RECITING PSALMS According to The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, when people make the effort to do three kind acts a day, depressive symptoms drop by 94 percent.
During my mother’s lifetime, especially the later decades, she was an avid Psalms reader, reciting frequently on behalf of others. This brief comment is in her memory; may the neshama of the late Brainah Leah bat Moshe Aharon be elevated in Heaven.
The Book of Psalms is often attributed to King David. But as one discovers when researching its place in Tanakh, there are diverse opinions about whether David really authored all of these (I.e. Songs of the Sons of Korah), whether there were more than 150 chapters initially and if so, how these were whittled down to our current selection, and at what point in time were they all written. (More on this in coming weeks.)
Not knowing whether there is a deliberate juxtaposition between the chapters, it is interesting that Chapter One focused on the Worth and Legacy of the Individual, while Chapter Two looks at National Interests and Destinies. It describes an all-too-familiar scenario of dissent & murmuring – and, while not specifically mentioning Israel, the world’s kings are in an uproar about G-d’s chosen one.
Psalms 2:2 The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed: יִתְיַצְּבוּ, מַלְכֵי-אֶרֶץ– וְרוֹזְנִים נוֹסְדוּ-יָחַד: עַל-ה, וְעַל-מְשִׁיחו.
The traditional interpretation sees this as an event in the life of King David, a warrior who defeated many enemies. These conquered kings appear to have gathered together to complain about David and the Jewish people. But another view is that this dialogue refers to a future time when all nations get together to take counsel and complain about Israel, and the Messiah.
We live in incredibly interesting times. The pace of change seems to have accelerated exponentially. Medical breakthroughs happen almost constantly, wars and civil unrest begin much more quickly, and even vast fortunes are accumulated in much less time to list but a few examples.
In the last year alone, we’re seeing political shifts and changes occurring so quickly; transformations that previously might have taken decades to evolve. Had David Cameron not stepped down as UK Prime Minister, how long if ever might it have taken for Theresa May to succeed him? The same could be said about governments in other parts of the world, including the USA – where the first woman president is likely to be elected in a few months.
When the League of Nations was founded in 1920 (Post WWI), its purpose was to maintain world peace – though the outbreak of WWII proved its capabilities were quite limited. Eventually it was replaced by the United Nations in 1946 and though in its early days the UN achieved some success, of recent many nations seem to be using it to take counsel and vocally complain about Israel (almost exclusively).
As a result, there are those in the religious world who believe we’re not far from a point of immense Divine revelation when many nations will realise the folly of their behaviour and ‘Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling’. עִבְדוּ אֶת-ה בְּיִרְאָה; וְגִילוּ, בִּרְעָדָה. 2:11
‘Psalm 2 is often considered to refer to the Messianic Era when the kingdoms of the world gather against Israel and are defeated, and Jerusalem becomes a house of prayer for the nations. In this vein, the Anointed One of the Psalm is interpreted not as David but as the future Messiah – who will restore Israel to its former glory and bring world peace.’
A remarkable set of aims for words written at least 2000 years ago that still resonate today!