The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
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PSALM THREE
Annunciation

  1. A Psalm to David,
    when he fled from Absalom his son.
  2. O Yahweh, how numerous are my enemies,
    Numerous are they who rise up against me,
  3. Numerous are they who tell my soul about Elohim   :
    «  There is no salvation in Him  !  »
  4. But You, O Yahweh, You are a shield around me,
    my glory, and He who exalts my Head.
  5. My voice rises before Yahweh,
    and he will answer me from His holy mountain.
  6. I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, for Yahweh sustains me.
  7. I am not afraid of myriads of a people
    who have been drawn up against me round about.
  8. Arise, O Yahweh  ! Save me, O my God  !
    For You have struck all my enemies like a
    jawbone. You have broken the teeth of the godless.
  9. In Yahweh is salvation,
    upon your people, Your blessing.
*
* *

THE first verse is the title of the poem  : «  Psalm  » indicates a song accompanied by a cord instrument. «  To David  », and not «  of David  ». Since in Hebrew, the preposition lamed corresponds to the Greek or Latin dative  ; it therefore does not express origin, contrary to the translation that is usually given, but destination  : this poem is dedicated «  to David  », the father and figure of the Messiah who is to come. Not to a triumphant David, but to David fleeing from his enemies  :

2. O Yahweh, how numerous are my enemies,
Numerous are they who rise up against me,

The parallel with the first verses of the Psalm 2 is obvious here, all the more because the allusion to “ Absalom ” brings before us a «  ruler  » truly in revolt «  against Yahweh and His Anointed  » (Ps 2.1-2). This contact permits us to date this psalm to the fourth century BC.

3. Numerous are they who tell my soul about Elohim   :
«  There is no salvation in Him  !  »

The enemies of Yahweh and of His Messiah deride the faithful Yahwist, as in the Psalm 1, and make sport of the fact that he expects God to grant him salvation. It is easy for us to identify these ungodly people  : in the fourth century BC, the faithful Yahwists were faced with schismatic, Samaritan false brothers, and idolatrous, pagan invaders who invoked «  God  » under the common name of «  Elohim  ». It was a dramatic situation that prefigured the mob of Sadducees, scribes and Pharisees surrounding and confronting Jesus three hundred years later in Jerusalem.

But Yahweh does not let them win out  :

4. But You, O Yahweh, You are a shield around me,
my glory, and He who exalts my Head.

The whole of Sacred History passes before us in a single sentence, according to the anthological method dear to the Psalmists.

«  A shield  »  : Yahweh promised it to Abraham. «  Fear not, Abram, I am your shield  ; your reward shall be very great.  » (Gn 15.1) The image speaks for itself. With his shield, the fighter protects himself from the blows that he sees to the front and to the left. But Yahweh surrounds him on all sides, protecting him even from the blows from behind  !

«  My glory  »  : God’s Glory, the Hebrews contemplated it during the Exodus, in the desert  : «  Now the appearance of the Glory of Yahweh was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain.  » (Ex 24.17) The reflection of this Glory shone from Moses’ face when he descended from Mount Sinai (Ex 34.29). So, the Psalmist presents the awaited Messiah as a new Moses.

«  My Head  »  : the Hebrew word is as ambiguous as our French word «  chef  », which is a synonym of both «  head  » and «  authority  » (Is 7.8-9). Here the meaning is suggested to us by the title  : «  A Psalm to David, when he fled from Absalom his son.  » After the return from the Exile, there was no longer a King in Jerusalem, a situation already figured by David’s flight five hundred years earlier, an event that momentarily deprived Jerusalem of her King. In the fourth century BC, the Psalmist yearns for the return of the King, the son of David, as the people of Jerusalem who had remained faithful to David yearned for his return in times past when he was on the run.

His prayer would be answered when Yahweh-God descended to earth in order to take over as the head of His people, in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Christ the King.

«  He who exalts my Head  »  : Jesus will fulfil to the letter what this psalm announces  : He will be «  exalted  » from the earth on the Cross in order to draw everything to Himself. This is just as Isaiah had foretold concerning the Servant of Yahweh  : «  Behold, my servant shall be intelligent, he shall rise, shall grow great, and shall be prodigiously exalted.  » (Is 52.13).

