I will be presenting a paper on Psalm 77 this November at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in the Biblical Hebrew Poetry program unit. This lament psalm has come to have special meaning for me, since it has helped me in my own journey of faith.
The psalmist begins in despair, crying out to God, and reflects on the good old days, which simply makes him more despondent. The turning point occurs when the psalmist brings to mind the parting of the Sea when Israel was fleeing Egypt. It is a particularly vivid vision, where the Sea stands for the psalmist’s chaotic life. But the psalm is (intentionally) unfinished, allowing the reader to write the final line.
I recently wrote a meditation on the psalm for Light + Light magazine, in advance of the SBL session. This meditation is meant for a non-technical audience, but it isn’t dumbed down. I take the reader through the flow of the psalm, pointing out its structure and relevance for our lives. My starting point is the psalmist’s inability to sleep, possibly due to regrets overwhelming him.
The meditation on Psalm 77 was published online in two parts, Part 1 on September 30, 2022 and Part 2 on October 10, 2022. My own translation of the psalm was included with each part.
Memory Raises Troubling Questions: Nighttime Distress in Psalm 77:1–10
Your Way Was Through the Sea: The Shift from Despair to Hope in Psalm 77:11–20
If you would like to download PDFs of the meditation, Part 1 is available here and Part 2 is available here.
Spanish translations were also posted.
La memoria plantea preguntas inquietantes: Angustia nocturna en el Salmo 77:1–10
Tu camino fue a través del mar: El cambio de la desesperación a la esperanza en el Salmo 77:11–20
For those interested in the SBL session, it will be held on Sunday, November 20, 1:00–3:30 pm.