THE INDIVIDUAL UNITS OF BOOK 5
Instruction to Give Thanks
|I.||Introduction and purpose||1–3||1–3|
|II.||Examples of thanksgiving (To sing praises after having been:)||4–32||4–32|
|A. Lost in the desert||4–9||4–9|
|C. Sick with guilt||17–22||17–22|
Like many songs in book 5 of the Psalter, Psalm 107 is without any superscription and is unique in form and structure. The subject matter is thanksgiving throughout, to be sure, but modulations of this theme are wide and far-reaching (cf. Beyerlin, 1–6, for an overview of hypotheses and models of interpretation). While the INTRODUCTION talks about those who returned from captivity, the four neatly organized strophes give examples from a wider range of life situations, and the final MEDITATION muses over the fate of those who stayed in foreign lands and the blessings of those who may qualify as poor and pious in the community of faith.
We first follow the buildup of form elements as they now stand in the final composition and later discuss the possible growth of literary layers and traditions. The problems of the psalm begin already with its first lines, the INTRODUCTION to the song (vv. 1–3). Three more psalms of the Psalter open with that