318 – Psalm 17 – Right Hand

Yahweh’s word is precious and powerful; yet, according to many, Bible illiteracy is at an all-time high. People simply aren’t familiar with the Holy Bible. I find that to be incredibly sad! If people don’t know God’s word how will they know what Psalm 17:7 reveals? Yahweh performs “loyal acts of love” and He does so “wondrously”!

Psalm 17:7 (LEB)

     7 Show your acts of loyal love wondrously, 

     O Savior of those who take refuge 

     at your right hand 

     from those who rise up against them. 

Let’s continue determining the Hebrew poetic structure of Psalm 17, but before we do, let’s explore the phrase “right hand” because it is unfamiliar. Let’s resist the temptation to just read past the phrase.  If we were to look up every reference to “right hand” in the Bible we would likely come to roughly the same conclusion as Logos Bible Software’s factbook. They’ve done the work for us, so let’s use their conclusion this time.

RIGHT HAND References to the right hand in Scripture refer either literally to most people’s dominant hand or metaphorically to prominence and strength. In patriarchal blessings, the preferred blessing was given with the right hand (Gen 48:17–20). To speak of someone’s right hand is to speak of their power (Exod 15:6, 12; Pss 18:35; 20:6; 63:8; 98:1). Oaths are also accompanied by a raised right hand (Isa 62:8; Rev 10:5–6). To sit at someone’s right hand is to sit in the place of honor (Psa 45:9; 80:16; 110:1; Acts 2:33; Heb 1:3). When Jesus returns, believers will be placed at His right side (Matt 25:31–33).

I’ve bolded two places in the above quote from Logos Bible software Factbook. Since it’s clear the reference is not to an individual’s dominant hand, it is easy to conclude that Yahweh’s right hand is a place of “prominence and strength”, and it most certainly is the “place of honor”.

Now what about the poetic structure? Which form of parallelism has been used in the seventh verse? Synonymous, antithetical, or synthetic? It seems pretty obvious synthetic parallelism has been employed because each thought is followed by a thought containing more information.

So why go through the sometimes tedious work of Bible study? Can’t we just read it and move on with life? To that, I would respond, sure we can just read it if all we wanted to do is excise our eyes’ ability to travel back and forth over words on a page. But if we are to understand Yahweh’s message to us we must at times put forth the extra effort to understand those parts that are not immediately clear to us. 

The poetic structure of verse seven was easily determined because it is one sentence, but the next few verses become more difficult to deal with individually because the verse breaks happen within the same sentence. For example, verse eight is only the first part of the sentence that spans verses eight and nine.

This is a great reminder to the Bible student to not forget to zoom back out from time to time when taking a microscopic look at a passage. We must work to never take a verse or sentence out of context simply because of a sloppy Bible study methodology.

For example, most of us are familiar with the Psalmist’s petition to “keep me as the apple of your [Yahweh’s] eye”, but do we remember it’s in the context of being protected from the enemy?

Psalm 17:8-9 (LEB)

     8 Keep me as ⌊the apple of your eye⌋

     Hide me in the shadow of your wings 

     9 from the ⌊presence⌋ of the wicked who destroy me, 

     those enemies against my life, 

     they that surround me. 

Now that we’ve been reminded to be careful about context, let’s look at verse eight. The Lexham English Bible uses little brackets around words or phrases when a given translation is not exact. They have decided to use the familiar but do bracket the phrase and give a reference to a more exact rendering. This is the case with the phrase “the apple of your eye”. It is literally, “the little man of the daughter of your eye”. Aren’t you glad the translators chose to help us out in this case? The literal meaning is not immediately obvious. I think we can all agree that both the phrase the translators selected and the literal translation speak of intimate favor between Yahweh and the Psalmist. It’s almost as if the Psalmist is saying, prefer me Yahweh over my enemies who wish to destroy me. Let me be in your line of sight. Watch over me and rescue me!

Do you see why I say Yahweh is worthy of all Praise, Worship, Adoration, and Service?

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