5. My voice rises before Yahweh,
and he will answer me from His holy mountain.

These words are to be ascribed to the Messiah, the Son of David, of whom Yahweh says in Psalm 2  : «  I have anointed My king on Zion, My holy Mountain.  » (Ps 2.6) The relationship between Psalm 2 and Psalm 3 is, therefore, undeniable, and it allows us to discern the unity of the Psalter. It is the faithful Yahwists’ collection of songs and prayers and expresses the state in which they await the Messiah. They are in a state of abandonment, since they have neither a spiritual nor a temporal leader. This Messiah would be a son of Abraham, He would be a new Moses, He would be the Son of David, He would be the Servant of Yahweh.

How was this to come about  ? No one knew, since the dynasty had died out with the last King of Judah, the little Jehoiachin who was eight years old at his accession. After having reigned three months, he was deported with the queen, his mother, in order to expiate the crimes of his people in the jails of Babylon.

6. I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for Yahweh sustains me.

This is truly the sleep of the just – with a subtle allusion to the sleep of Elijah the prophet. After having identified the Messiah with Abraham, for whom God became the shield, with Moses, whose face radiated His Glory, with David, whose Head Yahweh Himself had exalted, here is the figure of Elijah the Tishbite, presaging Christ’s death and resurrection.

After the massacre of the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, Queen Jezebel wanted to take vengeance and kill the prophet Elijah. He became afraid, «  he arose and fled for his life […]. He went a day’s journey into the desert, and came and sat down under a broom tree  ; and he asked that he might die, saying, “ It is enough  ; now, Yahweh  ! Take away my life  ; for I am no better than my fathers. ” And he lay down and slept  ; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, “ Arise and eat ”.  » (1 K 19.3-5) Strengthened by this food, Elijah continued on his way to Horeb. He encountered Yahweh on this mountain, and Yahweh ordered him to return to Israel. So will it be for the Messiah, the Psalmist announces. For Jesus will fulfill this prophesy during His Passion  : overwhelmed in the garden of the Mount of Olives, He was comforted by an Angel  ; He arose to go lay down on the Cross, to go to sleep and awaken on the third day…

7. I am not afraid of myriads of a people
who have been drawn up against me round about.

This is another allusion to David’s victory over Goliath, the Philistine, who made the women of all the cities of Israel sing  : «  Saul has killed his thousands, and David his myriads.  » (1 S 18.7) This victory and all those that followed were gained through the grace of Yahweh, giving David «  rest from all the enemies surrounding him  » (2 S 7.1).

8. Arise, O Yahweh  ! Save me, O my God  !
For You have struck all my enemies like a
jawbone. You have broken the teeth of the godless.

In the wilderness, Moses said the same prayer  : «  And whenever the Ark set out, Moses said  : “ Arise, Yahweh, and let Your enemies be scattered  ; and let them that hate You flee before You ”.  » (Nb 10.35)

This victorious intervention of Yahweh is compared to the action of a «  jawbone  », referring to one of Samson’s victories over the Philistines in the time of the Judges. The Philistines were about to pounce on him to slay him, when he had been tied up by the treason of false brothers. A thousand years later, in the fourth century, this was precisely the condition of the Yahwists. Now «  the Spirit of Yahweh came mightily upon Samson, and the ropes which were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds seemed to melt off his hands. And he found a fresh jawbone of an ass, and put out his hand and seized it, and with it he slew a thousand men. And Samson said  : “ With the jawbone of an ass, I have laid them in heaps, with the jawbone of an ass I have slain a thousand men. ”  » (Jg 15, 14-16)

Likewise, with the same invincible hope, the Psalmist perceives as something already fulfilled the resounding action by which Yahweh «  will break the teeth of the godless  ». Such a vengeance is in keeping with the lex Talionis  : «  Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.  » (Ex 21.24) The insults made by the godless against Yahweh, the one true God, and the sole Saviour, deserves nothing else. It is the reply to those who scoffed, saying about Elohim «  There is no salvation in Him  !  » (v. 3)

9. In Yahweh is Salvation,
upon your people, Your Blessing.

«  Salvation  »  : in Hebrew, ha-yešû’â ”, «  the Jesus  ». One would be unable to find a more literal announcement of Jesus’ advent made three hundred years in advance  : «  Yes, in Yahweh is the Jesus.  » because of the benediction made to Abraham  : «  All nations will bless themselves by you.  » (Gn 12.1-3) The salvation promised by God will come to pass  ; before Gabriel the Psalmist gave Him the name that the Angel was to indicate to Mary and Joseph  !

Brother Bruno de Jesus
He is risen  ! n° 21, May 2004

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