“O my God, make them like a wheel; * and as stubble before the wind.” Consolation from a Psalm.

Scripture is perennially applicable.  As 2 Timothy 3 says: “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.”  Hence, even as we read Holy Writ we will find it pertinent to our times.  This is especially the case with the Psalms, upon which we draw so much in the life of the Church.

Today a long-time reader sent me an email after he was struck by the force of Psalm 82/83 which we read as the 9th psalm in the Breviarium Romanum on Fridays for Matins.  (Yes, Novus Ordo types, you read right: the “9th psalm” of Matins!)

Let’s read it:

Psalm 82 [9]
82:2 O God, who shall be like to thee? * Hold not thy peace, neither be O God, thou still,
82:3 For lo, thy enemies have made a noise: * and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
82:4 They have taken a malicious counsel against thy people, * and have consulted against thy saints.
82:5 They have said: Come and let us destroy them, * so that they be not a nation: and let the name of Israel be remembered no more.
82:6 For they have contrived with one consent: * they have made a covenant together against thee; the tabernacles of the Edomites, and the Ismahelites:
82:8 Moab, and the Agarens, Gebal, and Ammon and Amalec: * the Philistines, with the inhabitants of Tyre.
82:9 Yea, and the Assyrian also is joined with them: * they are come to the aid of the sons of Lot.
82:10 Do to them as thou didst to Madian and to Sisara: * as to Jabin at the brook of Cisson.
82:11 Who perished at Endor: * and became as dung for the earth.
82:12 Make their princes like Oreb, and Zeb, * and Zebee, and Salmana.
82:13 All their princes, * who have said: Let us possess the sanctuary of God for an inheritance.
82:14 O my God, make them like a wheel; * and as stubble before the wind.
82:15 As fire which burneth the wood: * and as a flame burning mountains:
82:16 So shalt thou pursue them with thy tempest: * and shalt trouble them in thy wrath.
82:17 Fill their faces with shame; * and they shall seek thy name, O Lord.
82:18 Let them be ashamed and troubled for ever and ever: * and let them be confounded and perish.
82:19 And let them know that the Lord is thy name: * thou alone art the most High over all the earth.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ant. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

My correspondent was consoled by this psalm and its assurance that God will – in his own time – sort things out in the Church.  Who can deny it?

On another note, as long as I still have you here, you will have noted the different number of the psalm: was that Ps 82 or Ps 83?

In modern Catholic books the Masoretic Hebrew numbering is followed, while in older books the Septuagint Greek numbering is used.   These different numbering systems reflect different ways of combining or dividing up certain psalms.  There is a good wikipedia article on this HERE

Sometimes when searching up a psalm from an older source you have to look on either side of the “target” number, depending on where you are in the Psalter.  So, too, when you want to check something in an older book.  Just be aware that the psalms don’t always match up in older and more modern texts.

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6 Responses to “O my God, make them like a wheel; * and as stubble before the wind.” Consolation from a Psalm.

  1. Henry Edwards says:

    “My correspondent was consoled by this psalm”

    Unfortunately, one who prays the newer (Novus Ordo) Liturgy of the Hours is deprived of this consolation–much needed in these times when the Church is beset with so much evil–because Psalm 82(83) does not appear anywhere in the revised Psalter.

    [Yes, indeed. That is a slight problem. Of course Ps 83/82 is one of the “Maledictory” or “Imprecatory” Psalms, isn’t it.]

  2. Gripen says:

    What does the Latin say, Father? Out of curiosity I checked my Coverdale psalter (in my 1928 BCP), which I believe (I may be mistaken) was translated from the Vulgate:

    13 O my God, make them like unto the whirling dust, * and as the stubble before the wind;

    But then I checked a different Coverdale psalter (1662 BCP), which clearly says:

    13 O my God, make them like unto a wheel : and as the stubble before the wind;

    Interesting. I wonder why the change? “Whirling dust” makes more sense than “wheel”, but if the original says wheel than wheel it should be. I do hope the Ordinariates’ eventual daily office book draws on the 1662 BCP, rather than the 1928…which is still infinitely better than the 1979.

    [think “dust devil” or “whirlwind”]

  3. The original Mr. X says:

    I do hope the Ordinariates’ eventual daily office book draws on the 1662 BCP, rather than the 1928…which is still infinitely better than the 1979.

    I think the British Ordinariate uses the ’62; at any rate, I’ve a copy of both the 1662 BCP and the Breviary of Our Lady of Walsingham, and I haven’t noticed any differences in the psalms.

  4. mharden says:

    Is there any documentation as to the why Masoretic Hebrew numbering has been used in modern times? Was it an ecumenical move to match up with the Protestant numbering of the Psalms? Because it causes a definite breach with Catholic tradition, and much confusion.

  5. aquinas138 says:

    mharden, I don’t think the shift to Masoretic numbering is due to anything more than the Hebrew being used as the base text. That’s a separate can of worms itself because the idea that the Masoretic text is the original, while widespread, is a problematic thing to say without qualification. I personally think it best for Catholic bibles to always include both numberings for the Psalms.

    As an aside, the Syriac Peshitta has a third system for numbering the Psalms.

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    “And let them know that the Lord is thy name: * thou alone art the most High over all the earth.”

    “My correspondent was consoled by this psalm and its assurance that God will – in his own time – sort things out in the Church.”

    Amen.

    There is a curious angle to this Psalm advanced by certain fundamentalists, televangelists, and “Bible prophecy” book authors. First, there are a number of variations to what follows, but this appears to be the main theme:

    Focusing on verses 6-9, a number of Protestants insist that: “a Psalm 83 War will occur just before the End Times.” Their books and video presentations (accompanied by maps) transform, for example, the Ishmaelites into Saudi Arabia, Gebal into Lebanon, and the Hagrites/Agarenes into Egypt. Essentially, a large Middle Eastern coalition will attack Israel, be defeated, and then Israel will expand its borders to the Euphrates, into Saudi Arabia, and to the Nile. After the “Psalm 83 War” then the Gog/Magog War and the Antichrist appears (Ezekiel 38-39).

    Those who believe in the “Psalm 83 War” see two benefits. First, upon witnessing the victory of Israel, Muslims worldwide will convert (to Yahweh or Jesus is a matter of debate among them, regardless, rejecting Muhammed will save their souls). Second, Israel’s victory will result in the restoration of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to Judaism, the demolition of the Muslim Dome of the Rock and alAqsa Mosque, and the construction of the Third Temple and the resumption of animal sacrifice (Ezekiel 40-48).

    The support for a Third Temple by certain Protestants is one form of “Christian Zionism” and they are allied with the hybrid Jewish/evangelical movement. The garments and ritual items already prepared for their Third Temple have been displayed on more than one televangelist’s TV show.

    Well, with these folks wanting to build the Third Temple, certain other Christians viewing Islam as a Religion of Peace, and Leftists who view Israel as the source of all Middle Eastern conflict, it’s never a dull moment in the vineyards of the Lord. Regardless, the modern state of Israel was founded in 1948, so a happy 70th Anniversary to all.