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

By Elmer A. Leslie | Go to book overview

Chapter XII SONGS OF TRUST AND OF WISDOM

1. SONGS OF TRUST

UTTERANCES OF TRUST ARE FOUND IN ALL THE GROUPS OF PSALMS, FOR TRUST IN God is one of the foundation elements in Hebrew religion. As a constituent of Hebrew religious life it appears first in the Old Testament in the Elohist's great epic story, where of Abraham it is said,

And he believed in God;1
And He reckoned it to him as righteousness. ( Gen. 15:6.)

It was to a large extent due to the teaching and example of the prophet Isaiah that trust became central in Hebrew religion, a place of distinction which it occupies in New Testament religious thought and life as well. Isaiah understood clearly the two elements in faith, belief and trust. To the timid and frightened young King Ahaz of Judah, Isaiah said,

If you will not have faith
Surely you cannot have staith [i.e., steadiness]. (7:9.)

Faith here means steadying belief in the presence, power, and help of the invisible God for the nation and the individual. Some twenty years later when the popular trend in Judah was for alliance with Egypt, Isaiah called Judah back to her primary covenant alliance with God in the great words:

In returning and rest shall you be saved:
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. (30:15.)

Faith here means an unperturbed confidence in the presence, interest, and help of God, such as shows itself in quietness and calm of soul on the part of the nation's leaders and its people.

While very many psalms of the Psalter breathe such belief and confidence, their setting in worship is such as to give them their distinctive classification elsewhere. But Pss. 16, 91, and 131 present a trilogy of trust such as give rich, and at the same time varied, expression to this most important aspect of religious experience.

Viewed purely from the standpoint of the kind of worship setting in which this trust glows in warmth and power, this trilogy reveals great variety. Ps. 16 partakes of features of the lament of the individual (vss. 1-4), yet has its closest association with the songs of personal thanksgiving, as seen both in this psalmist's glad personal testimony (vss. 7-8) and in his magnificent credo of confidence in God (vss. 9-11). Ps. 91 partakes of characteristic features of

____________________
1
Reading, with Buhl, wayya'amēn bēlōhîm.

-404-

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