The Psalms, Tr. and Interpreted in the Light of Hebrew Life and Worship

By Elmer A. Leslie | Go to book overview

Chapter VIII
PSALMS CONCERNING THE KING

THE HEBREW KING, LIKE THE KINGS OF BABYLONIA AND EGYPT, HELD A PLACE OF unique distinction in the nation. He was considered to have prerogatives and powers that were more than human. He was the channel through whom the blessings of God were mediated to his people. We have already dealt with six psalms that have to do with the reigning Hebrew monarch so far as his relation to the ceremonies of the Hebrew New Year is concerned.

But there were many other occasions when the Hebrew king had a distinctive place in the public worship, or when the affairs of their monarch were of central concern to the worshipers in the Temple, whether the king was present or not. The king's interest in the national worship of the Lord, as revealed in the authentic sources for King David ( II Sam. 6) and King Solomon ( I Kings 6), exercised a normative influence upon succeeding monarchs. The Temple of Solomon, originally a private chapel for the king and court, gradually grew in national prestige until through the Deuteronomic reform it became the one legitimate sanctuary for public worship in Judah. It must have been a thrilling occasion whenever the king was present in the Temple worship.

In these psalms which concern the king one worship occasion is a thanksgiving service for a royal victory (Ps. 18). Two psalms are public intercessions for the victory of the king's army just before a military expedition (Pss. 20 and 144:1- 11). Yet another worship setting is the marriage of a king (Ps. 45). Two of the king's psalms are personal laments. In one of these (Ps. 61) the king is ill. In the other, ill and beset by enemies, the king seeks a revelation from God in the Temple during the night watches (Ps. 63). And one of them is a national lament after the king suffers a great military reverse (Ps. 89).


Ps. 18 HE DREW ME OUT OF GREAT WATERS

Ps. 18 is a psalm of a reigning king of the line of David, sung at a thanksgiving celebration for victory (cf. Ps. 20:6).The court singer lays this song in the mouth of his ruler. It is likely, as Kittel and Gunkel maintain, that the monarch concerned is Josiah.

The introduction is in the form of a hymn. The Lord has accomplished a mighty act, which is viewed by the poet as of great moment.

1 I will exalt Thee, O Lord, my strength,
My crag and my fastness and my shelter;
2 My God, my rock, in whom I seek refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation.

The chief part of the psalm, a portion which is always present in a song of

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