David speaks directly to Yahweh (Ps 140:6-140:8)

“I say to Yahweh.

‘You are my God!

Yahweh!

Give ear to the voice of my supplications!

Yahweh!

My Lord!

My strong deliverer!

You have covered my head

In the day of battle.

Yahweh!

Do not grant

The desires of the wicked!

Do not further their evil plot!’

Selah

David speaks directly to Yahweh. Yahweh is his God. He wants Yahweh to listen to his requests. Yahweh is his deliverer since he had protected David in his battles. He did not want Yahweh to grant the desires of the wicked or further their evil plots. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.

The rejection (Ps 89:38-89:45)

“But now you have spurned him.

You have rejected him.

You are full of wrath against your anointed.

You have renounced the covenant with your servant.

You have defiled his crown in the dust.

You have broken through all his walls.

You have laid his strongholds in ruins.

All who pass by despoil him.

He has become the scorn of his neighbors.

You have exalted the right hand of his foes.

You have made all his enemies rejoice.

Moreover,

You have turned back the edge of his sword.

You have not supported him in battle.

You have removed the scepter from his hand.

You hurled his throne to the ground.

You have cut short the days of his youth.

You have covered him with shame.”

Selah

Now there is a switch in tone in this psalm. Instead of the everlasting dynasty of David, this psalmist complains that God has abandoned David. In a series of complaints directly to God, using the second person “you,” he says that God has spurned and rejected David. His wrath or anger has turned on David. God has renounced the covenant with David. He has thrown his crown on the ground. He has broken down all the walls and ruined his fortresses. His foes now plunder him and scorn him as all the enemies now rejoice. The edge of his sword has turned on himself as he no longer has any support in battles. His scepter is gone as well as his youth. He is full of shame. This could be at the time of the revolt against David or a metaphor for the captivity that came to the descendents of David. The Israelites saw this captivity as a punishment from God. This section also ends with the musical interlude pause of Selah.

The call to God for help (Ps 60:9-60:12)

“Who will bring me to the fortified city?

Who will lead me to Edom?

Have you not rejected us?

O God!

You do not go out

With our armies!

O God!

O grant us help against the foe!

Human help is worthless!

With God

We shall do valiantly.

It is he

Who will tread down our foes.”

This psalm ends with a call to God for help to continue their battles. They realized that they could not succeed without God’s help, especially against fortified cities and Edom. If God does not go out with their armies, they will not win because human help was worthless. With God, they will fight valiantly so that they can smash their foes.

The King of glory (Ps 24:7-24:10)

“Lift up your heads!

O gates!

Be lifted up!

O ancient doors!

Thus the King of glory may come in.

Who is the King of glory?

Yahweh!

Strong and mighty!

Yahweh!

Mighty in battle!

Lift up your heads!

O gates!

Be lifted up!

O ancient doors!

Thus the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

Yahweh of hosts,

He is the King of glory!

Selah

The gates to the sanctuary should be lifted up. The ancient doors should be lifted up. This is clearly a rousing chant about the King of glory which would be the Ark of the Covenant. Who is the king of glory? The king of glory is strong and mighty in battles. It is Yahweh as represented by his Ark of the Covenant. There is the repetition of the question about the king of glory and the call to lift up the gates. This short psalm ended with another Selah, musical pause or mediation.

Alexander the Great (1 Macc 1:1-1:4)

“After Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came from the land of Kittim, had defeated King Darius of the Persians and the Medes, he succeeded him as king. He had previously become king of Greece. King Alexander fought many battles. He conquered strongholds. He put to death the kings of the earth. He advanced to the ends of the earth. He plundered many nations. When the earth became quiet before him, he was exalted. His heart was lifted up. He gathered a very strong army. He ruled over countries, nations, and princes. They became tributary to him.”

Once again, we have a book that is not in the Hebrew canon and therefore not in the King James Bible. However, it was part of the Septuagint, and the Vulgate of Jerome. Thus it is part of the Catholic tradition that places these books about the Maccabees as the last books of the so-called historical books of the Bible, as in the Jerusalem Bible that I am following. This is a semi-historical book of the late 2nd century BCE.

It starts out with the real historical figure of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), the son of Philip of Macedonia (382-336 BCE). Alexander was the king of Greece who defeated the Persian King Darius III (380-330 BCE). Alexander had gone to the ends of the earth, which meant India in the east. He killed many kings with his strong army. All the nations were beholden to him as he attempted to Hellenize the whole empire with a dominant Greek culture. This Greek culture produced the holy books of the Greek Jewish Old Testament Septuagint and the Greek Christian New Testament. At some point there were more Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria than there were Jews in Jerusalem.