Psalm 10 never makes it into the weekly Lectionary readings, but 9 just sneaks in: “Year B, ordinary time, June 19-25 (if after Trinity)”. Sounds iffy indeed. But still, 9 does not qualify as a ‘skip‘. So on to 10.
But wait! In the early Septuagint translation and the original Hebrew, these two songs were one. (1) Isaac Everett says:
It’s clear that they form a single unit because the combined text is acrostic, with the first letter of each forming the Hebrew alphabet: Psalm 9 is roughly A-K and Psalm 10 is roughly L-Z.(2) So 9+10=a big fat psalm.
They were split because they have a different theme. First is joy and thanksgiving, then a lament. Convention would have it the other way around. But in the ship of fools, the first shall be last; so forget the labels and ‘Nine, ten, sing it again’. (3)
Nine. As in history, here David is thankful that his many enemies have been defeated. The modern reader gets little from triumphalism except as an example of faith in adversity, or as an allegory of our struggling with our own demons or the ‘Dark Side’. Throughout, we are reminded:
God will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. (v. 9)
Ten. The mood changes to waiting, praying and a little hand-wringing while those enemies play their nasty tricks:
Why do you stand so far off O God, and hide yourself in times of trouble? (v. 1)
Not all about me
From every plan which harms the poor,
from schemes to victimise the weak,
from those who snare the innocent,
Lord your defence, your help we seek. (4)
That certainly brings it up to date in a world of growing divide between rich and poor. Big fat hen or goose, maybe there’s the golden egg?
- This is the start of the disconnect in psalm numbering between Septuagint / Vulgate and our psalter. The split runs through to the last three psalms which, like the first 8, are in sync again.
- Everett, Isaac, The emergent psalter, 2009, page 38.
- Everett suggests singing both songs together. He provides a refrain which switches to the minor key for the second half, Ps. 10. ‘Hen’ image source timepasszones.blogspot.com.au
- PFAS 10A words by Martin Leckebusch. Image: Wikimedia commons