Le Psautier. Troisième livre (Ps 73–89), RBSem 19

R. Meynet, Le Psautier. Troisième livre (Ps 73–89), RBSem 19, Peeters, Leuven 2019 (269 p.)

The third book of the Psalter is considerably shorter than the first and especially the fifth. Its seventeen psalms, however, form a composition that is by no means inferior to that of the other two books.
The general tone of the book is very somber. It is nothing but complaints, supplications, and anxious questions, “Why?”, “How long?”. And the answers to these questions do not seem to be meant to comfort the unfortunate. If they have fallen into affliction and distress, it is because they are paying the price for their sins (78; 89). Having betrayed the covenant at the time of the exodus, having repeated it at the time of the Davidic monarchy, here they are consigned to the violence and oppression of their enemies. One can hear the voice of the Servant crying out at the center of the first book, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:2). But Ps 22 does not end in the grave. The psalmist is saved by the lion’s mouth and can say, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” (23) and also, “all the families of the nations will bow down before him” (28).

Similarly, in the third book there are three psalms in which praise resounds, each occupying a strategic position. In the middle of the first sequence of the opening section (Ps 75) with all his people the psalmist gives thanks that the Lord is pronouncing judgment on the arrogant and rejoices that he will soon be able to cut off their horns. In the middle of the middle section (Ps 81), a fervent call to praise celebrating the exit from Egypt precedes a long speech by God promising a new deliverance of the present enemies and their conversion. Finally, in the middle of the first sequence of the final section, from the depths of his misery David confirms the final conversion of the Gentiles: “All the nations you have made will come and worship before your face, O Lord, and give glory to your name” (86:9). As with the servant in Ps 22, the people and their king had to pass through death so that the light of revelation could reach all ends of the earth.

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