The next mini-series of articles is from Psalm 92. I encourage you to read through that in its entirety on your own, and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you from it (before you allow me to share some thoughts). Although I pray that what I write is guided by Him, His insight must always supersede my own.
Let’s start with the heading of Psalm 92, using the NIV for reference (although you are always encouraged to read the Bible in your favorite translations(s) when following along with these articles).
A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.
Header from Psalm 92, NIV, from BibleGateway.com.
The footnote on Psalm 92 in the NIV says that, “In Hebrew texts 92:1-15 is numbered 92:2-16”. When we see a note like this, there are at least a couple of things that may have occurred:
- For one thing, the last verse of the previous chapter may have been part of this chapter in Hebrew. Although the book of Psalms is a little different than much of the rest of the Bible in terms of having discrete sections, most chapter divisions in the Bible weren’t in the original text (although I do appreciate their help in locating specific content in the Bible). However, when we look back at the end of Psalm 91, we don’t see a similar footnote, so that’s probably not it.
- Another possibility when we see a note like this in the Psalms is that the superscription (little notes above the psalm) are considered to be part of the psalm in the Hebrew texts. A past article suggested a similar interpretation for the superscription of Psalm 51, which may have been part of the psalm itself rather than something added later (i.e., as a study aid).
I suspect that the second case is true for this psalm: It is a psalm. It is a song. It is for the Sabbath day. I can imagine the Israelites singing it as they went to the temple to worship on the Sabbath day, whether on their own as they walked from their homes, or being led in worship by a musician at the temple.
While this might seem a little subtle, the Lookout (a study guide, cited below) makes a point that there is a structure in this psalm. The first 5 verses describe why it is good to praise God, followed by 2 verses describing the wicked. Verse 8 is the pivot point in this psalm, and we would do well to pause when we get to it. Next, the psalm sort of repeats the previous two topics in reverse order, talking about the fate of God’s (and the psalmist’s) enemies in verses 9-11, and finishing with a description of the blessings of God – why He should be praised.
The Lookout’s headings describe this pattern as follows:
- The Righteous Worship
- The Wicked Do Not [Worship]
- God Remains
- The Wicked Perish
- The Righteous Flourish
(I appreciate linguists and interpreters helping point out things like this, which I wouldn’t be able to easily spot on my own…especially in Hebrew!)
I remember in High School that my classmates and I would sometimes make videos (with old VHS camcorders) for school assignments. Maybe we would be assigned to talk about an author’s life, or something that they had written, and we thought that it would be fun to use this “emerging technology” to illustrate it.
Sometimes, the resulting videos were goofy, while at other times they were more factual. However, I remember one time where I was playing the part of a poet, reading his poem on camera. For some reason, I had on sunglasses – whether as part of a costume or because the poet was blind, I don’t remember – so I had to try and read the poem from over the top of the shades.
That context probably isn’t that important to this story, but when the video was shown in the class, one of the things that the teacher commented on was that, when reading a poem, we don’t need to pause at the end of each line. At the time, I used the excuse that I was trying to see the page over the glasses, but this was still a good reminder. So, even if a single thought in a poem spans multiple lines, we can still read it according to the punctuation, rather than the line breaks.
I really do hope that you go ahead and read Psalm 92 today as a whole, and allow God to speak to you through it. Then, we can study it together (if Jesus doesn’t come back first…which would be awesome) in more detail over the next few articles.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for October 30, 2022
- The Lookout, October 30, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press NIV Commentary, Psalms, Volume 2, Walter D. Zorn, © 2004, College Press Publishing Co., Joplin, MO.