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A question concerning Psalm 23

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by agedman, Sep 14, 2021.

  1. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    Each night as I drift to sleep, I repeat Scriptures I am or have memorized. I do not say this to brag but to set the reason for the thread.

    It came to me that this part of the psalm can have two different views.
    4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
    5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
    6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever
    Would you who are skilled in the languages examine how these phrases are punctuated and see if the the rendering would support:
    4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me.
    5 In the presence of mine enemies, thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
    I am not questioning the translation, just wondering about the thought continuity of bringing comfort to the believer includes the table, and the enemy sees only the anointing and blessings.

    Thank you.

     
  2. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me.

    You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies. You refresh my head with oil; my cup is completely full. (NET)

    Punctuation to separate sentences is added by the translators to present the Hebrew or Greek text in English. Sometimes a long sentence in Greek is broken into two (or more) sentences in English, for the sake of clarity.

    A shepherd carried two tools, a "rod" used as a weapon to fend off an attack by an animal or thief, and a "staff" used as a walking stick and as a prod to redirect the sheep from going the wrong or dangerous way, to the right way (toward green pasture.) Also scripture describes the "staff" as a broken reed yet used by "The Shepherd" (Jesus) to carry out His purpose.

    The idea (as presented by published translations) is that the enemy sees us with our feast.

    In our verse (Psalm 23:5) five Hebrew words are translated thus:

    thork = You are arranging

    l-phn-i = before (or in front of) me

    shlchn = a table

    ngd = in front of

    tzrr-i = ones being foes of me

    (and none of the above came from personal expertise, but only from English study tools)
     
    #2 Van, Sep 14, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
  3. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    Yes, that holds water
     
  4. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    It is as though God is making a mockery of those who are evil and showing His love and preference for the psalmist in the presence of his enemies

    God is showing up the enemies by demonstrating His love for the psalmist
     
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  5. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    The cup would be his overflowing joy from having been anointed by God
     
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  6. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    That is what I was pondering this morning.

    Plus, the reunion wedding supper for believers does not take place before the enemies, but in the heaven with Christ.

    That would make the anointing and the cup of blessings remain displayed befor the enemies (unbelievers) in the millennium.


    I realize this is modernizing the original and Christianizing the reading.

    I just wondered if the Hebrew structure would support the thinking.

    What changes in the punctuation would you subscribe and can you demonstrate by example?

    thank you,
     
  7. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    Hebrew is a context context context language

    it’s difficult in some ways
     
  8. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    Btw punctuation is not present in Hebrew
     
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  9. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    I realize.

    The structure, cadence, other indicators - do they give any direction as to how the thoughts are coupled?

    Is the sentence related to comfort, or related to the enemies?
     
  10. Dave G

    Dave G Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if being skilled in Hebrew is what's important.
    To me, reading and understanding what's written in English seems to be enough.
    Here's the Psalm in its entirety without the verses being numbered and without punctuation:

    "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want He maketh me to lie down in green pastures He leadeth me beside the still waters He restoreth my soul He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me thy rod and thy staff they comfort me Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies thou anointest my head with oil my cup runneth over surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever"

    See how much you make sense of it.
    Here's how I do:

    "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want
    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
    He leadeth me beside the still waters
    He restoreth my soul
    He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake
    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me
    Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me
    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
    thou anointest my head with oil
    my cup runneth over
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever"

    I see the subjects / thoughts completing themselves as I read it over and over again, and the above is what my mind sees are the "breaking " points flowing from statement to statement.
    Each time a new thing that the Lord has done ( or happens ) is mentioned, my mind breaks it down into "blocks" or "bullet points".

    How you do it is up to you, but that is how I see it.:)
     
    #10 Dave G, Sep 14, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
  11. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    The question is, do the words “Thou preparest a table before me” end the comfort section making “in the presence of my enemies” the start of the part of the boast.

    The text would then read:
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.
    Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me.

    In the presence of mine enemies, thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.
    all I wanted to know is if the Hebrew poetry would prevent the continued thought offered by rearranging the paragraphs and punctuation.

    Perhaps there is not a Hebrew scholar on the BB that could give me a concise reason of “Yes, and here is why” or “No, and here is why.”
     
  12. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member
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    Although the early MSS such as the DSS are without vowel points or punctuation, the Hebrew text as prepared by the Masoretes (to preserve the ancient and traditional pronunciation and understanding of the text) has both the vowel points and the accentual/punctuation system to indicate how verses would be read.

    In the case of Ps 24:5, the key *major* break in the verse (the Athnach accent) appears after צררי, "my enemies". So the clear intent of the Masoretes and ancient synagogue/temple tradition was to read it as "you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enenies" ; this is then followed by a new clause "you anoint my head with oil" etc.

    That's it, plain and simple.
     
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  13. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member
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    Also, I should add that, in terms of Hebrew poetic structure, Ps 23:5 has a 3-2//3-2 (Qinah, or "limping") rhythm.

    Were the punctuation remapped so as to break at "you prepare a table before me", the poetic rhythm would turn into an unwieldy Hebraic mess (3//2-3-2), which simply does *not* occur in poetic passages.
     
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  14. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    Thank you, Ziggy.

    This is the type of answer I was looking for.

    I commend you for your understanding and gracious help.
     
  15. Dave G

    Dave G Well-Known Member

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    I would say that that's for you to determine, and I can't tell you what the proper way to understand the passage is, as that would impose my authority on your right to arrive there for yourself by God's grace.

    I've only told you how and why I understand it the way that I do.
    You have me at a loss, sir.
    I'm not sure why anyone who is a Christian would ask a scholar of any kind how to understand God's words, as I see the Scriptures telling me that we as believers have everything that pertains to life and godliness in the Person of the Holy Spirit and in the word of God.

    1 Corinthians 2:6-16, 1 John 2:20-27.

    But I also confess to not being able to answer your question per the terms you've listed...

    as to me, Hebrew poetry never got me there, and I don't see the importance of it.
    I came to my own understanding of it by simply arriving at it little by little in my studies.

    I'm sorry that I could not be of more assistance.
     
    #15 Dave G, Sep 15, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  16. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
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    No problem.

    it is just how my mind works. I want to understand more than the words but the intent of the writers. This is easier in the NT, but the Hebrew has always been unconquerable to me. I can grasp but the smallest of it, and marvel at those who so kindly put up with my weakness.

    You did good and I definitely appreciated what you wrote!
     
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