Verse 4. These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
Poor poet. He’s feeling major homesickness and nostalgia. Wishing life was back they way it used to be. Back with his brothers and sisters and wives and children and everyone shouting for gladness. Man, I want to be there too. Why can’t life be like it used to be when we were young and beautiful and strong, and the sky was blue and the golden city was beckoning and my bones didn’t ache after moving boxes all day and I could walk down to the North Beach Arts Festival and there were all my friends dancing with gladness? (This is from my San Francisco youth. Put your own memory here)
Verse 5. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
Rhetorical question time. Reprise of the first four verses plus a new idea. The priest-diplomat gives his soul a little pep talk, trying to pull himself together. “This is just a phase, this bleak moment is not the sum of reality. God hasn’t changed. He’s been my help and he will be again.” Maybe now he feels a little better, but he has to keep reminding himself. “Even though I’m stuck here in Assyria (see part 1) negotiating with an unpleasant rude barbarian dictator and his underlings who look like they would be happy to slit my throat, it’s not going to be this way forever. Someday I’ll get to go back home to beautiful Jerusalem, my home.”
Verse 6. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Well, that new hope lasted about five minutes, which is also my experience when I give myself little pep talks like that. He’s downcast again already. And he throws in this really odd line “therefore I remember you”. What, did he forget about God for a minute? — “Wait a minute, what is it I forgot? Oh yeah – God. Good thing I remembered!” — Just doesn’t make sense to me. Not this guy. I’m thinking maybe the translator goofed on this one.
Then he lists the places where he will remember God from. I guess he’s not in Assyria after all. First, there’s Jordan. Now there was no country of Jordan in those days. He’s talking about the river, which was controlled on both sides by the Israelites. Hermon is a mountain up on the border between Israel and Syria, a really high mountain. I’ve read people go skiing up there. Or at least they did before Hezbollah rockets and global warming. And I don’t know where Mount Mizar is, but it’s probably on the desolate side.
But if he is still in Israel or its border areas, then who are these unpleasant people mocking his god? I don’t get it.
Maybe the Temple has decided to add a new wing and they’ve sent the psalmist on an expedition to the mountains to pick out some good timber. And his lumberjacks are a bunch of unruly pagans. I don’t know. I think I’m missing something. Comments please.
Continued next post.