When the earth moves under your feet
Images of overcoming persecution in the Book of Psalms
This article explores the overcoming of evil in the biblical Book of Psalms, taking as its point of departure the so-called ‘sudden change of mood’ in the individual psalms of lamentation, where a psalmist proceeds from complaint to grateful praise with no obvious explanation. Previous and more recent attempts at explanation are introduced, one of them the work of Jakob Wöhrle, pointing out that lament and praise correspond to two separate aspects of God, as ‘hidden’ and ‘saving’ respectively. It is suggested that these aspects should not be seen as equally fundamental: applying insights from Jon D. Levenson and Hans J. Lundager Jensen, it is argued that the psalmist’s transition from despair to contentment reflects the assumption that evil is an external threat to the created order, not an aspect of the creator himself. This is further illustrated by the metaphorical use of the word mot, ‘to stagger’, in the Book of Psalms.
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