Psalm 107: YHWH Reverses the Covenant Curse

As a song of redemption, Psalm 107 is structured around an introduction that sets the thematic trajectory of the redemption of the far-flung people of God (vv. 1–3), and four well-structured vignettes of deliverance for the desperate—those wandering in the desert (vv. 4–9), those who were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death (vv. 10–16), fools who had sinful ways (vv. 17–22), and sailors cast adrift in a great storm (vv. 23–32)—before some concluding imagery climaxes with a call for the wise to consider the hesed of YHWH (vv. 33–43).

It is well known that canonical interpreters have recognized this psalm as structurally significant in the flow of the book. While books 1 and 2 (Pss 1–72) exhibit the tears of David as he reigns in tension, book 3 (Pss 73–89) clearly reflects on the tragedy of exile. And while book 4 (Pss 90–106) exhibits the theme that YHWH reigns, even when David does not (cf. G. Wilson), book 5 (Pss 107–150) communicates hope in the coming of a new and better David. In other words, book 5 exhibits a messianic and eschatological impulse, with restoration on the horizon for those in exile. Psalm 107 is important in this narrative, as it establishes this trajectory of redemption from the outset. In fact, G. Wilson, N. DeClassé-Walford, J. Grant, and others have observed that Psalm 107 offers an answer to the cry for deliverance by the exiles in Psalm 106:47. E. Zenger takes this a step further, by offering many key word and thematic links between the entirety of Psalm 106 with Psalm 107. J. Goldingay extends this even further, with links between the historically reflective Psalms 105 and 106 with the deliverance-themed Psalm 107.

Moving beyond the canonical shape of the Psalms to the canon as a whole, this paper will argue that Psalm 107 is also saturated with roughly fifty key word and thematic links to Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28; 30:1–10—texts that speak of blessings for covenant keeping, curses for covenant breaking, and restoration for covenant repentance. This context from the broader canon will offer a new depth dimension for Psalm 107, because it echoes words and themes that exhibit YHWH’s faithfulness to reverse the covenant curse for the repentant exiles. In light of this, Psalm 107 is not only structurally significant in the flow of the Psalms, but also thematically significant in the Old Testament canon.

4 thoughts on “Psalm 107: YHWH Reverses the Covenant Curse”

  1. Another excellent paper by Vaillancourt
    In recent years Ian has presented several excellent papers in our session, and this looks to continue that pattern. He packs a lot into this proposal, but his published articles and ETS presentations demonstrate that he is up to the challenge. As with Garrett and Zimmerman, I wonder if we should select him when he read for us two years ago, but then again for that presentation he had to access us via Zoom due to COVID travel restrictions in Canada.

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  2. Solid and exciting
    Vaillancourt has demonstrated his facility at individual psalm exegesis, building on exegetical and canonical scholarship. Seems like several good papers suggest the theme of individual psalm treatments for this session.

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