Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense LVII: The Composition of the Book of Psalms location:Leuven, Belgium date:5-7 August 2008
“If we could actually hear God talking, making his will manifest in words of the Hebrew language, what would God sound like?”, so asks Robert Alter in The Art of Biblical Poetry (1985). This short paper deals with Psalm 50 as one of the very few direct discourses of God in the Psalms. It integrates the traditional proposal that Psalm 50 is a rîb (L. Sabourin , J.L. Mays , J. Limburg , K. Schaefer, R.J. Clifford ) and the insight that it is a lament from the other side, i.e., God’s side (W. Brueggemann, 1983). It also delves deeply into the how and what of God’s lament-lawsuit in Psalm 50 by following Alter’s theory of intensification and narrativity in the parallel versets of Hebrew poetry. Through the process of specification, focusing, concretization and dramatization, the believing community is instructed on the importance of authentic lament, and is invited to an understanding of a God who can actually suffer.