Lately I have been up to my eyeballs in commentaries preparing for The Psalms class I’ve been teaching with Rabbi Adam Stein from Congregation Beth Israel. This week we were looking at the poetry of Psalm 145 (a famous acrostic psalm). I was surprised to find two things:
First, there are many meanings to Psalm 145 (indeed, to all the psalms!). As part of the class, we looked at different English translations or paraphrases. Imagine — one verse can be rendered in many ways! Take for example, verse 13:
What do you notice?
The second thing I learned is that we are, by human nature, meaning-makers — we want to know why something is written the way it’s written, why something happens the way it happens. Some scholars suggest leaving our meaning-making aside for just a moment and simply to observe the beauty in the way the psalm is put together. Take for example the triads on either side of the chiastic (triangle or staircase) structure of the psalm. A triad is a collection of three verses. In this example, the triad on the left side of the triangle (verses 7 – 9) calls out proclaiming God’s goodness and love; the triad on the right side of the triangle (verses 14 – 16) responds with the practical ways God demonstrates these attributes.
How cool is that? When was the last time you appreciated something simply for beauty’s sake? I’d love to hear your story. You can reach me at email@example.com.