Peter C. Craigie demonstrates in this commentary that the biblical psalms express “the most profound of human feelings and insights—prayer, praise, liturgy, wisdom and lament.” Through careful analysis of language and form, he communicates both the emotional and theological impact of the psalms as originally experienced by the people of Israel at public worship and in private devotions.
Professor Craigie’s translations and interpretations of each of the first fifty psalms apply insights into the Hebrew language and Israel’s literature drawn from Ugaritic texts. He provides a careful and critical analysis of various controversial proposals based on these sources for understanding the early substance and later form of the Psalter.
This revision of WBC 19 by Marvin Tate preserves all of Professor Craigie’s original exposition and augments it with an extensive supplement that updates the bibliographies and documents the explosive growth in Psalm studies in the last two decades of the twentieth century. :
This is the latest, revised edition of Peter Craigie’s expert commentary. If you’re interested in the original first edition, check out Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 19: Psalms 1–50.
“The distinctiveness in the opening words of this psalm lies in the use of the pronoun, my shepherd; the shepherd theme, traditionally interpreted communally of the ‘flock’ (or nation), is here given its most personal interpretation in the entire biblical tradition.” (Page 206)
“In the last resort, the principal wisdom of the psalm can be reduced to v 2; the prosperity and happiness of the righteous depends upon their finding ‘delight’ in the Lord’s Torah. But how is such delight to be found? In practical terms, it is achieved by constant meditation upon the Torah (v 2b), which is God’s instruction. As instruction, it contains guidance from the Creator as to the meaning of creation. Life is lived in futility if its fundamental purpose is never discovered. It is the meaning of human existence which is enshrined in the Torah, and it is the discovery of that meaning which flows from meditation upon Torah.” (Page 62)
“The divine shepherd (23:1–4). The first four verses contain an extended metaphor: God is the shepherd, and the psalmist is a sheep belonging to his flock. The fundamental points expressed in the metaphor are the interrelated dimensions of protection and provision.” (Page 205)
“It is a metaphor drawing on the ancient resources of the Hebrew tradition; thus the psalmist, in utilizing the metaphor, is linking his thought to a broader concept, namely that of God who had been experienced as shepherd by many persons over many generations. And the metaphor is loaded in another sense, too; the terminology of the metaphor associates it with the Exodus from Egypt and the Hebrews’ travels in the wilderness, when God’s provision and protection had been known like that of a shepherd. Thus, in a subtle fashion, the psalmist is expressing confidence and trust in such a manner that his sentiments are linked to the great acts of divine salvation of the past, which in turn formed the basis of the covenant faith.” (Pages 205–206)
Peter C. Craigie was Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Calgary at the time of his death in 1985. His publications in Old Testament studies included The Book of Deuteronomy and The Problem of War in the Old Testament, as well as numerous articles on Ugaritic studies.
Marvin E. Tate is Senior Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. His publications include Psalms 51–100, vol. 20 in the Word Biblical Commentary series.