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Sing a new (old) song to the Lord!

"Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left." Psalm 34, superscription.

Keith Bodner is the scholar who draws our attention to the superscriptions which accompany many of the Pslams - and which we routinely ignore! His interest is fuelled by the insights which these remarks provide into the original use of the songs they introduce and the often personal nature of their composition. In the case of Psalm 34, the plot is thickened by the mismatched reference to the incident narrated in 1 Samuel 21 and the Philistine king concerned, who was Achish and not Abimelech. Various interpretations are offered but we are left with the mystery.

What is clear, however, is that this repository of praise from ancient Israel is woven into the nation's experience of national and personal life and in its encounter with neighbouring kings and with the King of kings. Thus any search for Christian identity must involve consideration of the Psalms, for they continue to exercise a formative influence on Christian faith, through their enduring use in worship and by their linking of us to our religious roots and the real people and events who nourished them.



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