The Psalm is a personal journey. Previous Psalms have dealt with the well, the klal. But here we personally wish to be seen. This deals with a somewhat personal revelation. What does it mean to want to be seen?
- The first person nature of this Psalm. This Psalm is all about my journey, my reflection, my intense relationship with G-d.
- What does it mean to be seen, tested, judged, vindicated, appreciated for the totality of self. In Curse of Chalion (Bujold again!) Cazaril talks about what it feels like to be totally the focus of the Daughter’s attention. How utterly overwhelming it is. (“Three deaths and a demon all bound together. They flowed into a blue presence…. Cazaril’s mind exploded. He opened outward, and outward, and outward still, till all the world lay below him as if seen from a high mountain. (ooooh elevated mountain imagery will come up later)…He could hear all the minds of the word whispering, a sighing like the wind in the forest, if one could but distinguish, simultaneously and separately, the song of each leaf….His mind could not hold it all…This overwhelmind Mind listened to every cry or song in the world at once. She watched the souls spiral up in all their terrible complex beauty with all the delight of a gardener inhaling the scent of Her flowers. And now this Mind turned her attention fully upon Cazaril. Cazaril melted and was cupped in her hands.”) This is tiny snippets of a several paragraph long description. The vastness is hard to comprehend but I have appreciated this attempt.
- Movement language, as alluded to in the first point, we are on a journey. I am going to some place in this journey of self. With G-d as my companion.
The second section of the Psalm 4-7. We having established our personal relationship, in a brave and bold way, move on to contrasting ourselves with the OTHERS. I’m not going to sit with the bad kids or find myself with them. Etc. I hate that type of congregation of evil. I wash my hands of them. There’s a distinction of redemption. Maybe it’s not that Psalmist was saying I am perfect and always have been, but I was imperfect and I’ve fixed my problem.
The voice of gratitude that tells all (voice/all – it’s a pun in the Hebrew kol vs kol) the wonders.
I love all corners of Your house. Wherever You dwell, I love every nook and cranny of that place. (even the twisty, incomprehensible bits) and all the places that are resting places of Your glory. Note that this is ALL the places. Implying what we already know, that G-d can be found in more than a single place.
And as for me, don’t lump me with those sinners. Our souls are not consorting. “nice nefesh table” I need you to see that I’m not that person, or like those people? Maybe I used to be. Their hands are raw with deceit (contrast to my hands above which were washed with innocence or goodness).
But I am pure now, (repeating from the first verse) I’m better now and going, actively in the right path. Rescue me in graciously.
My foot stands upright and in the congregation (like the kahal of evil above) I will bless the L-rd.
Accepting who we are and allowing ourselves to move forward as worthy of being seen.
I wanted to talk a minute about the contrast between Psalm 25 and 26. They seem very similar. They’re both intensely personal. They’re both journey tales of growth and development, but our Psalmist in 26 is so much more confident. so much more assured. The Psalmist of Psalm 25 is begging Hashem for the ability to bear up under scrutiny, the strength to follow G-d’s path, to cast off past mistakes, to move on this path, far away from the mistakes of youth and my personal history. The Psalmist of Psalm 26 has already done all that work and passed all that development and is ready to be tested. Thinking about this has made me cheat ahead to 27 and
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sure enough, this one has an assured Psalmist, confident in G-d’s presence and comfort. (It’s l’dovid ori which has come up here before.) Maybe we need to think of this journey less as a flat road and more as a mountain. At Psalm 25, we’re at the bottom of the mountain, not sure we’ll ever make it to the top. At Psalm 26, we’re about halfway up the mountain, and looking both downwards on all the people who haven’t climbed this high (yet) and encouraging ourselves to reach the summit. And Psalm 27 is the summit.
The second verse of this Psalm begins with B. The Bet missing from the previous Psalm? Honestly, I don’t know how much to read into this. If I were a learned scholar, I could author a scholarly paper on what it means that this second verse has the line that maybe should have been in the previous Psalm. How this line about testing me was the missing piece that the Psalmist couldn’t be exposed for in the previous verse. How the Psalmist just wasn’t ready in Psalm 25 for that level of testing. I could probably talk about how the Psalmist has used the Vav missing the acrostic isn’t the leader in this Psalm either, but it reoccurs frequently within the Psalm to string together so many of these ideas. I would talk about how our missing Kuf lifts its voice (B’Kol – verse 7) to shout to the Kahal (congregation), “I am here too!” I am part of this redemption arc.
And, cheating, Verse 2 of Psalm 27 begins with Bet as well. Verse 6 of Psalm 27 begins with Vav. And verse 14, the final verse of the Psalm begins with Kuf. I think we’re onto something here. (I realize that Kuf is the 19th letter, but this Psalm doesn’t have 19 verses.) I think we’re meant to understand that this is a triumphant arc and that everything we’re missing when we start in Psalm 25 at the beginning of our journey is given us by the end of the Psalm 27. Which we literally use every year to conclude our year. Mind. Blown.