Sunday, June 29, 2008

Psalm 115 Outline

This is the Psalm outline from Sunday School, 6/29/2008. This follows the basic pattern outlined here.


One of the Hallel Psalms (113-117), called so because of the Hallelujah in the last line. These are read on the Jewish holidays, especially the Passover.

Note for further study: There are (at least) two ways to organize this section of Psalms. First, some Hebrew manuscripts and the Septuagint combine Psalm 114 and 115. If this is the case, each of the Psalms from 113 through 117 end with the Hallelujah line. If Psalm 114 is kept separate, Psalms 111-113 start with the Hallelujah, and 115-117 end with it, forming a chiastic structure with 114 at the middle.

Structural Outline 1 - Section A

Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
But to your name give glory,
For the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

  • Introduction to the poem. This is the only part of the psalm directed to Yahweh.

Section B

Why should the nations say 
"Where is their God?"
Our God is in the heavens,
He does all that he pleases.

Section C

Their idols are silver and gold, 
The work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak,
Eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
Noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
Feet, but do not walk;
And they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
So do all who trust in them.

  • Structure: seven parallel lines to describe the vanity of idols. Notice that the silence of the idol is first and last on the list.

Section D

O Israel, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.

  • Chiastic center (meaningful center) of the psalm. The point of this psalm is to encourage Yahweh's people to trust in Him.
  • Three-part structure directs each of the three separate groups present in temple worship. 1) Israelite- covenant people of God 2) House of Aaron- priesthood serving in the temple 3) "You that fear the LORD" - Gentile God-fearers.

Section C'

The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron;
He will bless those who fear the LORD,
Both the small and the great.
May the LORD give you increase,
You and your children!
May you be blessed by the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth!

  • Repeats the three groups from section D in reference to something new- Yahweh blessing us.
  • Structure: possibly seven blessings from Yahweh to balance seven traits of idols in section C (tenuous): 1) Remembered us, 2) bless us, 3) bless house of Israel, 4) bless house of Aaron, 5) bless those that fear Yahweh, 6) bless the small, 7) bless the great.

Section B'

The heavens are the LORD's heavens,
But the earth he has given to the children of man.

Section A'

The dead do not praise the LORD, 
Nor do any who go down into silence.
But we will bless the LORD
From this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!

Chiastic Pattern

  • A & A' - The worship of Yahweh. Yahweh is faithful and good, and will preserve His worshippers forever.
  • B & B' - Yahweh is in heaven. Temple worship occurs in heaven in Yahweh's presence. No other god is in heaven.
  • C & C' - Idols do nothing, but Yahweh blesses.
  • D - Because of these three things, Yahweh's people should trust in Him. Everyone can trust in Yahweh and fear Him and be blessed.

Structural Outline 2

  • Section 1: vv 1-8 (sections A-C above). This is about the futility of idols and how those who worship them become like them (silent). This section contains 9x7 words.
  • Section 2:vv 9-16 (sections D-B' above). This is a contrast, teaching us how Yahweh will bless and multiply His people. This section contains 7x7 words.
  • Section 3: vv 17-18 (section A'). Coda/summary of the two sections above. Idols are dead and so their worshippers live. Yahweh lives, so will His people forever. This section contains 3x7 words.

Occurrences of the Number 7

  • Seven sections in the chiastic structure.
  • Seven Hebrew words in the meaningful center - "Their help and their shield is He".
  • Seven features of the idols.
  • Number of words in each section according to structure 2.
  • Seven blessings of Yahweh.


  • Yahweh's people have eternal life, so that He may be worshipped.
  • Trust in Yahweh, because He will glorify Himself.
  • Trust in Yahweh, because He lives.
  • Trust in Yahweh because He is in heaven.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Top Ten Sports Memories

Because of my love for sports and top-ten lists, and because of the recent completion of #10, I have decided to make a top-ten list of the best sporting events I have witnessed in my 29 years of fandom. I picked these games/series because of superstar individual performances, dramatic Disney-movie storylines, and a team (OK, my team) overcoming overwhelming odds. In descending order:

10. Stanley Cup Finals, 2008: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings. This gets on the list because of games 3-6. This stays at the bottom of the list because of games 1-2. Game 5 was especially memorable because of the heroic, out-of-his mind performance of the Pens' goalie and the photo-finish. The Pens felt outgunned in each of the four, but contended valiantly anyway to pick up two wins.

9. Wales Conference Championship, 1994: New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils. I'm not sure how I wound up rooting for the hated Rangers in a series- perhaps because of the utter hockey-awesomeness of Mark Messier (or maybe I just hated the Devils more). Anyway, the Rangers were down 3 games to 2 when Messier guaranteed a game 6 win (backing it up with a hat-trick), and then won the series in double overtime in game seven. I don't think I've ever seen anything come down to the wire like that.

