in the midst of Jerusalem let us praise Yahweh.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) "God is great, God is good, and we thank Him . . ." That blessing we learned as children might begin to interpret in a nutshell some of what this Psalm says.

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