“When they had heard out
They set out
On their way.
There ahead of them
Went the star
That they had seen
Rising in the east.
Over the place
Where the child was.
When they saw
That the star
They were overwhelmed
οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως ἐπορεύθησαν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ὁ ἀστὴρ, ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, προῆγεν αὐτούς ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον.
ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα.
When the magi had finished their conversation with King Herod (οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες τοῦ βασιλέως), they set out on their way (ἐπορεύθησαν) to Bethlehem. Then they saw that the star in the eastern skies (δοὺ ὁ ἀστὴρ, ὃν εἶδον ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ). This star led them until it stopped (προῆγεν αὐτούς ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη) over the place where the child was (ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον). They were really happy with exceeding great joy (ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα) about seeing this star (ἰδόντες δὲ τὸν ἀστέρα) that had guided them. Obviously, this was a religious miracle star, not some ordinary star. The magi had completed their task.
“For even in the beginning,
When arrogant giants were perishing,
The hope of the world
Took refuge on a raft.
Thus guided by your hand,
You left to the world
The seed of a new generation.
Blessed is the wood
By which righteousness comes.”
Here we have an allusion to Noah and his ark as in Genesis, chapters 6-9, in the beginning (ἀρχῆς). That was when arrogant giants were roaming the world (τοῦ κόσμου). The righteous men and women with Noah took refuge on a raft of blessed wood (εὐλόγηται γὰρ ξύλον). Guided by the hands (χειρί) of God, they left a new eternal seed (αἰῶνι σπέρμα γενέσεως) for a new generation of righteous people (γίνεται δικαιοσύνη). Although this is clearly a blessing for the wood of the ark of Noah, some Christians have interpreted this passage to mean the blessed wood of Christ’s cross.
“He rejected the tent of Joseph.
He did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.
But he chose the tribe of Judah.
He loves Mount Zion.
He built his sanctuary
Like the high heavens,
Like the earth,
Which he has founded forever.
He chose his servant David.
He took him from the sheepfolds.
He brought him from tending the nursing ewes.
He made him the shepherd of his people Jacob.
He made him his inheritance of Israel.
With upright heart,
He tended them.
He guided them with skilful hand.”
This psalm ends with God choosing the sons of Judah over the sons of Joseph. He did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but the tribe of Judah. He loved Mount Zion. Thus he built his sanctuary there just like the high heavens and the earth that he had founded. He chose his servant David when he was nursing the young sheep. He made him the shepherd of his people, Jacob not Israel. His inheritance was Israel. He tended and guided them with an upright heart and a skilful hand.
“Then he led out his people like sheep.
He guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
He led them to safety.
They were not afraid.
However the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
He brought them to his holy hill.
He brought them to the mountain
That his right hand had won.
He drove out nations before them.
He apportioned them for a possession.
He settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.”
God led his people like sheep. Thus the image of the good shepherd goes back to the Exodus itself. He guided his flock of sheep through the wilderness as he led them to safety. Thus they were not afraid. After all he had led them through the waters that never touched them. He brought them to his holy hill or mountain, Mount Sinai. He drove out nations before them as they entered the holy land. The apportionment of this holy land among the Israelite tribes can be found in Joshua, chapters 14-19.
“To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David.
I seek refuge!
Do not let me ever be put to shame!
In your righteousness
Incline your ear to me!
Rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me!
Be a strong fortress to save me!
You are indeed my rock!
You are indeed my fortress!
For your name’s sake
Take me out of the net
That is hidden for me!
You are my refuge!
Into your hand
I commit my spirit!
You have redeemed me!
Once again, Psalm 31 is a lamenting fairly long psalm for deliverance from the personal enemies of David. There was the usual indication of a choir master leader. David sought refuge in Yahweh. He did not want to be put to shame. He wanted to be delivered quickly from his enemies. He wanted Yahweh to listen to him. His refuge was Yahweh because Yahweh was his rock and fortress. He wanted to be guided by Yahweh so that no net would catch his feet. He committed his heart to the hand of Yahweh, who had redeemed him as his faithful God.