Psalm 144

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Psalm 144
Psalms scroll.PNG
Scroll of the Psalms
BookBook of Psalms
Hebrew Bible partKetuvim
Order in the Hebrew part1
CategorySifrei Emet
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part19

Psalm 144 is the 144th psalm of the biblical Book of Psalms in the Masoretic and modern numbering. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate/Vulgata Clementina, this psalm is Psalm 143 in a slightly different numbering system.

Themes[edit]

The text is attributed to David in the Masoretic text. The Septuagint has the additional specification of Τῷ Δαυΐδ, πρὸς τὸν Γολιάδ "David against Goliath", putting the text in the context of the narrative of David's fight against Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

Verse 1[edit]

The first verse is rendered in the King James Version (KJV) as

"Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight."[1]

This translates the Hebrew:

ברוך יהוה צורי המלמד ידי לקרב אצבעותי למלחמה׃[2]

Thus, in KJV "my strength" renders צורי (lit. "my rock").

But the Septuagint has

Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεός μου ὁ διδάσκων τὰς χεῖράς μου εἰς παράταξιν, τοὺς δακτύλους μου εἰς πόλεμον

putting Θεός μου "my God" where the Hebrew has "my rock/strength". This was the text rendered by the Vulgata Clementina,

Benedictus Dominus Deus meus, qui docet manus meas ad prælium, et digitos meos ad bellum.

This Latin translation was the one which was influential in Western Christianity during the Middle Ages. With the development of the ideal of the knighthood in the 12th century, the verse came to be seen as a fitting prayer for the Christian warrior, and references to it are found inscribed on a number of high medieval swords, most notably on the pommel of the Imperial Sword of Otto IV (made c. 1198).

Uses[edit]

Judaism[edit]

Psalm 144 is recited in some communities before maariv office at the end of Shabbat. This psalm is recited in some congregation before Maariv on Motzei Shabbat.[3] Verse 15 is the second verse of Ashrei and is also the eighth verse of Hoshia Et Amecha in Pesukei Dezimra.[4] The 15th verse of the psalm is the prayer of Ashrei, and in zemirot.[5]

Roman Catholicism[edit]

This psalm was selected to the office of Vespers by St. Benedict of Nursia in 530 AD. It was therefore traditionally performed during Vespers of Friday, according to the Rule of St. Benedict. As Psalm 144 is long enough, Benedict divided it in two. So verses from Deus canticum novum cantabo tibi were his division, and vespers Friday had only three psalms instead of four.[6][7]

In the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 144 is recited during Vespers on Thursday of the fourth week.[8]

Set to music[edit]

Michel Richard Delalande, composer of Louis XIV, wrote a grand motet in 1695 for this Psalm (S.44) for the offices celebrated in the Royal Chapel of Versailles.

German poet Matthias Claudius wrote a poem entitled "Wir pflügen und wir streuen" (in English: We Plough the Fields and Scatter) which was inspired by Psalm 144; this was published in 1782. The poem was set to music in 1800 by (it is believed) Johann Abraham Peter Schulz. The lyrics were translated into English in 1862 by Jane Montgomery Campbell, and since that time We Plough the Fields and Scatter has become a popular hymn that is particularly associated with the celebrations of the harvest season.

Controversy[edit]

In September 2015, a gun shop in Apopka, Florida produced an AR-15 engraved with Psalm 144:1, ostensibly so that it could "never… be used by Muslim terrorists”. The Council on American–Islamic Relations responded with disapproval.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Psalm 144:1 KJV
  2. ^ Psalm 144:1 Masoretic Text
  3. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, p. 592
  4. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur, pp. 65–67
  5. ^ Complete Artscroll Siddur.
  6. ^ Prosper Guéranger, Règle de saint Benoît, traduction, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression 2007) p. 47.
  7. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique,, 1938/2003 p. 530.
  8. ^ The main cycle of liturgical prayers takes place over four weeks.
  9. ^ "Apopka gun maker etches scripture on assault rifle". WOGX Fox 51. Retrieved 12 September 2015.

Sources[edit]

  • Nosson Scherman, The Complete Artscroll Siddur (1984), Mesorah Publications, ISBN 978-0899066509.

External links[edit]