8. 2004 PIAA Football Class AAA Championship: Pine Richland Rams vs. Manheim Central Barons. I believe this was the only state-championship football game my alma mater (PR) has attended in my lifetime. Unfortunately, we didn't win it, losing in triple-overtime on a blocked extra point. About a foot of snow fell during the game. But both schools were turnover-free, made highlight catches, converted late-game fourth downs, and generally played out of their minds.

7. 1986 World Series: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Mets. This is on the list because it is my first professional sports memory- the first time I learned how a momentous game could pull you in and then destroy you. The Mets had a lineup full of dark-side-of-the-force stars like Strawberry, Carter, Mookie. The Red Sox looked like they would be able to do what my beloved Pirates could not- beat them and win the World Series. But the Sox had a soon-to-be infamous name of their own: Buckner. He ripped the heart out of Sox fans (and NY haters) everywhere, a memory Sox fans had to wait 18 years to make peace with (see #1).

6. White Out 2005: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Ohio State Buckeyes. The only non-playoff entry on the list. But it was as good as a playoff game, and made the country take notice that our one-loss record was no fluke. Safety Calvin Lowry picked off a Troy Smith pass to set up a TD in the second quarter, the decisive points in PSU's 17-10 victory. There was something like a combined 100 yards of offense in the second half (only a FG scored), and PSU sealed the game with a third-down sack and forced fumble by mammoth DE Tamba Hali. It was so loud in Beaver Stadium that Steve Jones and Jack Ham had to scream into their headseats for the radio broadcast.

5. Rose Bowl, 2006: Texas Longhorns vs. USC Trojans. The Vince Young game. The Reggie Bush lateral game. The Lendale White goes nuts game. I don't even remember the final score - 40-38? It was two undefeated teams for the national championship, and it was won a fourth-and-five by the unstoppable VY. After having been hyped incessantly for the fourth months prior, this game lived up.

4. Super Bowl XLII, New York Giants vs. New England Patriots. Speaking of hype, has there even been a sporting event analyzed more completely in the run-up? Everybody remembers the first possible 19-0 season, Brady with a cast on his foot, the Giants winning three on the road to make it to the Super Bowl. And then the game featured a stunning defensive struggle save for a wide-open fourth quarter featuring two (and almost three) long come-from-behind drives, and with the highlight of the decade, David Tyree's Helmet Catch. Which, incidentally, was 1000 times more exciting than Joe Buck makes it seem in that clip.

3. Stanley Cup Finals 1992, Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks. The Penguins swept this series, part of an 11 game playoff winning streak that season. But the 'Hawks were definitely a lot tougher opponent than the sweep would make it seem. They led game 1 by three, but the Pens battled back to tie on an amazing Jagr goal, and then took the lead with twelve seconds left on the sports highlight of my childhood. And game 4 was even better. The Pens chased Hawks goalie Ed Belfour in the first period, but ran into their rookie backup (and soon to be superstar) Dominik Hasek. He stood on his head for two periods to keep the Hawks in the chase, stopping Mario and Jagr on breakaways repeatedly. But Ron Francis scored the game winner halfway through the third to seal the Pen's second Cup.

2. AFC Divisional Championship Game 2006, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts. This was the second of four straight wins for the Steelers in Playoffs '06, and definitely the most exciting. The Colts had an undefeated season going into week 14, and were the Super Bowl favorite from the end of the '05 season. But Steelers defensive coordinate Dick LeBeau had some Jedi magic to work on Peyton Manning's offense. The Steelers led by 18 going into the fourth quarter, but some twilight-zone officiating let the Colts pull to within three. And then there was the series that every 'Burgher knows by heart: the huge Porter sack on fourth and twelve, the Fumble (and the Tackle), and Vanderjagt's fateful kick. Just thinking about it makes me want to stand on the couch and scream "NO GOOD!"

1. 2004 ALCS, Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees. Seriously, they wouldn't make a movie like this. Take the hated sports empire from New York. Take the 86-year accursed Red Sox. Let them beat on each other for a few years, always with the Empire winning. Let said Empire beat on the Sox again for the first three games and eight innings of this series. Put the toughest closing pitcher in baseball on the mound with a lead in the bottom of the ninth, up three games to none and two outs away from a trip to the World Series. And after the Sox pull it out (somehow), let them do it all again in the bottom of the eighth the next night. Then let a beat-up Boston starter pitch out of his mind to send it to game seven. The last game wasn't that close, because there wasn't any more nail-biting plot twists to use. All in all, the greatest sports playoff series of all time.