Posted by: religionthink | May 23, 2007

Psalm 27: They Have Stumbled and Fallen

Psalm 27: They Have Stumbled and Fallen

Of David. The Lord is my light and my redemption; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; whom shall I fear? Whenever evildoers come near to me to destroy my flesh, my oppressors and my foes – they have stumbled and fallen. If an army of the wicked encamps against me, my heart will not fear; if battle rises against me, in this I place my hope. One thing I have sought from the presence of the Lord; that thing I will continue to seek: that I should dwell in the sanctuary of the Lord all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shadow in the day of evil, he will conceal me in the hiding place of his tabernacle, in a mighty fortress he will raise me up. And now my head will be lifted up over my enemies round about; and I will slaughter acceptable sacrifices in his tabernacle; I will sing praise and be glad in the presence of the Lord. Receive, O Lord, my prayer when I call, and have mercy on me and pity me. (Psalms 27).1

Above is part of an Aramaic translation of Psalms 27. At times it is hard to find translations that are true to the correct dialect of Aramaic. The above Psalm is thought to be two different parts put together by some scholars; however, due to the word usage in the second half it becomes apparent that the same writer wrote both. This Psalm has been used for about the last 200 years during the High Holidays. This Psalm is said to prepare believers for the joy of the Holidays and force them to confront their beliefs and faith. Also we will look at a text from the ancient Near East following the same pattern.

In Psalms 27 the first half depicts the assurance in Yahweh and the writer is giving sacrifice and he is protected from his enemies, the foes have fallen, and fear is far from the heart. In the second half however it seems the opposite takes place. The write cries in agony that Yahweh not forget him. The author of this Psalm apparently has been abandoned by his parents and hopes Yahweh will not do the same. Reading farther we also find out that the Psalmist is also surrounded by his enemies and is now worried about it. Possibly the Psalms teaches one to not hide from life’s troubles and still live in the framework of faith. It is through this struggle that makes the heart ready for some kind of repentance. 2

In the text Prayer of Lamentation to Ishtar we find the same writing style:

“Thy mercy! O Lady of conflict and of all battles.
O shining one, lioness of the Igigi, subduer of angry gods,
O most powerful of all princes, who holdest the reins (over) kings,
(But) who dost release the bridles of all maidservants,
Who art exalted and firmly fixed, O valiant Ishtar, great is thy might.
O brilliant one, torch of heaven and earth, light of all peoples,
O unequaled angry one of the fight, strong one of the battle,
O firebrand which is kindled against the enemy, which brings about the destruction of the furious,
O gleaming one, Ishtar, assembler of the host,
O deity of men, goddess of women, whose designs no one can conceive,
here thou dost look, one who is dead lives; one who is sick rises up;
The erring one who sees thy face goes aright.
I have cried to thee, suffering, wearied, and distressed, as thy servant.
See me O my Lady, accept my prayers.
Faithfully look upon me and hear my supplication.
Promise my forgiveness and let thy spirit be appeased.
Pity! For my wretched body which is full of confusion and trouble.
Pity! For my sickened heart which is full of tears and suffering.
Pity! For my wretched intestines (which are full of) confusion and trouble.”

It is interesting to note that in the above text, like the Psalm the writer starts out with praise and worship to the Goddess and then in the second part of this section is switched to lamentation and inner wrangling. Lamentation to Ishtar has also been connected to the text of Job because it seems the writer makes the same complaints. Possibly it make a clear example that no matter how powerful the God or Goddess is , a certain amount of suffering it allotted to mankind. He must face this suffering, for just being a mortal, no matter how pious he or she may be.

1. <!–[endif]–>The Psalms Targum: An English Translation Edward M. Cook

2. Rabbi Benjamin J. Segal. “Recitation of the Psalm 27 at Rosh Hashanah”.

3. Pritchard, James. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Prayer of Lamentation to Ishtar” Princeton University Press, Princeton, New York 1950.

*This essay was written by the author of



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