THE ROYAL PSALMS AND THE SHAPE OF THE PSALTER
GERALD H. WILSON
It is well over twenty years since my early work that suggested certain royal psalms have been employed editorially in the shaping of the Psalter.1 That initial statement in The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (1981/1985,) was followed by an expanded discussion in “The Use of the Royal Psalms at the 'Seams' of the Psalter” (1986),2 reiterated in a broader context in “The Shape of the Book of Psalms” (1992),3 and further developed in “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms” (1993).4 Let me begin by offering a brief restatement of the thesis offered in these works. I will then proceed to a discussion of some of the issues that have been raised in the intervening years, and offer some new insights along the way.
The basic idea advanced in my early work is that certain royal psalms (in particular Psalms 2, 72, and 89) have been intentionally placed at the seams of the first three books (Psalms 2-89) in order to shape the understanding of those segments of the Psalter as an Exilic response to the loss of the Davidic monarchy. This response offers agonized pleas for deliverance and intends to foster hope for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom and the fortunes of ludah. The first of these psalms (Psalm 2) refers to the establishment of the Davidic covenant and cautions the would-be rebel nations of the world to
1 Gerald H. Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (Ph. D. diss., Yale Uni-
versity, 1981). Subsequently published as The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter
(SBLDS 76; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985). See particularly pp. 207-14.
2 Gerald H. Wilson, “The Use of Royal Psalms at the 'Seams' of the Hebrew
Psalter,” JSOT 35 (1986) 85-94.
3 Gerald H. Wilson, “The Shape of the Book of Psalms,” Interpretation 46
4 Gerald H. Wilson, “Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Link-
age in the Book of Psalms,” in J. C. McCann (ed.), The Shape and Shaping of the
Psalter (JSOTSup 159; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993) 72-82.