Psalm Psnippets 9: Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey stuff

Hebrew poetry can do odd things with time. Psalm 9 is no exception – we shuttle between looking back and anticipating and, at least in English, usually remain fuzzy on which direction we are actually facing. Rather than just being sloppy, as would be if I were writing it, here the poet is making a point.

The psalmist says: “I will give thanks … I will recount all of your wonderful deeds” (v1). Similarly, he calls on God to “be gracious … that I may recount all your praises” (vv 13-14). The psalm gives thanks for blessings already provided but it is written so we can’t tell if the blessings are in the past or are still to come. David seems to be giving thanks for things which haven’t happened yet.

Like most of the psalms, this gives us a model for prayer and how to function in the already-not yet (to embrace my reformed roots). We can use a perfected, action-completed, tense to describe God’s future blessings because they are certain. Looking backwards, we must faithfully recall how God has blessed us, especially when it seems far away or implausible.

Time is complicated and the God who created it doesn’t change. That’s why David can speak in the odd language that he does.

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fourthconfession

A comms professional in DC, I hope to not lose my soul and keep thinking about interesting books here.

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