Psalm 51

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Puritan Board Junior
Hi, all.

Doing some study in Psalm 51 and I found it curious that David consistently uses Elohim throughout and never calls upon the Lord as YHWH once. Think there is any significance to his choice of wording?


Tempus faciendi, Domine.
According to Umberto Cassuto in his lectures on the documentary hypothesis [a devastating critique, by the way], he observes first the YHWH is a specific noun, the name of Israel's God, whereas 'Elohim was originally a common noun, "an appellative, that was applied both to the One God of Israel and to the heathen gods (so, too, was the name 'El)." [p. 17-18]

Later he states that

"In a number of psalms, especially in the Second and Third Books (the Elohistic books) the names 'El and 'Elohim enjoy primacy. In this connection, we should bear in mind that many psalms show the influence of the wisdom literature, and some of them unquestionably belong to it. Similarly, the names 'El and 'Elohim are found in the last words of David (ii Sam. xxiii 1-7), which are undoubtedly connected with the sapiential literature." [p. 21]

"…Having noted that the wisdom literature differs, relative to our subject, from all the other forms of literature, and seeing that the sapiential category is a universal type of writing, and that many of its characteristics are shared by composition of this class among all the diverse peoples of the ancient East, we must make a study of the wisdom literature of the other nations, too. It is true that the ethos of Israel succeeded in leaving its impress also on the wisdom books of our people; nevertheless, they approximate in many respects to the sapiential works produced outside the Israelite ranks. It will not be superfluous, therefore, to take a glance at the surrounding domains.

But as soon as we begin to study them, we are struck by an amazing phenomenon. The wisdom books of the ancient East, irrespective of the people from which they emanated or the language in which they were written, usually refer to the Godhead by an appellative rather than by the proper names of the various divinities. (P. 21)
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